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volksmarschall

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Hello everyone, I am volksmarschall. In tradition of the one-post AARs, I thought I’d provide a quick introduction to forming my most favorite nation to play as in EU4, the Netherlands! Probably 1/3 of all my games right now are various Dutch campaigns, some of them long dead as some served as a “learning process.”

You can form the Netherlands with any of the Dutch Minors, or Burgundy. But frankly, Burgundy is a copout, not to mention they are OP in the 1444 start. I have formed the Netherlands with Gelre before, but I find it easier to form the Netherlands with Friesland, so this introduction has them in mind. I love playing as the Netherlands, although they are not necessarily in an easy position to form on the face of it. However, with patient playing, and careful timing, and a little bit of luck - you can stomp the world with the Dutch! Plus, it's always more gratifying to beat England or Spain or France when you started with one province! :cool:
 
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volksmarschall

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Forming the Netherlands with Friesland!


This is us at the beginning of the game. Not very powerful if I do say so myself, but in a great position to emerge as a great power!​

Part 1: Baby Steps, 1444-1460s

We start with only one province, that isn’t very economically rich, although we are close to the port of Antwerp, which is important later on. We are surrounded by enemies, and Burgundy is going to be a biggest problem in forming a future Netherlands, as they hold Breda, Holland, and Zeeland, all necessary to form the Netherlands with. They also have Limburg, which should be part of the Netherlands but isn’t necessary in our formation.

Why do I like Friesland? East Frisia! East Frisia is not an HRE member, so it is imperative to claim them right away and DoW them ASAP since you will not have any negatives with the HRE from doing this. Also, warn Burgundy before they warn you! When done right, you should have East Frisia no later by 1447, which will provide you with a good source of new income, and help your start your slow domination of the Lowlands and Hanoverian Minors. Hence, this is the Dutch-Hanoverian Republic, as a substantial amount of your European provinces will be from the Hanover culture Group from the various small German states around you.

Do not worry about Burgundy or Austria (or whoever is HRE Emperor). However, once you take HRE territories, proceed slowly or risk being stomped by a coalition of angry neighbors, and you have limited places to turn. After claiming East Frisia, it is important to build up your relationship with France. France will be your most important ally early in the game; they serve as a hedge against HRE aggression and Burgundy. Plus, Burgundy and France will likely go to war with each other (see Part 2).

After taking East Frisia, claim either Oldenburg or Gelre next. Neither will likely be in a strong position, and their allies will be minor. I generally look at Gelre next because I ally with Oldenburg early in the game just to have them in my back pocket until I go after them. Gelre will likely be allied with some of the minor states, but they shouldn’t pose much a problem. Note, look at the allies your potential targets have, that may determine who you strike next. Now you have taken a HRE state, which will make the emperor mad and some of your neighbors nervous. Try to keep relationships with them from going to rivalry and coalitions, otherwise you’re going to be in big trouble if one DoWs you, especially if the HRE presiding nation is part of that coalition (I learned this the hard way in one play through, forcing a restart by the 1470s).

Part 2: Consolidating the Dutch and German Minors, 1460s-1490s

After improving relationships with France, you should ally with the Hansa or Denmark (if Denmark is doing well) since they will help you against your most powerful minor nation to deal with, and often the most troublesome – Munster (Munster was the first to coalition me in that rough play through then DoW me after I had conquered East Frisia, Oldenburg, and Gelre – who can blame them?). Don’t ally with both because they’re going to go to war with each other eventually, and it’s never fun choosing one ally over the other – unless one ally is completely useless to you now.

I usually take on Utrecht before Munster, only because they border Burgundy and allow for more claims on Burgundian provinces. Hopefully, Burgundy’s Succession Crisis hasn’t fired; otherwise you’re in some rough water trying to get Holland, Zeeland, and Breda from Austria. Utrecht will be allied with the minors, so again, concentrate your forces in one stack and defeat them separated, if you have allies, you can alternatively let them fight each other first. Do not rush your attacks against Utrecht or Munster rapidly, that will get you in hot water with the HRE. Take it slow. Build up a merchant fleet during the peacetime to compensate. Transports and Heavy ships are not important to you. Over 30 years (1 war every 10 years or so is a safe time table), you should conquer Utrecht and all of Munster.

Taking Advantage of Burgundy, 1444-1500s?

The Burgundy Succession Crisis is the big wild card because you don’t want that to fire until you have all of, or 2 or the 3 required provinces from Burgundy. This is why I generally take Gelre after East Frisia, and ally with France (or wait to ally). When Burgundy goes to war with Austria or France or maybe both, wait a year and half for the bloodletting to take its toll then you can DoW Burgundy and be able to seize at least one province (Holland is the best choice because it’s a center of trade). It is preferable that you ally with France when you declare war, if Burgundy is fighting Austria, and you DoW them when allied with France, Burgundy is in big trouble (this is why you see Brabant in the screenshot, I took Holland, France took one of those southern Burgundian provinces, and Austria forced Burgundy to release Brabant in their peace). In this case, Brabant will get Breda, but this is not a big deal. Claim Breda quickly and go to war with Brabant, within 10 years of their release (under this scenario) they will ally with Austria and you don’t want to bother with that trouble (although Austria can be defeated).

Repeat with this strategy against Burgundy to take the rest of their provinces. You will never be strong enough to take on Burgundy alone unless Burgundy has been severely crippled in a war against one of the other major powers. By 1500, you should have all the Burgundy provinces required to form the Netherlands.

Forming the Netherlands

Entering the 1500s, you should have all of the Dutch provinces, if not, you probably only need 1 more and that won’t take too long to accomplish. The Protestant Reformation will fire soon, and your provinces will likely go Protestant. This is good. I usually wait for about half of my provinces to embrace Protestantism before converting, just because it’ll be easier on your missionaries if half or more of the provinces have already embraced Protestantism. This is beneficial to your economy too, since Protestantism gives you a 10% tax and production bonus! Around the 1500s, you will have leveled up to start building carracks, now is the time you will want to start building a proper fighting fleet. I usually have around 35-40 merchant ships by 1500, and trade is the main source of your income so don’t go light on building merchants ships. Don’t be afraid to take out loans for trade and merchant oriented building, the Dutch ideas will reduce inflation for you if you don’t have a master mint (which I usually always keep).

Congratulations, you can now form the Netherlands having achieved this with a Dutch Minor. It is a very gratifying feeling. In addition – if you follow this plan, you will also have a lot of German (Hanover) provinces too (they will be an accepted culture). You now have the Dutch-Hanover Republic in NW Europe, you will be dominating European trade in the region! Send your merchants all over the place and send all trade back to Antwerp. You can earn anywhere from 15-20 gold per month (my observed high end). Send your merchants and colonists to start conquering the new world. I usually go into Africa first (Gold Coast), only because this will spring board you into South Africa, then East Africa, then East Asia, and you can monopolize the trade nodes from India going to Africa back to Europe! You will be swimming in trade wealth by 1600.


I generally colonize the Gold Coast first. It has an important trade node and it's our springboard to South Africa, which then springboards us into Asia!


This province is the main reason I go into the Gold Coast first. It also has a trade node, and once yours, you can enter Asia and dominate the Asian trade sending it back to the Cape, then to the Gold Coast, then to the Atlantic Trade node, then back to Antwerp!​

Ideas & Elections

Go trade first, you are going to be the Netherlands after all! 2 additional merchants, plus the trade bonuses are beneficial to you. Your economy is trade focused! Half or more than half of your income will come from trade, don’t be cheap. I go Plutocratic ideas next, and here’s why: 50% more mercenaries (You don’t have a lot of population so mercenaries are going to be an important medium in your armies), 10% morale boost for armies (not the 20% in defense) but the Dutch ideas give you additional infantry combat ability so it’s not that big a loss, and… +1 merchant! Yup, Plutocratic ideas give you another merchant and your are a merchant trading power (plus, when you form the Netherlands, you get another +1 merchant for free!). Third idea group is colonization, start sending your explorers into Africa and South America. Fourth idea group, toss up between expansion or naval (go naval if you are hostile or rivaled to England otherwise the English fleet with their national idea bonus will be tough to beat). Whichever idea group you didn’t choose will probably be the 5th group you choose (yes, as Netherlands you are maxing out the diplomacy ideas). After this, select your ideas as you deem fit.

Elections: You are a republic. You can switch to noble republic to get an additional 10% moral army boost if you think you’re going to get into a war with Austria (since they choose defensive after diplomatic, their armies will be superior to yours). Don’t be afraid to watch the republican tradition drop. You can time your elections to compensate. Diplomatic leaders will be important to you since diplomacy ideas are your main bread and butter. Re-elect! Then switch to an Admin or Military candidate to restore some republican tradition (for one cycle), go back to diplomatic candidate and re-elect until a 3/6/3, swap back to the other candidate you didn’t choose the last time or stick with military for plutocratic idea bonuses.

After the Netherlands has formed

Colonize. Colonize. Colonize. You are a major player in the age of discovery! Again, I usually go Africa to Asia, but you don’t need to follow that plan. That’s just how I like to play it. You will have a powerful navy by the 1530s, one of the largest in the world. You will have a modest army, but your allies (France or super Denmark) will help you out against other major enemies. If Burgundy is still around, you can slowly reclaim the rest of the Lowlands too!

Enjoy! I love the Netherlands, and am sure you will too!


You might even be able to do better! We made tiny Friesland into a giant! :eek:
 
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binger

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I have dabbled with forming NL as a Dutch minor since the release of WoN, and it is now considerably harder, as Burgundy will almost always warn you straight away, making early expansion extremely risky. Until France takes them on, I wasn't able to do much in most starts.
 

volksmarschall

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I have dabbled with forming NL as a Dutch minor since the release of WoN, and it is now considerably harder, as Burgundy will almost always warn you straight away, making early expansion extremely risky. Until France takes them on, I wasn't able to do much in most starts.

You know, I need to add that since I always warn Burgundy with the second diplomat to prevent them from warning me and cornering me! I can't believe I forgot to add that! Forming NL with a minor is a considerable amount of fun in my book. First time I did was with Gelre though, much harder than with Friesland who has become the de-facto nation I choose when I want to do it. Currently, this is my favorite campaign I have going on.
 

binger

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You know, I need to add that since I always warn Burgundy with the second diplomat to prevent them from warning me and cornering me! I can't believe I forgot to add that! Forming NL with a minor is a considerable amount of fun in my book. First time I did was with Gelre though, much harder than with Friesland who has become the de-facto nation I choose when I want to do it. Currently, this is my favorite campaign I have going on.
Alas, it seems no longer possible to warn Burgundy (or any other powerful country) as a OPM in 1.6.
 

volksmarschall

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Alas, it seems no longer possible to warn Burgundy (or any other powerful country) as a OPM in 1.6.

That's a shame, but makes a lot of sense. I think I'm going to go back soon and start another Dutch campaign to see the effects of the changes since all my current Dutch campaigns were started a while back, although I admit, it's hard for me to ever get passed the end of the 1600s before I get bored and go start a game with some one else. :glare: Of course, EU3 In Nominee with Holland was different than with the situation in Eu4, but the Eu4 start has always been more fun. I always enjoyed the challenge to forming the Netherlands, or get destroyed relatively early on as it has happened a few times.
 

Nathan Madien

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I have to say that I learned quite a bit reading this (which of course was your point all along).
 

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I've been trying to start a successful Friesland game recently but without a lot to show for. First, claiming East Frisia takes a while and unfortunately they get a lot of allies in the meantime (Pommerania, Gelre, Saxe-Lauenbourg and sometimes Brunswick). Coupled with the fact that none of your allies (I was allied with Cologne, Brunswick, the Hansa, Cleves and Utrecht at some point) will join you on an offensive war, attacking alone is taking a lot of risks as you're outnumbered and even if battles are won, the AI will build mercs too quickly.

Another possibility is to attack Gelre first, as they usually only ally with Oldenburg and East Frisia, personnally my first three targets. But this is dependent on the fact that Burgundy doesn't warn you which they'll do as soon as they turn hostile. As said before, you cannot warn them preemptively as you're too small.

I have found that the most reliable way to get out of this mess is to restart until you get a *1 Statesman. This guy will allow you to get allies much quicker (Hanse, Brandenbourg, Cologne, Brunswick, Cleves, Utrecht, Hesse). The point is not really that they join you in your wars, but to alleviate AE gains in the HRE a lot. With a statesman, you can also get an alliance with a neutral Burgundy if you work at it from the beginning. The Burgundian alliance will allow to attack Gelre which will call East Frisia and Oldenburg only, you can then get all those provinces in one go. After doing so, Utrecht and Burgundy will break the alliance but during the war, that's the time to improve your relations with France. With the Statesman, they will accept alliance as soon as you're at peace. Check if Austria is at war when peacing out Gelre. If they are, you can annex directly and start coring. If they're not or if they sign peace in the middle of coring, then vassalise/release Gelre.

Of course, the statesman is pretty expensive and you can only build one barque and one infantry with the rest of your money, while having 0 maintenance, and only break even. But once you acquire those provinces (Gelre, East Frisia, Oldenburg), you'll be stable financially, Hannoverian will be accepted and you should have a French alliance + a web of allies in the HRE reducing the size of the coalition (Munster, Bremen and potentially the Hansa). If Austria joins this coalition (due to unlawful territory most likely), HRE minors in the coalition will declare on you, at the worst time (they did when I joined France against Burgundy, France declining to join -> game over). :(

I forgot to talk about it, but getting so many allies will hamper your diplo points. Nothing not manageable as you should reelect your leaders (around 50 Rep trad is a good place to stay at), and overtime those alliances will be broken by the AIs. The point is that they're allied when you annex stuff, not so much after you do the deed. :)
 
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tnick0225

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Interesting one...I actually got bored last night and fired up a game starting as Brunswick, only because their ruler is a Welf at the 1444 start :) Took a lot to form the Kingdom of Hannover though. And somehow got elected as Emperor.

Anyway that's actually an entertaining part of the world :) Been enjoying my game I got going in that nice little corner.
 

SDEngineer

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I got the achievement for this last night - been working on my Netherlands game for 2 days now. I also started as Friesland.

Burgundy did warn me, but it's not too hard to get around that. I allied with the Hansa and Oldenburg, then started fabricating claims on my neighbor/targets, and sat back to wait for a war that I would either get called into via alliances or that I could pull myself into via an enforce peace. Took a couple of years, but eventually I got into a war with my allies against Utrecht, Munster, and one of the OPMs near the Hansa (the cause of the CTA). I sieged down Munster and vassalized them, but took a big enough AE hit doing so that I was hesitant about taking Utrecht and eventually let them just peace out. A few years later did the same thing to Brunswick, this time with E. Frisia in the war, which I also took - so I was now a 2 province minor with 2 2 province minor vassals :) - took about 10 years to get there (had to let AE tick down to avoid coalitions which would have been very bad news as a small nation). Got Utrecht a couple of years later and annexed Munster as well, so up to 5 personal provinces owned. Still couldn't ally France though, and I was a little iffy about allying Austria, as they kept getting curbstomped by the BBB, and from past experience, England has been useless as an ally as all their armies ever do is sit on their rock, so I'm a bit worried about Burgundy (they had gone hostile once I took Utrecht).

Then France declared on Burgundy...followed by Austria (separate wars). Woot. Time to take some of Burgundy's stuff (I had fabricated on Holland by this point. I only had about 10k in armies, but what the heck. Waited a couple of years for Burgundy's armies to get toasted and fro France and Austria to start sieging some of his provinces (meanwhile fabricating on the rest of his bordering provinces), then declared on him and started sieging down his bordering provinces. Got all of them sieged, then France and Austria both peaced out - this would normally have been my cue to peace out with whatever I could get (at this point, just Holland), but between them, they snagged enough provinces that even with my wimpy stack (10k + 5-6k mercenaries) I could carpet what was left over. Got 100% warscore, and took all 3 provinces I needed to form NL from him. At this point, all I needed was Gelre and ADM tech 10 to form NL. And as a bonus, I was now large enough that I was able to ally France. Muahahaha.

It's now about 1515, I've formed the NL, and have started taking England apart (they were never able to conquer Scotland, which was allied with France for several decades) - I now own the south of England except for London. England's capitol has been relocated to Lincoln. Unfortunately, the alliance with France has fallen apart (they've eaten a lot of imperial provinces), and I'm a bit worried about France, which is blobbing out of control, and currently in a war with Spain (also blobbing pretty huge, but still only 75% of the military size of France), Austria, Portugal, and about 6 or 7 german minors. I'm tempted to go in on this war, simply because it seems to be going...poorly...for France for a change (he's down to about 40k manpower, and the Austrian/Spanish armies are slightly larger and have significantly more manpower reserves, and France is facing significant rebel issues internally) - but it's a bit dicey - I can influence the war (up to 36k army strength, with a huge navy), but if Spain and/or Austria peace out suddenly, France would quickly crush the other armies, and now I'd face a hostile France all by myself. Still - I think it's a good gamble, and I might go all in on the game tonight to take the Lowlands from France.
 
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ius

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In my current campaign I formed the Netherlands starting as Utrecht. This OPM theocracy begins the game with a core on Gelre. Before unpausing the game I DoW this fresh rival. Gelre immediately goes on the offensive, full of confidence their general will make the difference. In earnest I recruit 1 regiment of sell swords. While the enemy forces cross our bordering river I stand my ground and take a deep breath. The bait is complete as I wait until the last possible moment to bring forth my warrior bishop. A fierce fight follows, and all may be lost was it not for a welcome reinforcing party. Together we chase out this foe and defeat him on his home turf. While the siege of Gelre commences, plans for a next conquest are already under way.

Warned by Burgundy, and later Austria, I had already expanded east and annexed Münster. The Hansa became my best friend, together we divided the Hannoverian region. In the mean time I sucked onto France to help with Austria. After I turned on The Hansa I was faced with a terrible coalition. Luckily on my side were France, England, and Castille, that helped me survive this great war. As I had taken Quality as my first idea group, I took Exploration for my second group and sailed to North America. Here I took the stab hit to DoW the native tribe of Mahican and seized their colony when it was about to turn into a city. With a fresh core on the continent I was able to transform a cluster of adjacent provinces into the colonial government of New Utrecht.

Now as a theocratic The Netherlands I recently formed the colonial nation of New Oversticht in the Caribbean.
 
Last edited:

Sandmann

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I'm surprised noone mentioned switching to merchant republic when you have completed trade ideas, it's one of the best reasons to play Friesland. You get more +mercantilism events and other trade bonuses for more than 15-20 ducats at 1500, rather 25-30. The other forms of republic are kinda "meh".

I went exploration as second idea, you dont wanna get behind in the colonial race. You dont need to complete exploration, just take 3-4 ideas that are needed and then rush diplo 7 which is needed for the colonial range. Then complete rest of exploration NI's.
 

volksmarschall

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@ All: It's always great to see the exchanging of ideas and how others have played to form the Netherlands, who, truly are, one of the more interesting and satisfying nations to play as/form (assuming you don't take the easy route with Burgundy). I had heard from some, that Utrecht (being a theocratic state) is actually a good choice, not only because of the starting core on Gelre but because these theocratic ideas are actually considered to be very good! I guess I need to play as a theocratic state to have a fair opinion of that myself.

Although I must admit, I haven't been playing much EU4 lately, and I have yet to enter the 1600s in the game upon which the screenshots and commentary is based on. Although, a Dutch North America and Dutch Africa are the only ways to go! :p

Cheers all!
 

stnylan

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Thanks to the Steam Summer Sale I now am the proud owner of EU4, and am thinking of what to do first. AARs are always a good source of ideas, especially nice concise ones like this :)