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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kanitatlan

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Ming world conquest AAR, EU3 1.1, game play analysis

This AAR is based on the following premise. I am playing Ming and, in this case, our great leader Ming the merciless. In this world Ming the merciless is well aware that the only hope of the world is some block called Gordon so the objective is to purge the entire world of the name Gordon. To this end Ming will conquer the world. I will be either conquering or vassalising every country in the world.

As you will all realise the objective is actually somewhat arbitrary but may allow a few running jokes here and there. I started a practice game with the intent of following up with a proper AAR game written up in some detail. It has become apparent that the actual play of the game is strongly affected by some of the “bugs” in EU3 1.1 so instead I am doing a much briefer AAR of the practise game.

Rather than my current style of detailed reporting and analysis I am going to concentrate entirely on analysis. That means that this AAR will be very weak on chronology but will consist mainly of a series of essays on strategy and tactics adopted. I will try to explain what policies I adopted, why I adopted them, how that turned out and what I learned from it.

The game is being played with

EU3 version 1.1
No modification
Difficulty normal

Be wary of the details if you are currently playing with a later version as significant elements of the game may have changed.

Also be aware that this AAR is largely being written in hindsight and therefore some of the logic being described relates to things I discovered later rather than thought of at the time. This is essential for making the AAR more informative about correct decision making but will tend to obscure my thought process at the time.
 

Petrarca

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Peg me down as a reader. I'd love to see your analysis of the game mechanics as you plug forth towards WC.
 

Kanitatlan

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How it looks

My first consideration of Ming was the difference between them and playing a European nation. The key issue that comes to mind is the Chinese technology progress rate. I have 40% efficiency on technology research and therefore must pay two and half times as much for each technology as a western nation. This seems, at first sight, to be an extremely serious penalty and is sufficient to make me extremely nervous.

The second problem is the unit type selections

4hwnin6.jpg

If you compare this list of Chinese units with the European list then it becomes clear that at higher technology levels the Europeans have a significant advantage even if I keep up in the technology race.

This isn’t as bad as it seems at first glance because the real divergence is at late technology levels. If we look at units available at tech 28 level then we see the following

47mj6hk.jpg

This lot are superior to my Chinese units (Asian Musketeer and Chinese Dragoon). The infantry situation is obvious as the Europeans score good point advantages across the board. My dragoons are comparable with the French dragoons but unfortunately dragoons are a poor unit choice. A key characteristic for cavalry is shock effect and 2/2 is not good compared with the Swedish Arme Blanche 5/4. I may be able to hold my own in the morale stakes but a very poor casualty ratio is likely. Looking further back I could use Manchu Banner Army cavalry which looks likely to achieve a better casualty ratio but remains slightly inferior. The real weakness is in the infantry but since I am likely to become totally cavalry dominated this may not be such a big issue.

Even further ahead the Europeans pull massive advantages in the later stages. They acquire some very good infantry units at 35 and lots of very powerful units in the few steps from 44 on. Overall this problem looks completely manageable since the real problems will only occur if I am right near the end of the game and still with significant opposition. This suggests that this will only have a major impact if I am failing anyway.

A further issue is the influence of Confucianism. This gives a –20% tax modifier and +20% stability costs. I don’t know why this is the case but this gives me something else that further slows down national progress. Oddly enough these particular penalties are likely to be less relevant in a WC game as will become apparent further along.

In the beginning

The first thing to consider is a basic strategy to follow that will allow massive expansion. The most distinctive issue is immediately apparent after starting the game

330r8rd.jpg

Ming apparently doesn’t even know about the Geography of India. This is a rather poor representation of the historical facts about Chinese knowledge but is probably an entirely accurate representation of Chinese attitudes.

This immediately raises the issue that I will absolutely have to take Quest for the new world as the first idea and I need it fairly quickly. The Terra Incognita issue exists all around China and there is now realistic alternative except to stay home and wait for Europeans to come and kick my arse.

The next issue is to have a good look at my slider positions and their consequences. The domestic policy sliders are interesting as their effects can be quite unbalanced.

35ddms5.jpg

Sliders at start (after first move to narrow minded)

For example my sliders have an overall +6% adjustment to land morale. Total land morale is 246.4, the slider contribution of 0.06 is added and therefore the impact is rather less than 6%. This adjustment is so small that I would normally consider simply disregarding morale adjustments from policy sliders.

On the other hand production efficiency has been adjusted by a total of +3%. The sliders could have as much as +/-15% impact. This is significant because again this adds on but the base value is 31% efficiency so my slider settings are giving me 10% more production and a full +15% would be quite dramatic. (Note that I am an Administrative Monarchy and therefore have +5% production efficiency from that source)

The slider effects of trade efficiency are less of a concern since bad boy effects will make my trading extremely weak for the foreseeable future. This is one of the major penalties of rapid expension but cannot be avoided.

Aristocracy

This slider brings a mixture of benefits and penalties. I have to admit that the majority don’t bother me one bit. The most significant for me is, oddly enough, the 4% production bonus. At the start production is 42% of my total monthly income and this 4% represents an increase from 30% to 34% efficiency. Therefore the total affect on monthly income is (4/34)x.42 or about 5%. That means a 5% improvement in tech progress. In other circumstances the trade effect might have been important but my trading will be dreadful for the foreseeable future.

Centralisation

Again the big concern is the production and tax bonuses. Currently these represent 73% of monthly revenue and hence the 2% bonus more than balances the technology penalty. The tax benefit is currently 2/80 since I have a Confucianism penalty. Later when I have a permanent +3 stability it will be 2/110 which is less significant. The production element is 2/32. The overall view here is that the effects of these bonuses actually completely neutralise the technology penalty and give a small bonus in annual census tax as well. As time progresses the balance will move the other way but will remain small.

Oddly enough I am not interested in maximum war exhaustion since I find it more profitable to manage war exhaustion and try to keep it low. If I keep it down then adjusting the maximum level is pointless (or does it make a difference to the rate it rises??)

Narrow-minded

The only aspect of this slider I care about is the colonists as you will see from later comments. The other issues are secondary which is disappointing since the 4% technology penalty is not going to help at all. Stability cost reduction is not really useful as my stability costs will become impracticably large quite quickly and hence I will never spend anything on stability.

Mercantilism

Again the primary issue is those colonists. Narrow-minded slider moves change colonists more than mercantilism so this slider has been left where it is. The rest is irrelevant except that later on the lowered merchant cost will be useful. Much later in the game I will own a lot of CoTs giving me very large numbers of merchants. Therefore the –1.6 merchants will not matter but –40% cost will make trading activity yield positive value rather earlier than it would otherwise.

Offensive

The leader shock bonus is useful since leader shock will be the dominant leader characteristic for the foreseeable future. In fact leader fire will only catch up at the end of the game and even then only for infantry dominated armies. Remember, however, leader fire helps protect cavalry from fire effects as well as being a bonus for units with significant fire capability. The 4% morale bonus is completely irrelevant as it is a minor drop in the ocean. I would not be surprised if this changes in later versions.

By the time I buy any artillery money will have lost most of its meaning so the price adjustments is irrelevant. In fact the only question for this slider is which end you really want, +1.25 leader shock or +1.25 leader siege. In truth I would prefer the siege ability but I can’t afford all the moves to get it. The shock bonus is about whether you win a war whereas the siege bonus is about how quickly you win it. I am not expecting any major challenges especially once I am in a position to recruit lots of leaders (which is when this will make any significant difference)

Land

I am never going to hit my force limit or exhaust my manpower, the morale adjustment is piddling, unit cost won’t be important very often. In truth I would like to shift to naval to get production efficiency up. It would also help with income from the East Asian islands I will be collecting.

Does anyone know whether unit cost directly affects maintenance costs?

Quality / Quantity

I’ve used a shift tooltip since the current setting is central and hence neutral. As far as I am concerned the morale effect is so tiny that there is no point in doing anything but shift this all the way to quantity. In this game sliders are pretty much out of bounds since stability is sacrosanct but that would be my policy.

Serfdom

There is no real benefit from this since stability cost reduction is irrelevant and infantry cost is mostly irrelevant in a cavalry dominated army. Again I would love to move the slider all the way across simply to get the production bonus but this is never going to happen.


Having looked at the sliders we return to the Quest for the New World idea. The purpose of this is to explore Terra Incognita. To do this we need to create conquistadors and explorers, and to create them we need colonists and the current combination of sliders and religion leaves me with a grand total of +0 colonists per year. This quite serious, with QftNW I need colonists for leaders that can explore and I have the additional benefit that I can create all my leaders from colonists or diplomats. This economises in the use of diplomats by substituting colonists and also reduces leader costs. The cost of a new leader is based entirely on the number existing at that specific category and for this purpose conquistadors and generals are different types despite being effectively interchangeable.

The only solution to this is to select advisors that create colonists. This is an unusual choice since players are very rarely interested in recruiting such advisors and certainly don’t bother at the start of the game.

4fwa25h.jpg

Advisors

As you can see I have been extraordinarily lucky with my starting advisors. Not only have I got some good ones but I also have two excellent colonial governors. In truth these two will supply more colonists than I actually need for leaders at this stage of the game so it looks like I may actually be creating some colonies. This is relevant since there are one or two quite attractive locations for colonies. It is a great pity that I will lose these two since later in the game 1.8 explorer/conquistador leaders per year will actually be less than the number I want to generate.

The excellent trade advisor has been selected simply because he is a good advisor.
 

Kanitatlan

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Petrarca said:
Peg me down as a reader. I'd love to see your analysis of the game mechanics as you plug forth towards WC.
Petraca wins the jumping in whilst I'm still loading a post prize.
 

Nikolai

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Interesting. I will follow and hopefully learn something.:)
 

Lord E

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This looks like it can be a very good story and judging from your HoI2 AAR (I hope you have not abandoned it?) we might learn from the story. Looking forward to more :)
 

Trinitrotoluen

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Sounds very interesting.

May I suggest taking out Japan ASAP so that you can start converting it? That will free up a religious slider and diploannexing Japan, Korea and Manchu is quite easy.
 

Kanitatlan

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Nikolai I hope you learn something too, I know I did.

Lord E I have not abandoned HOI2, I am intending to keep this AAR brief so that fatherland can get more time for a return to life.

Trinitrotoluen Explosive suggestions right off, unfortunately too late. Both points are relevant and what happened will be covered in the AAR. Things turned out a little different but I'm getting ahead of myself.
 

PrawnStar

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I'll be fascinated to follow your thinking on strategy - I've read your HOI AARs, even though I don't have either game, I would recommend them to anyone who wants an insight into how to outthink a game.
 

unmerged(59737)

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*Subscribes*
 

PrawnStar

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I've just reread the original post - a bloke called Ming is trying to stop someone called Gordon. That sounds a lot like a political commentary - are you 'Browned' off with the 'succession' :D
 

Nikolai

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You don't seriously mean you didn't get the reference to Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless???
 

PrawnStar

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Nikolai, it's a British political reference.

We have two leading politicans whose first names are Gordon and Menzies - but Menzies is actually pronounced 'Ming'. In RL Ming has no chance of stopping Gordon but I've read Kanitatlan AAR's so who knows...

So surely this is insightful political commentary :rofl:
 

Kanitatlan

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PrawnStar said:
I've just reread the original post - a bloke called Ming is trying to stop someone called Gordon. That sounds a lot like a political commentary - are you 'Browned' off with the 'succession' :D
Not a bad idea but sadly we are strictly non-political and focused on more traditional Ming-Gordon conflicts.
 

Kanitatlan

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Stability

This is a major issue for any world conquest in EU III. Everyone will recognise that stability is harder with a big empire but in fact the whole nature of the stability issue fundamentally changes. This is best illustrated by simply leaping ahead, somewhat more than a century, and looking at Ming’s potential slider investments. At future point the various technologies have costs ranging from 7,500 to 57,000 (the 57,00 is a bit of an anomaly and reflects the fact that I am completely up to date in at least one technology (no more hints for now)), the more interesting issue is that the current cost for taking stability from +2 to +3 is 1.097 million. This clearly indicates that investing in stability is a complete non-starter at this point. In actual fact the transition to this state is quite early and hence after the conquest starts in earnest stability must be managed completely without the use of investment.

This leaves us with little choice but to depend on events and avoidance of stability reducing actions. It is my considered policy that for conquest games stability is sacrosanct and must NEVER be sacrificed. This therefore means that NO stability reducing decision will be made without an event in hand to correct it. This is restrictive on various diplomatic activities, on slider moves and a variety of other actions.

Fortunately stability events in the game can be left unacknowledged whilst we make changes that decrease stability. This means that when I get such an event I can sneak in a declaration of war, a slider move or (if it is a +3 event) even a change of national idea.

Bear in mind that throughout this AAR loss of stability is absolutely forbidden. I will shift it up to +3 and then keep it there.

It is worth a quick review of the effects of +3 stability. For this game the key effects are +30% monthly tax income and –3% revolt risk. The tax income improvement is slightly more important than normal games since a typical “foreign” province (and I will have a lot of them) will be base 100% for a city, -30% foreign culture, -30% wrong religion and –20% for Confucianism as national religion. This gives a base income of 20% and since the +30% from stability is added to this it therefore increases it to 50%. This gives the tax improvements huge prominence compared with a non-conquest game. In particular –2 stability, for example, would reduce the tax income from these provinces to zero causing a massive drop on monthly income.

I will also spend much of the game with a variety of threats to my revolt risk. The –3% achieved from +3 stability can go a long way to keeping me near to zero revolt risk throughout the empire for much of the game. Since revolt risk will often be around zero even with this bonus it means I really must have +3 stability at all times. (see later posts for a review of revolt risk management)

Overall, the simple conclusion is that world conquest makes stability much much harder to obtain and massively increases the benefits of high stability.

One issue to beware of is that if, during any war, I am offered a peace treaty that causes stability reduction if I refuse it then I will have to accept. This makes a strategy based on the principal that I can win territory back later after dealing with other enemies becomes seriously flawed. I must try to make sure that such a situation never occurs. Generally this will not be difficult but presents a small risk when you consider the never part of it.

Initial Unit Choice

Ming starts off with incorrect unit choices. In the early part of the game fire factors are completely irrelevant and stay of modest relevance until quite late on. I will not be going into great detail on this issue since my Military FAQ thread already covers fairly thoroughly. Suffice to say that at this stage the correct units are…

Archer Cavalry = Mongolian bow tactics cavalry
Asian Longbow = Japanese bow infantry

These units maximise morale and shock values and are an unambiguous best choice. This gives me a starting army with reasonably competitive units. At this stage the cavalry are vastly more effective than the infantry and quite attractive cost wise. They are just under twice the price of the infantry and with current slider adjustments I have something of a discount on both.

For all the reasons endlessly discussed elsewhere my unit choice of preference will be cavalry and no infantry will be built until a long way into the AAR. Oddly this is not an optimal policy but does avoid all the complicated unit management of making use of infantry. Infantry remains substantially more cost effective for siege forces since it can free up cavalry for battle duty. This does require complex management and in a low unit count game could be considered manageable and usful. If playing on a harder difficulty I would probably optimise further but under the circumstances mass cavalry is order of the day.

I feel quite secure with the initial unit choices, as they are easily competitive with anything that anyone else has got. The first threats appear at land tech 5 when both latin and eastern unit groups get some better cavalry but I also get samurai cavalry which are still quite competitive. This does require me to keep up in land tech otherwise I may be encountering superior units on my approach towards Europe. (The other choice is, of course, to keep well away from these tech groups until later but I suspect this is inadvisable).

My navy is very powerful at start – 35 galleys and 13 transports – and will easily dominate the eastern seas. My use of exploration to create naval tradition will mean some very good leaders will be available. This means that I will be able to control any seas that I wish to control. In the medium term there may be issues about controlling all of the seas at once but I can always maintain control where I need it and hence move troops onto any of the local islands. There will be no ship building for the foreseeable future, I will maintain the current fleet and no doubt capture enemy ships. This should be sufficient for my needs until I have to begin operating in European waters.
 

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This should be sufficient for my needs until I have to begin operating in European waters.
Muahahahahaha!!!!

ahem.

Nice plan.
 

Petrarca

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Are we allowed to lay bets on which tech it is?

My vote is for production. Given that your expansionistic ways are likely to earn you no place in the world's CoTs, I imagine that you're maxing production like it's going out of style. It is the only source of income unaffected by culture, revolt, religion, or non-core reductions.
 

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Petrarca said:
Are we allowed to lay bets on which tech it is?

My vote is for production. Given that your expansionistic ways are likely to earn you no place in the world's CoTs, I imagine that you're maxing production like it's going out of style. It is the only source of income unaffected by culture, revolt, religion, or non-core reductions.
That or army tech.