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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

bleakie

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I recently returned to EU4, and after running 3 campaigns with 1.13.2 (Inca, Austria, Malacca) for achievements, I regained some confidence in playing the game reasonably well. I wanted to try something more challenging, and the Jihad achievement came to my mind.

I have just crossed 1500, and I think the result is pretty decent. I have almost united Arabia (only Hejaz remains as my vassal), and I start to gain land in Iraq and in Persia.

The thought of a new AAR popped up at this moment. I have written one AAR a couple years ago, which was about Ottoman WC. I was (and still am) not the type of player who can handle extreme situations and make careful micromanagements, so it took me 3 tries to succeed. I had lost most of the interest in writing the AAR for the failures in between, and the AAR did not end neatly.

This time, I won't show as much details as I did in the last AAR. I will focus on general strategy, important decisions and events, maybe showcasing an important war or two in between. The level of detail will inevitably decline in the later game, for keeping the AAR interesting for myself and for readers. I will also try not to rely too much on screenshots to tell the story.

This AAR will start from the moment I take the first screenshot, till I get the Jihad achievement (500 Sunni provinces),

And finally, let me finish the introduction by the map of Najd in 1504.



Table of contents

Chapter 1: The preliminaries, 1444-1504
Chapter 2: The Persian front, 1504-1525
Chapter 3: The Persian front, part 2. 1525-1550
Chapter 4: An attempt to outgrow the Ottomans, 1550-1583
Chapter 5: Bukhara, Armenia and East Africa, 1583-1613
Chapter 6: Two uphill wars, 1613-1641
Chapter 7: Westernization, and the Second Indian War, 1641-1675
Chapter 8: The start of massive expansions, 1675-1705
Chapter 9: India and Russia, 1705-1746
Chapter 10: For Arabia, 1746-1791
 
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Chapter 1: The preliminaries, 1444-1504

This chapter focuses on the events before I decided to start this AAR.


1. The first moves

For every campaign, the most important starter is diplomatic alignment. In my game, most of the Arabic states were hostile to me, with the exception of Hejaz.
Naturally, the first thing I did is to ally Hejaz. I also picked up Adal, an African sultanate just across the Red Sea, and Hormuz, an Arabic OPM between Oman and Persia.
Advisors were too expensive, and had to be ignored for the moment.
The rivalries among my enemies made me relatively safe, and provided me opportunities to expand.

My first target was Haasa.

War was started one year after the start, when I finished a claim fabrication and got another claim from mission.
They had no allies, but got a mothballed fort.
This means I had to gather 9 full strength regiments to siege down the fort. With the little power that I had, it was the biggest obstacle to my victory.
This pattern would persist for the decades to come.
Since I wanted to keep the fort but was reluctant to pay for its maintenance, I only took 2 province from Haasa and made it my vassal.
I needed to go over the relations limit for this though, for the tribal government gave me -1 relations.

Both Oman and Yemen were stronger than me, but fortunately to me they were bitter rivals.
When their inevitable war broke out, I seized the chance to attack Shammar, which was a Yemeni ally.
Yemen refused to honour the alliance, as they were too broken by the war with Oman.
It's a pretty straight forward matter after that, nothing other than full annexation.

Country management was quite a mess in between.
Religious unity was down to 50% at one point, and to prevent uprisings (which can be fatal in early game).
I had to raise autonomy in a few provinces.
Income is too low to hire even level 1 advisors, just enough to pay for the troops when at war.
But things eventually settled down a bit after the conversions were done (thanks to the Najdi national idea of +2% missionary strength) and autonomy slowly ticked downwards.

In the early game, there is very little that I can do about monarch points, except for one thing: national focus.
I must emphasize the importance of military focus in the first 20-30 years.
Every mil tech from level 3 to level 9 has an important bonus that can change the course of a battle.
Everything must be done to prevent ending up on the receiving end of those bonuses.
I have fought a few battles with only minor numerical advantage, and one extra mil tech made victory from likely to almost certain.


2. Oman and Yemen

After the war with Shammar, I had somehow become stronger than Yemen and Oman individually.
I diplo-annexed Haasa when the time came, and let my manpower recover before launching an attack on Oman, who had no allies due to its Ibadi faith.
Land battles were won, but I couldn't possibly compete with Oman's 2 heavies.
This means the siege of Muscat has to be done with no blockade (and no cannons), which drained my meagre manpower dearly.
It took me 2.5 years to complete the siege, and win the war.
I grabbed 4 of the 7 provinces (including Muscat), and had Oman vassalized.
Muscat is the first half-decent province that I could get, and it greatly improved my standing.

Yemen was somehow more tricky to handle.
I got the first province from Yemen in a defensive war for Adal, but then it got the Mamluks as an ally.
However, weak allies proved to be the undoing of Yemen, not once, but twice.
Hormuz was the first weak link that I used.
Broke alliance, declared war after 30 days, that's how things work in EU4.
Took all 3 claims from Yemen and annexed Hormuz after a 5-year war.
It was delayed by Baluchistan being an ally of Hormuz, and my reluctance to cross the straits to attack them.
Yemen got back the alliance with the Mamluks before the truce was over, and I had to delay my plans.
Until Wersengali, an African sultanate, somehow lost most diplomatic ties and became the weak link.
Due to my earlier lack of attention, it turned out that 2 wars were necessary to fully annex Yemen.
But with the favourable diplomatic structure, they didn't present too much trouble during both wars, with the last war ending just before the opening screenshot in 1504.


3. Hejaz and Persian Gulf

Hejaz was friendly to me at the start of campaign, and was guaranteed by (later allied to) the Mamluks.
This makes Hejaz a good early ally, and the last in Arabia peninsula to fall.
Hejaz was never active in the peninsula, and I made sure it remained my ally throughout the first 50 years in game by parking a diplomat in Hejaz to improve relations.
At the turn of the century, the Mamluks lost their first war against the Ottomans, and they got piled by Tunis and Ethiopia as well.
Hejaz dishonoured the last call to arms, and we became their only ally.
I quickly fabricated a claim, broke the alliance and launched a quick war to make it my vassal.

While I was bashing Yemen, the Timurids went bankrupt and suffered a civil war, and Persia broke free with about half of its cores.
Persia was the first large friendly state in the region, and I forged an alliance with them.
This alliance is meant to last for about one generation, when the Timurids and Qara Qoyunlu were still relevant.
I took the risk of getting one Persian core from the Timurids though, for the 12 development was 10% of what I had, and Persia had better targets at the moment.

I was considering attacking Qara Qoyunlu with Persia, but it striked at Persia first, with Uzbek as its ally.
This was my first war against a major power.
I panicked for a moment when QQ parked a 20k stack at the fort, and another 15k stack managed to cross the Straits of Hormuz due to my failed plan to trap them on the island.
But then I had 2 mil tech level advantage (7 vs 5), and their 2 stacks could not reinforce each other.
That's how my 17k stack wiped the smaller stack and sent the larger stack back to Azerbaijan.
It also proved to be the turning point of the war.
QQ surrendered at about 35% warscore, after the fall of 2 forts and large parts of Iraq.
Persia, as war leader, took 4 cores for itself, but also gave me the 2 claims I've fabricated.
I could have got more claims, but those were Persian cores, and I didn't want to break up with Persia at the moment.

Qara Qoyunlu has shown no signs of improving its mil tech till 1504, which means it's Iraqi holdings will soon be ours.
Persia also doesn't seem strong (similar numbers, slightly lagging tech), and our alliance will not last for too long.


4. Country management

In the early game, the first prioirty was to get an edge in the military, so military focus was a no-brainer.
Later on, when a military advantage was established against the neighbours, an admin focus was used for cores, for admin tech 5, and for getting the admin ideas.
I chose admin for the coring cost reduction, and for reforming the government.
At 1504, the government form is still Tribal Federation, and it was expected to continue till the 1520s or 1530s.

Then the economy.
Most of the money had to go to the army early on, for the 9k men needed to siege down a tier 1 fort.
The situation remained the same until the capture of Muscat and Hormuz, the two centres of trade in the node.
By moving the trade port to Hormuz, trade income was greatly improved, and the +1 advisors became affordable.
The capture of Aden further improved the trade, and trade became the most important source of income for the state.
By 1504, the economy is strong enough to support 3 level 1advisors, 2 heavy ships, 2 forts and a 17k army.

The dirt poor provinces of the Arabian peninsula do not yield good returns for buildings.
Trade buildings were built in the 3 centres of trade, while a few other buildings were built in the few half-decent provinces (basically this means either 3 base tax or 2 manpower) that I had.

The average autonomy is quite high because of all the new conquests and raising autonomy to avoid rebellions.
Since there is little chance to score -10 base unrest or reach admin monarchy at this stage of the game, the only thing that I can do is to fight more efficiently to shorten wars, which is easier said than done.

And lastly, manpower.
It was basically the factor that set the pace of the game in the first decades.
With barely enough troops to siege a fort, running out of manpower means breaking the country's finances for mercenaries, which would make the state more fragile than it already was.
Waiting in peace for manpower recovery also had the added benefit of lowering autonomy.
When the trade income started to flow, mercenaries became a viable option.
With a peace time surplus of 2-4 ducats, 4 mercenary regiments became something expensive but affordable.
I mixed in a few mercenary regiments in the war against Qara Qoyunlu to save manpower, with satisfactory results.
But ultimately, manpower would remain one of my weaker aspects till the pacification of Iraq and Persia.


5. A rough plan for the future

By this time, all avenues of expansion are open: Persia and Qara Qoyunlu to the north; the Mamluks to the west; African sultanates to the south; and India to the east.
I can beat each of my potential targets individually, and there are plenty of ally options just beyond them: Tunis, the Ottomans, Indian sultanates.
There are still clear threats though. Bad diplomacy can lead to me getting piled, the Ottomans still 3-4 times as strong as I do.

The biggest medium target is pretty clear: to prepare for the eventual Ottoman onslaught.
And to do this, I intend to conquer Iraq and Persia for a power base, and ally Tunis for an extra helping hand. I may also recruit Christians for a grand coalition as well, when the time comes.
Egypt and Palestine should remain the buffer zone for as long as possible, as it is currently the target of the Ottomans, Tunis and Ethiopia, and standing in the path of 3 regional powers (one of them a great power) is not the wisest thing to do.
As for the east and the south, they are lower priority targets, but definitely viable options should the matters in the north go wrong.

The stage has been set for the rise of Najd as a great power. The coming events will be unfold chapter by chapter.
 
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Chapter 2: The Persian Front, 1504-1525


1. Second war with Qara Qoyunlu


The truce with Qara Qoyunlu has expired by 1504.
As I took the first screenshot for this AAR, I was preparing for the second war with them.
This is not the ideal moment, as Persia is busy fighting the Uzbeks, and is unwilling to join.
But I decide to press on, since the diplomatic alignment won't improve for another decade.
And I don't want to wait for so long.

So I am at war, alone, with Qara Qoyunlu, who has its vassals and Uzbek on its side.
Wargoal is the fort of Khuzestan, the only remaining stronghold of QQ in Iraq.

The first stages of the war goes well.
I defeat two 20k stacks in my territory, and occupy Khuzestan after a half-year siege.
Then things start to go wrong, beginning with this battle:


When I see 10k QQ forces in the province, I hope to stackwipe it and launch the attack despite the -1 river crossing penalty.
I know that the gamble has been lost when enemy reinforcements arrive within a few days, but I have a vassal army in the battle and pulling out can hurt even more.

Then Uzbek surprises me by sending its 22k stack across Persia to attack me.
And their peace with Persia fails to exile the army.
My military access to Persia has backfired.

I have no choice but to fall back behind my forts.
At this point I seriously consider white peace before Khuzestan falls, but Khuzestan does not hold for long enough for me to do that.
Fortunately to me, their 2 stacks don’t always stick together (though they do when Uzbek first sends their stack against me), and I eventually find a chance for a favourable battle:


QQ stands no chance fighting alone in my home ground, with the clear tech advantage that i get.

The next battle is one that decides the war:


It has been expected to be an evenly matched battle, and it’s Uzbek who attacks me across the river.
I can only say that luck is on my side in this one.

For the remainder of the war, the enemies no longer present a serious threat to me.
I don’t feel strong enough to split my armies though, so the advance is relatively slow.

Eventually, when most of Iraq has been occupied, QQ finally agrees to concede my claims:


Persia does not like me getting more Persian cores, and turns hostile in a few months.
Convenient timing.
After a few years of consolidation, it’s time to turn our attention to this ex-ally.


2. War with Persia

I can summarize this war in 3 words: nothing interesting happens.

A long string of sieges and counter-sieges, with only one single battle fought:


This battle is fought to break the siege of Khuzestan.
Three years fly by, before Persia loses 3 forts and agrees to my terms:



I take one third of Persia and make Persia give up 2 forts, which will make future wars easier.
Persian becomes accepted culture when the cores are finished.

With the new border with Ardalan, it agrees to become my vassal when the wars it got dragged into by the Mamluks and Nogai are over.
It takes a few years though:


Unless diplomatic alignments change drastically, pushing into the north continues to be the best option that I have.


3. Home front

With a max manpower of 20k-30k, I feel strong enough to stop raising autonomy, and let rebellions happen.
On average, a newly conquered province will revolt once, and has a risk of revolting a second time if war exhaustion and overextension are high.
The revolt stacks can be as large as 12k, and defeating such stacks can drain a few thousand manpower.
But I am certain that 25 autonomy in all the newly conquered provinces is a price that I cannot afford to pay.
Especially when the new provinces are so rich compared to my original power base.

I shall conclude this chapter by a map of Najd in 1525.

 
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Chapter 3: The Persian Front, Part 2, 1525-1550


1. Qara Qoyunlu and Persia

The diplomatic alignment has not changed much in the past 20 years. So the wars are almost a repeat of the last round.
The only thing that changed is the challenge that the two enemies give to me.

Last time, Qara Qoyunlu and Uzbek has more than twice of my troops, and at one time held the upper hand.
This time, Uzbek cannot get access to Iraq, giving me a much easier time.
Strength on paper is 24k vs 35k, but I do not experience any significant resistance throughout the war.
The war lasts for 3 years, with most of Qara Qoyunlu occupied when the peace deal is made.


This is most likely the last war that i will actively fight against Qara Qoyunlu.
Further advances will have me facing the Ottomans, whose army strength has grown to a terrifying 80k by 1550.
I still need some time to consolidate my newly conquered provinces, to be at least 2/3rds as strong as them before the inevitable showdown.

The next war is on Persia.
With the land that I took in the last war, I am able to claim most of Persia’s provinces.
This time, I need to bring warscore to near 100% to take the claims.
Which means I have to wipe out the armies of Persia and its allies, something that I did not do in the previous war.
Doing so is a huge drain of manpower, as Persia has quite a few friends.



With the exception of Golden Horde, all the other allies of Persia actually send their troops to fight in Persia.
These allies are dealt with using different methods.

Gujurat is blockaded for one month.
Multan’s army is wiped out.
Shirvan’s capital is sieged for a while.

And the combination of 5 years war and full occupation of Persia brings me warscore to 100% eventually.


Persia is finished after this war, and the QQ-Uzbek alliance will be my main enemy for the years to come. My manpower is completely drained though, forcing me to stay a low profile for the years to come.


2. Home policy

One of the first major objective in this campaign is to reform the government, but this requires a huge amount of admin points, which conflicts with the need to create cores.
A century has passed before I can finally enact the decision to get rid of the tribal government.



The -1 relations penalty is finally gone, and I can now have more vassals without paying for the monthly diplo points.
With the admin points no longer in need for the admin idea group, the pace of expansion will become much faster.

The tax income and manpower from the new provinces greatly strengthened my position.
By 1550, monthly tax income is over 10 ducats, and maximum manpower is close to 50k.
It’s half way to matching the Ottomans, and I may actually stand a chance against them after 30 years or so.


3. Developments in other places


The Ottomans continues their advance, with the Mamluks becoming a rump state, and Qara Qoyunlu seriously weakened.
And this screenshot shows the Anatolian border that they have reached at 1550:


In Europe, the HRE has lost it’s authority, with no strong Emperor to enforce it. Poland-Lithuania has become an absolute monster, and the last credible imperial resistance was torn into pieces:


Poland may become an important ally in the future, and I will keep an eye on it.

It is also interesting that Muscovy and Bahamanis have rivaled me, but it’s not likely we will clash with each other in the decades to come.

Adal declared war on Ethiopia, dragging me into the war.
I vassalized Khorasan during the war, and the participation in Multan forced to have a military presence in India for the first time:



And finally, the closing screenshot of the empire in 1550:

 

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Chapter 4: An attempt to outgrow the Ottomans, 1550-1583


1. Africa


The wars in the 1540s completely drained my manpower, forcing me to stay at peace for several years. It is until 1556 when I finally decide to expand in Africa.


War plan is to take the forts first, and then split up to occupy the country.

Miscalculations in enemy position leads to a bitter defeat in battle:


They caught a 5-stack, and reinforcements are too late to arrive.

Then the stack moves on to take back the captured fort in 3 months by assaulting after a lucky breach.

This set of reverses slow me down by about 6 months, before I finished the siege of Adal’s capital and use the stack to kill of the enemy stack.


2 more rounds of sieges and the war is finished in early 1559:


Adal is now down to less than 100% warscore, and should be vassalizable in the next war.

Later developments in Africa do not go well, and I could probably have done something to change it.

The Ottomans invades Alodia for the mission claims in Egypt. Alodia is decisively defeated, and a revolt broke the country after the war.

Then Ethiopia suddenly goes berserk by firstly diplo-vassalizing the remnants of Alodia, then annexing most of Adal in a war of re-conquest. The rest of Alodia is eaten up soon after.

If I have warned Ethiopia, things would probably have gone differently. The damage is done, not even after I waged a war against them in 1579, not to reverse their expansion, but to fulfill a mission that gives an impressive -0.05 monthly autonomy as reward.

It took me 2 years to get enough warscore for the claims, and a possible land access to the overseas provinces through Adal.

Here, I am trying to abuse the -50% overseas coring discount for as long as possible, probably until I vassal-feed Adal and have it diplo-annexed.



The extra land in Somalia was gained 2 years before the war with Ethiopia, in which I simply captured the mothballed fort, occupy the entire country, and take the capital. The first war that can be finished in less than 1 year.

I will probably wipe the Kilwa node clean in the next chapter, before I deal with Adal.


2. Persia

In the previous chapters, I have already taken the majority of the provinces with Iranian culture. A cleanup is performed in the timeframe of this one. The first target is Persia:


The second is Baluchistan:


Next one, Bukhara (formed by Uzbek):


Khiva is diplo-vassalized in a year. A lapse of concentration delayed this.

And finally, Taberestan:


Taberestan has quite a few good allies, and over 50% total warscore cost. In the earlier round of war, I severed the diplomatic ties, so that this war can become easier. It works out fine, much to my gratitude.

By 1582, the entire region has finally been subjugated, which means Central Asia and India will be the next major directions of expansion.


3. The Ottomans

They are growing really quickly, much to my dismay. Egypt has finally been completely annexed by the Ottomans in 1577:


I have been allying with them for a few decades, and see their armies growing from 80k to 120k. My armies is now only at 40k, and the manpower is always depleted due to constant wars. I would have a very difficult time if they decide to turn on me.

There is one instance that their strength has helped me though. They get a mission to take Trebizond, which is still in the hands of Qara Qoyunlu. I deliberately fabricated claims on Mosul and Tabriz, and they generously give both of the provinces to me while taking only Trebizond on their own.


I hope that the Qara Qoyunlu can remain as a buffer state for as long as possible. The Ottomans don’t fabricate claims on it (Trebizond is a mission claim), which is a good sign, but I fear they will rival me eventually…


4. Eastern Europe

The whole region is basically divided by 2 gigantic states: Russia and the Commonwealth. Russia is steadily expanding into the east, and has reached the northern border of Bukhara. I envision a conflict with them within 50 years or so.

2 screenshots are taken to show their power:




Both of them are not nearly as strong as the Ottomans, but still a force to be reckoned with.


5. A brief summary

The growth rate of my future rivals have terrified me, when I look back into these 30 years of game. I am reviewing my pace of expansion, and is trying to speed up my conquests, hoping to eventually match the strength of the great powers. My final action in this session is to start the diplo-annexation process of Khorasan, after taking the key idea in the influence idea group. The 2/0/3 ruler who reigns for most of this session has slowed things down considerably, and I hope that the 2/4/4 that I currently have can help me in the long run.

 
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Chapter 5: Bukhara, Armenia and East Africa, 1583-1613


1. Bukhara

Russia has crossed the Volga, and attack Bukhara in 1583. They mercilessly occupy the entire country in a 6-year war, and take a large chunk in the north:



This greatly alarms me. I have witnessed how getting Egypt makes the Ottomans a superpower, and I need to actively draw the border to take the good land for myself. With the Ottomans as my ally, which appears to be inevitable for the century to come, Russia will not dare attack me.

I am forced to stay in peace to recover manpower for most of the 1580s, and some events in Iraq grabs my attention in 1589. This means Bukhara has to wait till 1591.

The first thing I do is to vassalize Afghanistan after a 10-month war:



Then a war with Baluchistan delayed the inevitable war for another few years, though I could have swapped the order of the wars.

The problem with the war with Baluchistan is the need to wait for 5 years to get the 100% for full occupation. The manpower cost to wipe out the allies is something that I don’t want to pay. The annexation is achieved in 1597:



The manpower saved is proved to be handy in the coming war, which lasts from 1597 to 1601. The next screenshot shows the power balance of the participants:



59k vs 50k, but I have a larger advantage in practice. The first reason for this is the willingness of Multan to peace out as their captial falls:



Together with the 10k locked by lack of military access, only 27k remains, leading to this battle:



Their army is eventually stackwiped 8 months later, when the occupation of southern Bukhara exposes the destination of retreat.

Harsh terms are agreed by both sides 1 year later.



Most of the remaining provinces are locked from Russian access, and the northern line is likely to become my border with Russia before our first war breaks out.


2. Armenia


Another focal point in these 30 years is the buffer zone between us and the Ottomans. Qara Qoyunlu, after all the defeats it has suffered, is weak enough to be defeated by Armenia, a minor state released by the Ottomans in one of the previous wars.



This achievement is impressive, but it’s Armenia’s misfortune to be sandwiched by 2 great powers working together.

Armenia has an NI giving +50% hostile coring cost, so I have no choice but to initiate the partition:



The Ottomans is given a province (Cizre), and I take most of the provinces that are not Armenian cores yet.

I hope that the trust of the Ottomans will stabilize our alliance even after we start to share a long border, which will happen soon.

In a later war during the 1610s, the Ottomans take another province from Armenia. I hope to get the fortress at the Armenian captial eventually, but only if the Ottomans do not claim it.


3. East Africa

The sudden expansion of Ethiopia in the last episode has disturbed my plans to vassalize Adal. I have been distracted by the events elsewhere, but I am forced to react when Ethiopia tries to annex 2-province Adal, by declaring war on both sides.I am too late to prevent Adal from renouncing claims in Ethiopia, but the tag survives, and will continue to keep Africa overseas until the time is appropriate.



Since I am already at war with Ethiopia, there appears to be no reason not to take a slice of it before going back to peace. Ethiopia has a lot of provinces, but many of them are unprotected. That’s why the strategy is to send a small force to occupy the unprotected northern provinces, while the bulk of the forces focus on sieging down 1-2 forts at a time while guarding against the Ethiopian stack.





One thing that I have not expected is the Ottoman attitude towards the African provinces. The new provinces induce a huge opinion penalty with them, and at one point I am afraid that they will dissolve the alliance. Fortunately, the opinion penalty disappears in about 3 years, but I have decided not to touch Ethiopia again for many decades to come, so that the Ottomans will be less likely to turn on me.

After vassalizing Adal, I realize that East Africa will cease to be overseas soon. The natural reaction is to sweep along the coast, all the way down to Kilwa.







Mutapa is rich in gold, which puts it high in my list of targets. Portugal has planted province in the very south, which unfortunately belongs to a trade company.


4. Other developments

The Commonwealth is strong, but the Ottomans and Russia are stronger. This kind of defeat is inevitable.





The developments in India are worrying. Most of the Indian majors have rivaled me, and their alliance web can make things complicated. Meanwhile, Portuguese Goa has triggered the westernisation of Bahmanis.



I may need to follow suit, but Muslim tech group and being in the 17th century are 2 factors that require careful consideration.

Finally, the map of Najd in 1613:

 
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Chapter 6: Two uphill wars, 1613-1641


1. Preview

Between 1613 and 1641, only 4 wars have been fought, but 2 of them are bloody and exhausting, for I need to defeat a coalition with a larger army than mine in each of the war.

The first one involves a few large states on my eastern side, and 2 of them are permanently wrecked after the war. The second one is a colonial war against 3 western majors, which is fought for the rich gold provinces of Mutapa and a core province from a western tech nation.

My power is steadily growing from the ticking autonomy, especially during the long inter-war periods for manpower recovery. With the offensive ideas, force limit finally reaches 100k, though I only have 60-80k troops at hand throughout the period due to constant manpower shortages.

The diplomatic front is generally favourable to me. The Ottoman alliance remains stable even though our buffer zone is finally consumed completely; Russia does not expand too fast, possible fearing my backstab; the fall of Malwa makes Indian states turn on each other, leaving Bahmanis as a possible ally. By 1641, there is no longer any challenging coalitions against me, and I am ready to take over northern India.

And by the way, the 2 minors wars are for annexing Armenia and taking over the central provinces of Bukhara.

The rest of the chapter will be closer depictions of the 2 major wars.


2. The Great Indian War, 1616-1622

The years till 1616 are quiet. Taberestan is annexed in April 1614, while admin monarchy is adopted 2 months later. The manpower needs to recover, but it is also important to take the fight before something unexpected happens, like Ethiopia almost annexing Adal before I eventually intevene. So, war is declared on Multan in February 1616, with Bukhara as co-belligerent. 33k manpower is the largest manpower reserve that I have ever got in this campaign, even though it’s only slightly more than half of my max manpower:



The numbers do not look good, and it doesn’t even count the allies of Bukhara, who have another 40k troops.



However, the inferior mil tech of my enemies has given me a big advantage, especially when some of the states don’t have the tactics from mil tech 15.

The first stage of the war is all about battles. Both sides have big armies everywhere, and clashings around the border forts are inevitable.





The Indian front is where I concentrate all my armies. In hindsight, knocking out Bukhara first may be a better strategy, but I am glad that I have all my forces in one theatre at this stage. The second screenshot shows me routing a larger army from Jaunpur, which allows me to capture 2 forts in the next 4 months. The second attempt of the Indian to gain superiority is reversed in February 1617:



This is a Phyrric victory, and my manpower is drained after this battle. I start to recruit mercanaries, hoping to prevent my armies from collapsing.

On the other hand, Bukhara has captured 2 of my northern forts, while Kara Del has decided to go to Africa. At this point, I have made the mistake to divert one stack to chase down Kara Del, instead of countering Bukhara or staying in India.

On the up side,



But this is the price that I pay for it:





For the next year after this defeat, I lost control of the frontline and have no force to reverse it. I use the first half of the year to reinforce my stacks, and then shift the focus to knocking out Bukhara by laying siege to their capital.

This attracts the attention of Jaunpur, which means another major battle is to be fought.



The siege goes on, and succeeds by the end of 1618:



Even though Bukhara holds a few of my forts, the individual warscore against them is heavily in my favour. As much as I want to get 100% worth of province from them, everything else tells me to settle for peace. So peace it is:



After this settlement, balance of forces is 57k vs 80k, but giving my enemies free rein in India has spread out their forces, meaning that I can probably wipe out a large portion of their forces before the final engagement.



I wipe out a 14k stack, but cannot find another favourable decisive battle. The war drags on for almost 2 wars, with siege race going on for the majority of the period. I have lost a few forts, but the Indian alliance also loses theirs. At the end, I still need to grind down their troops in multiple engagements to take control of the war.







After early 1621, only a 35k Jaunpur manage to recover and resume operation. The following siege race is much more heavily in my favour.



With half of Jaunpur occupied, I can finally get all the terms that I want, including:

i. Vassalage of 2-province Delhi

ii. All claimed provinces in Multan, i.e. all border provinces

iii. Lahore from Jaunpur

iv. Thatta from Gujurat



This marks the conclusion of a tough 7-year war. After this war, 2 important alliances are broken; Multan is forced to severe its ties with Bukhara, and Bahmanis turns hostile towards Jaunpur. The next few Indian wars will be much easier to manage.


(rest of chapter to be uploaded later, for the number of screenshots is already close to 20)
 
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3. Intermission

The world keeps on moving. The Ottomans feeds on Tunis, and Tlecmen jumps on it in its moment of weakness. Croatia and Georgia also becomes Ottoman prey a few years later.

Norway is the first country to complete a circumnavigation, which is in my opinion a century late. Bahmanis finishes westernisation, making it a dangerous rival in the future. Russia vassalizes the remnant of Georgia, giving them access to the Ottomans, and vice versa.

I am drained in manpower, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing I can do. Armenia and Bukhara are weak and lack a protector, which makes them good targets while I am recovering from the last war.





One particular event, right after the end of the Great Indian War, makes me uneasy throughout the next decade. It’s Portugal taking half of Mutapa:



I badly desire those province, but Portugal is allied to France and Spain. I wish to complete the conquest of East Africa before connecting the region to Arabia (by annexing Adal) though, so I decide to accept the challenge to fight 3 colonial powers at once. This war will be very different from the other ones in this campaign.


4. A colonial war against Portugal

The war starts in December 1633, with the objective of taking over Portuguese East Africa, which costs 30% warscore in total.



The inferior dip tech discourages me from building a proper fleet, so naval engagement is out for this war. The only feasible war plan is to drive back every stack that my enemies land on my soil, and rely on ticking warscore to get the best possible deal.

The first Portuguese stack is easy:



But then France and Spain lands 80k troops in Arabia within 2 months, wrecking havoc near my capital. After several tries, I have defeated the French stack once, but is immediately crushed by the Spaniards.





The only thing that saves me from failure is the Spanish stack suddenly going after Africa, leaving the French army vulnerable. It still takes great sacrifices to get it destroyed:



Notice that the capital has fallen, showing the damage that 80k up-to-date western troops can do to my country.

The French stack has the best quality among the enemies. With that gone, I can take a more aggressive stance to recover lost land.



At this point, I have proved my superiority at home. Spain decides to withdraw.



It is great not having to fight the Spanish stack. France follows suit in October.

Portugal is now alone, but it takes one more year and the recovery of Harer to make them willing to give me all their land in East Africa.



This is the end of another less eventful, but no less bloody, 7-year war with a favourable outcome. My manpower is so depleted that most of my infantry are mercenaries. It will take a few years to recover from it, and the next few years will be quiet.

As usual, the final screenshot will be the map of Najd in the closing year, which is 1641 this time:



 

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Chapter 7: Westernization, and the Second Indian War, 1641-1675


1. Westernization

The war against Portugal yielded a few Portuguese cores, so westernization becomes possible after the provinces are cored. Since I am lagging in tech and there is still almost 200 years left, the math heavily favours westernization over staying Muslim tech. As soon as the cores are finished, westernization starts:



Rate of progress is 5 points per category per month, estimated to be complete in 15-16 years. The drain of monarch points is not fast, which means I should be able to fight a few easy wars even with the westernization penalties.

Mutapa is the first target. The early unlucky battles prolongs the war, which eventually takes almost 2 years.



When I am planning to attack Ethiopia, the old Sultan dies with a 5-year-old 3-6-4 heir, triggering a 9-year regency.



A few uneventful years has passed before the Ottomans call me to deal with Russia.



I use my full force to invade Russia, hoping to get something in return.

Russia has higher morale, but less tactics and discipline. As long as we have parity in numbers, I can win the battle with good kill ratio. This is one of the biggest victories:



Most of Russia’s forts have been occupied towards the end, with me attacking from the east and the Ottomans from the west. Hungary has to accept a humiliating treaty for the total defeat.



I am disappointed by this settlement, in which I get nothing in return for the occupation of 3 forts and a dozen provinces. At least I get some experience in fighting Russia.

The regency ends in 1659, with a competent ruler on the throne.



The best thing about him is the ability to enact Islamic Centre of Scholarly Learning, granting missionary strength AND tech discount.

With the ability to declare war coming back, the first thing that I do is to annex Mutapa.



Then westernization is complete, which means I can get techs at a much faster pace.



War with Ethiopia is next. Much manpower has been drained, before I can take one third of this old enemy.



Lack of manpower forces me to keep a low profile, and enjoy the fast techs from westernization.

2. The Second Indian War

Admin tech 17 is achieved in April 1666. This brings me the first tier of admin efficiency.

There is no time to waste; I have to get more land in India.

The war that I start is basically a repeat of the Great Indian War, with the exceptions of Gujurat not joining the war, and Jaunpur being a co-belligerent in addition to Bukhara.

The plan is to take a slice of Multan, annex Bukhara and return Delhi cores from Jaunpur.



Troop comparison is 101k vs 162k against my favour, which is much better than the last war.

I am using the old plan, which is to siege a fort or two near the Indian border, engage in big battles, knock out Bukhara, and then sweep across India.

The reason that I start in India is the opportunity to wipe out isolated stacks before the enemy troops can group together. Multan lost their entire army in an early fight, and the doomstacks of Jaunpur have little support when I engage them:



The first few months drain much of the resources of Multan and Jaunpur, even though they have enough to recover for once. After this fight, I keep one stack in India, and proceed to Bukhara.





4-province Bukhara is annexed in August 1668, causing 19.2% over-extension.

Meanwhile, around 100k troops are roaming in India, forcing me into the defensive.

I manage to pick up an isolated stack and wipe it out.



As my stacks coverge in the upper Indus region, my enemies sense a moment of weakness in my troop alignment, and try to exploit it, but my reinforcements arrive in time to drive them back.



The war is decided by now. In the next few years, I carefully siege down 2-3 forts at a time, while defeating Jaunpur’s relief attempts.

Gujurat jumps on Jaunpur with Bahmanis as ally, so I cannot 100% Jaunpur.

After the fall of Jaunpur’s capital, I am able to get 86% worth of provinces for Delhi:



And the final settlement:



I have made a huge mistake in this. Mewar, a long-disappeared tag, has 100% extra coring cost from its national traditions and aristocratic ideas. It has cores in 4 of the newly conquered provinces. As I am unwilling to pay the admin power for it, I can only release it as protectorate, due to the tech difference between us. My plan is to conquer the land around it, wait for its westernization, and eventually take it as my vassal.

3. Interesting trivia

During this period, 2 wars have caught my attention. One of them is Ming declaring war on Russia for a Russian colony in Taiwan, which Ming won and get the province together with Russia’s treasury.

The second one is the Ottomans declaring war on Austria for more land and power. This time, they faced a setback. The combined forces of France, Austria and Portugal defeated the Ottomans in the battlefield, and occupy Ottoman territory up to Serbia in Europe and Egypt in Africa.



The Ottomans were forced to cede 3 provinces to Austria and release an OPM in this war, together with its treasury. At this point, both Russia and the Ottomans have faced their defeats, which is encouraging to me, as they will eventually become my worst enemy.

The last thing I would like to mention about these wars is the real-life counterparts in almost the same time period. Qing conquered western Taiwan from a Ming splinter faction in 1683, while the Great Turkish War in 1683-1699 saw the Ottoman’s first reverse in Europe after 2 centuries of dominance.


Province count is at 222. This time, only the map is shown for the closing:

 

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Chapter 8: The start of massive expansions, 1675-1705


1. Years of preparation

In 1675, I am low in manpower, but a mission for building up to 75% of force limit prompts me to build the 4th 28k stack. It takes all the manpower till 1677 to accomplish this.



I like to build stacks close to the supply limit of the worst provinces. This way, I do not need to worry about attrition from careless movement, and 2 of these stacks can be combined to become a proper battle stack.

In the next few years, despite my continued shortage of manpower, the monthly manpower is enough to support small scale wars in the next few years. One screenshot for one war:







The only reason for the third war to last for 5 years is to wait for the 100% warscore from total occupation of war leader. It is a bit annoying, but still better than to fight distant Malacca and try to get a white peace from them, which would have cost a lot of manpower.

Diwani script event finally fires in 1678, giving 1 legitimacy per year:



The only requirement for it is to be a Sunni monarchy and to hire a level 2 or 3 artist advisor, with a mtth of 15 years. I was too poor to hire level 2 advisors in the early years, so it does not happen till this late. One of the hidden gems of being Sunni, and often forgotten when people compare the pros and cons of Sunni and Shia.

The catchup is tech is quick after westernization, thanks to this 3-6-4 ruler coming of age shortly before westernization is complete. This is probably the cheapest tech in this game, right after finishing the diplomatic idea group.



My target is to get level 23 in all 3 techs, for admin efficiency (admin tech), Imperialism CB (diplo tech), as well as a new tier of infantry, cavalry and military tactics (military tech).

By 1681, I am ready for another major conquest. Even though my manpower is still at below 10k, my targets have been weakened by a recent war, and is ripe for taking:



2. A first taste of 90% over-extension

The capture of Thatta in the last war gives me the ability to claim the entire coastline of Gujurat. The region has a lot of development, which means they are not ideal for province count, but decent for ducats and manpower.

The war itself is not particularly difficult, as I have the advantage in both quality and quantity. I don’t even need to totally occupy Bahmanis, as the entire coast of Gujurat is already a good enough reward. Steady progression for 3 years, and I am ready for peace.



I only take 1 province from Bahmanis, which is used to fabricate claims on it.



That single province allows me to claim 9 more, which is an impressive number.

At this point, I decide to delay the peace with Gujurat for 2 years, as over-extension will shoot over 100% if I immediately take the provinces I want.



This is the first time when over-extension affects my decsion making. It is a good sign, showing my pace of expansion has reached a milestone. It won’t happen often though, as I am still not ready for continuous warfare.

But not for now, as I have another enemy to deal with.



Jaunpur is much stronger than it may seem, since northern India is an extremely rich region. My vassal Delhi can field as much as 50k troops, which is a great help in my wars.

This is my third war against Jaunpur, so there is nothing new in terms of strategy. The only thing that catch my interest is this stackwipe.



36k armies cleared with only 56k on my side. The power of discipline and mil tech 23.

And the peace settleent:



At this time, the Ottomans is fighting Hungary again, which draws Russia on the Hungarian side. I think staying in war can prevent the Ottomans from calling me to arms, but it appears that a war with 100% warscore does not count.



Breaking the Ottoman alliance is not an option, so I have to join the war and then immediately make a separate peace. I have been planning to attack Russia at its weakest moment, but the 5-year truce will make things more inconvenient. For now, it is best to annex Ethiopia and stay quiet to accumulate manpower.


3. Najd vs Russia

The truce with Russia ends in late 1697. There is no time to lose; war is declared on Russia.

The Ottomans just ended their war with Russia 3 years before, so they would not join me. At least, that war weakened Russia substantially (Moscow fell at one point), with only a fraction of their potential strength even after the years of recovery.



I have 120k troops, while my vassals have 65k-70k. Since my vassals are likely to attack in the west, I decide to start a little towards the east, before turning the majority of my forces to the west.

Throughout the war, the superior quality and Russia’s lack of mil tech 23 allows me to get 1:2 casualty ratio on average in 1:1 engagements, which allows me to control the pace of the war. Concerns about manpower slow me down a bit, and this is what I acheive in 2 years:



At this point, Russia stops recruiting in East Siberia. One of my stacks split up to carpet the region, and the rest slowly advance towards Moscow.

The importance of having enough artillery in the back row is shown in the two battles with only a few months in between:





The final moment before the end of the war:



This is the final settlement, in which I get a large slice and release one state with good vassal potential.



The manpower pool is drained again. Even though my max manpower is at 110k and manpower recovery is over 1k per month. This does not affect my war capacity much, and I will resume taking land in India after coring the new conquests.


4. Important events behind the scenes

I am in shortage of admin power when I finish the war with Russia. This is because of the chance to take admin tech 23. The admin efficiency allows me to take more provinces and suffer less over-extension, so it’s necessary to get it first.

Diplo tech 23 is taken a few months before, granting the Imperialism Casus Belli.

One last thing: the integration of Delhi and Adal begins. Delhi’s army is 50% as large as mine, which indicates the wealth of its land. Annexing Adal will connect Africa to my capital, providing another boost to my resources, especially in gold income.

The last image is the map of Najd in the closing year, as usual. At this point, province count is 297.

 

bleakie

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Chapter 9: India and Russia, 1705-1746


1. Introduction

This is a short chapter covering a long period. The reason for me to make it short is the lack of variation from previous chapters. The only major wars fought are against Bahmanis and Russia, with which the toughest war has been fought before this chapter. Towards the 1740s, I can defeat each of them using only one third of my total troops, which is approaching 300k, compared to the 120k at the beginning.

The coming content consists of 2 main parts: the first part is about the gains that have been made throughout the years, while the second part showcases some statistics and the progress towards the main goal. In addition, I will talk about the possibilities of getting additional achievements.


2. The expansion

Russia and Bahmanis are large states depleted by previous defeats. This means they are obvious targets of expansion. The reason that I do not open a third front is to prevent aggressive expansion from spilling into East Asia, and to keep a buffer zone from Ming. I cannot afford to have a neighbouring great power enemy when I face the Ottomans eventually.

The first war is against Bahmanis and Gujarat, starting in 1707.





Gujarat is reduced to 3 provinces, while Bahmanis loses much of its coast.

The next war is fought against Jaunpur in 1715:



Russia’s next, with the war lasting from 1718 to 1722:



The reason for me to release the Golden Horde is to prevent to Ottomans from taking the region. It’s vassalization is more messy than planned, since my total development is in the marginal case for it. It takes the next war against Bahmanis to make Golden Horde accept becoming my vassal:





The next few years are relatively quiet. There are 2 short wars against Jaunpur and Maldives in 1727 and 1731 respectively. 3 provinces are gained in total.

Third war against Bahmanis in 1734-1735:



Second war against Russia in 1737-1740:



The Ottomans finally reaching the Baltic Sea:



And the game-changing tier 3 admin efficiency in the closing year:



The annexation of land from Russia and Bahmanis will accelerate. In near future, the Ottomans will inevitably become my biggest enemy, for the return from their land is the greatest, and they are no longer unbeatable. But this is the story for the next chapter.

3. Najd’s national statistics

Throughout the entire campaign, I haven’t mentioned the management of the country much. I relied on the closing screenshot to deliver the key statistics, and there isn’t really much thinking involved, other than to maximize manpower, since I was in constant manpower shortages. Since this chapter is relatively short, I can showcase a few of the country’s various tabs in 1746.



Absolute monarchy for the discipline, and mostly +3 advisors.



The financial tab. India is rich in production, so production is the largest source of income. Total development is 3256 in 451 provinces, neither particularly rich or poor on average.



I only have 2 merchants, which limits the strategy that I can use here. My main trade port is in Hormuz, with my merchants steering in Gulf of Aden and Zanzibar. This way, I can capture the trade from India, but loses the ones from Ethiopia. The pull of Europeans from Zanzibar is inevitable, and the main competition of trade occurs there.



I regret taking the expansion group instead of religious, but other choices are solid. Coring cost reduction saves a huge amount of admin points, diplomatic and influence enables the vassal game. The rest are military idea group are necessary to win wars.



300k troops, 120% discipline, 3 decent generals, potential to field 100k more troops. The only remaining threat is the Ottomans, which will be dealt with in time.


4. A simple plan for the future

The primary objective of this campaign was stated at the very start: to get the Jihad achievement. It means getting 500 Sunni provinces. In 1746, I have 451 provinces in total, but about 50 of them are not Sunni. I need to conquer or convert 100 provinces in 75 years to get the achievement. It should not be too difficult.

I have just reviewed other possibilities. The most obvious one is Arabian Coffee, which requires forming Arabia (I have enough coffee provinces). This is what makes fighting the Ottomans inevitable, above all other factors. Once Russia and Bahmanis are no longer threats, the fight against the Turks will commence.

Another possibility is Guarantor of Peace. I don’t know if I can reduce France and the Ottomans enough for them not to rival me. This can be a third goal though.

So the plan is set. Finish off Russia and Bahmanis, turn on the Ottomans, sniping France if time permits. The last image is the map of Najd in 1746, as usual.

 

bleakie

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Chapter 10: For Arabia, 1746-1791


1. Old enemies

In the previous cycles of war against Bahmanis and Russia, the two states have been reduced to rump states. The first few years of the period is spent to further reduce them so that they cease to be a threat when I start to fight the Ottomans.











By 1760, all of India (except Assam) is under my control, and Russia is reduced to East Siberia and a few enclaves and exclaves. My back is now secure.

After taking my slice of Russia and peacing out Portugal separately, the Ottomans decide that our alliance is not in their interest.



The time for the biggest conflict in this campaign has come.


2. War against the Ottomans

Before taking on the war, I make some new alliances. Austria is willing to ally, and so is Ming. Austria is the only country that the Ottomans could not defeat, which is proof to their toughness. Ming is the only great power in the east, and having their friendship means extra help in case of any trouble in East Asia.

I initiate the war in 1760 without calling any allies, while the Ottomans call in Crimea.



I have a little numerical advantage, which I have used centuries of effort to achieve. I place two thirds of my troops in Syria, and one third in Russia. This should allow steady progress in Syria, while maintaining status quo in Russia.

The early battles in Syria are fought for the control of sieges. This is one example of such battles:



Both sides suffer heavy losses, but I hold the ground and take the forts one after another.

I am on the defensive in the Russian front. At one point, I am careless enough to get a 40k stack wiped, but then luck is on my side for these 2 battles:





I stackwipe one army, force march to get one month of recovery, and then stackwipe another army. 80k enemies gone with less than 10k losses plus attrition on my side.

The tide of war is turned in Russia. Now it’s time to call Austria in.



The Austrians are a great help in this war, diverting the attention of the Ottomans and occupying a large area on its own.





My own progress is slower than hoped, as the level 4 unblockaded coastal forts are difficult to overcome. This screenshot shows the occupations 6 years into the war.



Crimea falls a few months later, and it becomes our vassal.

However, I need to spend another 4 years in war to eventually overcome the remaining roadblocks to Konstantiniyye and get enough warscore for the 100% demand.





With tier 3 admin efficiency and diplomatic ideas, I can take a huge number of provinces. I take all of Egypt and Syria, part of Anatolia and two Russian cities (including Moscow).



These land has 2 benefits. Firstly, most of them are Sunni provinces, so I don’t need to convert them to get counted towards the Jihad achievement. Secondly, Egypt and Syria has a few provinces required to form Arabia, and now I have all the needed provinces to form Arabia.

I do not intend to suffer the 200% over-extension; Syria and the Mamluks are released immediately to bring over-extension down to 99%.

That’s it. Once the 2 vassals are re-absorbed and a few more conversion is complete, I will have 500 Sunni provinces, which is the primary objective of this campaign.


3. The closing years

The only remaining issue on my mind is the feasibility of getting “Guarantor of Peace”, which requires guaranteeing France, the Ottomans and Russia. My problem is that all 3 countries have been my rival at some point. Russia is sufficiently weakened, the Ottomans can be weakened enough, but France is simply too large and too far away. There is hardly enough time to get 2 successful wars against France, and even I succeed France may not be weak enough to un-rival me.

Still, I have waged several wars just to further expand my realm a bit. South Africa is seized from Portugal, while Burma is taken from several minors. Sunni province counts finally reaches 500 after annexing Syria.



After taking another slice of the Ottomans in a 6-year war, I press the button to form Arabia and get Arabian Coffee achievement.



I consider this a good moment to end this AAR. I am undoubtedly the largest blob after defeating the Ottomans twice, and there is little left to achieve other than to take bits of land from place to place. This final screenshot is the map of Arabia sprawling across Asia and Africa.



I hope to receive some feedback on either my strategy and writing, so that I can know what to improve in the future. Thanks for everyone who have watched and enjoyed this AAR.
 

Hootieleece

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I must say that the gameplay was impressive. I enjoyed the matter of fact writing of your AAR's. You were much more aggressive than I ever am........I'm almost afraid of wars unless I outnumber the enemy.
 

AlexTheRat

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Impressive work. I'll digest this in chunks and comment as I get through each part.

Part 1: I've never tried rushing mil, though I only recently started playing again and it took me a bit to discover the national focus mechanic.

Also, great job exploiting Yemen's allies to take it apart and keep the mamluks out of the war. I love to read about that type of opportunism :)