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Cryptex

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A preview of what's to come:
Map2.jpg


Welcome to my first AAR! For starters, this will be an AAR of my religious war from 1562 to 1569, which involved nearly all of Europe and more. Also, I have taken many liberties in redrawing these maps from my game, mostly because it makes the story much more interesting. For example, I cleaned up the borders of some countries and consolidated minor countries into larger confederations. Additionally, occupied areas are drawn with more of a geographical estimate; they don't follow EU4 province lines. However, the overall story and events that occur in the AAR did actually happen.

Before the War:
Here is a recap of major events leading up to the religious war:
  • Anglican England had consolidated the British Isles and formed Great Britain
  • The Ottomans had modestly expanded and annexed Crimea
  • Muscovy had grown substantially but was unable to form Russia due to allying Ryazan and thus not owning the proper provinces. (I called them Russia anyways)
  • Denmark had lost their personal union over Sweden but kept Norway as a subject.
  • Poland had held onto their subject Lithuania and had annexed Moldavia, the Teutonic Order, the Livonian Order, as well as small chunks of Hungary and Muscovy
  • The Mamluks had expanded significantly and had blocked Ottoman attempts at expanding southward.
  • Northern Germany was dominated by Brandenburg, and Southern Germany was dominated by Austria. (I have designated them simply as northern/southern confederations)
  • Burgundy had annexed its subjects and expanded slightly into France
  • Milan had annexed Genoa, Mantua, and several provinces from Venice, so they dominated Northern Italy
Now for a very quick recap of the Navarrese rise to power:
  • Tiny Navarra had secured alliances with both France and Castile, and took two Gascon provinces from England in about 1450
  • Navarra declared on Aragon for the throne and took it with help from both France and Castile
  • Immediately afterward, Navarra got an event called 'A Political Marriage,' giving them a personal union over Castile for free
  • All 3 subjects were severely disloyal, Navarra was behind in tech, 500 ducats in debt, low on manpower, and there was little time before the truces with its subject were up, so they went to war with Portugal, taking money and land.
  • After about 20-30 years of managing liberty desire, paying off loans, and recovering manpower, Navarra noticed France getting ganged up on by both England and Burgundy, so they went to war with France, taking the remainder of Gascony to get a Force Union casus belli against France.
  • About 15 years later, Burgundy had again declared on France, so Navarra declared war on France to force them into a personal union. The severely weakened France had lost a total of 12 provinces to England and Burgundy and was 1500 ducats in debt, so the war was won fairly easily.
  • Navarra declared on England to reconquest France's cores, as well as annul treaties with Brittany. Navarra gave France back its cores and took Brittany for itself 5 years later.
  • The next 40 years of the game consisted only of diplo-annexing subjects and catching up on tech and ideas.
1562:
Tensions in Europe had been rising quickly as Protestantism spread throughout Europe, particularly in the areas around North Germany. The creation of the Printing Press in Northern Germany in 1550 had only accelerated these tensions. Two coalitions of nations formed: Austria leading the Catholics and Burgundy leading the Protestants. The Protestants were mostly concentrated in Northern Germany, Denmark, and Burgundy, but the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth also joined their side. The Southern Germans had resisted the rise of Protestantism, and allied Austria. Although Britain was Anglican, they were close allies with Austria, and thus joined the Catholic side. Navarra and its subjects had remained Catholic, so they allied Austria. Both the Ottomans and Russia joined the catholic side to counter their powerful rival, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1562, Burgundy declared war on Austria, fed up with their attempts at repressing Protestantism.
The war map looked like this:
Map1.jpg


A small number of Neutral German states refused to join the war, as did Hungary, Tuscany, and Sweden. Morocco and the Mamluks (Egypt) were also neutral in Africa. I will call the green alliance the Quintuple Alliance (Navarra, Britain, Austria, Ottomans, and Russia), or simply The Alliance. I will call the red alliance the Quadruple Entente (Denmark, Burgundy, Brandenburg, Commonwealth), or simply The Entente. The war destroyed alliance networks that had been in place for a century and forced former rivals to cooperate with each other. Navarra's long-lasting alliance with The Commonwealth was broken, despite the fact that Navarrese heirs had held the throne for decades. Navarra was also forced to fight side-by-side with its rivals Britain and The Ottomans.

At this point, several things were evident:
  • The Alliance had naval dominance of the Mediterranean
  • The Entente had naval dominance of the Baltic
  • The Alliance had the numbers advantage
  • The Entente had the army quality advantage
The Alliance met in Vienna to discuss their war plans. This is what they came up with:
5A War Plans.jpg


It was primarily a four-part plan:
  • Navarra and its subject France would push through Burgundy
  • Britain would execute an amphibious assault on Norway and travel through Sweden to reach Denmark
  • Russia and the Ottomans would assault the Commonwealth from the East and South respectively
  • The Confederation of South German States would use "trench warfare" to hold their borders defensively as long as they could, as they were surrounded and couldn't allow the enemy to siege Vienna
There were also troops reserved by the Ottomans to siege Bosnia and Navarra would send a stack to siege Milan.

Likewise, The Entente met in Berlin to discuss their plans for the war. The plans they drew up looked like this:
4E War Plans.jpg


Their carefully crafted plan relied on their army quality and speed. They had too many fronts to fight on, and they knew it. They would have to eliminate some of these fronts as fast as possible. Therefore, their plan was as follows:
  1. Pummel their way through the Confederation of South German States to siege Vienna while Burgundy holds off Navarra and the Commonwealth holds off Russia and the Ottomans
  2. Redistribute their forces to the East and West to hold off Navarra, Britain, the Ottomans, and Russia until they would accept peace
Denmark and Norway had to march their troops to aid the Confederation of North German States as fast as possible because they couldn't let reinforcements arrive for the South Germans. Milan had to intercept troops coming from Navarra, and Bosnia had to intercept troops coming from the Ottomans. This victory depended on how fast they could siege down Vienna and take control of South Germany.

1563:
Map2 V2.jpg

Edit: the blue 'X's mark the sites of important conflicts

The first few months of the war resulted in victories and losses for both sides. Burgundy had attempted to push into France with their disciplined soldiers and a 3-star general, starting a siege of Paris with 30 thousand soldiers. The French were reluctant to challenge the Burgundians until 35 thousand Navarrese troops arrived from Iberia, at which point the French and Navarrese rushed in to liberate Paris. The result was a victory for The Alliance, but the French and Navarrese suffered many more casualties. This would be a continuous theme of the war. The Alliance had quantity, but the Entente had quality. The Commonwealth rushed to siege down Crimea before the Ottomans could reinforce it, but this scattered their troops too sparsely. They lost battle after battle trying to hold off the Russians, and they lost a decisive battle against the Ottomans to hold the small border from the Carpathian mountains to the Black Sea. Bosnia also stood no chance against the huge Ottoman stack that fully occupied the small country in no time.
However, the Entente experienced victory after victory attacking the small, disorganized South German states. They were still on track to siege down Vienna in time to turn to their flanks. Additionally, the Navarrese were thrilled with their victory at Paris and rushed to siege down a Burgundian fort, but the Burgundians turned around from their retreat and hastily defeated the Navarrese, inflicting 10 thousand casualties and routing them back to Iberia. However, the Navarrese from Southern Italy did enjoy a decisive victory against Milan, who could receive no reinforcements from their allies.
And then, out of nowhere, the Mamluks used their 'Great Power' status to intervene in the war! Fed up with Ottoman aggression, they sought to stop the Ottomans from achieving an easy victory. This surprised both sides, who hadn't planned for such an intervention. The Ottomans had left Anatolia unguarded while fighting in the north, and the balance of power had shifted. No one was in a position to siege down the Mamluks, so The Alliance could only hope the Ottomans had enough spare troops to hold them off.

1564:
Map3.jpg


The next few months of the war again saw victories and losses on both sides. The Russians had pushed through the Eastern border of the Commonwealth with around 80 thousand soldiers, and the Ottomans occupied the state of Moldavia. The Commonwealth tried to hold them off but lost battle after battle against both. The only place they succeded was in the Crimean campaign, which was left almost undefended by the Ottomans because of the new threat to their south.Norway was defeated by a surprise naval attack launched from the north by a combined British and Navarrese navy comprised of more than 15 heavy ships. Burgundy, the North German Confederation, and Denmark quickly concentrated their navies in the Danish Straits to protect the North from a naval invasion. The Mamluks swept through forts in Anatolia, threatening Ankara. They used two army stacks to siege Anatolia and sent two more stacks around the Black Sea towards Crimea to aid the Commonwealth in their fight against the Russians. The North Germans again pushed hard into the South, but the Austrians were contributing huge amounts of manpower to the fights, making each North German victory costly in manpower.
The Ottomans realized the need for reinforcements in Southern Germany and sent 60 thousand troops through Bosnia to hold the line against the North Germans and Danish. They wouldn't be able to support the Commonwealth front with more than a single stack, so that front would have to be dealt with by the Russians. The Ottomans didn't have any troops left to fight the Mamluks invading Anatolia, but they also knew the Mamluks wouldn't be able to cross the strait to Constantinople, so they simply ignored the problem for now. The Navarrese and French attacked Burgundy in uncoordinated attacks and lost to a stack of 50 thousand Burgundian troops with a 3-star general. However, the Burgundians got cocky and attempted to siege Paris again, and this time the Navarrese were able to coordinate an attack with the French and repel the Burgundians. The Navarrese from Southern Italy stackwiped the Milanese army on their fort of Treviso, allowing them to fully siege Milan and reroute their army North to aid against Burgundy. When the new stack arrived, they began a two-pronged assault on Burgundy, one in the South from Lyonnais, and one in the North from Normandy.

1565:
Map4.jpg


The fate of the war at this point was still uncertain. The Entente had already accumulated the maximum 40% war score from battles, and the war goal was ticking in their favor. Their well-trained troops and 3-star generals could get them warscore, but couldn't guarantee tactical victories. The North Germans were struggling to reach Vienna after the Ottoman reinforcements arrived, but they were still gaining ground. The Mamluks were crippling the Ottoman economy and causing unrest across the empire as they sieged the entirety of Anatolia. They won a battle against some Ottoman troops that tried to cross the strait, and they began rerouting the rest of their troops to Crimea to help the Commonwealth, who was falling to the Russian pressure to the North. The Russians had pushed to meet the Ottomans and split the Commonwealth army in two, which would allow them to encircle the Commonwealth troops in Crimea and force their surrender. Little did they know, however, that the Mamluks were sending about 80 thousand troops around the Black sea to Crimea, and they lost a decisive battle against a combined force of Egyptian infantry and Polish cavalry. The weakened Russian line in the North lost two more battles to the consolidated winged hussars.
The Navarrese sieged down the Burgundian capital and won a close battle at Franche-Comte. The French also won battles against the battered Burgundians at Calais and Rethelois. It was clear that the Burgundians needed reinforcements against the combined 100,000 Navarrese and French troops pushing their borders, but everyone's troops were occupied at the moment, so Burgundy would have to fight them alone.
At the same time, the British finally executed their amphibious assault. The Entente had assumed it would come at Denmark's Jutland peninsula, which would allow the British to quickly flank the North Germans, but the British had sailed their ships northeast of Scotland to land in Northern Norway. While it would take time for the British to push south, the land was unguarded and it was less risky than trying to fight The Entente's navy. Realizing their mistake, the Danish quickly began moving their navy out to sea, but the British and Navarrese heavy ships were waiting just outside of the strait, where Denmark's galleys were ineffective, winning a decisive naval victory. The British and Navarrese navy pushed into the Danish Straits to destroy the modest navies of Burgundy and the North German Confederation. This won The Alliance total naval dominance of the baltic. The Norwegians withdrew an army stack from the fight in South Germany and tried to cross the strait before it was blockaded by British ships, but they were ambushed by 30 thousand British soldiers, who had already passed through Oslo to begin sieging Denmark's Scandinavian holdings. It would take time for the British to actually reach mainland Europe, but there was no stopping them now.
With the Ottoman homeland being occupied, manpower reinforcements were no longer reaching the brutal fights in South Germany, and the North German Confederation was pushing closer and closer to Vienna. Several hundred thousand German lives had already been lost in the fighting, mostly on the side of The Alliance.

1566:
Map5.jpg


Things really started looking up for The Entente when Ottoman diplomats finally decided that the unrest and economic toll the war was having on their country was not worth it for a silly war amongst Christians. They sued for peace, giving the Burgundians war reparations and gold. Unfortunately, their occupations in the Commonwealth were immediately returned, and the Commonwealth reconnected the two divided corners of their country. Together with the Mamluks, the Commonwealth fought massive battles against the 100,000 Russians struggling to continue their push Westward. They slowly started liberating their occupied territory and the war was looking up for them. The Bosnians and Milanese also sued for peace, with Bosnia releasing land and Milan returning cores to Venice.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the Burgundians or the Danish. The Navarrese and French had won battle after battle against the outnumbered and manpower-sapped Burgundians, and they were pushing deeper into Burgundy's territory, threatening the Northern German States. The Danish lost a critical battle for control of the Straits, and Britain was ready to cross onto mainland Europe.
Since Burgundy had almost been fully occupied, time was ticking for the North Germans to finish their conquest of South Germany. Luckily, the Ottoman reinforcements of the South had left, so they had the advantage for once. The Austrians fiercely defended their capital of Vienna, parking a stack of 50 thousand soldiers on the level 3 fort and not allowing anyone to take it. The North Germans attacked with everything they had, but the Austrians held the line.

1567:
Map6.jpg


The war got very tense at this point, because if the North Germans were able to take Vienna, they could reroute almost 100,000 troops to fight the British out of Denmark and the Navarrese out of the Lowlands. The Commonwealth and Mamluks were still gaining ground, so they could probably spare soldiers as well. It all relied on their ability to take Vienna. The South Germans won battles in the state of Bavaria and completely encircled Vienna from the North and from the West. However, all of the remaining Allied soldiers had pledged to defend Vienna at all costs, and the North Germans again failed to take it. Morale held high for the South Germans, and help was on its way.
The entirety of Burgundy had been sieged, so time was ticking before they would have to unconditionally surrender to the Austrians. The British crossed the Straits onto the Jutland peninsula and once again defeated Denmark, and some of the North German States were occupied by Navarran and French forces.

1568:
Map7.jpg


Victory was in sight for the Alliance. All they had to do was wait for Burgundy to unconditionally surrender. As the British arrived in Northern Germany, the Navarrese could finally spare men to help liberate the South German States, and got military access to travel through Switzerland. They won two consecutive battles there and helped relieve the pressure on Vienna. Bohemia remained occupied, but The Alliance was pushing to liberate them as well.
Surprisingly, the Commonwealth (and Mamluks) won more battles against Russia and even occupied some of their land. However, the manpower would probably have been more useful in North Germany, which was being occupied by the French and British. The North Germans tried to defend themselves, but the overwhelming numbers of The Alliance had finally caught up with them.

1569:
Map8.jpg


In early 1569, Denmark surrendered to The Alliance. Only months later, Berlin fell to joint British-French forces, and the North German Confederation fell apart. With this loss, Burgundy finally decided to unconditionally surrender. Peace was made, and The Holy Roman Empire would remain Catholic.

Just days before the peace was made, The Alliance had lost 864,000 troops, while The Entente had only lost 332,000. The Alliance had outstrategized The Entente, who had higher quality troops and generals. Despite losing 2.6 times as many troops, The Alliance had pulled through and won the war.

Extras:
I hope anyone who actually reads this found it interesting :)
Here are some real screenshots from the game, showing where I got the inspiration for some of these events:
20200526030828_1.jpg

^North Germans encircling South Germany
20200526031652_1.jpg

^British naval invasion of Norway and Denmark
20200526031833_1.jpg

^The actual map (Milan had already sued for peace), and yeah Castile didn't actually get fully integrated until later in the war
 
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stnylan

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A really interesting perspective of what sounds like a really enjoyable war to fight.
 

Nikolai

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Absolutely very interesting read!
 

jscaco

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The surprise intervention by the Mamluks had to be the most dramatic moment
 

Henry v. Keiper

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I loved reading it. I like the focus on a single war, and all the detail involved with telling such a tale. Thank you very much for sharing this. I especially enjoyed all the crazy diplomacy that went on there.
 
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diskoerekto

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this was a nice read, thanks!