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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Tom D.

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Hello everybody, and welcome to my first AAR. You probably think I took a daring choice to take Byzantium as the nation I want to lead for my first AAR. Whether you’re right we’ll see, but there are two reasons why I choose Byzantium:

- The Phoenix arises: the nation which I think everybody would want to lead to glory and rescue it from its tedious situation.

- “It is impossible to play as Byzantium”: this was actually the most important thing for me to choose for Byzantium, since I really couldn’t believe it’s impossible. So I tried it for myself and after a successful first war against the Ottomans I decided I would record things and make an AAR after it. This also means that there are few screenshots before the first war, I apologise for that. Most of the screenshots before this first war were taken afterwards.

I’m playing in version 1.15.1 with only the "Purple Phoenix" DLC and "Women in history" DLC.
So this means that there's no helpful “Threaten War”, “Justify Trade Conflict”, no developing, no estates etc.
I actually think this makes the survival of Byzantium easier, especially regarding diplomacy with favors.

The only mods I'm using are "The Chapel - Event pictures" and "Colored UI: Purple" which don't affect the checksum and are therefore ironman compatible.

Table of Contents:

Chapter I: The Quest for new allies
Chapter II: Bashing the Ottomans
Chapter III: Wars, more wars and a triumph for the Balkans
Chapter IV: The long march for Rome
Chapter V: Trouble in Constantinople
Chapter VI: Into Turkey we go, and Italy
Chapter VII: Taking back what is ours
Chapter VIII: The stage is set...
Chapter IX: A disappointment and an opportunity for the Empire
Chapter X: Let's intimmiedate our enemies
Chapter XI: Indian adventures
Chapter XII: Blobbing mode activated
Chapter XIII: Agressive expansion is just a number
Chapter XIV: The titans are ready...

Edit 22-12-2018: added threadmarks for whoever still reads this thing in 2018 and beyond :p.
 
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Chapter I: The Quest for new allies

Tom D.

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Chapter I: The Quest for new allies
Byzantium starts, as everybody knows, in a dangerous situation. It’s surrounded by the mighty Ottomans and has very few opportunities to expand. The key for Byzantium survival is finding mighty and powerful allies, since Byzantium can’t fight the Ottomans on its own.

The situation on 11th November, 1444:
Byzantium Overview 1444.jpg

Byzantium has 3 provinces, one of which is known as “The City of the World’s Desire” and a strategic point for trade. This will help us gain more money. We also have one vassal, Athens.

Government tab 1444.jpg

Our current ruler is Ioannes VIII Palaiologos, who is 51 years, and our heir is Konstantinos Palaiologos, who is 39 years old. The age of these two will soon turn out to be very negative, as regency councils were installed, but we’ll have to live with that.

Economy tab 1444.jpg
As a little country, our economy doesn’t represent much. We have a positive balance of about 0,75 ducats, which is way too low.

Trade tab 1444.jpg
If we look at the trade tab, we can see that our positive balance is mostly because of our beloved capital city, since 59,4% of our income came out of trade this month. It could be more if the Ottomans wouldn’t dominate the trade region, but we’ll handle with them soon!

Missions tab 1444.jpg
As for missions, we will take the “Recover Greece” mission, which will give us upon completion +1 Yearly legitimacy and -5% Aggressive expansion impact for 10 years.

Military tab 1444.jpg

Our army consists of 8 regiments, with a cap of 10 units, and a fleet of 14 units, with a cap of 17 units. We will build our army to our force limits with 2 extra infantry units at Achaea and Morea and our army will also be shipped to our Greek exclave, where it will be more save if the Ottomans would attack.

Now, let’s start. Byzantium needs allies to hold on. So we started by improving relations with Hungary, Poland and Wallachia. To help ourselves gaining these important alliances we hired a diplomat, increasing our diplomatic reputation with +1.

Hiring diplomat.jpg


Byzantine-Wallachian alliance.jpg

Our first alliance is installed: the Byzantine-Wallachian alliance is a fact. Now Hungary and Poland.

Warning Ottomans.jpg

The Ottomans warned us not to go to war with anyone. They don’t have to worry, we won’t, for now.

Pol-Lit union.jpg

Poland formed a union with Lithuania. Only good can come from this!

Godly ruler event.jpg

A godly general was hired at the expense of 25 prestige and legitimacy. Sadly, he died just before we could use him. Rest in peace champion.
Byzantine-Polish alliance 2.jpg
Our 2nd alliance and most important one was signed: the Byzantine-Polish alliance.

Byzantine-Hungarian alliance.jpg
And eventually in the end, the 3rd: the Byzantine-Hungarian Alliance.

I think we have fulfilled our Quest for new allies. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. In the next chapter we will have brought our greatest enemy the Ottomans their first blow!

EDIT: since screenshots of the first war itself are missing, I'll cover the first and second war with the Ottomans in the next part.
 
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Tom D.

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Even the interface is blurple! Let's see for how long you can keep going.
That's actually the purpose of the mod :D, for now I reached the 1520-30. Also thank you for reading my AAR.
 

ThetrueColt

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Did you have to restart a few times to get both big alliances? I did a BYZ run in 1.14 (also w/o Cossacks) and only got Hungary without any problems in the beginning.

Or has it become easier in 1.15? I haven't played the game in 1.15 yet and so I didn't pay much attention to the changelog.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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Looks like a promising start. Hopefully your allies will help you beat back the Ottomans.
 

Tom D.

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Did you have to restart a few times to get both big alliances?
No, I didn't restart. I haven't played the game much recently, so I don't know how it was in 1.14. Of course it can be true that it has become easier in 1.15 for some reason.

EDIT: it's also important to note that rivalries towards other nations can be very important. I don't know how in your game Poland an Hungary had set their rivals, but if they rivalled each other or any of their alliances, than you will indeed have a difficult time signing an alliance, but I had the luck they didn't rival each other.
 
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Tom D.

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Looks like a promising start. Hopefully your allies will help you beat back the Ottomans.
We will definitely try to utterly destroy the Ottomans ;). I find it difficult to spread my attention to both Europe and Asia, especially if I want to restore the Pentarchy. That's one aim, and of course to restore the Roman Empire (achievement 'Basileus").
 

Niethar

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Subbed. Let's see how much of its former glory the Empire can recover.
 

Yenzen

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Now the hard part is making the Ottomans actually attack you, or hope that Poland and Hungary make Ottoman their rival. I tried three times before a successful Byzantium game. The third failure was because I just sat there for 30 years, because the Ottomans were scared to attack because of my allies, but my allies never committed to fabricating claims on the Ottomans, so they would not join an attack either.
 

Tom D.

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Now the hard part is making the Ottomans actually attack you
Why should the Ottomans have to attack you? They didn't dare to attack me because of the alliances, which is the purpose of it IMO. So if they don't dare to attack you, you attack them.
 
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Yenzen

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Why should the Ottomans have to attack you? They didn't dared to attack me because of the alliances, which is the purpose of it IMHO. So if they don't dare to attack you, you attack them.
There's the heart of the matter. Unless you owe Poland favors, they likely won't have claims on the Ottomans, in which case they may not want to help attack. Hungary sometimes does not fabricate and therefore has no interest, sometimes it gets involved in Austrian wars against Venice etc. and ends up being indebted and hence won't help for 15-20 years until it has paid off the debt...

Attacking with Hungary alone, or with Hungary and Wallachia *can* work, I won back all of Greece in the first war in one really good game. However, it's about 50/50 if you'll win, depending on how well the Hungarian AI handles it.
 

Tom D.

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There's the heart of the matter. Unless you owe Poland favors, they likely won't have claims on the Ottomans, in which case they may not want to help attack. Hungary sometimes does not fabricate and therefore has no interest, sometimes it gets involved in Austrian wars against Venice etc. and ends up being indebted and hence won't help for 15-20 years until it has paid off the debt...

Attacking with Hungary alone, or with Hungary and Wallachia *can* work, I won back all of Greece in the first war in one really good game. However, it's about 50/50 if you'll win, depending on how well the Hungarian AI handles it.
Now I can understand. As I said in my first post, Byzantium will have an easier time handling its allies if you don't have to take favors in account.

But Poland should turn out hostile to the Ottomans sooner or later. And maybe you can 'help' the AI to attack you if you insult him, acquire some AE with them by fabricating claims, etc.
 

Yenzen

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Now I can understand. As I said in my first post, Byzantium will have an easier time handling its allies if you don't have to take favors in account.

But Poland should turn out hostile to the Ottomans sooner or later. And maybe you can 'help' the AI to attack you if you insult him, acquire some AE with them by fabricating claims, etc.
Yeah! Worst case, maybe you can even abuse the Ottoman warning by starting a war against some minor, or you can pull off an alliance with Austria and attack Venice, starting World War I with Byzantium/Austria/Hungary vs Venice and the Ottomans. With Byzantium, you have to sometimes think outside the box once you're defensively safe with alliances.

It's a very rewarding nation, I'll be following to see what plan you end up executing.
 
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Tom D.

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Yeah! Worst case, maybe you can even abuse the Ottoman warning by starting a war against some minor, or you can pull off an alliance with Austria and attack Venice, starting World War I with Byzantium/Austria/Hungary vs Venice and the Ottomans. With Byzantium, you have to sometimes think outside the box once you're defensively safe with alliances.

It's a very rewarding nation, I'll be following to see what plan you end up executing.
I hadn't even thought about the warning. I think the warning will be the easiest way of getting a war with the Ottomans.

And as I said above, restoring the Roman Empire ('Basileus' achievement) and restoring the Pentarchy are the most obvious goals for now. If you or anyone has any ideas what other goals I could try to achieve, please leave a comment here.
 

Yenzen

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Bwahaha, if you want lofty goals I have a suggestion:

Eff Rome. If they didn't want your highly civilized self, then spread civilization ever eastwards. After liberating Greece and Bulgaria, take on the Ottoman Empire, the Mamluks and start working on achieving the "master of India" achievement. As an Eastern tech state, I believe that you can have Indian vassals, rather than protectorates. Along with Expansion and maybe Humanist ideas, you could create not only the greatest Empire in the world, but also the richest from all the Indian trade. With Jerusalem and maybe Mecca, Orthodox missionary bonus, and the Byzantine +3% missionary efficiency, religious ideas are not required for conversion.
 

Tom D.

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Bwahaha, if you want lofty goals I have a suggestion:

Eff Rome. If they didn't want your highly civilized self, then spread civilization ever eastwards. After liberating Greece and Bulgaria, take on the Ottoman Empire, the Mamluks and start working on achieving the "master of India" achievement. As an Eastern tech state, I believe that you can have Indian vassals, rather than protectorates. Along with Expansion and maybe Humanist ideas, you could create not only the greatest Empire in the world, but also the richest from all the Indian trade. With Jerusalem and maybe Mecca, Orthodox missionary bonus, and the Byzantine +3% missionary efficiency, religious ideas are not required for conversion.
That sounds interesting :). I don't see why we won't expand towards India. We have to divide our AE somewhere ;). We'll see in the future what will happen.
 

atwix

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subbed.

I wonder, is it possible to ask all of those nations as ally when Ottomans attack and before they get 25% warscore? Or are the malus too high for that? It might work with nations that rivalled ottomans.. Austria maybe?
 

Tom D.

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subbed.

I wonder, is it possible to ask all of those nations as ally when Ottomans attack and before they get 25% warscore? Or are the malus too high for that? It might work with nations that rivalled ottomans.. Austria maybe?
As far as I know, if a nation attacks you and you're in a war, you get a -1000 modifier for 'being at war'. Or does this only apply for offensive wars?

It could be possible though, if you both are 'the enemy of my enemy' and have rivalled the Ottomans.

EDIT: I will already upload the next chapter this evening.
 
Last edited:
Chapter II: bashing the Ottomans

Tom D.

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Chapter II: bashing the Ottomans
Since I don’t have any screenshots of the first war with the Ottomans, I’m going to tell as much as I can remember. I will also cover more than just the first and second war with the Ottomans. When I write a chapter and I see an important event or if I think it will be a good moment to stop a chapter, I will. So not every chapter will be equal of size. I also want to apologise for screenshots with some nasty stripes on it. My computer has some rather frustrating issues for the moment :oops:.

As I said earlier, we got a godly general by event, but he died before we could use him :(. I started the war with a reconquest CB for one of our cores. I shipped my army to our Greek enclave especially for this, since it’s more save there when war is declared (further away of the Ottoman army). With the combined forces of Byzantium, Hungary, Wallachia and Poland-Lithuania, we crushed the Ottomans and managed to regain all our cores, except Selanik because it was conquered by Poland.

End of 1st War.jpg

We could have taken more from the Ottomans, but the war was turning against us so I decided to end it before it turned out too late. It’s actually astonishing how Byzantium can come out of its dangerous position with just one war. Byzantium is of course still too weak compared with the Ottomans, but when you’ve got your allies, the Ottomans can’t do much more than to concede defeat.

I would like to point out that as you can see in the screenshot above, I took their capital Edirne. This is very important for future wars! The Ottoman capital is in Asia, so their army will go there (not sure if it’s always the case, but it sounds logic). Since you need to own/control one side of a strait to block it, you can block their entire army if you’re fleet is big enough. If I hadn’t take Edirne, they would just walk towards my land with no problem.

Weirdness nr. 1.jpg

France wasn’t doing well, looking at an independent Guyenne and an expansing Burgundy o_O.

Integration of Athens.jpg

Apparently a new thing with the latest patch (or at least that I know of): if you have a core on your vassal’s land, you don’t have to spend DIP points to annex them, and it doesn’t take time. Consequently, I could integrate Athens for NO cost in just ONE month. Nice change :D.

I also took Crete. Venice lost a war in which they had to release their two vassals Naxos and Corfu and they also had to release Crete. They didn’t stay independent for long though.

Deleting Morean fort.jpg

To save some money, the Morean fort was demolished and a marketplace was built in Constantinople to increase trade income.

Athens reclaimed.jpg

We have reclaimed Athens, and this gave us 10 prestige and 50 ADM. The DLC “Purple Phoenix” is really helpful, since it gives you constant events which grant you 50 ADM, DIP or MIL. There are also some which decrease it by 25, but together with these conquest events, it gives Byzantium the flavour it needs and the necessary monarch points.

Extra ships for the fleet.jpg

With our income increasing due to our newly acquired territory, we started on increasing our galley fleet. This will help us keep the Ottomans in Anatolia during the next war.

Siege of Naxos.jpg

Naxos stood pretty much alone when I declared war on them. They’re much better off in our realm ;).

Regency council 1.jpg

Our 2nd ruler (heir at the beginning), died. A regency council was installed since our heir is only 7 years old. This will eventually refrain us from declaring some more wars. The Ottomans also declared war on Hungary, which they ultimately lost. We didn’t joined the war since we couldn’t take the risk standing alone with Hungary against the Ottomans.

New emperor.jpg

Austria, which had also became our ally recently, had lost the election for the Imperial Throne when their king died. The king of Brandenburg was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire soon after.

2nd Byzantine-Ottoman War.jpg

Now, with our heir crowned king, we declared war on the Ottomans. Austria didn’t join from the beginning, but they will soon. Since we lost our alliance with Hungary, we signed an alliance with the Mamluks, which will deal with the Ottoman allies. I really thought a lot if it would benefit me from allying the Mamluks, since I need their provinces to be able to restore The Pentarchy. But since they can handle the Ottomans allies and I otherwise only have 2 allies, I decided to go for it. Also, we can backstab them later :D!

Austria joins the war.jpg

As said, Austria soon joined the war and we achieved a big majority on the size of our armies.

A new crapy heir.jpg

While the Balkan got sieged, we received a new heir. He’s not so good, 3/2/0, could be better for an heir to the Byzantine Empire :mad:!

Weird ZoC.jpg

I also saw this weird ZoC issue, with my troops in Biga not being able to go to Hüdavendigar despite being occupied by Poland. It’s probably because of the still unoccupied fort in Sunda which the Polish are also sieging, but still annoying at some times.

Peace Treaty 2.jpg

Our 2nd war ended in a victory for the Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans lost all their coastal provinces in Europe. They now hold some landlocked land from Serbia and Hungary. After this war my goal is to vassalize Walllachia so I can feed them parts of Hungary and Serbia.

Cored Silistria.jpg

Our last conquered province Silistria is finally cored.

1st Byzantine-Serbian War.jpg

Our next goal is Serbia. After a quick blitzkrieg war, we demanded Zeta and Kosovo to be transferred to us.

Regency council 2.jpg

Our beloved Emperor died, and a regency council of 5 years was installed :rolleyes:.

Failed Ottoman-Serbian War.jpg

The Ottomans were also clever enough to declare a war on Serbia because they were weakened by me, but they had forgotten that they had no troops over there, and thus lost the war and had to cede a lot of provinces to Serbia.

Byzantine Seperatists in Genoa.jpg

We noticed that the population of Scio was not happy with their Genoan overlord and rebelled in an attempt to join us.

Support for seperatists 1.jpg

Of course we supported their actions by funding them some ducats, but we were not lucky. The rebellion was crushed.

Castille-French War.jpg

Meanwhile in Europe, Castille declared war on France :eek:. I know it’s weird to say, but I really hope that they won’t succeed. Since Castille has a PU with Napels, we can’t invade Italy, or at least not via Napels itself. So a weakened Castille is better for us than a weakened France!

Byzantine Seperatists in Venice.jpg

But we discovered that the population of Negroponte was also not happy with their overlord, and are willing to revolt. We will also try to help them revolt as we did with our Genoan neighbour.

Cored Kosovo.jpg

We finished coring Kosovo. Now our conquered provinces are a rightful part of our Empire.

Navies overview.jpg

For those who want to know how our fleet compares itself to others: we can field a fleet of 27 ships, while our enemy Ottomans can field a fleet of 26 ships. This means that we can block the Ottomans from crossing the straits if we block the strait with our entire fleet.

Ming uncovered.jpg

We also discovered some new territory. The west-northern part of India as well as the capital of the big Ming Empire are now known knowledge for us.

Austrian Succession War.jpg

Deer news reached us! The ruler of Austria died heirless and became a junior part of a PU with England :eek:! We also received news that Burgundy contests this PU and has gone to war with both. Unlucky for us we lost a great ally because of this PU :(.

A not so crappy new heir.jpg

A new heir was born during our war with the Ottomans. Zoe has nice 5/1/3 skills, and despite the low 1 DIP, we will receive a lot of ADM which we can use to core more territory.

For some reason the screenshot of the declaration of war has gone missing :oops:. Lucky for us, I still have the screenshots from during the war.