Monday, March 26, 2018

EU4 - Sneaky Savoy Part 4: The Prussia of Italy

Licking my wounds from my drubbing at the hands of Castile, I concentrate on improving my technology. Luckily, I’ve been fighting a shitload of wars, so I have been accruing military points at quite a rate. The spread between myself and the other countries is decreasing. Before long, I’m actually a level ahead of time, neck and neck with Spain.
It’s time to do some colonising, however. I hire an explorer and put him in charge of three ships. I first send him to the Caribbean for a look around. Hispaniola is split between France and Brittany, while most of the Antilles belong to England, with the exception of Trinidad, a Spanish possession. Down into South America, England is slowly colonising the whole of the Coast of Brazil while Portugal is entrenching itself in Columbia.

I set up my first colony in Bahia, Brazil, right in between two English colonies. Immediately, though, I realise this is a dumb plan. I don’t want to be competing with England for territory. They are a good ally and I don’t want something like this to screw it up. I send my explorer into the Gulf of Mexico to look for a good place to start and new colony. What I find is French Texas and Spanish Louisiana.

However, Florida is not taken yet, probably because it’s a forbidding swamp with a pitiful development level. So I decide to build my colony there, with an eye to expanding up the coast.
I’ve got to say though – after swinging my explorer back to the Med and down around South Africa – the Cape looks like the best place to colonise. I bet there’s gold nearby, too. Unfortunately, it’s too far for me to manage, so until my colonial range increases I’ll have to settle for building up Florida. After a few false starts, and the realisation that every time my soldiers leave the colonists get genocided by natives, I leave a permanent garrison in Mayami.

I turn my attentions back to Europe. Spain has Sardinia, something that I need if I’m going to form Sardinia-Piedmont as I intend. So how to get it? A plan begins to form. Since I’ve been hoarding Pope mana I sink it all into Papal Influence with the intention of buying a Pope the next time one is elected. Then perhaps I can excommunicate the Queen of Spain and justify a war against them.

However, before this plan comes to fruition, opportunity knocks. England, my trusty ally has had its eye on conquering Ireland for some time now. In fact, the only Irish duchy left is Desmond. Since Desmond is cosy with Spain, England has been cautious about attacking it. But perhaps because of the poor showing in the War of Aragonese Independence, England seems eager to get its groove back on the world stage, especially if that means a rematch with Spain. So England declares on Desmond, and I join in.
I have no idea what AI England is doing in this war. The armies of Desmond instantly ravage their way across Ireland, taking English provinces. The English army inflict a defeat on them that sends them running off to siege Edinburgh – but then they sit there without relieving the captured provinces or attacking Desmond’s army. And weirdly, Desmond actually beats England in not one but two sea battles. The only real progress England makes is to capture Trinidad.
Meanwhile, I’ve sent a small detachment of men from Corsica to siege Sardinia (it will be mine) and sent the rest of my army across the Pyrenees. This time, I don’t have any problems matching Spain militarily. By keeping my armies close together and able to reinforce each other I’m able to trap smaller forces of Spanish troops in between my two armies. I’m also getting absurd bonuses for defensive fighting, so I stay in the mountains wherever possible and let them come to me. Before long, I’ve occupied all the way across the former territory of Aragon.

This seems to wake up England, and they start relieving their occupied territory, and the warscore rockets up. All this time I’ve been quietly feeling out the Spanish to see what they would give me in a separate peace. I could get them to agree to cede one province of Sardinia to me, but not the second, so keep hanging on to see if I can get a better deal.
The warscore hits 100% and England and Desmond come to terms. England fully annexes Desmond, probably unnerving the Scots, who are bound to be next on the list. Thankfully, England has recognised my contribution for the war and makes sure that Spain ceded the northern half of Sardinia to me. It’s also cemented England as my most valuable ally.

Because they’ve done quite a turn for me. I now hold all the provinces I need to emerge fully onto the world stage as a big player, if not a major power. I am now able to create… The Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, the Prussia of Italy!

It’s good to be the king.

Friday, March 02, 2018

EU4: Sneaky Savoy Part Three – The Aragonese Independence War

Caesar Tudor, King of England, is the bomb. A 6/6/5 leader, he’s expanding across half of Ireland and his fleets have demolished the French time and time again. Even his name sounds cool. Filippo the Bastard, the new Duke of Savoy, wants very much to be his friend. One royal marriage later, and we have an alliance. Since relations with the French seem to have soured (I fear I may have disappointed them one too many times) Caesar will be my new attack dog, helping me maintain my sovereignty.
Losing the French alliance means I’m free to pick up another. Hungary seems like a good bet. With my one remaining diplomatic relationship I also royal marry Bohemia in the hope of picking up the crown when their heirless ruler snuffs it.

Another interesting development seems to be brewing. The Kingdom of Aragon, in a personal union with Castile seems very keen to break away from the super-powerful Castile-Aragon-Naples bloc that has emerged. This seems to have brought some very strange bedfellows together – both England and France are guaranteeing their independence. This means that should they try to break free from Castile, both countries will automatically be called into the war. Normally, I wouldn’t want anything to do with a war against Castile, but I figure if Aragon is freed I have a better chance taking Sardinia from it than the Castilian supercoalition. I also guarantee their independence.

It’s also time to try and fix my forces. I fire a bunch of infantry to make way for artillery, and set to building a couple of large warships. Hopefully that will put me in a good position when Aragon declares independence.

The Caribbean looks like this apparently.
Now to pick another idea group. I figure I’ll take colonisation ideas because I’d quite like to take the Quest for the New World mission and get some prime American land before everyone else gets in. What little I do know about the New World indicates that England is getting on with colonising. They have the West Indies and a few provinces in Brazil. I don’t know what my colonial range will be but, I’ll give it a shot. If the Americas fail I can always try colonising Africa or even going round to India.

About this time I’m called into a fight with Mantua by my tiny ally Ferrara. Now, Ferrara has been a faithful friend to me over the years, so I figure I can take a one-province Italian minor to help a pal out. Mantua’s 8K army makes a beeline for my 28K forces waiting in Genoa. Now, their maintenance isn’t up but it shouldn’t be a problem because of my absurd defensive bonuses and the fact I outnumber them 3 to 1.

However, I get utterly trounced. It’s at this point I realise I’ve fallen badly behind on military technology (the ultimate rookie error). I have 7 tech for their 10, so naturally, I’m completely outclassed. I ragequit about here out of sheer shame out of losing to Mantua. I’m not afraid to admit it. I reload and refuse to join the war. I need to do something about this tech points problem. I have a +2 military advisor, so that helps a bit. Then Filippo the Bastard dies and is replaced by his slightly more competent heir. I manage to get up to 8 military development in short order.

The King of Bohemia dies. I don’t inherit, since it appears he produced an heir from somewhere mysteriously. Baws.

However, now it looks like Hungary is spoiling for a fight with Venice over Dalmatia. Since I like to take any opportunity I can to kick the Venitians in the cods, I wade in. I figure I can actually be of assistance despite my shit army if I avoid giving battle and concentrate on sieges. I quickly occupy Brescia while the Hungarians take Treviso, then make my way across the straits to give Venice another thorough drubbing. I complete the siege and wait for the ticking warscore while the Hungarians finish sieging up the remaining provinces.

Venice is sacked yet again.

Unfortunately, Aragon chooses this moment to break its chains. I’m instantly plunged into a war against Castile with its 11, that’s right 11, military tech. I quickly make a separate peace with Venice in exchange for Brescia, and leave the Hungarians to their own devices. Now the real battle is on and I will need all of my might to even stand a chance against Castile. Fortunately, with France and England to do the heavy lifting I should be OK. Right? Right?

Looks like good odds, right?

Actually, it’s really not. My armies are ineffective against the Castilians’ assault – I mean, they even have a little early modern arquebusier model, and I still have a medieval pikeman. Unfortunately, France and England aren’t doing super well either, and Castile has called Austria into the war. England make some gains in Castile’s north African possessions, but Austria blitzes through France’s northern half, occupying a vast swathe of territory. Aragon and myself are too puny to take Castile alone, so we settle for completely occupying Naples. It’s not enough.

FFS Austria.
France cuts its losses and makes peace, turning the vast Austrian army in my direction. Kaiser unt Koenig! Buddy! I thought we were pals! I realise quickly if I don’t make a separate peace before England does, there’s a good chance I will lose some provinces. So I peace out for a lump of cash and eat the opinion malus with England.

England fights to the end, but only on the seas, as it prefers. I can only watch as Castile’s arquebusiers massacre the brave Aragonese rebels. Aragon falls once again under the Castilian yoke, and very quickly after integrates them, forming Spain.

Goodbye, poor brave Catalonians!
I lament, because along with those brave rebels died my last chance of conquering Sardinia, therefore my last chance of creating Piedmont-Sardinia. Spain is stronger than ever before. God forbid if they annex Naples.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

EU4: Sneaky Savoy, Part 2: Western Mediterannean Island for sale, cheap

We rejoin Duke Ludovico in the wake of his humbling by Cologne and the Coalition forces. Money-wise, I’m still doing OK, but my income is terribly curtailed. Especially galling is the income from that church I built in Bern, now filling the coffers of the ghastly Swiss.

Their time shall come. Oh yes. As shall the cowardly French. But to humble them, I’ll need to play smart.

Luckily, it’s time to pick an idea group. Since everyone appears to despise me (except Austria) I pick diplomatic ideas which gives me a third diplomat and will eventually allow me to improve other countries’ opinions of me faster. At its highest levels, it’ll also give me a bonus in peace negotiations which will allow me to nab more territory.

It’s the diplomats I need now, though. I quickly send them out amongst my erstwhile foes in the HRE and start sweet-talking princes. Soon I have royal marriages all over the shop and alliances with Brittany, Saxony and the Palatinate. Next time a coalition forms against me, at least it’ll be down two of its most powerful members.

The Shadow Kingdom event fires. This gives me the option of leaving the HRE with the rest of the Italian States or staying loyal to the Emperor. I go independent but maintain my Austrian alliance because they like me SO much.

Unfortunately, Ludovico snuffs it and his underwhelming son Amadeo takes over. He has 3/2/0 stats meaning he’s a competent administrator but absolutely god-awful at anything else. He also has no heir and is 50 years old. Luckily, I get an event for him siring a bastard, and Phillippo (3/3/3) is born with a weak claim.

Things are going well, though, and I take the mission to rebuild my navy, which is still a shell following its defeat by the Portuguese. This seems to annoy Genoa, and they announce they are rivaling me. Since I need a new rival anyway, I pick them back. I’m then able to pick a mission to grab the province directly adjacent to Nice. Unfortunately, it appears to be occupied by the Ottomans (!) who are allied with Crimea against Genoa in a war to shove them out of their colony on the peninsula. 

Since I can’t occupy the province I need I decide to wait a little while. I busy myself by improving relations with my neighbours and building up my army. I pick a second idea group – defensive. I decided to go down this route more because it fits in with my idea of what Savoy is than because of any particular bonus it gives me. We’re the entrenched Alpine hill people, and if you come into our mountains, woe betide you. I switch up my infantry from Latin Infantry to Men at Arms, but I leave my cavalry as they are (Latin Knights).

My plotting is interrupted by Austria declaring war on Salzburg and pulling me in. I end up fighting Brandenburg and the Palatinate too because of alliances. I move to siege some provinces in the Palatinate and actually end up winning a stirring victory against the Brandenburgers, which affects the warscore not a jot but makes me feel better. When Austria makes peace, I end up with nothing except prestige. And that’s OK. I send a diplomat to Brandenburg to let them know there’s no hard feelings. I really hope we’re cool because I don’t want angry proto-Prussians holding a grudge.

Anyway, Genoa are being arses, causing trade disputes all over the shop. Rather than fight them on those grounds I falsify claims on them. They are still at war with the Ottomans, so it proves to be a complete pushover, nabbing me Corsica and two more Ligurian provinces. My coastline is now massive, so I invest in some more docks and ships.

Of course, now that Genoa is reduced to one province, there’s no real reason to leave it at that, is there? I pick the mission to eliminate Genoa once and for all, and once my truce with them is over immediately go in for the kill. It’s another short war, though my navies sit it out because Genoa has an outsize fleet. With the numerical advantage I have on land it is no contest really, and Genoa falls. 

However, I had forgotten about Genoa’s Crimean possessions, still hanging on despite encroachment from the Ottomans. I could in theory have pressed for them in the peace talks, but they are too far away for me to administer, so that wasn’t an option. Genoa lives on to fight another day.

We’re beginning to have a problem with Protestants in the old HRE. Two centres of reformation have sprung up: Hamburg and Ravensburg. Hamburg is sufficiently far away that I only need to worry about it infecting Brandenburg, since it’s one of the conditions for forming Prussia. As for Ravensburg though, it’s really not far at all from us. Only Switzerland stands between me and the proddies, and they’re starting to look uncomfortably blue. At this point I’m not sure I want to go Protestant, but at the same time I find it hard to resist such ahistoric choices since I’m pretty sure Savoy always stayed Catholic. Anyway, I’ll need to do a cost-benefit analysis and get back to you.

With Genoa now officially exiled from the Italian peninsula, I need a new rival. Venice seem to fit the bill well. They are still horrendously strong on the sea, and have a reasonably decent army. I am offered a mission to take Brescia, which gives me a free claim. Since they are also at war with the Ottomans for Dalmatia, I decide to press the issue. 

Despite my hordes of troops compared to Venice, they take a beating and inflict heavy casualties on me. I realise this is because the clever Venicians have invested in some newfangled device called a “cannon”. What this is I have no idea but I will probably have to look into it. The Venicians defeated on land, I march through Ottoman occupied territory to lay siege to Venice itself. Then something weird happens – The war with the Ottomans ends, and Venice comes back into possession of the forts I just bypassed. This has the effect of stranding me on the island of Venice with no way to get out. Venice has naval superiority so my fleet will be no good, even if I did own enough transports to get my army out. So I just sit there sieging, losing men to attrition. When I do win the siege, it’s obvious we’ve reached a stalemate.

I can picture the negotiations now. My ambassador makes a sharp demand for Brescia, which is refused. Then he makes a slightly more muted inquiry as to whether there is any land that the Venicians would be willing to relinquish claim on, just to make this whole sorry situation go away.
And that is how I walked away from the negotiating table with Crete.

I mean, Crete? It’s very nice and sunny and all but what the hell am I supposed to do with an island territory so close to the Ottomans? Such a provocation. Now I know why Venice were so keen to get rid of it. I put out feelers to the Ottomans and see if they’d be interested in buying it, but the answer is no. Not even Albania wants it. So know I’m stuck with a big, dangerous Greek island to defend. Great. Still have claim on Brescia, though. Second time’s a charm?