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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Hansa starts the game in a unique position: it has one of the Baltic's strongest fleets, is only menaced on land by Denmark, and owns one of the richest centers of trade of the world.

My objectives are:
- Become the first power around the Baltic.
- Dominate worldwide trade.
- Have the largest CoT and trade league in the world.

Things I don't intend to do (but it can change):
- Leave the HRE.
- Change government.
- Form Germany.
- Annex inaccessible inland provinces "because I can".
- Conquer another CoT (the most likely to be abandoned).
- DoW France (the less likely to be abandoned).

My short term objectives will be set according to opportunities, but for conquest, Skane, Bremen, Danzig, Riga (the conquest of which generally grants a core on it) and Vorpommern are probably the most accessible (i.e. not the capital of a major antagonist) and valuable around, and for trade, the best CoT are generally mine, Genova and Venezia. At some point, I will probably try to hold territory in the Indies, a few islands in the Carribean if there's an opportunity available, and it might be possible that it will be enough for the Thalassocracy decision.

The foremost Baltic power is Sweden; Novgorod has a large army and budget, but is distracted by Muscovy and the Horde, and has a very small naval force limit, so it is not a menace. The Teutonic Order often is destroyed by Poland and Lituania, so it is more an opportunity (Danzig on a plate) than a threat. Another danger comes with Denmark, especially during the Kalmar union, but its troops can be blocked on Sjaelland most of the time. Brandenburg is a nearby large German minor that often expands in Pommerania, but should not be a problem to keep in check. Poland often takes Danzig or Warmia, but unless I want these provinces after they hold them, this should be a friendly relationship. Lituania is a giant, but probably won't gain much of an access to the Baltic for some time; it could challenge nearby possessions, however. In my rivals will always be the other Merchant Republics, but sending my fleet to the Med would cause a good amount of attrition, so I probably will restrict me to fighting Novgorod, though the actual taking of territory is unlikely. However, if an alliance chain puts me at war with Genoa or Venice, I will attack them, but only if I have enough of a naval advantage to counter-act the attrition caused by the long, out of range journey.

I will need a fleet of at least 25 ships (something like 8 carracks, 17 galleys) as soon as possible for overseas operations. As time passes, the galley/big ship ratio will change, and I will probably need at the very least 60 if I want to compete with major naval powers instead of Sweden. My army will stay relatively small, maybe 4k soldiers at the very beginning. It will expand, but I won't need 100k soldiers at any time.

I will write in gameplay terms, and I have set objectives and tactics knowing the mechanics, but I won't use overly gamey tactics. If someone thinks I don't "follow the rules", let me know. I am not a fan of "historical" playing, just of realistic overall direction.

Changed settings:
No lucky nations.
Very Hard.
Sea province spread : 50 years (supposedly "normal", but it starts at 25 by default).

Chapter 1 (1399-1407)
Chapter 2 (1407-1420)
Chapter 3 (1420-1429)
Chapter 4 (1429-1448)
Chapter 5 (1448-1476)
Chapter 6 (1463-1476)
Chapter 7 (1476-1483)
Chapter 8 (1483-1489)
Chapter 9 (1489-1504)
Chapter 10 (1504-1513)
Chapter 11 (1513-1521)

My first language is French. If you notice something I say isn't grammatically correct or otherwise, PM me.
 
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adamclason

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Sounds interesting. Do you plan on expanding straight into India or gain coast around the Red Sea for easier transportation first?

You could also ask Brittany/France for military access where you can rest your boats and let them recover to minimize the naval attrition when fighting in the Mediterranean Sea.

Subscribed. Also, would you go for domestic or international trade? If international I'd recommend you not to conquer any CoTs, if domestic, I wouldn't mind seeing Antwerpen and/or Venezia under your rule.
 

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[I edited the first post. Not only for the links I'll add when I'll be finished with the first report.]

I never though about Arabia as a base, actually. Only as a source of coffee and missionaries. I often took Sinai, but as a way to have a dozen of galleon around in case the Mamlukes decide they are unhappy. Don't know how I could, it is a good idea, especially if South Africa is not available anymore. Depending on what happens later in the game, I might do that, especially if I can't colonize South Africa, which is always what I did before going for India.

I will go for international trade, so I won't actively go to war for CoT. But if Muscovy is too big and unfriendly, I might have to snatch Novgorod away from them. Don't really want to, however. I would prefer a weak Novgorod and a weak Muscovy fighting a relatively weak Golden Horde, or a Russia allied with me forever and ever, but if Moscow ends up controling both Astrakhan and Novgorod, it will be hard to stop by myself in future possible possessions in the Baltic states, especially if I end up connecting all land from Lübeck to Riga, which is not out of the question, on the long run. (And anyway, I'd rather have Astrakhan :))
 
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The first day of the game is always the most important one. So let’s go through it in detail.
First, merchants. Lübeck is green, Venice is yellow, Genoa is red, until I get embargoed. All will become green as I control CoTs. I send my three merchant to Lübeck manually to avoid losing them through slider changes.

Now, sliders. Can’t forget sliders. As Hansa, I need to be the first trading power in the world to compete, which means I need merchants, trade efficiency, compete and placement chance. However, I start as highly mercantilist, which means I will have great chances in Lübeck (which I would always have anyway), but a difficult time elsewhere. So this choice will be easy, Free Trade. Other useful sliders, in the right order:
- Centralization, starts at +1. Obvious choice, the best overall slider in the game, so much it only has penalties. I will only move by one at first, as my government would give me a RR penalty, which I don’t want too early.
- Free Subjects, starts at +3.
- Plutocracy, starts at +3. In this game, I need merchants and trade efficiency more than I need cavalry. In my experience, the most situation dependant slider of all, tied with Land /Naval, more so in HTTT.
- Quality, starts at -2. Just because I love discipline. Makes me feel like Frederick the Great, Maurice van Nassau, or Gustav Adolf. Though it’s better when you get +25% in one shot. Gotta love Brandenburg.
- Defensive, starts at +3. I like to see my opponent siege my cities while I occupy his. If I hold Stockholm while Lübeck is only besieged, I will win. Offensiveness focuses on field battles. For land empires, Offensive is good, but as I don’t actually want a pitched battle, just to land my troops somewhere while his are elsewhere and can’t move, Defensive is the best choice, especially when artillery arrives.

I will probably leave Innovative and Naval where they are. Naval +2 is a good balance for my mix of opportunistic land conquest with heavy help from naval supremacy. Plus, you need to buy a new fleet at 50 ducats per big ship every few decade until mid- to late game. I like Innovative a lot, but I start with slightly negative missionaries, and as I will most likely switch to Reformed (maybe Protestant, will evaluate the costs during the Reformation era), I will need missionaries (through decisions) for almost all newly conquered provinces.

I have two available advisors, one is a level 2 Alderman (production efficiency), and the other is a level 4 Artist (stability). I won’t need much more stability, but as it costs 12 ducats (though it’s actual money, not investments) and give 11.6 ducats per month when I’m not at +3 Stability, well... I’ll take it I guess, just have to sack him some day (forgot to do it until much later than necessary, however). Also, a few more month of higher Stability is good for my merchants. The Alderman is plainly useless, maybe someone will hire him... I also hired a + trade advisor. I could have taken more for other research fields too, or a Collector (trade efficiency), but didn’t do it because they would be quite bad, and I might get someone good in a year. Actually, the one I hired wasn’t good either, only level 1. Still, +3 to trade is better than some useless tradition. No, I don’t give much attention to cultural tradition or decisions, though I like 100% generals.

I also send league offers to Bohemia and Poland. Even though they are mostly in my CoT, they often get offers from other leagues. Poland, especially, is a priority, as I need it for the Grain Trade mission, giving +10 to Trade.

I set minting to 0.01 inflation. It won’t affect future inflation in a significant way, but will give me more funds for my merchants and for my military every year. I will increase it as my army grows, or when I need full maintenance. It might not be enough to send my merchants right away late in the year for some time, unfortunately.

My leader is not the best (3-7-5), but the good diplomacy will help me in conquest, though it’s not enough for regular boundary disputes.

Everything is done? OK, great. Unpause.

I get the mission to end the Sound Toll. Sounds good, though it means owning the capital of a strong rival. On the third day, Holstein leaves my league. Even better! With a CB on Holstein, I can attack Denmark forever to take new provinces and finish my mission, as long as I win. I just have force them into my league every time, which they’ll leave systematically after 5 years, because they’ll hate me through their souls. It’s not the best Casus Belli infamy-wise, but it’s basically the most regular one. I will wait until the last moment to build my army, then, I DoW Holstein, and I should at least get Skane out of it.

To prepare for war, I start building a new infantry regiment. I want an army of 1-3-0 for the upcoming war, and I will build the cavalry in January with the census tax. Also, I ask for trade rights from Lithuania (grain) and get The Palatinate to join my league. Lithuania has something like ten grain provinces, so even if it loses a few to the Horde, it’s still one of the best trade rights available.

I should get my last diplomat before the end of the casus belli in September, so in July, I increase my readiness, I send my battle fleet at sea to block the Danish army in Copenhagen (their fleet has one ship less than mine), and I wait...



This might not be the most detailed war account around. I mean... I’m fighting a duchy that is mostly known for its mighty milking cattle, and, absurdly, there is no cow-mounted cavalry in EU3 (I hope someone in the Divine Wind team sees my suggestion here!). The two opponents capable of changing the course of the war can’t attack me because they have neither a fleet capable of challenging mine, nor enough transport to send a meaningful force elsewhere. I just have to occupy what I can and, voilà! I win! I actually spent most of my time asking for trade rights or sending invitations to my league during the war.

All my (uselessly pathetic) allies join, which is good for now, as I might want a Dishonoured call CB, some other day.

I easily rout the Holsteinian army in late September, but it is not destroyed. I send 3 regiments to Slesvig, while some infantry starts the siege of Kiel (a slightly more warlike name than that of its province, because it pops up as a submarine base in my head), where it will be joined by some Oldenburgian allies. After my enemy flees again Slesvig for Holstein, I let my siege force and my allies fight, while the rest stays in Slesvig until the not-quite-meaningful army dies. It will ping pong for a while, and it finally surrenders on December 26. Yes, two months for 1k soldiers. I must not have a very aggressive general... Oh wait, I don’t have one. Too bad. I start the siege of Jylland and Fyn.

Around that time, new advisors became available. I was a bit late, so the best ones were gone, but I managed to get hold of a Diplomat (infamy), four stars. Somehow, it didn’t come to me to replace the Artist with another Diplomat... Stupid me! I also had to choose a NI, which was National Trade Policy, a major revenue boost.

The siege of Holstein was quick, about 140 days, so I could send a regiment to Halland; Denmark has raised troops in Skane, my main objective. The fleet of Holstein was sunk, and I gained a free cog. Yay! Sieges in Fyn and Slesvig lasted about a year, and the troops were sent to Halland, in prevision of an attack on the recruited opposing army in Skane after the siege. Actually, Halland will fall before Jylland, which resisted 547 days. Quite courageous. (Do I get a free Paradox game when I say Scandinavians have courage? I’ll take Vicky 2, please. If you want me to, I can lose to Sweden, too!) The enemy in Skane was swiftly annihilated after I got hold of Halland. Skane falls after about a year. Now, Sjaelland is held by 8k soldiers, Norway has 1-8-0... Also, a few of my allies (which, I mentioned earlier, serve no use in my present strategy except as future CB) have signed a white peace. Time for peace I guess:



More BB than I would have wanted, but what the hell, I have a diplomat! Skane is part of my mission, and is the richest province available. Problem is, it is a Swedish core, and are not protected by sea from them. Fyn is marginally better than Jylland, and I don’t want Halland because it’s another Swedish core, and would make Sweden at war with Denmark instead of myself.

As I said, I mostly worked on my CoT during the war. The extra diplomat/year helped. During and after, Scotland and German minors joined my league, and I now have trade rights from England (fish), Brabant (cloth), Cyprus (wine) and some more minors. I couldn’t get hold of trade rights for Naples (wine) when it left the Venetian league, because it joined Genoa, and most French vassal either are in their league or give them trade rights, so my expansion will be slower.

Also, I was embargoed in both Venice and Genoa within a month. I have had problems staying there anyway, so it's not too much of a loss, but it's sooner than I expected. I set Antwerpen green, Novgorod yellow and Alexandria red.

The next operation will be the building of a stronger fleet. I have 4 carracks and 4 galleys, but Denmark has 4-0-3, Sweden, 0-0-11, and the Teutons, 0-0-16. My army can fight them even less, but as I said, I don’t need 100 regiments, and for now, this is enough.

After 4 years, I have to hold elections. I decide to take a diplomacy expert, but it is not much of a change from the last one (3-7-4).

On the international level, there was some action. France attacked Provence as it always does, and made war to Naples and Bohemia as such, which made England and Aragon attack. England won Poitou, but otherwise, nothing happened on the map. Milan annexed Tuscany and was at war with the Emperor and Savoy. England also took three provinces from Scotland. Lithuania and Poland lost the war against the Horde, but right now, the situation is direr, as Ryazan occupies half of Lithuania, and Novgorod the other half, with some rebels in the mix. Thuringia took Wurzburg with a Reconquest CB. Bar conquered Burgundy, and Urbino annexed Naples. Or the other way around maybe, whichever you think is the most probable or happens in every single game. A more... annoying development was:



Not sure if I like that one...

Closer to me, Sweden, as was expectable, attacked Denmark. The war is still undecided, with Sweden controlling large parts of Norway, but the Danish force has had some success in Southern Sweden. Its luck seems to run out however. There was an important battle in Halland, with an 8k Danish force beating a 9k Swedish army. I hope Sweden takes Halland and disregards Norway, as I want to weaken Denmark, but not strengthen Sweden.

Map at the end of yesterday’s session:



More later tonight, probably.
 
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JDMS

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Nice opening moves. :) Subscribed.
 

Ashantai

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A very long, involved post, but very engaging! I enjoyed it a lot, and am eagerly looking forward to more! Excellent work. :)
 

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The Sound Toll Question

When I left yesterday, I was building a larger fleet, and, secondarily, a more significant army than my three regiments. Something that would allow me to lead several wars at once. Also, there was a war going on between two rivals, Sweden and Denmark.

It took more than two more years, during which I mostly watched provinces being occupied in between meaningless messages about someone, somewhere, doing something, and lowering disposition with Mediterranean nations leaving their league, but Sweden finally triumphed, with the best possible result: it gained Halland, but nothing else, which would allow an easy annexion of Denmark.

An internal change happened: in the election, I selected a diplomat, which turned out to have a diplomacy rating of 9! The other stats are poor, but cooling of some badboy would be good, after the next war with Denmark.

Also, Norway created a new Center of Trade in Reykjavik. Oh wait. One in Reykjavik, and one in Akureyki. They are worth less than 10 ducats, as the mainland is too far away, and anyway, Norway gives trade rights for fish (basically, 90% of what they produce) to Novgorod. Candidates for stagnation... Good job, Norway! Why does it always build such useless CoTs?

I forgot to mention it, but the Teutonic Order was at war with Bohemia because of an attack on Riga... or maybe Pomerania, one or the other... Well, it was forced to release Gotland and Mazovia, an earlier annexion. Maybe they attacked Mazovia, too, and Bohemia was allied with it... Don’t know. Anyway, as Gotland is a regular target for just about everybody with thousands of miles, I guaranteed its independence, and included it in my Sphere of Influence. If someone does something highly controversial, like (beware!) a guarantee, or a military access demand (then again, who would ask for military access to Gotland?), I get a CB, if someone attacks, I will probably be alliance leader. I also warned the Order, but I don’t expect it will do anything with the new warning rules.

So, we’re in 1410, and Denmark signed peace with Sweden about two days ago. The very well advised Danish leader decides to take a bold decision, and it leaves my league, as expected. What a great idea, give your stronger neighbour a reason to attack you just after your other stronger neighbour destroyed your army and raised your War Exhaustion. What could be wrong with that?

This war should be a tiny bit more heroic than the last one, because Denmark is allied with Bremen (note to self: include Bremen in Sphere ASAP after the war), and it is guaranteed by Sweden, which is not a very good prospect. It also has built two more ships, and with those of its allied, I don’t have superiority. However, the AI doesn’t really know how to collaborate, so it’s not a very big problem.

However, I wasn’t idle either. During that time, I also have built two galleys, and a carrack is nearly completed. My army is 25% larger, which sounds more impressive than saying I built one cavalry unit. At the moment I get the news, I launch another galley. I wait a bit for my fleet to be fully built, and I declare war. (Forgot, no pic)

My biggest fear was that Sweden would occupy Skane, lead the war, and send its fleet in Öresund. Well, that won’t happen. I’m apparently such a fearful opponent that avoiding my mighty, unvanquished fleet is worth a 25% prestige hit for them. Now, my biggest fear is to forget my transports somewhere while I send my warships somewhere else.

My plan, for Bremen, is to let my allies occupy it, while I go on with more useful targets. As soon as I have sunk its fleet in the hope of seizing a few carracks, I will sign a very generous peace. For Denmark and Holstein, I will do everything myself, and for things to do, there are not many. Holstein only has 3000 soldiers, and there is a regiment of infantry in Jylland, otherwise, nothing. This time, however, my victory is instantaneous in Holstein. I let one regiment there, and I send the rest to attack the “army” in Jylland. It succeeds at fleeing battle, but surrenders in the Battle of Slesvig. More like a skirmish, really. I send 2k soldiers to Sjaelland because there is a regiment (probably mercenary) being built, the others get 1k.

A minor setback happened soon after all my troops were in position: Skane revolted. 1-6-0 is above what I can send there, and it will probably win before I can leave any other area, but just in case, I start building a regiment of infantry to help an eventual action against the rebels. However, I will probably let it take Skane, and get killed in Sweden while I retake my province. Win-win, even though their win includes their eventual death... Why do those rebels always attack the most dangerous nation in the area?

After only 175 of siege, Kiel falls again. The Holsteinian fleet is promptly destroyed, but the fleet escaped to Slesvig this time. My allies were also effective in Bremen, and the city is taken within a year. I send my fleet to Helgoland, and succeed in taking one carrack, but the others escape and hide in Slesvig before I could catch them. I sent my fleet back to Lübeck for a quick repair. As a bad timing of my sieges could lead to me fighting 9 carracks and 6 galleys (6-0-3 (?) for Denmark in Sjaelland, 0-0-3 for Holstein and 3-0-0 for Bremen in Slesvig), I decide than I have enough ships from Bremen. I sign peace with them:



Not the peace deal of the year, but I can’t annex them and Denmark at the same time, especially since my Diplomat died, and could not be replaced by anything but explorers. Even at level 6, well...

Around April 1412, I succeed at taking Slesvig and Jylland, and the rebels are successful in Skane. They are promptly slaughtered by 12k Swedish soldiers. I send some soldiers there, while a newly built infantry regiment is sent to help in Sjaelland, which is still only at 13%. In July, Sweden leaves my league. I try for trade rights (fur) at Maybe, but it fails, and later, it’s Impossible. If Novgorod intervenes, I will be in a difficult position there, and I will need spies (with loads of costly gifts) to get Sweden back. As of the end of the session, this hasn’t happened...

After 743 days of siege, I take Sjaelland. Yes. 743. That’s long. I get a message saying I accomplished my mission the end the Sound Toll, which is confusing, as it said I must own Sjaelland, not control it. I get a new mission: to bring Sweden back to my league, for a few merchants, Prestige and ducats. Would have preferred Polish grain, but anyway. I annex Denmark, and get the very useful Sound Toll modifier, as well of one of the better Baltic cities in EU3.

Now, I will either have to send loads of gifts to Sweden at 30 ducats each, or enter a war against my most dangerous opponent. I decide to keep my options open, so I ask for Military Access, which I get. 10 free disposition. I also set myself a new military goal: an army of 8k and a fleet of 20 ships (7-0-13), more being better.

I was slowly working toward these objectives when Holland broke away from my league. I don’t really care about its resources, it trades through Antwerpen no matter what I do, and I have trade rights for the salt in Zeeland, but it almost always creates a new (weak) CoT, which would drain away my trade in Lübeck and force me to send more merchants and pay more port fees. I decided this would not go unpunished, so I started preparing for war. Holland is allied with Brabant, Cologne and Münster. The latter are not meaningful in any other way than linking Braban to my ally, Oldenburg, and thus giving them something to do while I take Holland and Zeeland and force my new enemies back into my league, with the prospect of vassalizing them in the future.



Cologne didn’t answer on their side, Lüneburg did the same on mine.

I land my troops in Zeeland. I only have 6 cogs, so that’s only 6 regiments, but the others are just waiting to be transported. The Dutch force is quickly beaten, and goes away from Breda, probably toward Oldenburg. My ally’s army don’t last very long, and I only hope I can occupy any of Holland’s provinces before they take it.

I lost that wager. Probably because of an assault. I haven’t gone over 25% in Zeeland when the whole Brabantian forces (3-8) comes knocking, helped with 6000 Dutch soldiers. I quickly sign a Military Access treaty with Friesland, which can be accessed because of my superiority at sea (they only have 8 carracks against 7, plus more than 10 galleys). After they have retreated, I send my armies back to Hamburg to regroup. I attempt the same strategy another time, with even less success.

Another strategic axis comes to mind, with more limited goals. Instead of the unachievable victory (at least, within a limited timeframe, I don’t want to fight 30 years against Holland when I’ll probably be at war with them anyway some day), I will simply attack Münster through Osnabrück, and make Brabant (alliance leader) concede defeat for 5 Prestige. Better than nothing.

The offensive starts well. My 9000 soldiers win easily against a smaller army from the archbishopric, and I start a siege in Osnabrück, after some manoeuvres with my opponent. However, within a month, I am attacked by Brabant once again, and salvage a relatively easy escape to Friesland and Hamburg. I’ve seen enough, no tactical or strategic supremacy will make me beat more than 20k opponents with 9k, and I need merchants more than either diplomats or Holland’s membership, so I try to make peace. None of the minor partners will sign a white peace, so I end up with:



It’s strange, I don’t remember losing a war before. Except that hardly earned White Peace with France as Holland, maybe, but it was a tie. But losing a Military Access agreement I made only for the war that ended is not like losing Hamburg, eh?

I’ve learned my lesson: Hansa Rules the Waves, but it doesn’t Lead the Plains or Control the Hills, much less Dominate the Mountains. I need some ground forces, but right now, money is tight because of all the merchants I need to send. Even though the state of war is over, and I don’t need maintenance, I decide not to put minting as low as it was before. Right now, it’s at 0.06 inflation, much higher than the hesitating 0.01-0.02. As long as I’m below 0.10, I’m generally happy. Someday, I’ll get a master of mint, maybe even National Bank, I’ll also have many more cores, and it’ll simply go away slowly. Right now, it’s not a major concern, and inflation is mostly something to laugh at the AI about. Some countries are already at 5.

Further south, there was a lot of action. Newly risen Bavaria had annexed Wurttemberg, but was forced to let it go against an alliance led by Super-Thuringia and most of the German minors. Poland went to war for Mazovia, but it backfired when Bohemia and Pomerania joined. It somehow made Pomerania a vassal, while Bohemia took two provinces in the center. Venice and Austria went to war, and Milan joined at some point. Venice, for some reason, apparently forgot it has a fleet, and gave Verona and Treviso away, while releasing minors in the Balkans. The Papal States have lost Romagna to Milan, and they were at war with both them and Naples for a while. Milan also has annexed Savoy, which makes them an instant regional power. It made Genoa release Kaffa (as Trebizond, which joined my league) and Corsica, too. Burgundy attacked England for Calais, but it looks like a stalemate, like most wars against England from the continent. Scotland would wish to be on the continent, too: it is reduced to two provinces. Ireland is slowly being absorbed, too. Austria is aggressively expanding in Hungary, which is also in danger from the Turks. At the end of the last update, Lithuania was losing badly to Novgorod and Ryazan: it secured a very weird peace with the latter and then started taking back land from Novgorod, only losing Smolensk, at the end. It got better: it now has access to the Baltic, and a wide one, with a massive victory on the Teutonic Order, which even lost Warmia to Mazovia.

Now, I have Bremen and Gotland in my sphere of influence. I have warned the Teutonic Order. I have a guarantee on Mazovia, Riga, Pomerania and Gotland. That looks right.

The map looks like this:



Wait. What’s that? In the corner. War with Sweden?!

Haha! Cliffhanger! Gotcha!
 
Last edited:

Ashantai

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Nice update! :)

You do the writing in a very detailed way, I am impressed.
 

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I try to provide other player tips for their own games. I am not the best player around, but I know what I can do, and how to. And even tricks from someone playing his first game will be useful for someone, somewhere. Sometimes, we are so close to a certain way to play that we forget useful tactics and strong alternative strategy. My attempts prove it: Bohemia can't be played like Holland.
 
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TonyJoe

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This is very interesting - I like watching people play the trading powers (which I don't understand very well). Good luck and I'll be reading.
 

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I haven't started yet, but yes, I'll need it! I have the strongest fleet (by memory, 7-0-13, with some ships being built, against maybe 13 or 15 galleys), but my 9000 soldiers won't be able to fight their army if all my force fights all of theirs. I'm confident in my initial strategy, which will be told in the next update (Friday, most probably). The initial situation is already written, I just need to see if my plan actually works, and play. I'm expecting the war should last several years, minimum. 3 with good siege results and successful battles. If Sweden is intelligent, it could be much longer.
 
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JDMS

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Nice cliffhanger. Good luck! :)
 

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As I told you, I had guaranteed Gotland. It also was in my influence. This was with the intention of fighting the Teutonic Order over it. It is, however, also a core of Sweden and Denmark. Even though I didn’t want to fight Sweden on land, it did break out of my league while I couldn’t react. I couldn’t bring them back at that time, and I hoped some day it would be possible. I prefer a call to arms for Guaranteeing Independence over a Broken Sphere CB, which is possibly one of the weakest around. This was on my mind. I mostly wished it would dissuade Sweden from attacking Gotland right now, giving me more time to prepare its defence. That part was mostly wishful thinking.

In November 1420, Sweden declared war on Gotland, and I became involved as alliance leader.

The starting position is such that it should be a long, costly stalemate: they have nearly 20 thousand men, I have 9000, but they have 9 galleys and 3 carracks, while I have 20 ships, including 6 carracks. They have a lot of possessions in the Scandinavian Peninsula, all contiguous, but I only own one province linked by land to them; the link to the other Danish provinces can be cut, and my cores are separated by Holstein.

But now, let’s look at who is in the war, as several other countries love Gotland apparently. The Bohemian Holy Roman Emperor would be of much help, but he cannot send troops in Scandinavia. Gotland is not much of a force, but might slow down Sweden, and bring out their navy. The same could happen with Mazovia. But the most important factor here would be Norway. It could wreck my whole plan by giving free war score to Sweden, but also slow them while I take care of the actual war. I only wish it will peace out after I already control my objectives in Swedish territory. They only have 4000 men, but could build up easily, as I have seen them with 9000 earlier. Not enough to win, but it would slow down my opponent.

I don’t want to take territory from Sweden. Apart from Stockholm, nothing there is valuable. Low base tax province with low manpower will just cost BB and slow my research down. This means I can’t really weaken them down this way. Vassalizing will be very difficult with such a large country, and would imply demanding provinces, so it won’t happen. However, at no point have I ever wanted any of that: I just want them to be in my league so I can complete my mission, netting me free money, merchants and prestige. Afterward, I’ll try to make them love me some more so they won’t leave it after 5 years, as I don’t want a CoT in Stockholm. The only other way I can weaken them is by releasing Finland, but it is not a necessary objective. If I think I can’t achieve this objective within several years of burning through my manpower reserves, I will ditch this objective. Sorry, Finns.

I have a plan. It is not perfect, and depends on Sweden doing what I want it to. First, no defence of Skane. I will only block the Danish Straits. I will first wait for Sweden to land troops in Gotland, and try to trap them there with my fleet; when the troops have landed, I push their transports back to Stockholm, and leave my navy in the Gulf of Bothnia, and block the access to Finland from the capital. Then, I will send my army burn the colonies Sweden has to the North, possibly dissuading them from an intervention in Finland. With the war score from Finland, plus possibly some control in Sweden proper, minus Skane, I should be able to ask for them to join my league when their exhaustion will have skyrocketed from war taxes, occupation, and blockades. As mentioned, I don’t seek total victory and unconditional surrender, only an advantageous, quick peace.

So... Let’s go!

When war broke out, almost from day one, I get 6 ducats/month from Bohemia as subsidy. I had a 3-4 army in Skane, 2000 infantry in Lübeck, and 7 cogs. I load the Skane army, and I quickly send all my fleet to the Southern Baltic to watch. I see Swedish ships east of Gotland, so I go there, but my ships do not arrive in time. As my troops are taking attrition, I send them back to Skane, as they could be loaded quickly from there. After a short pursuit, one carrack and one galley are reached, pinned by an allied fleet in the Gulf of Riga. They are sunk. Some other ships (2 galleys) will later be met in the Western Baltic, and destroyed. I send my fleet to Gotland, so it can observe, while not scaring away the enemy ships.

Meanwhile, Norway has been very active, and more effective than expected. It distracted many Swedish troops, as shown by their many defeats in battle. They also engaged what remained of the Swedish fleet in Alands Hav, but I did not intervene, as I’d like to capture those ships some day, and I’d be very happy if Norway lost a few ships: there was no loss on either side, however. This was not enough for me to avoid seeing an 18k strong doomstack in Skane in January, while I was loading my troops. It was an easy victory for them over my 7000 men, but I avoided a pursuit by sending a lonely galley in Öresund from Gotland. This will slow down my offensive, but it is a minor setback. I send my 2k troops in Lübeck to Finland instead. They are unloaded in Österbotten, where they burn the colony.



With the colony burned, I increase the attrition they will suffer by going through to Finland from Sweden. Also, I’m quite sure it is not good for movement speeds. I send these troops to Savolax to start a siege, as I don’t really care about Kola and other colonies. They are a much better target for Norway, giving me warscore, or them a province, either way. At about that time, Sweden’s war exhaustion is at 6, their capacity is near 50%, and a few provinces on the Norwegian border are occupied, including Jämtland. This is going well, and would get better: Norway eventually will take and steal Kola, and Gotland will occupy Finmark.

As soon as my main army has healed, I send it to Finland. I separate it to besiege all provinces. As there seems to be a lot going on in Sweden, I believe my plan is working: the Swedish king doesn’t care about my puny sieges of 1 tax provinces (though they do produce furs, a very valuable good this early). Not much to say there for the moment...

The Swedish navy is very daring. Nearly suicidal actually. Or maybe it just likes more the life at sea than life itself. Whatever motivated it, they sent a few ships to move around in the Baltic. My own ships leap out, and I sink them (1-0-3) in the Western Baltic. They still have 2 galleys left, however, and I wouldn’t mind taking hold of one, so I wait in Gotland.

After only 176 days, in October 1421, Savolax falls. I send the troops there to reinforce what I have in Viborg, only defended by one regiment. Then it’s Finland (January), and Viborg (March). Therefore, I send troops to Finland, and from there, I intend to attack Stocholm, though some are sent to Tavastland, in case an army comes. And soon after, I see it: the previous doomstack is in Österbotten, arriving in 2 months, which is enough for my troops to get out (but why do they care about Finland, when my troops are in Tavastland?). Went it arrives, the army attempts to get back to Stockholm, but it is soon blocked by my fleet, which had recently destroyed the last enemy ships. It goes back to Österbotten... Stupid AI.

In May, Nyland falls. I only need Tavastland to hold all of Finland. As Sweden’s exhaustion is very high (near 10), I could ask for Finland to be released and for Sweden to join my league, but they still have some ducats left which I want, so I wait to see if I could take Stockholm before their stack arrives. It’s only 50 ducats, but that’s one full carrack, after all. I wait. Norway signs peace in August:



It is a good peace deal for me, in a way. That means one less province behind Sweden to fight later. It also means Norway has a Swedish core, with all that entails in future wars. With the burning of Österbotten and the stealing of Kola by Norway, their respective sizes are much more equal, though Sweden has higher base tax and manpower in several provinces. However, that’s less score for me, and 26 ducats less for me to gain. Minor, temporary setback, but a permanent good, until war tears them apart. I have 100% and broken walls in Tavastland, and 75% in Stockholm. My fingers are crossed...

I don’t have any dates, and no screenshot either, but I succeed in Tavastland. However, the story is different in Stockholm: I was at 100% when I saw the enemy stack coming. It was smaller than it had been, but I didn’t have much time. I decide to wait for it to arrive before signing peace, so I might have a chance to hold the capital at the negotiations. It didn’t work, so:



September 1422, and I’m at peace! My “epic” war only lasted about 2 years... Disappointing. I only have a small revolt in Jylland which succeeded, but about which I don’t have much information other than notes about “Rebels crushed, but win before”. I succeed my mission, and get a new one, which fits what I must do anyway: I must get steel rights from Sweden for some gold, which means gifts I would have given anyway to keep it in my league. In the mean time, I also had an election, in which I chose the Bureaucrat (9-4-3).

...

What?



Oh hell... Another war against superpowers.

Hungary and Trier broke away, and Poland joined on my side. However, the situation is not the same it was against Sweden: Bohemia and Lithuania both have nearly 40 000 men each. There will not be any naval battle, too, as Lithuania only has one transport (which it probably built without a core, but anyway...), and Bohemia has no coast. Gotland is not a factor. The only provinces I can hold are Ösel and Gotland, as they are islands. I just have to hope Poland will offer some fighting...

I do have an advantage, especially on Lithuania. Look at this:



With such high exhaustion, I don’t have much to do to get a peace treaty. Just by holding Ösel, I would make Lithuania’s war capacity plummet from land blockades. I don’t know if I can win, but I can certainly get a white peace or two.

I let half my army in Jylland to take care of the rebel-held fort, a quarter in Ösel, the rest in Gotland. After Jylland is mine again, the army there is divided between my two efforts. It isn’t long before Gotland is mine, and Ösel is well on the way.

However, on the continent, the situation is dire. Mazovia had been vassalized, Northern Poland (remember it has been split a while ago by Bohemia) is fully occupied, and Lublin is besieged. There is some action in Lithuania, but it is destined to end soon. Also, Genoa has used the opportunity to sneak in for trade rights, those for cloth, the most interesting production in the area.

Something unexpected, however, happens: Lithuania asks for a white peace, on January 29, 1624. It isn’t unexpected, as their exhaustion must have been sky high, but still a happy result. Ösel was at 100%, but I had no chance of getting it in a deal, so I accepted. Remained Bohemia.

I had been too aggressive with gifts to Sweden and trade rights, so I was a bit short on diplomats. One thing is sure: in early 1424, I needed them badly. Poland was getting utterly crushed, and with many lost battles, I had no chance for a white peace, even without the score from Polish provinces. I held only Gotland, which is only a minor ally to Bohemia. I was in front of a dilemma: do I annex Gotland, or do I keep it as a negotiating tool?

Gotland is a very poor province from every point of view. It produces wool, and little of it. It is not very populated. It has a low base tax. Economically, it is a burden, because it slows my tech rate. However, it is an island, and it is in the middle of the Baltic. From there, I can strike quickly anywhere around my hanseatic lake. I can also send troops there to recover without risking a battle. From this point of view, it is a very useful province. As it is normally guaranteed by almost everybody, I decided to be opportunistic, and annexed it the day after my peace with Lithuania. However, that doesn’t solve the Polish situation...

As I mentioned, it was hopeless. I decided to end it without having my own capitol assailed. Sorry, Poland, abandoned once again (or, actually, before the other time):



I had never actually given away provinces, or at least I don’t remember it, but apparently, it is good for badboy, as I had now none, even after the annexion. Which is good, but it does sound broken: I get lower BB for abandoning my ally? We are in March, 1624. Everybody is happy: I have a naval base near Sweden, Bohemia has new provinces (which obviously produce cloth...), Poland still has grain-producing provinces for my eventual mission. Great! (Don’t tell that one to Poland, right?)

Fun fact. Remember the rebels I had in Jylland? After their defeat, they had maybe 2000 soldiers left. They made it to Slesvig, and successively won against the 3k strong Holsteinian army! Actually, now, my friendly neighbour has no army, it was completely destroyed. At about that time, the rebels came back to Jylland, and were destroyed, promptly. Poor Holstein... They really need a stronger overlord.

During the next months, not much happened. I send gifts to Sweden, 28 ducats each, netting me a very effective 15 disposition every time. It is still Impossible to get trade rights, and at the end of my session, it will be Very Unlikely...

However, my warring is not over. Utrecht has escaped my league. If I declare war, Brabant, Holland and Holstein would receive a call to arms. Holland? I want Holland in my league. What a great opportunity. And Holstein? It would fit perfectly within MY Empire, and their puny duchy needs some reforms, and a stronger hand over them...

However, annexing and vassalizing would be unwise, since it means I would get over ten BB. I don’t want that. I decide that my priority would be Holland as a vassal and the rest in my league, and if I can’t reach this goal realistically, I will simply annex Holstein. Sounds good.

I start my preparation. I launch two new infantry regiments. I ask military access from Gelre: my operational plan is to go through Utrecht to Holland, and destroy the Dutch army there. Afterward, I would wait with all my troops in Holland, expecting the Brabantian army, and hope to rout it. Meanwhile, four thousand men would attack Holstein, siege it, and join my main attack after victory is achieved. I make my leader a general, but he is useless (1 to fire, 1 to manoeuvre). War starts in March.

First, the Holsteinian front. I was slow, so the Holsteinian army had the time to reach Lübeck while mine was still moving. However, my ally, Magdeburg (useful ally!), was using this route, and achieved victory. I defended Holstein, and destroyed the remains of the enemy. I used 3k men for Slesvig, one unit for Holstein, with the help of Magdeburg. The sieges will last about a year.

In the Netherlands, the first part of the plan was achieved victoriously. Utrecht was defeated, though the army escaped, and after some playing Pong for some time, there was no Dutch army anymore. I started the siege of Holland, but I was smug, and attempted to simultaneously destroy the remains of the army of Utrecht, which was slowly building up. I had to flee before victory however, as I saw Brabant in Zeeland, and even with all my force, I lost 3 thousand men in twelve days of battle. Bad ending. I successfully escaped to Gelre, because Brabant did not follow me in Utrecht. However, while I was attempting to send my troops back to Hamburg, I get this:



Hum... I can’t give much attention to this new war, but I liked Finland. They give me fur trade rights, and Novgorod would probably not be so kind. However, I quickly found out it was not much of a danger for my friends, as England AND Sweden are in the war too. Remember that England owns all but four of the British Isles, and has the largest big ship fleet in the world. By December 1425, within six months, they had conceded defeat to me. I was alliance leader.

I attempted a new offensive in Holland, this time with all my troops, with Holstein occupied. This new strategic attack was unsuccessful in the same way the first one was, but I took a heavy toll from the combined forces of Holland and Brabant, which lost 5000 men while only 3500 of mine were casualties. I went back to Hamburg, but for some reason, the archbishop of Utrecht thought sending his fleet at sea was a great idea. I captured one big ship, but the rest survived the encounter. This was August 1426.

In spring 1427, my army has fully recovered, and I am ready for a new attempt. Utrecht was, as usual, easy, but I had tremendous dice rolls in Holland:



Yes. I had a 9, an 7, and a 9 to begin with. That was against a +2 shock leader. I’m surprised they stayed for three shock rounds, but I won’t complain. I had even more luck on a strategic point of view: Brabant was now at war with Burgundy, as alliance leader, and with only Cleves as ally. That does not sound good. I eagerly accept a white peace. I am victorious, it only remains to take the remaining forts. At that moment, Holland had a capacity of 17% and WE of 9.13, Holstein was at 0% and 11.71, and Utrecht was at 51% and 5.97, but losing a battle with all their inflated army involved.

During the sieges, this happened, too:



Great! I’ll go for Reconquest some other day, because right now, I don’t have the casus belli active because of the ongoing war.

With Holstein, already occupied, I only asked for them to join my league, and give me their gold. Utrecht was the first to fall, and I got their large treasury, and a trade league agreement. The money was enough for me to use the Alder von Lübeck decision, which is quite costly, but useful on the long run (and better used early on). Zeeland fell after about a year, but Holland lasted 633 days, until May 1429. It was time for peace:



This ends the playing portion of this report. I ended on the day peace was signed, May 26, 1429. However, I forgot to sink their fleet, but as it is now my vassal, it is in part mine.

There was a lot of change in Europe. In Scandinavia, after the war, Norway colonized Österbotten and Lappland, two provinces that normally belong to Sweden. Finland has also taken Karelia from Novgorod, which is losing a war against Moscow. In the HRE, Thuringia has collapsed: Wurzburg is now independent, and its own territory is now Bavarian. Poland has annexed its vassal, Pomerania, which will increase its survival chances. The war with Burgundy turned catastrophic for Brabant, now annexed to Burgundy. Genoa has lost all its possessions, and Hungary is a two province minor, with Croatia being independent. England took one province from Scotland, and now holds considerable holdings in Southern France, having annexed Auvergne, an ancient French vassal, after it gained its independence. Aragon holds territory in Brittany, which is quite weird, and half of Sicily, with Naples in the other half.

The most disturbing prospect, however, is Bohemia. It is easily achieving victory against Austria, and even if it doesn’t have the Imperial prestige anymore, it owns a large amount of territory in Poland, and could annex Mazovia diplomatically. Also:




Hum... This happened shortly after my war against them. Doesn’t sound good. Hungary is but a shadow, but Milan and Bohemia together means the end of Austria, the only strong neighbour Bohemia has. Without allies (and by allies, I mean Milan or Lithuania), the Hapsburg do not have a chance, if we use the current war as a standard.

This is the Baltic at the end of my session:



This is it! Sorry for being slow, I played Friday, but I couldn’t write this until yesterday night and this morning/afternoon. It’s quite a lot of writing, really, but it’s fun. Also sorry to slower connections for all the screenshots, I did resize them a bit however.
 
Last edited:

JDMS

Hypothetical Hegemon
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Dec 12, 2009
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Great job. Looks like you're reasonably secure at the moment. What's your next target?