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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Michaelangelo

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Welcome to my new AAR. :) My name is Michaelangelo and this AAR will follow my exploits as Naples while using the Always War Mod. I had a lot of fun with the Always War Mod back in EUIII, and if you’ve followed my first AAR you would know I have a soft spot for Naples. If you’d like to read my very first AAR, you can find it here. I will be playing with Conquest of Paradise, Wealth of Nations, Res Publica, Art of War, and El Dorado installed. Obviously I will also be using the Always War Mod, which I will get into more detail about later. I started with Patch 1.11.4, but I will notify you whenever a substantial patch change occurs. Difficulty is on normal with lucky nations off and no bonuses. I intend for this AAR to be a mix of gameplay, focusing on battles and strategies as befitting the Always War Mod, with narrative added in to keep this AAR from becoming a repetitious process of reporting battle results. I may changes things up as I go. Now for a bit more about the Always War Mod.

As the name suggests, the Always War Mod is a mod that randomly forces nations to declare war on their neighbours. The actual mod can be found here on Steam. You can check that page out if you want the full details on the mod. I’ll do my best to sum it up though. Basically every nation will randomly get events that force them to declare war on a neighbour (I believe only on nations with which they share a land border, but I may be wrong). Any province occupied during a war will become officially owned by the controller within a month and they will also be given a core on the province. As you can imagine, this leads to lots of blobbing and province swapping. All nations also have an extremely low diplomatic reputation to prevent any alliances, and all unions, vassals, marriages, and alliances at the game start have been removed. The mod also adds a few straits for easier access to some islands and has an option to auto-convert provinces on capture. I will be utilizing this feature since the focus here is war, not converting hundreds, if not thousands, of provinces. I’ll also be playing on the mod’s normal setting, which gives no bonuses to either the player or AI. More details can be found at the Steam page. Now without further adieu, let the never-ending warfare begin!
 

Michaelangelo

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Michaelangelo

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Prologue (Part I)

The year 1444 would go down in history as the beginning of an era of great turmoil and suffering. In November a disease swept down upon the people of this world, spreading at a rate that surpassed even that of the Black Plague. Not a single soul was spared from infection. If the disease had been lethal, the entire world’s population would have been wiped out by the end of the year. However, the world’s suffering would be prolonged instead. The disease poisoned the mind, causing unparalleled levels of aggression. All those infected were consumed by anger and rage. Those few who could overcome the rage long enough found themselves in a unique position. They learned to turn the aggression of others against their enemies. Soon the many nations of the world were at war. No nation was safe as armies of disease-ridden men marched across borders and set the world afire.

1444 would also be known for a less well-known event. In October falling stars were spotted in the night sky all across the world. Unlike normal meteor showers, these did not appear in groups but with each one appearing alone in the sky. These falling stars spiralled down from the heavens and landed across the globe, colliding with the earth. Anyone who investigated these collision sites only found an empty crater, since whatever had landed there had either burned up on impact or was already gone. No one tied this event to the disease, most likely because once it could have been realized it was already too late.

One of these such falling stars was seen flying over the kingdom of Naples later than the others. It wobbled through the sky, its path erratic and irregular for a meteor. Spiralling through the sky, it landed within a forest near Napoli, sending dirt and foliage flying as it struck the earth. No one was nearby to investigate the crash site, and if they had been they would have been in for a big surprise. As the dust settled and debris fell back to the ground, a man arose from the crater. Shoulder-length brown hair cascaded down over his face with bright blue eyes staring out between his locks. He crept warily out of the hole in the ground, dragging a spear at his side. He wiped the dust from his tunic with his free hand. The tunic featured intricate designs and the material seemed to shimmer as he walked, appearing silver one second and gold the next. He propped himself up with his spear as he checked his belt for the sword at his side. Once free of its sheath, the sword began to glow with a faint white light. The man placed it back at his side as he flexed his shoulders. Feathery wings spread forth from his back. One bent at an odd angle, refusing to spread to its full extent. He scowled and folded his wings back in, hiding them behind his long flowing cape. He examined his surroundings briefly before wandering off in a random direction. He had much to do and little time to do it. The world was at stake and only he could save it.
 
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05060403

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Ohhhh man it sounds awsome. You got me psyched up. I'll just wait for the first part with gameplay, but the narrative makes it worth the wait. Also you just reminded me of that awso mod what can probobly get back into EU before the next update. Latly I was getting bored of EUIV and the big overhaul mod don't cut it for me.
 
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Michaelangelo

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Ohhhh man it sounds awsome. You got me psyched up. I'll just wait for the first part with gameplay, but the narrative makes it worth the wait. Also you just reminded me of that awso mod what can probobly get back into EU before the next update. Latly I was getting bored of EUIV and the big overhaul mod don't cut it for me.
Well I'm glad the first update has you so psyched for the rest. :) I've still got another piece of the prologue to include before we get into the set-up and finally the gameplay.

Yeah, the Always War Mod is a huge change from any normal game. The fast pace makes things interesting and requires different strategies to survive. I definitely recommend it if you want something different.
 

Joal ban Kluane

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Seeing what you have done with your tag-swap AAR, I'll be following this one with interest, too!

I'll check that mod, too, but probably only after I have seen what you do with it.
 

Michaelangelo

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Seeing what you have done with your tag-swap AAR, I'll be following this one with interest, too!

I'll check that mod, too, but probably only after I have seen what you do with it.
Glad to have you along. You'll see how crazy this mod gets soon enough. :)
 

Michaelangelo

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Prologue (Part II)

For the first time in days, Duke Renato de Valois was not consumed with rage. He felt as though he had been in a haze for the past few days, unable to comprehend his own actions. As his senses returned, he realized he was lying in the dirt in some unknown location instead of in his castle. Others lay nearby in similar states of daze and confusion. Some of them had blood stained into their clothing or gashes across their skin, as though a battle had occurred here. Renato couldn’t remember if there had been a fight or not. He rose to his feet along with the others, each of them unwilling to ask the obvious question.

“Worry no longer, people of Naples. You have been freed from the plague that afflicted you.” The voice, like a gentle breeze flowing across silk, came from behind Renato. He turned to find a lightly armoured man standing with the sun behind him, surrounding him in a halo of light. The man strode forward, his Roman sandals stirring up dust. He offered Renato a gentle smile. “Are you perhaps the ruler of these lands?”

Renato was too baffled to respond. His mind was jumping from place to place and he was mesmerized by the man’s features. His face was aesthetically perfect, as though it had been sculpted by God himself. Renato slowly collected his thoughts before responding. “I am Renato de Valois, the duke of Naples, although I rule in the stead of the king of Aragon.”

Memories flooded back into Renato’s head. A letter had arrived before the rage had set in, containing strange words filled with hate from the king of Aragon declaring that Naples would be conquered by sword to show Aragon’s true superiority. At the time he had not understood what it had meant, but now it made sense. The king of Aragon must have been afflicted by this disease before sending the letter.

Trying to clear his mind to focus on the present moment, Renato asked, “You say we were afflicted with a plague? How widespread is this disease, and who are you?”

The man smiled again, filling Renato with a feeling of serenity. “This disease has infected all the people of this world. I have been travelling these lands curing those I could, but I believe my work has only touched those within Naples so far. As for who I am, I go by the name Michael.”

Renato furrowed his brow in confusion. “How does one such as you possess the cure to this disease?”

Michael brushed his cape aside and spread out his wings enough to reveal them. The people nearby gasped and Renato’s eyes went wide. “I have been sent by the grace of God to save His Earth from this plague, created by the Devil himself.”

“The Archangel Michael!” Renato dropped to his knees and bowed his head down to the ground. He began recounting a prayer, feeling blessed that God’s foremost archangel would visit him of all people.

“Arise,” the archangel said. Renato rose to his feet, feeling that it was impious to look the archangel in the eyes as an equal. “If I am to save this world, I will need the assistance of the one who rules this cleansed kingdom. Will you serve in this role?”

Renato gasped and momentarily looked at Michael’s face. He still wore the same smile, and his hand was stretched forth, waiting for Renato to take it. He could not believe that an archangel had come from Heaven to make him king of Naples. This was better than the Pope in Rome doing it. He gently grabbed the archangel’s hand, which radiated warmth, and gave a slight bow. “I would be honoured to do so, if it is God’s will.”

“The Lord will be most pleased,” Michael said. “Now come. We have much to do if we wish to cleanse the world of the evil that now plagues it.” The archangel started walking away and Renato followed in step, wishing to do nothing more than fulfill God’s will.

 
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blklizard

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So, this is basically a game where France blobs out of control and wrecks you?

I'll definitely tag along. The thing I found about always at war is that battles get boring after awhile. Seeing how you will be in conflicts for nearly the entire game, it will be a challenge to keep everything interesting to read. Good luck on both your wars and your challenges in writing!
 

Michaelangelo

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So, this is basically a game where France blobs out of control and wrecks you?

I'll definitely tag along. The thing I found about always at war is that battles get boring after awhile. Seeing how you will be in conflicts for nearly the entire game, it will be a challenge to keep everything interesting to read. Good luck on both your wars and your challenges in writing!
France isn't at that much of an advantage. Vanilla France has a bunch of vassals to rely on. Always War France probably gets attacked by all of them. That might be enough to slow them down. I'm more worried about Castile. Iberia is more isolated, so less people to gang up on you.

Yeah, I'm a bit worried that it will be a struggle to make updates interesting in the later part of the AAR where the battles will be endless and repetitive. Once Europe is mine, there's no challenge and I'm running over everyone. I'm hoping I can lean on the narrative for much of it. We'll see. I might have to call the AAR off early if I can't.
 

blklizard

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France isn't at that much of an advantage. Vanilla France has a bunch of vassals to rely on. Always War France probably gets attacked by all of them. That might be enough to slow them down. I'm more worried about Castile. Iberia is more isolated, so less people to gang up on you.

Yeah, I'm a bit worried that it will be a struggle to make updates interesting in the later part of the AAR where the battles will be endless and repetitive. Once Europe is mine, there's no challenge and I'm running over everyone. I'm hoping I can lean on the narrative for much of it. We'll see. I might have to call the AAR off early if I can't.
That makes sense with France. How about England? The British Isles is pretty isolated so they might be a dangerous foe as well. Then there's the Ottomans who probably thrive in such a mod. The early game will be very interesting since it's very unpredictable then. Afterwards, either an AI gets out of control or you get out of control. Let's see how quickly you can blob :p.
 

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That makes sense with France. How about England? The British Isles is pretty isolated so they might be a dangerous foe as well. Then there's the Ottomans who probably thrive in such a mod. The early game will be very interesting since it's very unpredictable then. Afterwards, either an AI gets out of control or you get out of control. Let's see how quickly you can blob :p.
England is another one to watch out for. The thing is that I believe the mod only forces war on you if you share a land border, so if England takes the Isles and loses its mainland provinces, it will stop expanding like the other blobs. It all depends on how well France can kick England off the mainland. As for the Ottomans, I'm hoping they focus east instead. :p

I do already have a strategy for expanding, which if it works out should give me a strong power base to work with. The nice thing about Naples is that it's isolated on the peninsula, only really having to worry about attacks from the north or from Aragon through Sicily.
 

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Certainly sounds like an interesting AAR to follow. I do have one question - how does Always War handle the inevitable manpower drain that's going to happen if you're constantly fighting?
 

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Certainly sounds like an interesting AAR to follow. I do have one question - how does Always War handle the inevitable manpower drain that's going to happen if you're constantly fighting?
You get a special event every time you occupy a province. It grants you 1000 manpower and lowers war exhaustion by 0.25, so you can essentially replenish your army just by besieging provinces. :)
 

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I'll certainly be following this. Really curious to see both the Always War mod and the background story you've imagined.

Believe me or not, even before reading this AAR start you lured me into playing Naples, which I still never had tried before. These days I've got tired of big blobs and WC attempts, and switched points of view playing different European medium-sized powers such as Brandenbug, Switzerland ( a suprisingly great one if you're patient enough to give them a chance to crush the Empire from inside ), Holland, Scotland, Portugal... and Naples.

Last night I started a game with them in EU DW. Aquileia brutally annexed Sardinia, so I went after them without CB, getting the Pope, Austria, Bohemia, and a bunch of minors involved... don't know how I got out of it alive but it ended with the Papal State annexed and Sardinia and Istria taken from Aquileia. Meanwhile a 2PM Pisa had broken free from Milan and got excommunicated almost instantly, so I annexed them. Then I managed to get an alliance with France... and felt quite safe attacking Sicily on a Reconquest CB and getting both England and Castile coming to their aid. I could'nt annex Sicily since they owned Navarra, which I couldn't get control of, with all those giant red and yellow armies wandering around. Quite annoying but I could vassalize them.

Then I was lucky enough to get a personal union with Milan and a diplomatic insult CB against Tuscany, who I easily vassalized (rather than directly annex because of too much BB already)... They had involved Emperor Burgundy on their side of course, but those were happy to make a white peace when France started to invade them. They were'nt war leader anyway, since Venice was - I took Ancona and Trieste from them and force released Crete, Albania and Morea (Epirus is already mine of course). Hopefully those minors will be swallowed by the Ottomans and I can conquer them later on with Holy War CB, while Venice has been seriously weakened and will await further vassalization and annexation.

So it was an eventful session, my gameplay has been a bit brutal and lacked diplomacy and proper CBs, but I guess Italy is not too far ahead now if I manage to inherit Milan soon.

Then it was late in the night when I decided to go to sleep and by chance happened to stop the game... in 1444. I already had a glorious kingdom of Naples then, and hope somehow this will echo in you EUIV game...
 
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Michaelangelo

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I'll certainly be following this. Really curious to see both the Always War mod and the background story you've imagined.

Believe me or not, even before reading this AAR start you lured me into playing Naples, which I still never had tried before. These days I've got tired of big blobs and WC attempts, and switched points of view playing different European medium-sized powers such as Brandenbug, Switzerland ( a suprisingly great one if you're patient enough to give them a chance to crush the Empire from inside ), Holland, Scotland, Portugal... and Naples.

Last night I started a game with them in EU DW. Aquileia brutally annexed Sardinia, so I went after them without CB, getting the Pope, Austria, Bohemia, and a bunch of minors involved... don't know how I got out of it alive but it ended with the Papal State annexed and Sardinia and Istria taken from Aquileia. Meanwhile a 2PM Pisa had broken free from Milan and got excommunicated almost instantly, so I annexed them. Then I managed to get an alliance with France... and felt quite safe attacking Sicily on a Reconquest CB and getting both England and Castile coming to their aid. I could'nt annex Sicily since they owned Navarra, which I couldn't get control of, with all those giant red and yellow armies wandering around. Quite annoying but I could vassalize them.

Then I was lucky enough to get a personal union with Milan and a diplomatic insult CB against Tuscany, who I easily vassalized (rather than directly annex because of too much BB already)... They had involved Emperor Burgundy on their side of course, but those were happy to make a white peace when France started to invade them. They were'nt war leader anyway, since Venice was - I took Ancona and Trieste from them and force released Crete, Albania and Morea (Epirus is already mine of course). Hopefully those minors will be swallowed by the Ottomans and I can conquer them later on with Holy War CB, while Venice has been seriously weakened and will await further vassalization and annexation.

So it was an eventful session, my gameplay has been a bit brutal and lacked diplomacy and proper CBs, but I guess Italy is not too far ahead now if I manage to inherit Milan soon.

Then it was late in the night when I decided to go to sleep and by chance happened to stop the game... in 1444. I already had a glorious kingdom of Naples then, and hope somehow this will echo in you EUIV game...
EUIII and EUIV Naples are quite different, I have noticed. In EUIV they start stuck out in a PU under Aragon, although fortunately for me I get out of that with this mod. I do find it amusing that you used France to aid your own expansion. They're quite useful for that. Too bad I can't use them this time. :p

Nice! When can we expect next one? Also i ran few simulation and tried few games myself and in a lot ofvthe Burgundy started to blob. Do you have any concerns about them?
I'll be posting the next update today, but I'll probably slow down to an update every 2-3 days after this instead of every day. It all depends on how quickly I can write some more updates and if my tag swap AAR gets in the way, since I still have lots of work to do on that one. I just wanted to get past the prologue first and give people something to read.

I'm not too concerned about Burgundy. France pretty much cut them in half right away, and most of their strength is farther north. I have much bigger threats closer to home to deal with, and an annoying former overlord who won't leave me alone. :p
 

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Set-up

Renato spent the next week or so adjusting to his new position as king of Naples. The Archangel Michael was absent for most of this time as he traveled the kingdom curing those afflicted with the plague of aggression. He would appear only briefly in the capital from time to time simply to report which areas of Naples were cured. This left Renato to deal with affairs of state by himself. As a duke, he had only had to deal with his own dukedom and indirectly ruling Naples for the king of Aragon. Even then, he had delegated most tasks to his subordinates. Compared to other heads of state, he was not quite as skilled at running a nation.



While the various lords of Naples soon accepted his rule, especially as the Archangel Michael travelled through their lands curing the people, Renato had trouble establishing diplomatic contact outside the country. The archangel had warned him that this plague would affect the rest of the world, but he had had his doubts until he had made an attempt himself. All diplomats returned scared out of their wits, if they returned at all. Every nation of the world universally hated Naples, as well as each other. An attempt to offer an alliance to France resulted in a particularly revolting incident when the diplomat’s head was sent back on a spike. That truly made the archangel’s words sink in. After that incident it was difficult to find any more people willing to serve as diplomats.



With international relations impossible, Renato turned to domestic affairs. Ducats were slowly trickling into the treasury, enough to maintain a slight surplus. Most funds were being spent on supporting the Neapolitan army and navy. The army only consisted of six regiments, five infantry and one cavalry, although the treasury was nearly emptied to encourage the recruitment of two more infantry regiments and one cavalry one. If the archangel’s words were correct, they would soon be attacked by their neighbours. The navy had 12 ships, consisting of two light ships, six galleys, and four transports. It wasn’t large enough to compete with Naples’ neighbours yet.



The Archangel Michael returned in time, with the news that all of Naples had been cleansed. If he was to save more people of the world, he would need Renato’s help. The other nearby kingdoms were too unruly and already gearing up for war. If the Archangel was to go there on his own, he doubted he would be able to successfully cure the people before they attacked and overwhelmed him. Despite being an archangel, his abilities were still limited apparently. He claimed that it took time to recharge his abilities, otherwise he would have freed the world from this plague. For him to succeed, he’d need Renato and the Neapolitan army to pacify the area before he could move in safely. He suggested King Renato focus on central Italy first, or perhaps liberate Sicily as the people were essentially Neapolitan.



The Archangel Michael had one more recommendation for King Renato. With the plague spreading worldwide, it was inevitable that Rome, the holy city, would be infected and the Pope along with it. This could pose a potential threat to Naples, since the clergy within the country still took orders from the Papacy. To ensure the loyalty of the Church within Naples and to prevent the Pope from using it against them, it was advisable that Renato declare himself the final authority for all matters religion and supersede the Pope’s authority. King Renato was hesitant to do so as any good Catholic would, but Michael reminded the monarch that the representative of God on Earth would soon be tainted by the Devil. Drastic actions had to be taken in this time of desperation. With the slightest hesitation, Renato accepted the archangel’s proposal. He dispatched letters to all the churches throughout Naples announcing that he as king would now decide all religious matters. The Pope’s influence over the kingdom of Naples had ended.



The stage was set. Naples had been spared from the plague of aggression through the intervention of the Archangel Michael, but the rest of the world would soon be engulfed in war. The archangel spoke of a conflict beyond anything the world had ever seen, a virtual Armageddon. And through all of this, it would be Renato’s duty to liberate these lands so that Michael could cure the people. It was a daunting task, one that left a feeling of despair within the pit of Renato’s stomach. How was he to lead one country against the entire world? The very possibility was mindboggling. Yet there was also an exhilaration at the idea that he could be the saviour of the world. God had chosen him and he would not fail.

 
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blklizard

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I don't see how Aragon can be a serious threat. They are likely to be at war with Castille most of the time giving you plenty of time to take their Italian possessions removing your border with them. Then, you have several small fries nearby ensuring quick expansion. When you occupy provinces, do you get extra ducats? It seems to make sense if the nation's treasury should remain somewhat full if they want to continue warring.
 

Michaelangelo

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I don't see how Aragon can be a serious threat. They are likely to be at war with Castille most of the time giving you plenty of time to take their Italian possessions removing your border with them. Then, you have several small fries nearby ensuring quick expansion. When you occupy provinces, do you get extra ducats? It seems to make sense if the nation's treasury should remain somewhat full if they want to continue warring.
Aragon is more of a nuisance than anything, and you'll see why in future updates.

You don't get extra ducats as far as I'm aware. You do get a core right away, so a month after the occupation you're taking in the full tax and production income of that province. Basically if you keep conquering, you'll boost your income enough with the new provinces to bring in even more ducats.