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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

JaxomCA

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With the confinement situation, I ended up with a lot of time on my hands so I started doing a bunch of achievements in EUIV. After completing "Where am I" and "Ideas guy" I was pondering what to do next when it occur ed to me that "Big Blue Blob" will be very different in the upcoming patch so I should tackle it right now. Since this run will be done by 1500 no matter what, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write a short report about it. Therefore I give you “Open "BBBaar, all you can eat buffet of Nordic delicacies”.


Played in version 1.29.6 with normal difficulty. In this version, France begins with 34 core provinces, 7 of which are in English hands. Thus we need to acquire 66 new provinces before year 1497 meaning 5 new provinces each 4 years. Of course the provinces under English control will have to be recovered somewhere along the way. This will be a big change of pace for me as my usual play style is slow expansion and consolidation before moving on to the next target. In this run no time to consolidate, just keep pushing forward until you own 100 provinces in coring range.


England is the obvious main target, since we do have to recover our cores. We are guaranteed a defensive war because of the "Maine" event (haha! see note1!). Depending on the alliance web, England might bring good opportunities for indirect land acquisition. Eating all of the British Isles would bring 52 provinces but would require at least 4 wars with England. Without truce breaking, that would take too long. With truce breaking, that would bring extra AE. Because of the time deadline, we can mostly ignore AE. However an early coalition war would mean using a lot of time and resources for little to no territorial gains, so we do have to care about AE. On top of that, the number of ADM we can generate is limited so we should avoid high coring cost provinces. It seems we need some kind of plan.

Note 1: After much planning about how to proceed, the RNG gods played a neat trick on me. The "surrender of Maine" event triggered in December 1444 and England turned over the province, robbing me of 5 years of easy expansion in Ireland. That was putting me on plan B before even beginning plan A. of course it would still be possible to achieve the goal but I did not want to play that B game so I restarted. I offer you my second attempt at this achievement.
 
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The plan:


After reading about the various ways of doing this achievements, I decided the northern path was closer to my playing style and made this plan of expansion:

map02.jpg



Anything in the HRE is off-limit, too much AE and too much development. Burgundy is interesting but it is a tough nut to crack, I'd rather have them as an friend than a foe and the “inheritance” event might give me some of that land for free although I am not counting on it.

Brittany, Provence and Savoy are usually reasonably soft targets although a bit expensive in coring. France has missions to gain claims in those areas, so maybe they will become late targets if the northern road becomes too hard.

Aragon would be a good early target because of the many low development islands but I would prefer to keep my rebels near the main theatre so Aragon is also part of the backup plan.

Scandinavia is full of very tasty provinces for the purpose of this achievement, meaning many low cost, low AE provinces. To get there we need to go across England and Scotland. The king of Scotland does not know it yet, but his lands are simply an extension of the French royal demesne. :)

scotsign.jpg



Workers in Irish Isles were already making banners to the French colours. Something akin to the United Kingdom of France, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Norway would get us a long way toward the goal. Let's see, 4 provinces in Wales, 13 in Irish isles (including 1 English), 14 in Scotland and the Isles (including 3 English and 1 Norwegian), 17 in Norway, for a total of 48 provinces with reasonably low cost and low AE impact, all attainable by chaining wars. Another 10 provinces can come from England (Wessex, West Midlands) and 10 or so provinces from Denmark/Sweden depending on the situation when we reach Scandinavia.

All right, that sounds like a workable plan, let's see how we go about executing it.


Future arms of Charles VII:

francecoa.jpg
 

JaxomCA

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Friend, foe or both?:

rivals.png



Looking at potential rivals, we have the obvious choice of England and Denmark. I set them both as rivals and leave the third slot open for later. We can also see that Castile, Aragon, Austria and Burgundy can be allied, although probably not all of them together. Burgundy is an obvious pick, they should help both on sea and land against England and Denmark, thus they receive the first alliance offer. Castile receive the second offer, mostly to protect my back and let me forget about Iberia. We are already allied to Provence and we will ally Scotland at least for the first war, thus filling my relationship slots. I ponder about allying Aragon but they will be of limited usefulness in offensive wars and they risk bringing me into war against Castile or the Pope, which is useless to me. I will keep them friendly for now, and I will work on making Poland friendly for later wars.


Next I set my focus to ADM and hire a few advisors.

advisors.png



I don't need stability but I will take the +2 ADM at half price for sure. More morale for armies and shorter time to reach MIL 4 is a no brainer as well. My budget is limited and I don't need much DIP so I leave that open for now. I will need one of those diplomats when I start accumulating AE.


I get military and fleet access from Scotland and begin moving my whole army over there.

ready.jpg


Notice my sailors, I will not get a navy anytime soon. I will need to get some naval force before I can tackle Denmark. I added Savoy as a 3rd rival since I will probably eclipse them after I peace out England, thus gaining some power projection for a while. Also notice I did not marry Scotland, I will cancel alliance as soon as I am done with England first war.


Everything is set for the “maine” event, the question now is: do I wait for it or do I start a reconquest war right away?
 

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Big Blue Baby steps:


Before I could even test if my allies would join an offensive war on the promise of land, the "maine" event triggered and England chose (unwisely) to teach me war. All my allies joined in, the English navy was quickly neutralized, thanks to Burgundy vassals, half the English army was stuck in Pale, thanks to lack of foresight of the English ruler.


4engwarstat.png



Burgundy is now expecting land for its contribution. At first I wanted to gift land to both Scotland and Burgundy but then I thought why give away land I will want later?
After 2 years, the situation looked like this:

4engwarmap.jpg



When the war started, I planned to ask for Pale and for my cores in Normandy to open up the Brittany mission. When checking this first draft of the peace treaty, I realized this is not a reconquest war, I will suffer almost full AE for taking back my cores. Oh well, I will come back in 15 years to get my cores back.

I am still very far from building a decent navy and not getting my coastal cores does not help. The little notice about a disloyal nobility may not seem like much at this time. Due to various events, the nobility estate will remain disloyal for most of this game, meaning -20% manpower recovery. That was not on my mind at that point in the game. Later when my manpower reached 0, I was suddenly very aware of this. :)

A few months later, the sieges completed and this is the result:

4engwarres.jpg


A foothold on Ireland for claim fabrication, all of Wales and a few low cost provinces. 8 provinces gained in 3 years, we are on track! I humiliated England for 3 reasons. First to get over 50 power projection, second to get an age objective completed. I don't see a useful way to get my golden age, but I could make use of the reduce AE impact or the free war tax abilities. Finally, notice how I am fabricating a claim on Kildare?

4kildare.png


Yes, Kildare is allied with England so I get a second round with England much sooner than expected. I will use that round to get money and shorten the truce timer with England. Maybe a few provinces, maybe not.

Shortly after the end of the English war, Scotland reminded me of an important fact, I cannot waste time and ressources in other people wars. Scotland declared on Ulster who is also allied with England. If I join, I will not control the peace terms, maybe I get some land from that war, maybe I get nothing. Thus I dishonored that call to arms, hurting my allies trust even more. I was suppose to break the Scotland alliance after the English war, I forgot. Now I check my other allies and uncheck the "join offensive wars" option. They served their purpose, break England. They now serve another purpose, discourage potential coalitions.

4burgundy.png


I still would like to accumulate favors for a rainy day, so when at peace I turn off offensive wars, when at war I turn it on. It is unlikely an ally will call me to his war if I am already at war.

A few years go by and progress is being made:

4tech.jpg


Kildare is gone, I shorten the true with England while filling up my treasury. Oh England went bankrupt during that second war. I have claims on most of Ireland and a few in Scotland. Scotland lost that war with Ulster and released the Isles, giving me another soft target. Rebels will soon be a problem. I want to avoid raising autonomy but if a rebel faction goes up to 90% at a bad time, I will raise autonomy. I got to MIL tech 4 ahead of time, I will be a little late to MIL tech 5 but that is not a worry around the British isles.

Most of my diplomats time is spent on improving relations with potential coalition members.

4coalition.png


As expected, I eclipsed Savoy and picked up Hungary as a rival, mostly to secure the Polish alliance, who replaced Scotland. My king picked up a new ability, one very useful for this run:

4king.png



I am falling a bit behind in number of provinces gained, but now I will be able to chain wars without care for war exhaustion. Remember my disloyal nobility?

4nobility.png


Look at my manpower. Now I am beginning to notice the hole I am digging for myself. Renaissance showed up on time, I have no intention of pushing it but I did develop Paris enough to get another age objective.

4paris.png


Those 2 abilities would be useful but I don't think I will get even one of them in time to make a difference. Now time to turn my attention on Scotland!
 

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Scotland, key to the delicacies:


Before tackling Scotland, I had time to eat a few more Irish minors.

5asituation.jpg



Those wars are easy on land but they illustrate an ongoing problem. Even the Irish minors can bully me on the sea! I carelessly lost my 2 starting carracks and then lost a few barques. For now I am rebuilding a barque fleet for blockade purpose, but I really need to start getting some heavy ships on the sea.

So far most of the AE is localized to the British isles and nobody hinted at a coalition, even though at least one or two of those minors do qualify to start a coalition. Soon, some of the HRE minors will enter coalition range so I will have to take some steps to mitigate the issue.

Scotland is diplomatically isolated so that should be a quick and simple war.

5bscotdiplo.jpg



As expected, short and sweet. I isolate Scotland even more by removing all its land borders with other countries.

5cscotres.jpg


Up to 47 provinces, 20 gained in 13 years, we are on track! You can see rebels flourishing but so far I did not raise autonomy anywhere. You can also notice my manpower recovering, quite a difference between -10% and +20% recovery speed. There were a few changes at the court.

5dcourt.jpg


My heir died, I was not sad to see him go. This is a decent heir but he might die anytime so I am not holding my breath for him. I hired a theologian to help snuff out the older rebels and let me forget about them. As a step to mitigate AE, I finally hired a diplomat. I allied Brittany to limit the amount of AE going that way. I may or may not attack them later but that is quite far down line. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!”

5etrade.jpg


This is a very sub optimal trade setup for France, but I need the help with delaying coalition. My other merchant is doing the same in the English channel node, reaching a few more countries.

I recently reached MIL tech 5, which is good, but England grabbed the curia. Oh well, I could use the extra diplomat but the Curia can't save England who are still on MIL tech 3.

5ftech.jpg



My truce with England will be over soon and I realized some glitch in my plan. My allies truce with England will NOT expire soon!

5gengland.jpg



I have reset my truce with England when I fought some Irish minor, that did not apply to my allies. Oh well, I am ready for England now, I just have to move some of my troops to the mainland to deal with Savoy. English troops will be busy for a while anyway :)
 

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Kick them when they are down:

As we have seen in the previous installment, my truce with England was coming to an end and they had some Lollard walking around. England did pick up a few allies, but none of importance. My allies will not join, they still have a truce with England for 5 years. I am on a timer, no need to wait so I jump in right now.

6aengres.jpg

What? No screenshots from that war? To be fair, I had not decided to make it an AAR yet, so I go with what I have. Well it was a rather simple war. I quickly won the siege on the capital (Jean Bureau rocks!) and got an early white peace. Utrecht was busy with another war that started soon after my English war so I did not even bother with them. Ulster, well that was obvious French territory so they were quickly annexed. Followed a game of cat and mouse, or rather of dog, cat and mouse between England, the rebels and myself. I did my best to intercept the new English troops while sieging down London and trying to avoid fights with those rebels. I did have to remove a couple of big rebel stacks on the mainland so I used way more manpower than I wanted. England went bankrupt again in this war, it is pretty much game over for England even if I don't take more of their provinces.

This was a reconquest war and I took all my cores in Normandy so I could complete a mission giving me claims on all of Brittany. I still don't know if I will use them but now I have the option. Besides annexing Ulster, I took Gloucester to connect Wales and Wessex, I took Northumberland to get rid of that annoying fort and I took Dorset because.. well because I could. Of course I took money, I am running a deficit most of the time, so I need to get cash in each wars. With the leftover warscore, I returned Mann to the Isles, they will become a target before the truce with England is over, so I will annex it then. The overall AE was rather low, so everything is still under control in that area.

6bmilitary.jpg


As you can see, I began building a real navy although I need quite a few more for my future war with Denmark. We now have 55 provinces, 28 gained in 15 years, still a good pace. There are still 11 provinces to grab in Scotland/Ireland, which should be done by 1470, 3 cores to get from England which will come with 4-6 extra provinces, so about 20 extra provinces by 1476. I am about ready to hit Denmark but I move my troops to Ireland to grab another 2 Irish provinces before I begin on Denmark. While in the middle of that war, some news came from Scandinavia.

6cdendiplo.jpg

It looks like the star aligns for me. I am not quite ready for Denmark, I wish I had a few more heavy ships, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up. I could probably join Sweden but it is better I start my own war and help Sweden where I can. A free Sweden is another soft target for me. I now have a lot of ADM, more than enough to core all the provinces I need. I did not take any tech other than military so far, I will tech up ADM if I reach the ADM limit. At this point, the only idea that would help me is diplomatic, to get 1 extra diplomat for improving relations.

6dpapal.jpg

Early on I used papal influence to try and gain control of the Curia. In retrospect that was a mistake. Sure an extra diplomat would have been nice, but I will get a lot more value from the bonus manpower recovery or the extra taxes.

I wrap up my war with the Irish minors, annexing everything of course, I move my troops in position and begin looking for a good time to start a war on Denmark.
 
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A taste for Nordic delicacies:

While waiting for a good opportunity to declare on Denmark, a few things of interest happened. I eclipsed England so I went to pick another rival.

7arival.jpg

Well I guess I should pick England again :) I upgraded some techs and picked an age ability.


7btech.jpg

I don't actually need to tech up but I had excess ADM so might as well tech up. Justified Wars come late but every little bit will count to control AE. As you can see, I don't have renaissance in any provinces, institutions are irrelevant for this achievement. Now how about fighting some Scandinavian?

7cwardec.jpg

I don't have a conquest CB on Denmark so I have to declare on Norway. None of my allies are interested in that war. Sweden is making gains on Denmark, I can't find the Danish army so I guess it is somewhere in Russia. Now is as good a time as any. Well after Denmark joins in, Poland is suddenly interested so I bring them in for favours. We have a large advantage, I only have to watch out for a large galley fleet.

7dpoland.jpg

The war is rather uneventful, 2 years in and I have not seen a single enemy army. I take control of most of Denmark but Sweden beats me to most mainland Norway provinces. Time to draft a tentative peace treaty.

7edraft.jpg

That is the minimum I would take, 5 provinces from Norway and 2 from Denmark. I would like to grab a mainland province to extend my coring range for the next war. Currently only Romsdal is available but I would need to capture the fort in Trondelag to ask Romsdal. Well I am in no hurry to complete this war so I send troops to Trondelag. Sweden beat me there again, so I let time go by, see what Sweden do next.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Provence grew some brass balls and went “mano a mano” with England..

7fprovence.jpg

Notice my monarch points. It looks like I will grab that diplomatic idea group after all. My court has been remarkably stable in this game. So far my king and all my advisors survived 2 queens consort and one heir.

7gcourt.jpg

I did pick up the papal sanction for war. We are a long way from -10% manpower recovery speed! We are still waiting on Sweden to finish that siege. After they take control of Trondelag, I can now ask for Romsdal in my own peace treaty.

7hpeace.jpg

I could wait for Sweden to peace out Denmark and maybe get a few more provinces but there is still time for me to comeback so no point in waiting any longer. I had add 8 provinces to my kingdom for a total of 65 provinces, 38 provinces gained in a little less than 25 years, good pace. Now it is time to finish the Irish minors but I will wait for Sweden to wrap up its war and see what is what. I had a big spy network in Denmark so I fabricate claims on provinces Sweden might take.
 
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All I want for Christmas:

It does not take long for Sweden to conclude its war, taking a few provinces, including some I have a claim on. They are allied to Muscovy but hopefully I can bring in Poland on the promise of land. As it turns out, Muscovy will not defend Sweden, so it's just them and me. Just over a year later, Sweden is under my control.

8asweden.jpg

I could end this now, but I want to wait for the core to finish, see if I can extend my range a bit more. That will bring me closer to the end of truce with Scotland and I don't really have something else to do until then. My king with the sweet monthly war exhaustion is still alive, so I drag out the war.

8bswepeace.jpg

As you can see, I picked up the first diplomatic idea, I have a lot of work to keep the HRE minors out of a coalition. Some of them are almost at max relation, soon I will have to give out gift and influence to keep them friendly. When you run a deficit most of the time, you tend to hold onto your ducats a bit more.

I will drag the war a bit more to let my diplomats work but I will take those provinces. To go further up north in Sweden, I would have to take Stockholm and that will generate too much AE.

While waiting for this war to conclude, Provence concluded their own war, they took Maine and returned Labourd and Aquitaine to me. Thank you Provence, you just painted a target on your back. Well the target was already there but now it is bigger :)

I made peace with Sweden and had to pick new rivals, having eclipsed Denmark and England (again).

8cburgundy.jpg

I picked the Mameluke already, since I did not expect to interact with them either way. For now I will leave the 3rd slot open, I may need to rival someone specific to get the last few provinces.

As you can see, Burgundy started their own war on Austria. For now they are doing well, it might be time to back stab them if things turn ugly in their war. The gift from Provence brought me to 75 owned provinces, time to mop up Scotland/Ireland for another 9 provinces.

8dscotland.jpg

Scotland made a convenient alliance, so I will grab 5 provinces in one war. Barely one month go by and this happens:

8einheritance.jpg

Oh? Is it Christmas already? Well thank you very much, I was growing annoyed at that red ball in the middle of my guts. Going against the clock does not make it okay to ignore border cleanliness :)

With 82 provinces, 9 coming soon, I will need just one more war to complete the challenge. From that situation, I moved on quickly, annexing Munster in 1472 and the Isles in 1473. My next war with England was due in 1474 and the game insisted on giving me more gifts.

8fgifts.jpg

Oops, I forgot to turn off offensive wars.

8gpoland.jpg

Austria is not answering the call and Hungary has less than 20k soldiers, so I join that war. You can see that Denmark allied England, I will get a 2 for one on the next war.

8hcalais.jpg

The war proceeded quickly, the enemy being no match in quantity or quality.

8iengpeace.jpg

No need to drag this war out, even if a coalition forms I only need to protect the provinces being cored. I never took any loans so I have a very deep purse to raise as much mercenaries as I need to do this.

8j100.jpg

100 provinces in 1476, need to core them for the achievement. A look at our kingdom.

8kkingdom.jpg

Oh? A brave soul want to challenge me? What is that 100 years thing? England problems keep on piling up :)

8lvarious.jpg

Charles VII is still alive and kicking and learning new tricks with his 3rd wife :)

8moldking.jpg

And finally, on January 10 1479:

8nfinal.jpg

The run went a lot more smoothly than expected. I made a few mistakes, I caught a few good breaks, Sweden independence war was so well timed for me, that was a huge help. Having to face the full Kalmar union would have slowed me down, and I would have to find another 10 provinces to grab somewhere else. I did have a few easy options near my homeland but they required breaking alliance first and maybe having to face Castille to grab Brittany or Provence land.

All in all, it was a fun game, very different from my usual play style. I learned a few tricks to deal with AE and rebels and I guess my future games will be a bit more aggressive.

I hope some of you enjoyed this report. Signing out.
 
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