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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kagemin

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First off thanks to Rabid for bringing to my attention that Aquilea is in a position to form a Theocratic Italy. Totally missed that this is a possibility now (or that Aquilea has any starting cores by now in the first place...), the last time I checked for things like this the decision still turned you into a monarchy no matter what.
Since I have yet to play a proper Theocratic campaign since 1.12, and I never actually formed Italy yet, this is what I decided on for my next campaign.

I'm playing in Ironman mode with normal settings btw.

Overview

Chapter 1: Road to Freedom - starts in this very post
Chapter 2: Incalculable Allies
Chapter 3: They finally notice me!
Chapter 4: Great progress and great risks
Chapter 5: Strength through Adversity
Chapter 6: Diplomatic Merry-go-round
Chapter 7: All hail the Kingdom Archbishopric of Italy
Chapter 8: Settling old scores
Chapter 9: Times of War
Chapter 10: Anyone else wants some? :mad:
Chapter 11: Patriarchate Restored
Chapter 12: Unified Italy
Chapter 13: I might have overdone it a little...
Chapter 14: Coalition luck
Chapter 15: Endless Wars
Chapter 16: Dominance
Final Chapter: Rome Reborn

Introduction

The Patriarchate of Aquilea (or Patria del Friuli as the state was known) used to be a major power in northern Italy, but the rise of the Republic of Venice proved to be its downfall. Just before the start of EU4's timeline a war between the two saw the utter defeat of Aquilea, and historically the Aquilean Patriarch of that time officially gave up his holdings and claims in 1445 (for a sizeable amount of Venecian money).
But history will unfold a little different in this campaign...;)

Goals & Plans

The first step will obviously be to release Aquilea as a nation. At the starting date they have cores on two provinces, held by two different nations:
One is Görz, held by Austria:


And the other one Friuli, held by Venice:


Since Friuli has the "stronger" core and is also the former capital province of Aquilea this is what I'm going with.

Past that the next step will be to (re-)gain my independence. Hopefully Venice's rivals will help with that, that should make this step very manageable.

My main goal will be to form Italy. I don't really see a reason not to join the HRE asap, but I'll reconsider this once the "Shadow Kingdom" fires. Since I plan on staying a Theocracy I don't have any aspirations in regards to the Empire, becoming an Elector would be nice though. But I don't think it's likely that any Electorates will become vacant before the Reformation, and by then I'll most likely be too big. But we'll see how things develop in that regard.

Past that it all depends on my motivation. I ended my recent campaigns once I reached my main goal to start over somewhere else, no promises that it'll be any different with this one.

I think I'll try to my expansion to Italy for the time being, so no colonization or expanding into weird places (that's the plan at least, and I'm usually not sticking to my plans...:rolleyes:).

So here we go:

Chapter 1: Road to freedom

As I wrote I started as Venice, and released and continued playing as Aquilea, finding myself in this position:


Not a great first ruler, but he'll have to suffice. My land forcelimit is a whopping three, so I'll be starting of with some infantry, and then some tradeships. Spend money to earn money, the Venecian trade node is still pretty rich early on. :D

Surprisingly (at least to me) Venetian isn't actually my Primary culture, but Lombard:


I saved and reloaded after releasing Aquilea, but the AI still lost the first diplomacy tick and waited for the month to tick over before doing anything of note (maybe I had to exit the game completely?).
Here's how Venice is looking:


Great, one of the few times Venice and Austria are one friendly terms. I was honestly tempted to just restart till Austria and Venice start as rivals, but then decided to just go with it.
Hungary I can work with, but both Burgundy and Bohemia can't reach Venice and won't support my independence. And almost everyone else in Italy and the Balkans is either friendly to, or feels treatened by Venice and won't help either.
Ottomans might end up helping me indirectly though. I'll either have to hope for an early war between them and Venice, for Venice and Austria turning hostile, or for Venice finding itself on the receiving end of a random big war.


As expected, Hungary didn't need much convincing. Venice got the Papal State and the Knights as allies by now, combined with all her vassals that means I'll have to stay patient.


They're on to something.


And they don't seem to like what I'm doing. :eek:

In the meantime Venice conquered Ragusa, but noone else opposed them or even cared about it, so not the slightest opportunity for me there.

To make things worse Genoa, Hungary's ally, decided to invade Tunisia. Which resulted in Hungary having to fight the Ottomans pretty much on their own.


Somehow Hungary did relatively well early in the war, convincing Venice that the can get a piece of the Ottomans too:


Of course the Ottomans managed to turn things around soon, but since both Hungary and Ottomans were only secondary participants in their war they mostly focussed on Venice.
With the Papal States out of the picture and Venice losing her navy I figured that's the best chance I'll be getting:


Hungary will have to do some heavy lifting for me, and with them still being in a war against the Ottomans things can get ugly really fast. I have to hope that the Ottomans both do well and do poorly at the same time...:confused:

I build up my army some more (no longer being a vassal means my forcelimit went up), attacked some small stacks that were isolated and/or freshly built on the mainland, and then went for the Venecian holdings in the Balkans.
Surprisingly enough the Knights ferried all their troops over (and more of them than I would have thought) and proved to be the biggest obstacle on my way to freedom.


I joined the HRE already, figuring that there's no real downside to it at this point, and the added diplomatic reputation might come in handy.

Venice ended up losing both Corfu and Crete to the Ottomans, but thankfully Byzantium jumped them right after that war ended. :D


Byzantium ultimately lost that war, but between that keeping Venice busy and Hungary helping me siege some stuff that was all I needed:


My independence, the province of Treviso, and some very welcome war reparations. That's looking to be a very promising start. :)
On the downside both Hungary and Austria immedeately went domineering, so I lost the one ally I had right away, and had no chance of allying the nation that would be the most benefitial to me...:(


I tried giving up my core in Görz since I have no intention of expanding in that direction any time soon (it would have have been gone in 1494 anyways), but Austria still kept switching between domineering and neutral and didn't want to ally me.

So the Pope ended up being my first ally. I don't think this will be a long lasting alliance, but I need anything I can get right now, and they're reasonably strong.


As you can see Venice and Ferrara were my only rival choices for the time being, so that's what I went with.
So next time I'll have to try and get some more allies, and then figure out how I'll be able to expand. Ferrara is allied to France, so it'll most likely end up in waiting out the truce with Venice and attacking them again.
 
Last edited:

volksmarschall

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Taking advantage of a greater power when they're away. Well done! :D

A theocratic Italy formed by Aquilea, well this seems promising.
 

Rabid

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I played a couple of games as Aquilea since 1.12 so I know what to expect, I did abuse restarts to get an Austria-Venetian rivalry as it makes the early game a lot more random otherwise, an Austrian DoW is basically game over. In my experience you need to take Verona in the first war as well as Treviso in order to have a strong start and prevent Austria and/or Hungary from deciding to eat you but hopefully you'll make it work anyway :)
 

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Looks like the Pope and you are theocracy buddies. I know Aquileia was an option in EU3, but back there they were little different from your average HRE/periphery minor; their Lombard culture as of 1.13 is probably a relic of previous patches and games in the series.
Incidentally, what national idea group do you have? I
 

Kagemin

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Taking advantage of a greater power when they're away. Well done! :D

A theocratic Italy formed by Aquilea, well this seems promising.
Yeah, I think opportunism is one of the first things you have to learn in EU4, especially with smaller nations.:D

I played a couple of games as Aquilea since 1.12 so I know what to expect, I did abuse restarts to get an Austria-Venetian rivalry as it makes the early game a lot more random otherwise, an Austrian DoW is basically game over. In my experience you need to take Verona in the first war as well as Treviso in order to have a strong start and prevent Austria and/or Hungary from deciding to eat you but hopefully you'll make it work anyway :)
I didn't want to make too many unjustified demands in my independence war, especially when I'm not allied to Austria. I hope my allies (I got Bohemia and Milan too shortly after the last screenshot) will be enough to protect me until I'm big enough myself.

Looks like the Pope and you are theocracy buddies. I know Aquileia was an option in EU3, but back there they were little different from your average HRE/periphery minor; their Lombard culture as of 1.13 is probably a relic of previous patches and games in the series.
Incidentally, what national idea group do you have? I
Divine ideas, so the generic Theocracy ones. They should work fine until I can form Italy, I think they're pretty good (even if the extra missionary won't see any use for a while).
 

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I've lurked for a while and loved both of your other AARs, this does seem to be setting out to be an incredibly interesting and promising run. Subscribed!
 

JCan

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Well and truly subbed.

Best of luck.
 

Kagemin

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Thanks for all the comments, really nice to see so many people reading this.
Without further ado then, here's
Chapter 2: Incalculable Allies

As expected, the next couple years were pretty eventless, at least for me. I improved relations with everyone in my vicinity, made some new allies, and fabricated a claim or two on Venice. With Ferrara being allied to France my only choice for the time being was to wait for the truce with Venice to end and attack them again, once I have Verona I'l have more options.
Roughly 10 years later I found myself in this situation:


Bohemia is the "big ally" I got. I would have preferred someone stronger, but it was either Bohemia, or a Burgundy that already lost all unions. Papal State is a good ally for the time being, and Milan and Siena I mostly took for their location (and with the higher base values for indpendent nations even OPMs are pretty strong). I guess not being able to make royal marriages has its advantages too, you can just switch out allies without worrying about it. :D



I almost forcot how stable Theocracies are, once the initial unrest was low enough that the revolt risk was negative in Treviso I manually decreased their autonomy, that's like getting an extra 5 development for a 20 development province, :)

Further to the north the now independent Brabant expanded a little to fast for the comfort of everyone around them and quickly got cut back to size:


Gonna try to avoid a similar fate, rather play a little slower than get a coalition like that before I can handle it...:eek:

Shortly after the truce with Venice ended, and the only new ally they managed to get in the meantime was Florence, so I felt comfortable enough attacking them:


Would have been much happier if the Pope helped out too, so Bohemia will have to do most of the heavy lifting (I made sure they're not occupied with anything else, and I also got access from Austria before starting the war).

The war was pretty tough, but with Venice having all their land but their capital occupied they were willing to peace out soon enough:


I really tried, but I just couldn't get past the Venecian navy to reach their capital. Even sacrificed most of my navy, but the AI actually was smart enough to always leave at least half their navy out while repairing the rest. o_O
Oh well, I got what I wanted from the war.


I was still undecided on my first idea group, but seeing the cost of coring my new province (and the general development levels in northern Italy) I quickly decided on Administrative. I actually waited until I got the coring cost reduction before coring Verona, which had the added benefit that my war exhaustion was almost gone by then, saving me even more points.

With Verona under my control I had a several options for expansion, the best one being Mantua, who somehow failed to have a single ally. I was about to start fabricating right away, but...


Err. Let's wait a year or two before doing that, we're getting into HRE territory now.


With me having decreased autonomy in Treviso earlier, not having increased it in Verona, and having had high war exhaustion for a while an uprising was pretty much unavoidable (I figured fighting that uprising would be less painful than increasing autonomy, especially when I would still have ~5 unrest left after that).

Got some mercs and just smashed them, Verona is farmlands and I have a high maneuver general (I had my army parked in the hills of Treviso at max maintenance once the progress hit 90%).

Shortly after I unlocked the Adaptability from Admin, so once I have the admin points for it I can finally core Verona.


I'm actually considering filling the Admin ideas this time, instead of just getting the first two ideas as usually, but I'm not decided yet.

And then my first ally did something unexpected, and I did not like it one bit. :mad:



Couldn't do anything about it, Aragon just went in there and conquered Venice for the Pope while I still had a truce with them. That will make things... interesting. I'll have to attack them at some point anyways, but it's still annoying.


Anyways, in the meantime I finally went ahead and fabricated on Mantua, and declared war on them while they were still on their own:

Tougher than I expected, but I still got them without too much trouble.


Well, the trouble might come later, time to lay low for a bit... :eek:

Meanwhile Poland is making some unexpected gains in the north, I don't think I ever saw them expanding in that direction before:


They'd make a very good ally, but I can't quite get them yet even at max relations. I'm not missing much though, so it might happen once I'm a little bit stronger.

And of course Austria had to go and make things even worse for my diplomatic position:


My diplomats are working overtime to ensure that noone besides my rivals (Florence joined Ferrara and Venice as a mutual rival by now btw) even gets close to negative relations, and so far no coalition was started.

So that leaves me with a bit of a waiting period to burn off some AE and maybe get some stronger allies again, all I managed so far was getting Burgundy instead of Siena. Neither Burgundy nor Bohemia count as powerful allies for me by now, so I'm trying to get a major power now. I can't quite get either of them yet, but Castille, Aragon, and Poland are all pretty close now. Aragon would be the most helpful I think, but only so long as the Iberian wedding does not fire. My other bet is Poland, but they're pretty far away and might drag me into wars with Austria...:confused:

My next target for expansion proves to be an equally tough choice:


Ferrara is the most tempting one, but I can't get through these allies.



Backstabbing Milan might be a good idea, and would drag in Ferrara too. I'll have to wait until the rest of Italy leaves the HRE before making use of that though, taking provinces from a secondary participant who's a member of the HRE sounds pretty suicidal to me...



As my people so kindly reminded me, the Pope would also be a good target, but I think I'd rather keep him as an ally for a bit longer (and continue getting some good Papal Influence as long as I can).



That leaves going for Venice yet again, I should be able to take them and Savoy on if at least some of my allies join me. Would also be a great chance to get Milan already, but that's the whole "secondary participant and HRE member" problem again...

I'd really like to declare war on Milan to vassalize them, but doing that while they're still in the HRE sounds like a terrible idea. Unless I want to just wait it out for at least another 12 years taking Brescia (and nothing else) seems to be the best course of action I think.

To leave on a more positive note, it looks like Austria expanded a bit too agressively for the likes of the Electors. :D


All the more reason not to attack another HRE member I'd say. Might also be worth it to fabricate a claim or two on Austria, once my AE is a little lower again...
 
Last edited:

Kagemin

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I'm here to let you know I've nominated you for the AAR Weekly Showcase. Congrats and good luck on this AAR.
Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it.

Chapter 3: They finally notice me!

Right away one of my allies was messing with my plans yet again, this time Milan:


I declared a war of my own right away, if I could get the sieges that might even turn out better than if I was the first to declare this war, since Milan called in some more allies.



Even if we were not allied in this war, Burgundy turned out to be a big help in beating down Savoy. :D

For a second I was even thinking about taking Milan right away, since it really was a good opportunity, but then I remembered what I said before, about this whole problem with secondary participants in a war and the HRE:


Yeah, I settled for some money from Savoy instead, and just took Brescia.:eek:

That of course meant that the war Milan started just fizzled out, and since Brescia still was a Milanese core they weren't exactly happy with me owning it.


Oh well, it's not like I can't find a replacement for them. I'm really enjoying not having to worry about royal marriages. :p

Then my next idea group was available, and all things considered the only choice there was which military idea I should choose. Normally Aristocracy is my go-to first military idea, but I think as a western tech nation that would be too much overkill. Between making some good money in the Venetian trade node and my Admin ideas giving me cheaper mercs, I wasn't all that desperate for manpower either, plus Quantity is much more valuable later on when you have higher base values imo.
In the end Defensive looked the most appealing, since it gives some great benefits right away (plus army tradition and plus morale for the first two unlocks is huge early on).

Looking around what else was going on in Europe I noticed Brabant being at it again. Remember how they got smashed by a coalition earlier?


It happened again.:D They got out of it relatively cheap though, just had to give up Holland.

Further north Denmark got partitioned between Verden, Mecklenburg, and Sweden.
Norway wasn't doing much better and lost most of their Scandinavian holdings to Sweden, while Scotland took the Shetlands and Faeroes from them.
I don't think Poland did much more of note, but they do still have the Baltic islands and the PU over Lithuania.
And Castille ended their Civil War and got the Iberian Wedding.


o_O
Guess I will start improving relations with Aragon again, sorta gave up on that when I saw that Castille had a female heir.

Then 1490 came by and the Shadow Kingdom triggered almost immedeately:


After some consideration I decided to leave the HRE. I had very high relations with the Emperor Bohemia (we're still allies even), and I didn't really feel that threatened by outside forces, and even though a few reforms already passed I don't think it was worth it taking the "Submission to the Emperor" penalty for the benefits they provide.

Burgundy still was recovering from trying to defend Brabant in the earlier coalition war, and so Milan was more and more of a tempting target (their only other ally was Ferrara, which might further help me).


The plan was to take out first the Milanese and then the Ferrarese army, while the Swiss army keeps Burgundy busy.



It mostly worked out as I had hoped, but after some initial successes Burgundy pushed back Switzerland and occupied Bern while I took out Ferrara and Milan.
Milan peaced out Switzerland asap and had them annul treaties with me, so for the rest of the war me and Burgundy stared menacingly without any way of reaching each other (Savoy rivalled both of us, and Switzerland had to annul treaties with me and hated Burgundy, so no access).
I was tempted (again) to take out Ferrara right here, but my plan was to vassalize Milan. With the AE I still had from earlier I didn't want to pile on too much yet, so I just humiliated them.

Annoyingly enough Hungary managed to take them in a big continent-spanning war, in which France was fighting Castille and Hungary among others. Ferrara was allied to France, and Hungary sniped them while France's army was busy elsewhere.:mad:



Oh well, Milan was my vassal now, and they had a bunch of claims and a core on the province of Milan, so it still was a great success.

With Milan as my vassal I was finally important enough that all the major powers finally recognized me.

Since Castille isn't really that helpful to me without the personal unions, Poland still being far away, and Austria being a mutual rival of Bohemia, I decided on the good old alliance with France. :D

I'm in a very good position now, but I'll have to wait a bit before making my next move, vassalizing Milan generated a lot of AE. Luckily my diplomats are doing their job in keeping everyone somewhat close happy, so still no coalition.

In the east the Ottomans finally took out Byzantium for good, nicely enough the refugees decided to come to me.



I always liked how these refugees of a nation of a worse tech group made my tech so much cheaper, but I'm not complaining. :)
I could tech up both admin and diplo tech pretty much right away, so the event already more than payed off, and I should be able to get a lot more out of it.

My old rival Florence finally made a move too, and conquered the last remaining province of Ferrara, after having taken Siena before.


They wiped Ferraras army right away, and 1v1 Savoy couldn't stand up to them.

I was hoping to do exactly that once the truce ended, but it looks like things will be a little more complicated now. With the way the alliance networks are I'll either have to risk a very big war for my next expansion, or wait for a good opportunity and catch someone who's already busy elsewhere.
Luckily Milan decided to fabricate a claim on Genoa right away, so I have a lot of potential targets now, even if I would like to avoid backstabbing the Pope for a little longer.

The Reformation also isn't that far away by now, this will probably mess things up a bit. I'm actually considering to convert right away, it's not like I'll be able to make use of the Papal Influence too much longer anyways.
But that's something I'll have to decide once I see how things develop, I'm in a phase where I have to make some good opportunities again.
 

ThetrueColt

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The fact that Italy leaves the HRE at some point probably makes things easier these days - I haven't played a campaign in the region with 1.12 yet. Still, that's some very nice progress! The alliance networks can get really tricky sometimes, but you have my full confidence in finding an ample opportunity :)
 

RepublicanIV

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MOARRRRRRRRRRRR
 

Rabid

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I'd probably go for Savoy, if they don't have a big scary ally, or maybe think about taking Venice from the Pope.

I always insta convert to Protestant, screw Catholics, I want a Centre of Reformation :p
 

DKM

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subbed
 

RepublicanIV

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I'd probably go for Savoy, if they don't have a big scary ally, or maybe think about taking Venice from the Pope.

I always insta convert to Protestant, screw Catholics, I want a Centre of Reformation :p
Speaking about conversions, how does conversion work with a Theocracy?
 

Kagemin

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I'd probably go for Savoy, if they don't have a big scary ally, or maybe think about taking Venice from the Pope.

I always insta convert to Protestant, screw Catholics, I want a Centre of Reformation :p
I'm still allied to the Pope, but the other things I did. :D

Speaking about conversions, how does conversion work with a Theocracy?
Perfectly normal, I don't think there was anything special about it. And high Devotion seems to give a bonus to both Papal Influence and Church Power, so it's pretty neat.

Not sure if I'll still find time to write the next part this evening, quite a lot was going on in my last session. Will try to have it up tomorrow at the latest though, so you won't have to wait too much longer.

And again, thanks for all the feedback, that really helps keeping me motivated.:)
 

RepublicanIV

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I'm still allied to the Pope, but the other things I did. :D


Perfectly normal, I don't think there was anything special about it. And high Devotion seems to give a bonus to both Papal Influence and Church Power, so it's pretty neat.

Not sure if I'll still find time to write the next part this evening, quite a lot was going on in my last session. Will try to have it up tomorrow at the latest though, so you won't have to wait too much longer.

And again, thanks for all the feedback, that really helps keeping me motivated.:)

Will you into Protestantism? Please do, the protestants need a theocracy.
 

Nikolai

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Just discovered this little gem through the weekly awAARd.:) Good aar you've got going! :)