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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

CatKnight

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CHAPTER X: RUSSIA
Part 3: Giant in the Playground
(1600-1605)


First Things First

It is 1600, and we have an overextension of 86%. A significant number of our provinces are wrong culture, and we can't do anything about that yet because those same provinces are Sunni....

Hm. That sounds familiar. Let's try that again.


Picking on the New Kid

While everything I just said is still true, everything will be cored by May 1601, so we can look at expanding again. Our colonists continue pushing east, our cultural experts keep teaching people the wonders of Russian etiquette, and our missionaries are still in the missionary position. A quick look reveals that of our 71 provinces, 20 are non-Russian. 11 of those are Tartar however, which we accept, so only 9 need to be flipped. There are also 13 Sunni provinces, which prevents us from dealing with the cultural problema little faster.

So, who should be our next target. The game's nudging us in Lithuania's direction: They have two Orthodox provinces on my border. They also have an alliance with Austria, Poland, Spain and Sweden. Sweden's a non-entity and Spain might have trouble pathfinding to the Baltic or White Sea coast, but Austria is the HRE. Something to keep in mind.

We could go after the Livonians and reinforce our access to the Baltic. The LO is an ally, and those are getting a little hard to find since much of the world fears us. They're in turn allied with Hansa (another non-entity), and Norway, another of our allies. Easier to win, but perhaps more damaging from a geopolitical standpoint.

Or we could stomp on Finland! 3 ships, 8 regiment army, no allies. Sold!

The game agrees with our assessment, as we immediately get a boundary dispute over Savolax province...not that we need it. We already have a perfect good 'Cleansing of Heresy' CB which is actually a little better. We move our southern 'battle' fleet (2 carracks and a cog) to the Finnish coast, reroute half of our northern fleet (another 2 carracks) to join the blockade, position one of our 20K stacks on the Finnish border under General Rumyantsev, and pull the trigger.

160004Invasion_zpsda7c09bc.jpg


5K each moved into the border provinces, while 10K held back to serve as our hunter-killer stack once the Finnish army committed. This took awhile as we played cat and mouse: They head for one province, we send the army to that province, they change their mind and go for the other province, we move our army there, they change their mind...etc.

Because of this, and similar to the Japanese/Korean wars, the first battles take place on the open sea.

160005NavalSuperiority_zps50f19cab.jpg


Little result, but it chases their navy to port.

Over the next few months the only news comes from home: The nobility continue to be concerned that we're promoting people on the grounds of merit rather than birthright. I promise to look into it. (-5 Prestige) Twice we're encouraged to reinforce fortification efforts in provinces I never heard of, so twice I decline. (-2 Prestige total: Accepting would have given local defensiveness +10%, -50 gold) On the other hand, while subjugating Finland we do find some excellent naval supplies (-5% heavy/light ship cost.)

In July we finally take Religious Idea-4 (+3% Missionary Chance). This automatically triggers Russia Idea-6 (Table of Ranks: Army Tradition +0.5). The Table of Ranks does actually confirm the nobles' fear that we're turning the army into a meritocracy. I guess Czarina Elizaveta is a liberal!

Such thoughts die away when we're asked to start redistributing land from the Church so it can be taxed.

160011ChurchTax_zps2e1abebb.jpg


Granted, the tax malus is a bit annoying, but then again so are all these wrong religion provinces. Once we're better unified perhaps.

Speaking of which, in December the Finnish army catches one of our sieging forces and comes close to wrecking it before reinforcements arrive. Close only counts when refereeing championships however, so we destroy them instead.

160012ArmySuperiority_zps429763a4.jpg


It takes another six months for Finland to realize they have no army left. Their navy makes one last stand whereupon we acquire a free transport for Mother Russia, but the end is inevitable.

160110FinlandSurrenders_zpsfd9962bb.jpg



Interbellum

We begin coring Finland of course. As we do so the Mughals and Ottomans decide they don't like us anymore, and embargo us. The Ottos don't hurt as much as you might think, but the Mughals cut our Samarkand trade in half. Even this we could easily withstand, but it's now more profitable to move our merchant to Kazan and collect there.

Speaking of Kazan, we are eligible to begin annexing them in 1604. It'll actually be a little while longer since we need to get to +190 relations and, as you'll see, we get distracted.

We soon learn that Surgut is 'suffering' from benign neglect. Since I have no idea where Surgut is, that's pretty accurate. (+10% local trade power)

While letting our armies build up, I once again examine Lithuania and the Livonians. Break up with one of my few allies, or get into a prolonged melee. Through 1602 a 24K Sunni Zealot stack devastated one of their provinces, but immediately split up and were taken apart by 32K Lithuanians. Hmm...same tech level. Eastern units no doubt. Would my allies join in? No, of course they wouldn't. Hm...hm...

Then, in January 1603, I look in on the Golden Horde. There I learn that a) they're an Ottoman vassal, and apparently have been for some time, and b) they'll be annexed in 1605.

Well, that does take care of the question of antagonizing the Ottos through border tension, doesn't it?

Very well. Let's at least get Nogai out of the picture.


You Call That a Coalition?

We declare war on Kazakh - not Nogai, because Nogai has a separate alliance with the Mughals. There is absolutely nothing we want from the Kazakh short of vassalizing them, but we'll need to beat them down as coalition leader so they give up Nogai. A few new leaders, especially since General Rumyantsev has died, a brief detour to take care of a Sibir uprising, and...

160306NogaiWar_zpsfa06ee0f.jpg


No glory in it. The southern army kicked Nogai out of the war almost instantly, while after a bit more cat and mouse the middle and southern armies destroyed the Kazakh. Start to finish the war took six months.

160312NogaiWar_zpse12eeab2.jpg


You may be wondering why I gave that province to Chagatai: Other than weakening Kazakh that much more, the Chagatai's OPM presence in the heart of Mughal territory is a bit of a thorn. Now that the Chagatai have two provinces, the other needing MA for the Mughals to get to, the Chagatai should be a thorn in their side for awhile yet.

I spend 1604 doing an amazingly bad job of evacuating Kazakh territory. I completely forgot about it and didn't even start moving them out for 2 months. When I did, I shuffled stacks ineffectually about trying to get their numbers to more or less match up. It was so embarassing the peasants couldn't take it anymore.

160411LargeRevolt_zpsdbabcac8.jpg


By January 1605 I had our stacks more or less straightened out. This led our advisors to declare this an excellent year (+5,705 manpower), which I barely tapped into when smashing the revolt.

It is now 1605. We have four provinces coring, our colonists are still pushing east (one province finished this turn), our missionaries are still in the missionary position (four provinces converted), and our cultural experts are standing by.

I think I'd like to take on Lithuania, Johan. They've been a pain in the butt through four versions of my Teutonic Knights, and I'd at least like to give them a bloody nose. I'd prefer if the other countries stayed out of it (OR if my allies jumped in), but I think if I make them bleed, especially on Russian soil, it's very doable.


Johan's Dice

Reign: 15 years
Roll Needed: 4+
Roll: 4
Continue: Yes

Alright then.
 

unmerged(58610)

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You didn't spot the Horde's position as a vassal before, because ...? Answers 100 words or less to the Russian Bureau of Executions.

I thought you already made Chagatai a vassal when you were the Mughals. I hope you can now swallow Kazakh in one gulp. You made the conquest of Finland and Nogai sound interesting despite the wars being brief.

To reach the 2400 points to westernize in each of DIP/ADM and MIL you'd need approximately 31 points a month to do it in 6.5 years. If you can do that, it's an impressive number of monthly points.

The typical Russian reluctance to withdraw that Russia shows after a war. Doubtless the commanders waiting for the people to spontaneously decide to become Russian and the Russian soldiers desire to spread Russian culture.

Certainly the acquisition of cored Orthodox Russian provinces off Lithuania would significantly help reduce overextension. However, I think you need Lithuania against the ottomans.
 

GreatUberGeek

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Well, that was...exciting. Glad to see that peasants have some sort of autonomy, that they can get angry at the Russian military command. :p
 

Idhrendur

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Hrm, a bunch of small wars, not bad. Though I agree that a big war with Lithuania would be nice to see.
 

ArchimedesBird

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Definitely Lithuania. Go for a Europe conquest. Although maybe pick off Riga and Livonia first. You could even try to knock out Sweden early! P.S. When you march into Versailles, I suggest "Who's the sick man now????".
Anyway, great AAR, it's a very original concept, and I love the commentary. Keep it up!
 

Storey

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The typical Russian reluctance to withdraw that Russia shows after a war. Doubtless the commanders waiting for the people to spontaneously decide to become Russian and the Russian soldiers desire to spread Russian culture.

I like this explanation far more than yours CatKnight.:p



Might be time to get serious about getting that over extension under control before launching your next adventure
 

Director

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Well, DaVastLand and Sav-O-Lax aren't exactly Venice and Ile de France, but one must begin somewhere. (Sav-O-Lax! It's a furniture polish - and it's a laxative! Order now and we'll let you pay double to only receive half as much! Hurry - this offer will soon expire. And so will you if you try new, improved Sav-O-Lax, but your corpse will shine! Sav-O-Lax - the number one choice of the Texas Department of Erasures and Corrections! Get Sav-O-Lax NOW! Your furniture and your bowels have never been so clean! Warning - do not sit on your furniture after consuming Sav-O-Lax as severe burns and scarring may result!)

Well now that the commercial is over, I'd like to comment that the battles of Nogay (HoHomo!) and Triptophan - um, Turkestan, sorry - were hardly a stretch. Those revolting peasants (aren't they all? Just dreadful people, really) look like more of a challenge. But this is Russia, and if the Russian Army knows how to do one thing really well it is drink... um, shrink the pool of disrespectful peasantry, so no problem there.

The Russian Army didn't know to withdraw after the war because they had never been in a war that ended without the border being redrawn to make wherever they were standing into Russia. See, it's simple when you look at it from their perspective ('and the steely Russian skies... go on... forever...').



Good going. There's no such thing as a small war if it results in a profit, and Russia is big enough to push in multiple directions with minimal juggling. As for Lithuania... ordinarily I'd caution you to wait for them to be fully involved and then stab them in the back (see 'Russian Diplomacy') but the truth is the clock is ticking and Johan has shown little desire to leave you in one place long enough to upset his precious AI. So I say... 'Go for it.' What's the worst that could happen, your armies are destroyed, your provinces overrun, your throne yanked from under your fundament... and then you get a new kingdom to play with, somewhere far, far away. So it's just like being a big corporate suit or a Wall Street investor: you get to play with other people's live and if you win, you get the winnings and if you lose you get a bonus.

Onward to Lithuania!
 

CatKnight

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tnick0225: I'm sure going to try!

Chief Ragusa: Yes, I was quite startled to see the Ottos busy annexing the Horde. Well, better them than warring with us.

I didn't vassalize Chagatai as the Mughals, which doesn't mean they haven't since then: Chagatai's position IS pretty hopeless.

Regarding westernization, from what I understood it'll drain a maximum of 10 points from Admin/Dip/Military per turn. I'm not sure if that maxes out based on your leader's stats (which would make sense), or if it means the pool will go down with anything but a perfect leader and advisors.

SergiuHD: Thanks. Welcome!

GreatUberGeek: Hey, it's not often I get to squeeze two wars into one turn!

Idhrendur: Your wish is my command!

ArchimedesBird: Versailles might have to wait awhile, but I love the quote. Riga would be an option: Russia could use a better Baltic port than Finland. I'm not sure if it matters in game, but it does look a little strange.

Laburnum: Glad you're enjoying it! Welcome!

Storey: True, it was a very beautiful explanation. My overextension actually wasn't too bad before my two mini-wars. Now...hm. Don't ask. I have helpful administrators coring everything though, so it will drop.

Director: I suspect the Texas Dept. of Corrections and Erasures are one and the same. :X

I like your explanation for why the Russian armies didn't leave Kazakh even better than Storey/Chief Ragusa's!

As for being backstabbed: Don't worry. I covered the throne with Sav-o-Lax, so anyone who sits on it without permission is in for a surprise!

Saintrl: Let's find out!
 

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CHAPTER X: RUSSIA
Part 4: Revenge!
(1605-1610)


Stunning Announcement

Alright, let's get the minor drama out of the way. This is our last turn in Russia. I didn't know this when I played, but given our house rules when you've spent four turns in one place you should have your bags packed.

No, there is only one question we should focus on: Lithuania. Did we get our revenge?

For those of you who may be following me for the first time, I've written four AARs as the Teutonic Knights and the last round was particularly short and painful. Who are their natural enemies? Poland and Lithuania. For much of my time here on Paradox's board I have maintained a lonely vigil on the Baltic Coast, constantly fighting and frequently getting slapped around by the 'Commonwealth of Overbearing Nobles.' It did not occur to me until I was writing my last chapter that this was my big chance, that tens of thousands of knights were crying out for justice.

It will be a nasty war, for along with the apostates and their Polish lapdogs we have Imperial (Austrian) jackals and Spanish swine to deal with. Spain alone worries me: they're worming their way up the 'French' west and southern coast, along with their holdings in Naples/Sicily and colonies. The rest we can handle with a little luck.

Johan smiles on us in March 1605 as Norway/Denmark decide it's time to finish off Sweden. Sweden brings in Poland and Lithuania, so Norway calls in the Livonian Order. Our allies are going to help whether they want to or not! Unfortunately we don't have the option to join their war. I considered independently DoWing Sweden and eating the -3 stab hit (-2 for no casus belli, -1 for RM) but it would be for naught if Lithuania declined.

He smiles on us again, though in a lopsided manner, when the Ottos diploannex the Golden Horde in May. This extends our border making avoiding border friction a non-issue. It also autofails our mission to improve relations with the Horde, which we replace with 'saving our brethren in Bryansk.'

Now our armies are finally in position. Our navy's sitting the war out in Finland: We can't compete with the Spanish Armada, and anyway I still have hopes of confusing the Spanish AI's pathfinding. It is time to roll the dice. It is time to avenge the fallen of other AARs. God is with us!

Okay, an Orthodox God, but still.


Johan vult!

160505LetsDoThis_zps41b5bcaf.jpg


Plan A was a defense in depth: All armies sat two provinces back. I would have preferred to start the campaign in Septemberish so General Winter could argue with invaders, but with fierce fighting on the Livonian/Lithuanian border I wanted to make sure they didn't peace out before we were ready.

The idea was to have any advancing army weaken themselves by sieging (or preferably dropping off siege armies), and locate any hunter/killer stacks. We need the advantage, for once the dust clears it's RUSSIA, Kazan and Ryazan vs. LITHUANIA, Ansbach, Austria, Brittany, Gotland, Normandy and Spain. It looks bad on paper, but I still have high hopes of Spain getting lost, while Austria is losing a war versus Morocco(!) over Rio de Oro on the African coast.

One month in (June 1605), it became obvious there would be no mass invasion of Russian territory: I can clearly see the Lithuanian army in Livonia, and only Johan knew where the Poles were. One province closer then, and we began sieging the easternmost provinces of Voronezh and Tambow, followed by Bryansk and Kursk (both Russian Orthodox). These four are our goals for this campaign.

Finally in October the Lithuanians invade near the Pripyat Marshes. Realizing their mistake they attempt to veer off and join the cataclysm in Livonia, but we catch them:

160510Kholm_zps00d56691.jpg


We can't kill them without risking our defensive line, but making them bleed is good enough. We have over 120K in manpower as the campaign begins. We can keep doing this all turn.

Oddly enough, the Livonian Grandmaster takes this opportunity to call us cowards and weaklings (Dip Insult), perhaps for not helping them. Honestly, they don't need it for at this point the tide's turning with Danish and Norwegian reinforcements on scene.

We respond by taking Military-16 (Standardization of Calibre), which increases our Artillery shock/fire and combat width by one a piece. Useful against technologically equal or superior foes.

Through the spring of 1606 things continue to go our way: All four provinces fall, but of course the Lithuanians won't consider peace. I do check with Spain/Austria/Poland as well, and continue to do so every six months, but they remain committed to the evil horse lovers.

Cut to June 1606, and suddenly the threat - and opportunity - ramps up. Spain invades Finland with 5,000 men - a joke, but they're also counterattacking Lithuania and hoping to surprise me with 22! Further, the Lithuanians have an exhausted army of 18,000 desperately trying to recover morale. Destroy the last, contain the first two and we go a long way towards winning this thing.

160606War_zpsba5f38e3.jpg


I'd told myself that if anyone touched Finland we'd raise mercenaries, but not for 5,000. One unit moves north and, after a brief chase, catches them. Our southern army smashes into the Lithuanians, and the Spaniards divert southward to help. This results in a series of furious battles in and around Kiev.

160610Aftermath_zps2197930d.jpg


The Lithuanians we let go: The Spanish army and Spanish king are the big prize, so we chase down and destroy them. Following that most of our armies mass in southern Lithuania to speed sieges along, while two armies stay in the north to prevent counterattack.

In December 1606 we hit Diplomacy-13 (Great Shipyward & Roads), because apparently winning battles makes it easier to explain to others what you want. Who knew?

By April we took our fifth province (Novgorod-Seversky), but of course the Lithuanians still thought they could win this. So did the Ottomans, who used this opportunity to press a claim on Saratov. (Tensions along the border) Fortunately they don't act on it.

Through the autumn of 1607 we continue sieging (and continued attriting - manpower down to around 80K). The Lithuanian army appears in Pinsk, but stubbornly stays there as the Livonians had occupied the province some time ago. The Poles appear as well, but didn't seem eager to engage as now our defense in depth has turned into offense with ample reserves: Attack one, multiple armies join in.

160711IronCurtain_zpsb123baa5.jpg


By January four more provinces fall and the front line moves north: I wasn't as interested in invading Polish territory as Lithuania's surrender would be the big prize. By June two more provinces fall, but that opened up our back (southern door) for the long awaited Polish counterattack.

The 25K army under Polish King Stefan I Jagiellon destroys a band of rebels before settling in Poltava. Our two armies from our newest conquests (Chenizgevisky(?) and Mogilev) unify under a new leader, Kirill Dubenski (F6 S2 M2 Sg2) and rush south to have a chat.

160808Poltava_zpsd7fc6b58.jpg


Ouch.

We immediately 'concede defeat' to Poland. Ridiculous? Yes, but it's one less 'buddy' for the Lithuanians to depend on. Plus, we apologize very nicely for burning all their white chicken banners. Indeed, we gave them a tapestry showing a bear with a chicken in its mouth to show our gratitude.

OK, maybe you didn't, but I did in my imagination. Further I've actually censored myself, as I imagined the bear doing other things to the chicken.

Where was I? Oh yes, Lithuania.

Still they don't want to peace out, and now I find out why: 29K Spanish invaded Finland, while 3K Bretons somehow wound up in Archangel. Now it's time for the mercs, who combined with two of my armies charge north to deal with the incursion. The Austrian Emperor also scraped together 29K to help out Lithuania, leading to a very unexpected truce.

160810Austrians_zpsf0ee5a91.jpg


As I moved reinforcements in to protect our army in Grodno, the Austrians simply ignored them. I later figured out why: This was an army that happened to be in Poland when we peaced out. This meant they had the 'black flag' modifier. I thought it'd reset upon entering Lithuanian territory, but I guess not.

Still, it wouldn't do to fight them. While the Austrians and our armies sat around figuring out how to resolve this, with the Lithuanian army in Pinsk still unwilling to stir, we destroyed the Breton force in Archangel and lined up to take on the Spanish in Karelia.

One last attempt at peace before two ugly battles, and in December 1608 the Lithuanians saw reason.

160812WeWin_zps54da940b.jpg


Almost immediately radicals asked us to reduce the independence of the church. Considering God gave us victory? No. Go away.

The next year is ... nice. It's quiet. Oh, there's a rebellion or two - they never really stopped, and the only reason I didn't mention them is I had a spare army on rebel suppression duties who never faltered. We extend our colonies further east: No Pacific Ocean alas. Convert a few provinces. Begin the annexation of Kazan (will finish 1625).

We have one last duty to our Czarina: A long term reform which will hopefully help in the future. No, not Westernization alas: We're overextended. We can get rid of some system that I can't pronounce and apparently didn't work well however.

160912ReformTreasury_zps525675c2.jpg


Stability raised back to 0, then check in with Johan.


Johan's Dice

Reign: 20 years
Roll Needed: 5+
Roll: 1
Continue: No

So where next?
 

CatKnight

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INTERLUDE VII: (1610)


Russia's in pretty good shape, and stronger than ever.

161001Russia_zps94ccdeed.jpg


Still, there's some danger: Of the 81 provinces, 10 have non-accepted cultures, 11 non-accepted religions. Further, both diplomats are now tied up with annexations: Ryazan until 1614, Kazan until 1625. The Lithuanians in particular will want revenge, and we now have a somewhat long border with the Ottomans.

Good luck, Elizaveta.

Following Japan's unusually long war with Korea, it looks like they've spent some time getting their house in order. At least they haven't grown more.

161001Japan_zpsa87662e5.jpg


Something must have happened to Ming, for they released Manchu and Zhou.

At some point I'm pretty sure the Mughals ate Gujarat, though that Baluchistan finger is just ugly.

161001Mughals_zps2f7c9a38.jpg


Delhi is STILL alive.

How about our favorite North Africans?

161001Morocco_zpsc85789de.jpg


As I mentioned, Morocco, the Ottos and Yemen finished off the Mamluks. Further, Morocco won their war with Austria and at least forced the emperor to leave them alone. I'm so proud of them.

Moving south...

161001Mali_zps234425e6.jpg


Really not much to see here.

Our favorite continent is up to their usual tricks.

161001Europe_zps185fb327.jpg


The fringes: Spain, Britain, Norway, the Ottos and so forth, have blobbed nicely and in at least recognizable if not historical ways. France and Germany are a bloody mess. In fact, let's take a closer look:

161001CEurope_zpsaf4791d6.jpg


Burgundy actually has looked worse, so it looks like they're trying to pull it back together. Their weakness has been a godsend to the Netherlands. As you know, Brittany's entered the colonial race. Austria's the emperor, and Mainz is getting huge.

So, where to Johan? Portugal's the only country really serious about colonizing (Along with Caraibas, they have a colonial state in Brazil, apparently conquered Ceylon and are at war with Carnatic over southern India). Perhaps the UK: I'm not sure what they're waiting for, but they should have the capability to explore/colonize by now. Perhaps...

161001Shan_zpscd0d236b.jpg


Huh.

Well...

At least it's not Lan Xang.
 

unmerged(58610)

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Johan heard you plotting against Sweden, No wonder you moved on.

Nice little war with Lithuania. You weren't too far from the pacific. For 20 years, you did pretty well. Converting and coring. Tidying up the borders. Lithuania has been weakened. Not quite to the extent that the Poles will look at them and go 'lunch', but they're close.

Savoy has nearly finished off Milan and Switzerland, but is losing to Austria. Mali and Morocco still doing well.
The Baluchi are giving the Mughals the finger. Chagatai is worthless. The Mughals have heard of Delhi belly and have decided whatever that is, they don't want it.

Onwards to the Shan States. Next to a powerful Orissa and Ayutthaya. Ayu is going down!
 

Saintrl

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Hohoho you should pull some gimmicky rebels force convert you to Islam trick by eating where Bengal used to be along with getting the Exploration idea to colonize next to a Western nation so you can Westernize. Then get your piety all the way negative for maximum ownage. Buddhism as a religion is quite lacking at the moment (even Hinduism is slightly better because of the tax bonus).
 

tnick0225

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At least you got a little revenge against Lithuania finally :)

I like the state of the world Europe seems an odd mess but still enjoyable seeing. One thing I noticed is Iceland, what in the hell is Munster doing up there!!! And is it German Munster or Irish Munster? Regardless seeing that gave me a good laugh. Also noticed the Papal States have gobbled up a lot of Central Italy, which is surprising and interesting to see.

I do see a lot of huge wars in Russia's future. Lithuania will probably DoW them for revenge eventually, and the Ottos sitting there well, that can't be a good thing. It is nice to see that Morrocco and Mugals are doing just fine, as well as Japan.

But Johann has decided to send you back to the Far East, he's given you Shan, so that you can finally try to get revenge against Ayutthaya. At least I hope you can get some revenge against them :)
 

AsdfeZxcas

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Nice too see you get revenge on Lithuania. I've got an ax to grind with them too, as they ended my Pagan Teutonic Order aar.:sad:
 

Director

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because apparently winning battles makes it easier to explain to others what you want. Who knew?

Not exactly. Winning battles doesn't improve your speaking skills, it improves the ability of others to listen. :)

You did good with Russia and it looks like most of your past stops are prospering also. I wish you the best of luck with Shan; it seems the first order of the day is to explain to the rebels that there is a new, um, approach to dissent that you brought with you all the way from Moscow. Rope, meet peasant: peasant, rope.

Given the state of my current game as Burgundy I shiver when I see that united Netherlands... I was sort of hoping you would get a crack at Savoy because those people are really expanding. Without a strong France, Europe is really up-for-grabs.
 

Darkath

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Something must have happened to Ming, for they released Manchu and Zhou.

Around 1600 there's an event that wrecks Ming's stability, which cause them to lose the mandate of heaven and usually collapse under rebels, that's what happened there.