• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
61 Badges
Mar 3, 2001
17.715
8.312
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • BATTLETECH
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Revelations
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • 500k Club
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Hearts of Iron II: Beta
  • Victoria 2 Beta
Russian Cheese! An Expansion Test AAR

Index:

Chapter I: The introduction. You are here. Click to experience recursion.
Chapter II. 1444-1488. Elementary blobbing. In which the principalities fall one by one.
Chapter III.1502-1531. Of Love and Destiny. In which Lithuania ceases to be a problem.
Chapter IV. 1537-1568. Go West. In which several Khanates are annexed.
Chapter V. 1581-1597. A Matter of Time. In which Xenophon is fondly remembered.
Chapter VI. 1607-1656. I Believe! In which Ivan takes the piss.
Chapter VII. 1656-1689. Everything Must Go. In which Boris waxes wroth and disturbing maps are discovered.
Chapter VIII. 1693-1730. Luck and Skill. In which the most outrageous personal union, ever, is formed.



Chapter I: An Introduction

The Lord God spake unto the peoples of the Earth, saying:
“Come forth and receive eternal life”,

but Ivan came fifth and won a toaster.



A Note to the Reader

Patch 1.2. raised a considerable amount of debate on the forums and I found myself having to recheck some of my assumptions and conclusions from the beta, where I had had insufficient time to truly put 1.2 through the wringer due to real-life obligations. In particular, the many claims that rapid expansion were a thing of the past, and the talk about the inability to maintain allies and the inevitability of being locked down by coalitions making every war a coalition war made me dedicate a weekend to testing out this out.

As my country of choice, I went with Muscovy, because nothing says expansionary lifestyle like “it all belongs to Mother Russia”. It lies in a target-rich environment and blobbing is its destiny. For difficulty, I went with AI bonuses and a hard AI to make the AI willing to attack me.

I normally do not start out playing majors, as it makes the game too easy, but for this particular test it seemed appropriate. If the problems described were general, they would also occur for Russia, and if not, not. And regardless of the problems showed up, I would have a blast fighting wars not so much by ingenuity as by piling on the bodies.

I decided that the primary focus of my test would be on rapid – or at least moderately fast – expansion by means of vassalization through war or diplomacy coupled with feeding vassals provinces, while also colonizing Siberia using Expansion ideas. I would not use/abuse the revolt system to help other countries be overrun with rebels for defection purposes. As fun as the latter is, it would pretty much defeat the purpose of the test.

For a pure conquest game based on vassals, you should choose Diplomatic Ideas instead for the diplomatic relations and the reduction of unjustified costs. (Or in the case of Muscovy/Russia better yet, get both.)

Note that this is not a WC attempt. These days I neither have the time nor the patience for attempting that sort of thing and am happy to leave that particular brand of fun to the players who do have the time. There will be no seat-of-the-pants playing here: Only deliberate and systematic expansion.

My conclusion by 1597 when hotfix 1.2.2 arrived and changed the equation by making AE much less of an issue for allies and fixing the fire-phase bug that resulted in amusing levels of casualties, was that the most outspoken in the general forum population had, as is so often the case, severely overstated the negatives of 1.2 and 1.2.1. – but that while I could not agree with them on the expansion issue, they did have several good points with respect to how fun it was. I happen to find the particular type of challenge presented by 1.2 fun (juggling numbers), but I can easily see, upon reflection, how this might not be universally shared.

With these words, onwards with the show. This AAR will be rather shorter than my usual AARs with more sparse chapters and no gripping drama, but, on the positive side, it is quite likely that it will be finished rather than abandoned once something else grabs my fancy. If nothing else, I can call a halt any time after 1597 on the grounds that the original test was concluded by that date. :)



Setting the Scene

Picture a room that is comfortable or, let us say for the sake of argument, comfortable under the circumstances. For the two people currently inhabiting it, the room, while perhaps not ample, is not cramped either. It has got air conditioning and perfect temperature control, but no windows. For obvious reasons. It has two doors, one leading to the bathroom and lavatory, because there are some experiences that were not meant to be shared, and the other leading elsewhere.

The room contains the essential furniture and fixtures, several crates full of maps, some food to snack on, and a table upon which one of those maps is currently being examined carefully by the room's current inhabitants, Ivan and Boris. They like to think of themselves as devoted seekers after knowledge, explorers of the mysteries, delving into the depths of history to uncover the truth, and treading the paths not taken, rather than as the high-functioning dysfunctional individuals they used to appear to everybody else before they withdrew from society, and, who knows, they might be right.

Available evidence suggests otherwise, however. After all, they are in a room full of maps and 21,347 wheels of Circassian cheese. These things do not happen by chance.

Ivan: This is a most splendid map, Boris. I believe that it, of all the maps we have found, comes closest to the point of divergence. In fact, based on this map I suspect that it might depict the point of divergence itself, set down for posterity.

Boris: What makes you say so? Certainly wildly unlikely things happened after this point, but looking at the previous century, it was replete with implausible – dare I say ahistorical - events as well. What is it about this map that so convinces you?

Ivan: That somebody has scrawled “And so it begins...” on it.

Boris: And in a terrible handwriting too. You may have a point.


This is Muscovy in 1444. Strong and peaceful. One of the two will change.
cp7r.jpg



“...It is an ill-kept secret that Russians are always named Ivan. Except when they are named Boris. This is known not only in western Europe, it is known as far away as in Hollywood, but the government hushed it up! Now, one might rightfully ask how Russian society can function using only two names, and the answer is that they cheat. Russians are masters of deception and playing the long game, so most Russians go through life pretending to be named something else in order to confuse their enemies, but make no mistake, beneath the innocently deceptive exterior there lurks an Ivan – or a Boris, as the case might be.

Now, one might well think that that makes the Russians who claim to be named Ivan or Boris the most trustworthy of all, since they do not go through life lying about their very identity, but that would be a fatal mistake. That is just what they are counting on. At least 92% of the Russians known to the world as Ivan are, in fact, Boris in disguise, and vice versa.

And as for the Russian women, who generally pretend to be named innocently deceptive names such as Natascha or Tatiana and none of whom reveal themselves to the public as Ivan or Boris, those are the most dangerous of them all.- Excerpt from "The Ravening Russians".
 
Last edited:
My conclusion by 1597 when hotfix 1.2.2 arrived and changed the equation by making AE much less of an issue for allies and fixing the fire-phase bug that resulted in amusing levels of casualties, was that the most outspoken in the general forum population had, as is so often the case, severely overstated the negatives of 1.2 and 1.2.1. – but that while I could not agree with them on the expansion issue, they did have several good points with respect to how fun it was. I happen to find the particular type of challenge presented by 1.2 fun (juggling numbers), but I can easily see, upon reflection, how this might not be universally shared.

Edited formatting for clarity

Thank you for clearly stating your position up front (and in a reasonable, balanced way, to boot) - hopefully, it'll keep things from devolving into an angry shouting match. I look forward to learning how you came to this conclusion, so that I can form my own opinion (not having really played since 1.2 was released, I don't know one way or another).

PS: That must be a pretty sizeable room, if it can hold in excess of 21,000 wheels of cheese. Unless Circassia is renowned for its cheese-miniaturization artisans. ;)
 
Ithvan - Dissecting and dissecting. In the AAR I will gloss over most things, only noting them when they surprised me or I had to change my thinking significantly from 1.1 to 1.2. I am not going into details but will try to keep this focused. (Yeah, right). As for my prognosis, well, for now let me just note that the 1597 situation at the end of 1.2.1 was such that I felt I had already accomplished something and that my prognosis was - and remains, though I've only played 20 more years since then under 1.2.2 - that I would end up with something rather more. Since I didn't play this game as a seat-of-my-pants game taking risks, the early game features rather slow expansion due to 1.2.1. making taking early game risks potentially deadly; I really didn't want to tempt my larger neighbours into adventurism against Muscovy during the early years now that the AI is perfectly willing to overspend to field armies and now that casualties in sieges as well as fire phase were so brutal, so my plan was to hold aggression against the larger neighbours until I felt secure that I could deal with two of them at the same time, the one that was my target and the one that might opportunistically backstab me. :D

Stuyvesant - Angry shouting matches are for the main forum and thankfully rarely spread to the AAR subforum. Here I am sure we can all agree to disagree rather than letting our tempers rise. :) And to your PS, I did write that while the room was perhaps not ample, is was not cramped either. It is obviously large enough that it can contain in excess of 21,000 wheels of cheese as well as the essential furniture and fixtures, however large that might be. I'll leave that to your imagination for now. :D

Next chapter going up within the hour.
 
Russian Cheese! An Expansion Test AAR


Chapter II: Elementary Blobbing

And the Angel of the Lord spake unto the Grand Prince, saying,
“Spread thy culture far and wide, and spare not the holy arse,
that you may cripple your diplomatic growth by doing good,
for of such is the Kingdom of God!”

The Grand Prince said, “an Angel? Groovy!”,
and became a religious nutcase.



Northwards Blobbing

Boris: Right, I think this is it, 1461.

Ivan: 1475. You win, I guess. Have some cheese.

Boris: This comes closest in time and place to 1444 Russia while showing interesting variations. Of course, there are thousands of maps left in the crate to examine, so who knows what we might find?

Ivan: Anything! That is the glory of maps! Their seductive lure. They hint and they promise, to the passing observer they merely offer tantalizing glimpses of what might be, but when you get alone with them in a dark room, then you see all laid bare.

Boris: You are hyperventilating, Ivan. Take a deep breath, eat some consolation cheese, and look at the map.



Muscovy 1461. No longer peaceful.
ntb9.jpg



Boris: As you can see, the merchant republic of Novgorod is on its last legs, while south of Muscovy the Kazan horde is displacing the Nogai hordes.

Ivan: Muscovy has conquered everything of Novgorod except the city itself? What madness is this.

Boris: Indeed. It is aesthetically most unpleasant. More interesting, perhaps, is that Muscovy leads an alliance of Tver and Ryazan while Pskov, Yaroslavl, and Perm remain vassals – an alliance of interests strong enough to end the Tatar yoke. Muscovy is in the process of integrating the Duchy of Perm under the direct control of the Grand Prince.

Ivan: Right.

Boris: And, of course, somebody just had to spoil the otherwise pristine map by scrawling religious graffiti on it.

Ivan: Even monks can get bored, I guess. Now, while I would be the first to acknowledge that you have a real find there, prepare to be stunned by MY map. BEHOLD!



Livonian Order 1475. Ten years a vassal and allegedly loving it.
uvqm.jpg



Boris: ...

Ivan: Stunned into silence. I like that.

Boris: That's not a map, that's a bloody tourist brochure!

Ivan: It is most appalling, is it not?

Boris: Appalling? It is a beyond appalling! It is a desecration, an abomination, the act of philistines.. It is... It is commercial! I shudder at the very thought, my mind takes strange paths, and I feel the urge to right the universe by main force, as I did before my restraining order. I must act!

Ivan: Oh, do relax Boris. Histrionics will get you nowhere. Have some cheese?

Boris: Don't mind if I do, Ivan. It is a most excellent cheese.

Ivan: Now, to the point: You will have noticed that Novgorod is gone, thus seemingly mainlining the Novgorodian divergence, but the Livonian Order serving the Grand Prince since 1465, that is a divergence too large to ignore. Compelled by historical imperatives though it might be, the control mechanism is failing.

Boris: Please, not your Clockwork-Earth theory again. We agreed to disagree on that one.

Ivan: Well, pardon me for preferring it over your ridiculous Sealed-in-a-Can theory. How would it account for THIS!



Muscovy 1488. Stomping erstwhile allies, who became rivals...
fiur.jpg



Boris: I don't get your point?

Ivan: Look closely.

Boris: Pskov and Yaroslavl are gone – undoubtedly annexed by their master. Tver is gone as well, and with Ryazan under attack – notice how the monk has even drawn tiny soldiers invading Ryazan, now that is dedication – it seems likely that Tver and Ryazan saw which way things were going and decided to make a fight of it. Sure, we knew they were going to be swallowed up at one point, but what is so surprising to you about it happening now? What makes this map special?

Ivan: A monk copied out the state budget of Muscovy on it, that's what.

Boris: This is entirely in accord with my theory for reasons I cannot adequately explain at the moment due to overwhelming hunger. Let us take a break for dinner.



And so we leave Ivan and Boris as they search the room, that, while perhaps not ample, is not cramped either, in an ultimately fruitless quest to discover something edible apart from cheese, secure in the knowledge that however bitter they might be at this discovery, it will be as nothing when compared to what whey will feel when they at last realize that there is nothing to drink but decontaminated water. The room does contain all the fixtures of a modern kitchen, so the culinary options are endless, only restricted by the imagination and by the two available sources of nourishment.
 
They can make cheese fondue, in which pieces of cheese can be dunked... Yum! Accompanied by a glass of water with a cheese wedge for garnish? I don't know what they're complaining about: at least the water is decontaminated.

Okay, I'm not well-versed enough in this game to properly deconstruct events, but given your initial exposition, I'll assume the following: Novgorod was conquered, Perm was diplomatically annexed (you said as much, so that's not really assuming much). Did negative relation modifiers from that annexation/integration lead to your erstwhile allies getting touchy and the war - finishing up by 1488 - that caused their demise?

Your ADM points seem fairly high - does that mean you have not advanced tech and/or ideas much, or are you merely gaining them at a faster clip than I'm accustomed to?
 
There will be no seat-of-the-pants playing here.

But but That's the only way I know how to play!

Hmm, maybe that's why I'm not that good at the game?

I'd wish you luck Peter but I know luck doesn't enter into it when you play.;)
 
- Stuyvesant: I originally allied with Tver and Ryazan with the intention to diplomatically make them vassals (as you would) and to provide extra armies to dissuade especially the Kazan steppe dummies from attacking. All went well for the first few years, but then when I was about to finish Novgorod off, they got trigger happy with the rival flags. And then Novgorod and Perm went, and.. I first tried to get around it by improving relations etc. but Tver broke its alliance and I had had enough, so decided to go for a military annexation of Tver. With Ryazan still considering Muscovy a rival, it was next for the axe - or rather, for vassalization by force.

With regards to my monarch points, the reason that you see them at such high levels is that I do not spend monarch points on tech until such time as a) it is absolutely necessary because it provides a significant immediate bonus that I need, b) I get the maximum -25% neighbour discount, or c) I'm about to hit the cap and I don't have anything else I would like to spend it on while waiting for the neighbour bonus to accumulate. There's also d) immediately prior to westernization, but that's more of a general case. I don't see any reason to spend more monarch points on tech than I absolutely have to, just to have a higher techlevel when I am eligible for it. Even if you only average a -10% bonus - and an average closer to -15% is normal for me for all except military tech - that's a huge amount of monarch points saved that you can spend on other things.

- Storey; Luck most definitely comes into play, so long as one defines luck as "the AI players doing things (for whatever reason), that I didn't anticipate but which significantly affects the game"; It is just that good or bad luck in EU4 mainly has an effect on the tactical level, not strategic.
 
Russian Cheese! An Expansion Test AAR


Chapter III: Of Love and Destiny

Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know.



A Giant Falls

Boris: Right. I found this map from 1502, a mere fourteen years after the Muscovite invasion of Ryazan. Lithuania is, to put it charitably, not what it once was. We've agreed that 1444 was a point of divergence, but take a look at 1502: What does your theory of historical imperatives say to that?

Ivan: Cocky, are you? Let's see about that.



Lithuania, the Fallen Western Giant. 1502.
mz62.jpg



Ivan: Well. That is. I mean. It makes perfect sense. What obviously happened is Muscovy was driven by economic imperatives and by long-standing enmity to invade eastern Lithuania to put an end to the Lithuanian political and economic dominance. They took a few provinces for their own (notice Kursk) and rather than controlling the rest directly from Muscow as they had done with the Russian principalities, they created the Ukraine, a sister nation. Moscow to rule the Russians, and, I'd assume Cherigov, at least at first, to rule the white Russians.

Boris: Vaguely plausible. Do go on.

Ivan: A few years later they invaded again and made Lithuania hand over the rest of the Ukraine to the new country, thus showing the strength of their slavic brotherly love with the Ukrainians and forming the basis for an alliance of cultural love and mutual interest strong enough to reign forever from the capitals of Moscow and Kiev, or at least for a few hundred years, and becoming the mortal enemy of a now impotent Lithuania in the process. Certainly, it happened rapidly, but this is only to be expected given the decisiveness shown in the acts of the kings of the time. In other words, it makes perfect sense and, while I grant you the possibility that the divergence itself may not be the result of historical imperatives, this follows completely naturally from the changed situation created by the initial divergence.

Boris: It does, does it? Brotherly love for sister nations sounds a bit too incestuous to me, but leaving that aside, given that we assume you are right, then how do you explain this map from 1517, fifteen years later:



Deceptively Innocent Map. 1517.
rizu.jpg



A Theory Explained

Ivan: Well, Ukraine has expanded a bit against Lithuania, and its success has caused Lithuania to fall apart as other people living under the yoke of a distant king seeks freedom, thus neatly explaining Polotsk. Meanwhile, the Livonian order has been annexed by Muscovy. These are all expected developments, so what is your point, exactly?

Boris: Polotsk is a Muscovite vassal, as is Ukraine.

Ivan: So? Makes excellent sense; liberty under the benevolent guidance of the Grand Prince.

Boris: And the Golden Horde seems to have been broken, with Astrakhan springing into existence. So, too has the Uzebk Khanate that had divided the Nogai Khanate with Kazan and conquered the Siberian Khanate been broken, and Sibir and Khazak are once again independent countries.

Ivan: Where are you going with this?

Boris: Astrakhan and Sibir are also vassals to Muscovy, just like the Ukraine, Polotsk, the Livonian Order, Pskov, Yaroslavl, and Perm before them. This is no mere historical imperative; those countries didn't break on their own, like Lithuania before them, they were broken, and puppet states were created by malicious design or, in cases of genuine independence movements, enslaved by the Grand Prince. This is deliberate conquest run according to a diabolical plan, maximizing profits at the cost of human lives. Yea, verily, I see the claw of the hidden one in these acts.

Ivan: Now you are just being silly as well as conjecturing based on insufficient data, Borya, and you know what your therapists said about that before the unfortunate incident. How about some cheese?

Boris: You don't distract me that easily. Tell me about the brotherly love for the hordes that made this imperative, do tell. Explain how this is merely, to use the vernacular, a historically imperative fucking over of other countries.

Ivan: Well, there's the reverse cowgirl theorem of manifest destiny.

Boris: This better be good...

Ivan: The theorem rests on two indisputable facts. First, as known already to scholastics of the middle ages, those who stand on the shoulders of giants see further.

Boris: With you so far.

Ivan: This, however, is of little use to the theory of historical development, as there are so few giants and so very many dwarfs.

Boris: Stipulated.

Ivan: The second is that countries fucking each other, as you so eloquently put it, is entirely normal. Normally, this is done doggy-style or missionary, with fire and sword and no question of who's submissive.

Boris: It is a metaphor Vanya, and some metaphors should be taken only so far.

Ivan: But don't you see it? The historical theory holds that a cowgirl vassal relationship is doomed, because the vassal only sees the past, while the overlord's sight of the future is blocked by his vassal. It may be a pleasing sight and fucking the vassal may be pleasant activity, but it is ultimately a doomed relationship for both parties involved. The reverse cowgirl theorem of manifest destiny, however, notes that while the overlord's sight remains blocked and he is as doomed as ever, the vassal can look to the future, and she sees farther because she sits on a giant... dramatic pause

Boris: Did you just say, “dramatic pause”?

Ivan: Yes. It is how I was taught the theory. My teacher had some weird verbal ticks before they took him away to the St. Petersburg home for the mentally bewildered.

Boris: Moving on, I find your theory utterly ridiculous, both as a metaphor and as an explanation of historical progress. Both the overlord and the vassal would see more if they just stood tall rather than fucking around.

Ivan: Yes, a few of the more intellectually challenged students pointed that out when we role-played nations in preparation for the exams, but as my teacher rightly pointed out to them, “when you are a vassal, getting fucked is not the question: How you face it is. Bounce like you like it and think of the future.”

Boris: Now you are just making things up.

Ivan: Not at all. I got straight A's for my performance as France with little Foix and Bourbonnais, and Bourbonnais got A+ for extreme bouncing. I nearly had to be hospitalized. It was a most exhausting course of study testing the stamina of the students, but we'd been warned by the professor already in the first lesson that studying under him would be long and hard, so it was a relief to nearly everybody when we finally reached the climax of the course and began putting what we'd learned in practice rather than being instructed, as it were.

Boris: For the preservation of sanity and mental hygiene, I declare that the subject of your depraved school days is now off limits in this bunker. I am going to purge my memory of it. Let us forget we even had this discussion.

Ivan: That works for me. At least I managed to distract you from whatever it was you were talking about, Borya.

Boris: There is that, Ivan. Time for a cheese break?



A May-December relationship

Ivan: Sorry, Boris. The cheese break will have to wait. As I was explaining to you before you made me digress into a forbidden topic, which I shall not mention on the grounds of it being forbidden, I found this excellent map from 1531 that shows the nature of the May-December relationship between the Ukraine and Muscovy. The Ukraine, conceived in joy and happily married in the early 16th century, so lavishly gifted with presents during the springtime of their love, so consumed with her love, she finally achieved her lifelong goal of complete union with Muscovy, thus fulfilling her historical destiny.



A rare moment when the diplomats are not active.1531.
2imk.jpg



Boris: Your explanation sits uneasily with me, as if there is something I have forgotten, but let the past be the past. If I have forgotten something, it is either something that was irrelevant, something that was better forgotten, in which case good riddance, or something which the hidden one did not want me to know, in which case there is nothing to be done. I notice that Muscovy in 1531 has the vassals Astrakhan, Sibir, Riga, and Moldavia, and that both Moldavia and Bulgaria are now independent countries that used to be part of the north-western Ottoman Empire.

Ivan: The consequences of the divergence are multiplying, and not only in the east. Who knows where it will end?

Boris: Well, we could open the door and find out. I mean the other door, not the one to the lavatory. I mention this merely as a hypothetical but impractical solution.

Ivan. Better not under the circumstances.
 
My conclusion by 1597 when hotfix 1.2.2 arrived and changed the equation by making AE much less of an issue for allies and fixing the fire-phase bug that resulted in amusing levels of casualties, was that the most outspoken in the general forum population had, as is so often the case, severely overstated the negatives of 1.2 and 1.2.1. – but that while I could not agree with them on the expansion issue, they did have several good points with respect to how fun it was. I happen to find the particular type of challenge presented by 1.2 fun (juggling numbers), but I can easily see, upon reflection, how this might not be universally shared.

Out of curiosity, how many provinces did you have by 1597? There is an AE multiplier that is based on the number provinces you hold. That is, as you get larger, the AE effects become more pronounced for the same gain. Once your province count is large enough, the AE generated by taking a couple provinces will throw most of the nearby countries (and all your rivals) into a coalition.
 
Out of curiosity, how many provinces did you have by 1597? There is an AE multiplier that is based on the number provinces you hold. That is, as you get larger, the AE effects become more pronounced for the same gain. Once your province count is large enough, the AE generated by taking a couple provinces will throw most of the nearby countries (and all your rivals) into a coalition.
I will be revealing that... by the 1597 update. And not a moment before. That'll let you hypothesize as to how large or how small it is until then. Feel free to make guesses as to the 1597 result until then based on your own experiences and the observed expansion speed over these chapters. 1597 should be two or, more probably, three chapters away. Do remember that I ran this as a test of the game mechanics while playing it safe, rather than the more risky play needed for WC style play where truly rapid expansion is the order of the day, so it may be less than you you would think. Or, perhaps, not.

To add further teasing to what I realize is already a teasing answer, let me note that I am now up to to 1667 and am still expanding at what I consider a comfortable pace under the circumstances. It is definitely not anything like the WC speeds I had in EU2 or EU3, but for a non-WC game, like this Russian Cheese game is, I find it a comfortable pace.
 
Boris: For the preservation of sanity and mental hygiene, I declare that the subject of your depraved school days is now off limits in this bunker. I am going to purge my memory of it. Let us forget we even had this discussion.

Quite. Quite indeed.

I find it hard enough to provide anything resembling coherent commentary at the best of times, but that insinuating and rather lengthy digression has run my brain right of the rails, flailing futilely for something to latch onto.

Must commend you for the extended metaphor (that isn't a metaphor, it seems): every time I thought we'd exhausted the vein, you dug a little deeper, a little farther, and just kept going. :)

Finally, the verbalized "Dramatic pause" was quite good, too.
 
Another brilliant Peter Ebbesen AAR. Eagerly looking forward to more! :D
 
I like your AAR very much. This has made me start my own Muscowy game, following your advice as much as possible. I'm using vassals a lot as shown here, and had Polotsk, Smolensk and Ukraine carved from Lithuania).
I'm around the same date as your last update (1540ish), and I'm a little late (it was expected ;) ), as I just started getting involved around the Black Sea (Crimea was huge, backed by uzbeks and mostly the Ottomans, but I attacked them when they suffered very big pretender rebels, 70k in total I think). Well, I have Finland as a vassal and annexed Kazan with the mission but that's all I have going for me :).

By the way, what are you thought on westernisation. You're close to the Time of Troubles so it could be risky now, but is this something you're considering?

Also, I'm able to take the forming russia decision, but I already have the Subjugate Crimea mission giving me cores on all Russian lands I don't already own, so I'm postponing the formation until the claims from the mission are gone, to get them a second time later. Is this a smart move?
 
My thoughts on...

Westernizing - absolutely unnecessary to have a blast of a game as Muscovy/Russia and unnecessary to fight western countries successfully (in SP), but necessary for maximum expansion, so there's really little point about worrying about ToT; Given the window of 1550-1650, you either westernize successfully before it becomes relevant or you ignore the risk and westernize during it. It isn't all that nasty an event series and it terminates by giving you a guaranteed ADM4 monarch if you want him, which will seriously help you finish westernization if you've gotten stuck for some reason, so go for it.

Regarding forming Russia, there is absolutely no point to it except a) the ability to shout "it all belongs to Mother Russia!" and only look half-mad when you do so, and b) the claims it grants. By the time you can form Russia, you should have overrun most of the Russian area already making b) mostly irrelevant, but if you are in a situation where you still lack a lot of the claimed territory, and think you'll gain an advantage while taking them with claims, by all means delay forming Russia until you need it. Being Russia doesn't grant you anything, as the events/decisions, with one exception, are the same for Muscovy and Russia. And that one exception is that while any country can turn into Byzantium if it controls Constantinople, has Greek primary culture, and is Orthodox while BYZ doesn't exist, Muscovy can get the cultural_shift decision to change primary culture based on majory culture while Russia cannot. Which allows a player to theoretically add the Theme system manpower bonus to the Russian ideas manpower for maximum fun... but, well, the hoops you have to jump through in order to make Greek your primary culture as Muscovy almost don't bear thinking of.
 
My thoughts on...

Westernizing - absolutely unnecessary to have a blast of a game as Muscovy/Russia and unnecessary to fight western countries successfully (in SP), but necessary for maximum expansion, so there's really little point about worrying about ToT; Given the window of 1550-1650, you either westernize successfully before it becomes relevant or you ignore the risk and westernize during it. It isn't all that nasty an event series and it terminates by giving you a guaranteed ADM4 monarch if you want him, which will seriously help you finish westernization if you've gotten stuck for some reason, so go for it.

Regarding forming Russia, there is absolutely no point to it except a) the ability to shout "it all belongs to Mother Russia!" and only look half-mad when you do so, and b) the claims it grants. By the time you can form Russia, you should have overrun most of the Russian area already making b) mostly irrelevant, but if you are in a situation where you still lack a lot of the claimed territory, and think you'll gain an advantage while taking them with claims, by all means delay forming Russia until you need it. Being Russia doesn't grant you anything, as the events/decisions, with one exception, are the same for Muscovy and Russia. And that one exception is that while any country can turn into Byzantium if it controls Constantinople, has Greek primary culture, and is Orthodox while BYZ doesn't exist, Muscovy can get the cultural_shift decision to change primary culture based on majory culture while Russia cannot. Which allows a player to theoretically add the Theme system manpower bonus to the Russian ideas manpower for maximum fun... but, well, the hoops you have to jump through in order to make Greek your primary culture as Muscovy almost don't bear thinking of.
So you did think about more stuff to get insane manpower than you wrote in your manpower guide ;).
Thank you very much for your answer, I think I'll wait a little for westernization but won't factor the ToT too much in this. I want to take another diplo idea to tank my diplomatic tech which caught up with Europe with my 5 DIP and 6 DIP monarchs in a row. I'll take trade I think.

I'll also pass on converting to Byzantium, will use the max out the Crimean mission and form Russia afterwards if I don't have all of it. I already have Astraskhan as a vassal and plan on using Zaphorovia as another one in the Crimean region. Thank you Expansion idea for those diplomatic relations.

Regarding the Balkans, I prefer vassalisation instead of outright conquest (meaning Bulgaria, Serbia, Wallachia and Byzantium as vassals, maybe Syria). Regarding the disapearance of cores, is 1594 really the date when they disappear? They are supposed to be the primary culture for all of them, so I thought they would stay a little longer.

By the way, you conquered the Livonian order giving you TP in the Baltic sea node. As a true Russia will dominate Finland and the Baltics up to Danzing (well, at least Ostpreussen -> Kaliningrad), would you move your capital in the area for a longer trade chain (and also have Krakow in the route)?
 
Russian Cheese! An Expansion Test AAR


Chapter IV: Go West

”Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?”
- “Unrighteous Bible”, Cambridge press, 1653.



It all belongs to Mother Russia

As the room shakes with the aftershock of a near hit, a crate of maps precariously stacked on a stack of cheese wheels accidentally falls over the edge, smashing into pieces as it hits the floor, spilling maps all over the floor.

Ivan: That was a close one. Loath though I am to admit it, they are improving.

Boris: That's just crazy talk. Please focus on what is important, maps! Look at what the crate revealed!

Ivan: Why, I believe it is the first map we've seen where Muscovy is labelled Russia.

Boris: Right you are.



With a name change, it all belongs to Mother Russia, 1537.
axru.jpg



Ivan: I can't help thinking that there's something subtly wrong with that biblical quotation.

Boris: Well, you are the expert on monks and their weird fixations, not I.

Ivan: Probably just a typo; There's a lot of that going around in the bible business. Classics include the Wife-beater's bible and the Standing Fishes bible, to say nothing of the Wicked bible. That one caused a bit of an uproar before it was destroyed.

Boris: I dread asking, but... Wicked bible?

Ivan: The 1641 Wicked Bible left out a word in the seventh commandment, instructing people: ”Thou shalt commit adultery”. Much fun was had by all.

Boris: Right, moving on, you must surely have noted that scrawled in nearly illegible handwriting is written, “It all belongs to Mother Russia!”. There's the obvious motherland/fatherland metaphor, of course, but Mother Russia – MR – Magnetic Resonance. And what is attracted by magnets? Cans. And which cans resonate the most? Empty unsealed cans.

Ivan: Not all cans are attracted by magnets, you know.

Boris: All the important ones are. Don't gainsay me on this, or I will fight you to the ends of the Earth!

Ivan: Well, if it weren't so patently ridiculous, you might have a point, but it is, so you do not. Be that as it may, I have something delicious to show you, something I found tucked away under the maps. A tasty morsel that just makes me want to eat it or rub it all over my body.



Yes, it is another map! This time from 1557.
yuo1.jpg



Boris: I am not quite sure whether to be elated that you were not talking about the cheese or disappointed that you hadn't found a stash of ponography. Perhaps a bit of both. It is an interesting map, though.

Ivan: Yes, isn't it? Astrakhan and Sibir have been annexed, which, as you will recall was entirely in line with the historical imperatives as expressed through brotherly love, of which the less said the better, and the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Georgians, Moldavians, and Rigans are vassals, while the Bosnians remain valued allies with royal ties to the Russian Tsar. The Ottomans have annexed what little remain of the Crimea, and we will undoubtedly find that they were evicted from the Crimea in short order by Russian, thus barring a few minor adjustments finalizing the permanent Russian borders as they exist in the world today, as we would undoubtedly see were we to overcome the slight communications problems and go outside, ushering Russia into a golden age once it had cleared up its internal affairs and put Kazan out of its misery.

Boris: A golden age that is currently shelling our bunker, academician Ivan Aleksandrovich Lobachevsky.

Ivan: Well, I didn't throw the first cheese, doctor Boris Ivanovich Orlov.

Boris: It had gone runny and had to go. And I only opened the door a little bit to allow it to run out, I didn't throw it, academician.

Ivan: …

Ivan: I'll pretend I didn't hear that.

Boris: That's all water under the bridge, and we've passed a lot of water since then, Ivan Aleksandrovich, have we not? I say let bygones be bygones rather than passing blame around. I have here a most interesting map from 1568, about which I am eagerly awaiting your penetrating insights. Notice how Russia has recreated the Crimea and let it absorb the Ottoman Crimean remnants rather than conquering it as you indicated would happen. Moreover, note how somebody of dubious but incredibly regular calligraphic skills wrote several lines of nonsense across the middle of the map. And yet, I cannot help but feel that there's a hidden meaning to the madness.



Go West, 1568.
taj4.jpg



Close, but no banana

Ivan: Umm, that's a bit of a puzzler, but the ritualistic phrasing and the repetitive statement of “(go west)” could be a primitive military chant – or, perhaps those are instructions rather than part of the chant and what we've got is a cadence. You know, a military cadence like “I don't know but I've been told, Deirdre's got a Network Node. Likes to press the on-off switch, Dig that crazy Gaian witch!" In either case, it is probably intended to cheer the troops on as they prepare to invade the remnants of Lithuania to finalize the border.

Boris: I didn't know you were so knowledgeable in military matters, Ivan. Were you ever in the military?

Ivan: I learned this from an old drinking buddy of mine, a failed academician with dreams of grandeur, not in the military.

Boris: Are you evading my question?

Ivan: Yes.

Boris: I can respect that. Would you care for some cheese?

Ivan: Most assuredly. Besides, despite what scurrilous gossip would have, I was not expulsed from basic training over that unfortunate map incident. I left of my own free will after a week, because I had learned all they had to teach.
 
Last edited: