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Badesumofu

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I wanted to do something other than a WC for a change and so I thought I would try playing a taller type of game. I picked France because they have a lot of farmlands, a lot of cloth, and a strong and relatively easy to unite culture group. The basic strategy is to stack up development cost discounts and develop in batches with as many active as possible. Full economic grants 20%, prosperity plus edict is another 20%, happy burghers is 10%, and quantity-economic is 10%. This modifier pops up in a few other places, like renaissance and universities. The other important aspect of this strategy is to maximise monarch point income. This means disinheriting and abdicating, power projection, and promoting advisors. Winning the elections in Poland also helps with both MP and prestige which translates into MP.

I opened the game by immediately declaring on England to reconquer my cores. No waiting for the Maine event – the war is easy as an offensive war and you can easily take all your cores in a single war without having to land on England. I also immediately sent a diplomat to fabricate on Brittany. Brittany now start with no allies and no one much cares if you full-annex them which I did. By taking my 6 cores and Brittany within the first 5 years of the game I boosted my development by 149 and set myself up as the major power of Europe. It is important to note here that I went out of my way to avoid containing the Ottomans because I want them to grow big and strong so I can maintain a rival throughout the game. One rival plus 3 age objectives is enough for permanent 50 PP which is crucial. That is a lot of MP.

I allied Poland early on but was careful to avoid letting them call me into any serious wars. I wanted to protect them so that I could keep winning their elections and eventually get my dynasty permanently on their throne. I was successful here and I could have PUed them around 1600 but saw no reason to do so. It might have put my rivalry at risk and would have granted me no useful benefit.

My other foreign policy considerations were to befriend Castile for a useful early ally and good chance of a PU, and to keep Austria as weak as possible so I would have a free hand to conquer the French land in the HRE. I was extremely successful at both of these. Castile disinherited Enrique and then Juan died in 1450 giving me an instant uncontested PU. This was very lucky and ensured no threat to my south. I eventually took full advantage of an isolated Aragon to conquer Rouslion and release Catalonia from it. I made them a trade power march and then reconquered the rest of their cores. In that war I also took Napoli and released it as Naples and did the same thing again. That gave me total control of Genoa. Both marches have been quite helpful militarily as well. I repeatedly crushed Austria by attacking into the HRE, winning the war and doing as much damage to Austria as possible. I would then peace Austria out (and only them) only to immediately attack into the HRE again to call them back in and crush them all over again. That secondary war also prevented them from demanding unlawful after I took land from the first war. By doing this repeatedly and releasing everything out of Austria that I could I made the HRE a joke. So much so that the Protestants won the League War easily without my involvement. I dismantled it soon after which in hindsight I could have done much sooner.

Initially I had only intended to take French cultured land plus Calais, and Savoie. But then I inherited Tuscany (always look out for Tuscany, they usually form with an old heirless ruler) and my plans changed. I grabbed Liguria to connect my lands. That worked nicely and so then I figured I might as well take the Low Countries after I dismantled the Empire. I did accept Tuscan, Ligurian, Flemmish, and Dutch cultures so it's still adhering to mostly tall-play principles. I also beat up Portugal for its colonies a couple of times since I didn't bother with Exploration. I think I'd colonise more actively if I played a game like this again.

The results of all this have been powerful to say the least. By 1678 every one of my 75 state cored provinces (I have a couple of territories that I took for coring range) has 30+ development.



In the above screenshot you can see my 2400 development empire. That manpower is over-capped because I slacken whenever I hit 100 professionalism. If I slackened it all away I'd have over 2 million manpower. My army is space-marines. 120 discipline, +30% ICA, +20 morale, +20% fire damage from French Musketeers. I have Quality-Economic-Innovative. I recently got the chance to put my army to the test – Tunis attacked the Pope for a claim on Rome. Obviously this was completely unacceptable so I moved to enforce peace. To my surprise Tunis were not going to accept – I investigated further to see that they had called in the Ottomans. This was even more unacceptable so I got myself into the war with enforce peace. Commonwealth apparently felt the same way and did the same. I was hoping super-Bahmanis (they control all of India) would join as a great power but they didn't. Anyway, my troops absolutely melted the Ottomans. Most battles were over after the second fire phase. Good fun. To underline this, I inflicted about 400k combat casualties on them for the loss of about 60k. I didn't lose a single cannon in combat and that was without any reserves or extra infantry. Ming have since rivalled me so I can probably now set about dismantling the Ottomans if I want. Only problem is I have about 11 absolutism because I have a parliament.



A after this war I had a bunch of spy network in the Ottomans so I figured I might as well support some rebels as a thank you for being such a good rival. 4000 ducats later 272k particularists appeared. They were no more than a minor pest to the green menace but it was amusing none the less.



The great powers of the world are mostly unsurprising. I'm not sure what Muscovy needs to form Russia, but I don't see them getting it because they won't attack the Commonwealth while I'm allied to them. I also won't let the Commonwealth attack Muscovy because they are allied the Ottomans, Scandinavia, and Great Brittan. Actually I might let them invade since I have nothing better to do. Muscovy also managed to both fire and win court and country which I have not seen an AI manage before. Norway did some colonising and ended up with a CN that they imaginatively New Norway which owns one province in Canada and two in Florida. I have no idea how that came about. Old Norway is now an OPM in the Falklands since Sweden decided it wanted all of Scandinavia. I've been allied to Bohemia for a while, they are the only alliance from the former Empire that I kept long-term.



A mixture of a lot of disinheriting and a couple of abdications has lead me to have extremely good monarchs for the whole game. It's not an accident that the best rulers ruled for the longest time, either. I aim to keep a good age gap between my ruler and my heir, and then I abdicate ASAP if the heir is better. I've managed a time adjusted average of 13.1 MP rulers in this game. I kept the initial ruler and heir because it's harder to farm prestige in the early game. During the era of reformation you can generate a ton of prestige by converting provinces. Once you're strong enough you can just beat up your neighbours whenever you need to and force them all to change rivals to farm prestige. If you disregard the period during which the starting ruler and heir ruled, the average rises to 13.8. Getting disinheriting and abdicating correct takes a lot of practice and experience and defies easy reduction to a formula. Getting the age gaps right is more important than it seems and so is being aware of when a consort-regency would be an acceptable outcome. Hopefully this game demonstrates the potential power of getting it right.

My conclusion to all this is that playing tall is very powerful. I can crush anyone I want any time I want. I have massive quantities of income and manpower. France is extremely stable as a result of not constantly conquering massive swathes of territory. I didn't need Humanist or Religious. Fun fact: Catholic France can achieve +3 heretic tolerance without Humanist. I took Economic-Diplomatic-Quantity-Quality-Innovative-Offensive so far. Those military groups mean my troops are basically invincible against AI. I've run out of things to do with money and I could probably double the size of my army if I wanted to with my current economy even though this would put me way over force limit. Doing so would actually enable me to generate more manpower since I'd generate more professionalism and be able to slacken more often. The reason I don't do it is that I don't want to risk losing my rivals. From here I will keep developing to see how tall I can get, and maybe try to invade and dismantle either Ming or the Ottomans. Maybe both since soon I will be able to grab a quick +100 PP from a victorious war against one or the other so I can coast on that for most of the rest of the game. Despite long periods of doing nothing much, this has been a fun game because I've made a point of doing things differently. I've learned some new tricks and gotten a better handle on how a strong power base can be built without blobbing into every trade company region on the map. Trade companies are so OP that that is still a better strategy overall, but for a different type of game tall, state-based play can be very powerful.
 

stnylan

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Very nice playthough. Ty very much for sharing.
 

Tom D.

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I'm glad you enjoyed it, these days people seem to complain about how the game is forcing you to blob and how the game is unbalanced because you can blob and honestly it's pissing me of more and more, like people are forced or have to blob and go wide every time. I'm glad you showed how to not fall into this trap, thanks too for sharing this :).
 

Nikolai

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Thanks for sharing, that was a fun read. :)
 

Badesumofu

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Very nice playthough. Ty very much for sharing.
Thank you. And thank you for all your comments on AARs. Posting this I felt confident that even if no one else did, you would comment.

I'm glad you enjoyed it, these days people seem to complain about how the game is forcing you to blob and how the game is unbalanced because you can blob and honestly it's pissing me of more and more, like people are forced or have to blob and go wide every time. I'm glad you showed how to not fall into this trap, thanks too for sharing this :).
Yes. The complaints about blobbing mostly bother me because they mostly seem to be from people who never do it but just find it distasteful. Playing tall, focusing on just building the best nation for your people, and adopted people like Tuscans, Albengans, Flemmish, and Dutch is rewarding in itself and actually in terms of making yourself powerful - probably on par with wide play. Having a constantly stable empire, with loads of manpower, and money means that when you want to really jump into a war, you can.

Thanks for sharing, that was a fun read. :)
I'm glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed playing and writing it as well.

A small followup chapter follows. War with the Ottomans once again, this time with Muscovy involved.
 

Badesumofu

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The Ottomans felt the need to invade another Christian nation and so I felt the need to defend them with enforce peace again. Hungary this time, and they decided to invite Muscovy and Ryazan in addition to Tunis. Looking at the map you would think this is a serious conflict, but the reality is we massively outnumber and outgun them.



Our troops are not just more numerous, but also of a much higher quality. We still have our French age ability which is totally OP. We also tech up during the war to gain a tactics advantage.



We are quickly all over them and Bohemia finish up the war they were fighting against some other Germans. They hand us two provinces next to Alsace. Can't complain. I only fabricated on them for a CB to farm prestige. The Ottomans don't seem very interested in defending their own territory and so we swoop in.



Prestige farming, by the way, is totally worth it. We make a mental note to abdicate in 1701. Bash up minors for end rivalry where you can. As this campaign has demonstrated the difference between random monarchs and aggressive disinheriting can be as much as 5 MP per month which is massive whether you are tall or wide.



I always enjoy this popup. Tunis will peace out soon, too. We can't yet cross into Anatolia because the Ottomans' navy is actually no pushover. Our heavies struggle a little against their galleys in inland seas. I'm not worried since replacing the losses will be trivial. Our manpower is also starting to drop and will drop further because I simply can't be bothered microing my armies. Rather than have full stacks on sieges I should just have stacks of cannons big enough to maximise the bonuses and have the rest of the stack nearby. This, in a weird way, is another benefit of being tall. Because I'm not chaining up wars there is no need to conserve manpower or money. I can just focus on the macro and the war is a lot quicker and more enjoyable. Good micro is enjoyable in its own way, but sometimes it's nice to just play a lazy game. And there is no need to micro resources that aren't scarce, whereas my patience and willingness to focus is limited, so in a way I am min-maxing anyway.



We sent in our navy to clear the Bosphorus but lose. The weakened Ottoman navy goes in to port to repair and so we can cross anyway. A pyrrhic victory for them, I suppose since our strategic goal was realised anyway. In the above shot we see our army crushing theirs. A half stack - we attack into rough terrain and they roll an 8 in the first phase. They still lose before the end of the second fire phase and are wiped. Most battles go like this and so we eat up the forts to boost warscore. Tunis peaced out around now and our stack there moves on to siege in Egypt.



We trap the main remaining Ottoman forces in Crimea and end up wiping them. They peace out soon after. It is a huge victory for the Catholic coalition with Ottomans and Muscovy alike giving up territory. We get nothing much, but that's not why we were in the war in the first place. Our 100 trust same dynasty ally Commonwealth get some provinces and that is good enough for us!



You can see I lost a completely ridiculous amount of manpower in this war. Looking at this bothers me enough that I might have to make a point of fighting the next major war a bit more correctly to see how different the results can be. Still those 2:1 combat casualties look good. Blobbed absolutist AI are no match for Parliamentary France.
 

stnylan

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A nice write-up of the war, and I think very good points regarding playing tall in the war.

What are your other aspirations for the game?
 

Tom D.

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This really shows the beauty of tall play, you don't need endless swaths of land to be the leading power. Loved it, we need more tall run AARs!
 

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A nice write-up of the war, and I think very good points regarding playing tall in the war.

What are your other aspirations for the game?
That is a good question. My original plan was more about what I wanted to avoid doing - ie blobbing. I've expanded a little more than I initially intended to for a couple of reasons which were highlighted in the OP. I then set myself a goal of getting every province to 30 development which I achieved and subsequently un-achieved by taking and then being handed some more territory (Bohemia gave me a couple of provinces in minor war in Germany). I think I'll try to get every province to 40 now.

On top of that - I want to dismantle the Ottoman Empire. I'll annex the land but then release vassals and clients - and then probably release them since they'd serve little purpose beyond wasting my diplo points which could otherwise be spent on developing.

This really shows the beauty of tall play, you don't need endless swaths of land to be the leading power. Loved it, we need more tall run AARs!
And what I didn't really show in that war is that although my army is 360k my actual force limit is a lot higher (522), and my economy could sustain an army twice the current size or bigger. Once I secure my PP by dismantling the Ottomans we'll see just how strong this nation can become.
 

Badesumofu

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Just a question: why diplomatic before quantity?
That is a good question. Basically the Commonwealth actually succeeded in this game which I have not seen for a long time. I wanted to park a diplomat permanently on them to win every election. I really needed the 4th one to do that. Also dip rep is generally helpful as is virtually every other thing about diplomatic. Quantity wasn't needed for military reasons at that point (or any point, in truth) I took it for the policy.

I built up to force limit in the end, and even after several wars the OE never stopped being a valid rival. But more on that in a minute.
 

Badesumofu

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This game is now 'finished'. It's just ticked over to 1800 and I see no real reason to break my 1000+ hour habit of never actually playing to 1821 (I don't have the achieve for that). We've just enjoyed 100 years of glorious God-Queens. My ability to allow only the best and brightest to lead my nation arguably reached a new level since the last update.



That screen is a little old, but still paints the picture. Marguerite III is still alive in 1800 and probably likely to live a while longer yet. I got very lucky and got a 6/5/1 heir without a disinherit, but that heir will never come to power anyway.

I'll spare whatever readers I have at this point the details because it basically comes down to this: I developed as efficiently as possible repeatedly, beat up the Ottomans as often as possible* and kept farming prestige as needed for the remainder of the game.

*turns out that's pretty often. Between Enforce Peace, Intervention, allying a target as soon as they are attacked, and declaring offensively when not under truce, you can really bring the hurt to the green menace.



So there is how the world looks in the end. Greece is my March and also Catholic. Bahmanis finally managed to touch Ming who are now losing mandate. Almost makes me wish I could play on. It doesn't though, because it turns out that not conquering the world results in really poor late-game performance as soon as there is any kind of major war in progress.

Here is the new world and also my budget screen:



I'm over my nominal manpower cap because whenever I'm about to overcap professionalism, I slacken. Slacken ignores your manpower cap. I was over my cap for most of the last 150 years because I made some effort to micro my armies a bit better. I get 135k per slacken, so my true manpower reserve is about 3.5 million.

So if what you want to do is build a powerful nation, playing tall is absolutely viable and valid. Having such a stable empire that can bring its full might to bare against an enemy at any time it feels like it means you can do whatever you want. It's a low-stress game. Ultimately if I played wide, conquered everything in sight, went revolutionary and did a WC - I'd have more money and more soldiers (although they would be of a lower quality). I also think WC is a fairly natural goal - conquer all that there is. But building the best nation that you can is also a good goal. A nation that is only ever ruled by people who are worthy to do so. A nation where every province in your home region and in your primary culture group has 40 development. A capital with 60 development. A nation that occupies a region in which it can determine the outcome of any war.

Anyway, it was something different and I enjoyed it. Seeing posts in the main EU4 forum now wishing that tall was a valid playstyle is a little sad, because it *is* already valid. It's just that it's rarely been attempted in a really competent way, presumably because power-gamers are mostly more interested in the arguably more natural goal of world conquest.
 

stnylan

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And this little AAR will stand testament to the fact that playing tall is indeed valid.

Thank you again for sharing.
 

Tom D.

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People who complain that blobbing is the only viable and fun way to play EU4 should look at this, and @mackwolfe new AAR about a tall Italy run and as he took inspiration from my AAR mine could possibly fit in this list too. Let us hope we can show the rest of the players tall is viable and fun. Thanks for doing this @Badesumofu :).
 

Nikolai

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It’s so refreshing to see such an aar like this where the world is not gobbled up by the player. :)