Friday, June 29, 2018

EU4 Savoy-Italy Parts 5 - 14

OK, I realise I have got behind with the EU4 reports, which is fine, because I doubt there is a soul in the depths of the internet who actually reads them. I decided to drop the final 9 parts in one huge blog post. I figure I will just do an AAR after every game rather than blog my way through it, because I don't really have the time. 

Sneaky Sardinia-Piedmont Part 5: Tuscan Raiders    
The colonies are coming along OK, even if every five minutes I have to deal with native uprisings. I hire a conquistador and send him deep into terra incognita, and meet a bunch of new tribes, who don’t seem too bothered about me. The nearest one to me is the Creek. I send a few diplomats over to let them know that I’m NOT LIKE the other Europeans. I really hope they believe me. Spanish Louisiana is still only three counties, like my own colony in Florida, but French Texas (Or more accurately French Mexico) is expanding in both directions, north and south. They are now pushing up against the Spaniards.

Now it’s time to decide what to do next in Europe. My expansion options are varied. I could try to take more of Provence, but they are allied with France so it almost doesn’t seem worth it. Switzerland has good resources but they’re still in the HRE so I’m not sure I want the heat from the Emperor. Anyway, Austria has eaten most of the country already. Mantua is just sitting there waiting to be conquered, so I don’t feel any particular hurry there. No, the obvious target in the Italian arena is Tuscany. And it just so happens that if I want to form Italy, I’m going to need to conquer them. Force them into a personal union, if possible.

One problem though, is that they are allied with France as well. Now, I’m still keeping France pretty sweet, aided by the fact a few decades ago a cousin became King of France. Don’t get me wrong, I still intend to revenge myself on them for the slight given during the Cologne-Savoy Punitive War back in the last century. But right now alienating them is a big risk. My only hope is that they take little part in the fighting and I can diplomatically fix the relationship afterwards.

So I declare on Tuscany with a simple claim war for the province of Lucca. Right away France is called into the war, as is Hungary. Luckily, I have my biggest buddies on hand to help – England and Austria. I decide to use a modified Schlieffen Plan – blitz Tuscany until it collapses and then wheel round to attack France before they have time to mobilise. This works wonders because Tuscany is far behind me in military tech and sparsely defended by forts. In two battles I stackwipe the Tuscan forces then completely occupy the country. I also win a couple of naval battles, but the larger part of their fleet hides in the Aegean, where I don’t fancy attacking. Still, that’s nowhere near the percentage of warscore I need to force a PU, so it’s off to France I go.

England has been keeping France fairly busy, invading and occupying Hispaniola from its colonies in Brazil and the West Indies. With that done, it sends a huge army to assault southern France while my troops cross the Alps and start sieging down territory. Austria keeps the Hungarians busy while all this is happening.

However, there is one thing stopping me from pushing this war all the way to 100%: Money. After embracing the printing press a while back, I’ve been a little low on dough. When I hit 15 ducats I finally relent and come to terms with the Tuscans. I nick five provinces, cutting them almost in half. My allies got nothing but there’s no way I’m giving them land in Italy that I need. I almost accidentally ceded Ferrara to Austria but stopped before I did so. That would have been a catastrophe.

Of course, now I have massive overextension and have to take a loan, but once I’ve cored some provinces I should be fine. Right?

Sneaky Sardinia-Piedmont Part 6: Dutch Courage

Have I mentioned how much I love my allies the English? They’re a great bunch, very polite, good with boats. They also have a PU with the Netherlands. Which is on the verge of breaking down, as they so often do. Apparently, the Dutch don’t like to be ruled by outsiders. Who could have seen that coming? So we have a whopping great Dutch Revolt army marching down through Burgundy, with the English frantically landing troops to try and stop them. So, when you need subjugated populations oppressed, who are you gonna call? Sardinia-Piedmont, that’s who! We’ve got Ligurians, Swiss, Tuscans, Burgundians, all living under the stompy boots of absolute monarchy. We’re really good at oppressing people. So I agree to help my good buddies out.

One of the things I enjoy most about EU4 is the way that it sometimes mirrors real world history but in subtly different ways. The real-life Dutch Revolt saw England aiding the Dutch against their Spanish Habsburg overlords. In my bizarro Dutch Revolt, the Dutch are revolting against England, with Sardinia-Piedmont on their side.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work out so well. Before I can do much to help, the war ends with a small Dutch Republic forming and the remainder of Burgundy staying a monarchy. Oh well, not my problem.

The colonies are growing. Gradually I’m spreading across the eastern seaboard. My northernmost colony is currently Chesapeake, but I’m aiming on getting the whole way up to Manhattan before long. I have enough self-sufficient colonies to form a colonial nation, which I name New Savoy. I sure hope they never grow gigantic and rise up in rebellion against me! That would suck so bad! Spanish Louisiana is getting curbstomped by the Wichita. Good. I send out some diplomats to the various Native American tribes and try to keep them onside.

Unfortunately, Spain is trying to counter my colonisation efforts by placing a new colony right in the way of my expansion. Seems inevitable I’m going to have to fight them again soon. Another interloper is Scotland, who have colonised Newfoundland and have a colony at Quebec. No way a bizarre 7 Years War situation isn’t playing out there eventually.

Oh, and the War of the Protestant League started. I wanted to get involved but I suppose I was not paying enough attention and they started the war without me, and I can’t join. Shame. I’d have made a nice addition to the Catholic League. It’s not like I bought the DLC FULL PRICE when I realised I needed it for the 30 Years War. OH WAIT. 

It’s kind of a crappy league war anyway. I don’t know if that’s because it started immediately after I installed the DLC. Really it was only a few small states in the HRE going Protestant. Bohemia, the Emperor, is managing to keep them down without too much trouble. No way this is going to take 30 years.

What a disappointment!

Sneaky Sardinia-Piedmont Part 7: The Canadian Unicorn

I must share with you this ridiculous unicorn I have discovered. Remember I briefly mentioned last time that Scotland had colonised Newfoundland and was moving slowly down the St. Lawrence? I happened to look away for a minute and when I look back, the AI has rebelled and formed the Grand Republic of Canada with Scottish culture and Animism as its state religion. The last remaining Scottish colony in North America is Fredericton, still stubbornly flying the Lion Rampant.

The only possible thing I can think of that would have caused this was when I last checked in Scottish Quebec was badly losing a war with the Mikmaq. So my theory goes that the AI Mikmaq conquered Scottish Quebec and had the counties to create Canada, and because it was an animist nation that created it, it got the animist religion by default. I would ordinarily vow to protect this beautiful unicorn at all costs, however, I have to ask: do I really want to give my colonies the idea they can go independent?

It doesn’t matter though, since Canada immediately erupts into a bitter civil war. Turns out there are quite a few Catholics still living there who are not happy with the whole animism thing. It doesn’t take long for the Catholics to retake all the provinces south of the St. Lawrence, with one animist province to the north. Things aren’t looking good for poor baby Canada.

For me, on the other hand...

Meanwhile, back in Europe, England calls me into a war with Scotland. Since the Scots are miles away and no threat to me at all, I simply don’t bother raising my troop maintenance and wait the war out. It’s not like England needed my help anyway. When the war finally ends, Scotland is devoured except for Caithness and the islands. My good buddy England is very close to forming Great Britain.
Meanwhile, the Emperor and King of Bohemia has died, causing a mild disruption in the balance of power. The King of France has inherited Bohemia, which is good because it means another country comes under the Di Savoia banner, but bad because the King of France doesn’t exactly like me. Luckily, my perennial ally Austria has become Emperor again, so no worries there.

I busy myself with building up my war chest and replacing the ships I lost in the war with Tuscany. In addition, my manpower is incredibly low, so if I want to finish Tuscany off when the truce ends, I’ll need some years of peace. Once I take over the last Tuscan provinces and Mantua, I could technically form Italy. It’s not like I’m going to be able to take Naples from Spain anytime soon…

Oh holy shit. Naples broke free of Spain! They have a Trastamera on the throne, so I royal marry them on the off chance I can get a PU. To be honest, I don’t know if this will be possible. I’ll keep them sweet for the time being, though, until I can conquer them militarily.

I don’t know what’s going on with Spain, because they seem to be losing control of an awful lot of their provinces. Sicilian rebels rise up and take over that particular island. I royal marry them as well, for the same reason I’m cosying up to the Neopolitans. If I could PU one or both of them some day, that’d be great.

It actually turns out, after reading a bit into this, I don’t need Naples or Sicily to form Italy but somehow it feel like it would be more satisfying if I had the lot. I’m tempted to put off forming it until I’ve done the full conquest. Since I am a king already, I’m not sure there would be any disadvantage to that.

What I do need, however, is Mantua and the rest of Tuscany. I actually fight two wars for Mantua. The first against both Mantua and Tuscany never really gets to the level where I’m able to demand full annexation of Mantua. However, in the ensuing peace I force Tuscany to give me another two provinces, so it’s all good.

The second war is more successful, if more one-sided. Sardinia-Piedmont teams up with Austria and England against Mantua, Mainz, Memmingen and Venice. Since Venice is one province, and Mainz not much more, this is easy. Sieging Mantua is the hard part, but while that happens half of my armies and the Austrians deliver a bloody nose to the German allies, and I’m able to peace them out for large sums of gold as well as 10% of their incomes for 10 years. Venice, hiding behind a large fleet in the Aegean, is the last holdout. From Treviso, my army watches across the strait, preparing for the inevitable sack. I’m forced to build half a dozen new ships to give me the numbers to take the Venetian fleet. As it happens, I don’t even need to fight them. When my fleet appears in the Aegean, the Venetians dock their boats and the strait reopens. I sack Venice, again. After that, Mantua accepts defeat. 

Only Tuscany and the Papal State hold out in the northern part of Italy. Because at some point we all have to fight the Pope.

Sneaky Sardinia-Piedmont Part 8: The Betrayal Redux

Canada has now converted back to Catholicism and is doing fine, even with its new neighbour Scotland. Ever since England went into Beast Mode and all but eliminated Scotland, the Scots capital has been Fredericton. Since they’re hemmed in by hostile First Nations, it’s only a matter of time before they come to blows.

As for further south, my subject New Savoy is having problems too. I suppose you can only push the Cherokee around for so long before they push back. Teaming up with the Iroquois Confederacy, the Cherokee launch an assault deep into my colonised lands. Weirdly, despite the fact I have troops there, I can’t join in the fighting. I guess New Savoy has to request my help? The upshot is that New Savoy loses and loses badly, half of its territory being annexed by the Cherokee.

Furious, I ship 14K troops to the new world and make an alliance with the Creek, who are not too fond of the Cherokee. Together we launch a punitive expedition that returns all of the land that they took. I understand now that I can only go for so long in the New World without making some local alliances.

Back in Europe, Sardinia-Piedmont is as usual looking for some more sneaky alliance moves to make. The King of Baden – a sprightly 115 years old – has outlived his heir, and I take the opportunity to propose a royal marriage, thinking that as usual nothing will come of it.

I’m wrong. The King promptly dies and I form a personal union with Baden. Baden is a puny one province minor, but I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Unfortunately, the Emperor, my good buddy in Vienna decides that this is a bridge too far. Maybe it was that he desired Baden for himself, or that he doesn’t like me taking HRE lands, but the Habsburgs launch a war to break the union, busting up our long-standing alliance in the process. At this point, I care less about the Badenese succession and more about the stinking, despicable, dead-eyed shittiness of this betrayal. After EVERYTHING Austria and I have been through, that they would do this… such transgressions must be punished.
Luckily, I’m not alone. Great Britain would never forsake me in such a trying time, and dispatches a fleet to the Mediterranean, which makes short work of Austria’s puny fleet. While this is happening, I launch an offensive, pushing up to the very gates of Vienna itself. Meanwhile the Austrian army has taken Baden and is running roughshod over Lombardy. Thankfully some British and Neapolitan troops are there to undo their work as the Austrians make for Vienna. The Viennese make the mistake of dividing their doomstack, one side going for Baden (which a sneaky British force has relieved) and the other rushing to save Vienna. I’m able to catch one of the forces in the Tirol and defeat it soundly. Then the Austrians are willing to come to terms. I snatch the iron-rich province of Sudtirol (Trent) in the ensuing peace.

I could be petty about this and add the Austrians to my enemies list, but to be honest I need them to persuade my bigger neighbours (talking about you, France and Spain) not to attack me. Great Britain does this to a certain extent but they’re only usually useful for naval support. Nothing can quite replace the reassuring feeling of having a 40K Austrian doomstack at your back to help you out. So I immediately work on plastering over the cracks in our friendship and soon I have an alliance again.
It’s not all good news, though. New Savoy has been declared on by the French colonies of the Antilles, and a strategic blunder I made when colonising has been made woefully apparent. I actually started colonising in Florida before being sidetracked by higher development provinces around Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Valley. This meant that my colony grew in two great disconnected patches. Unfortunately, I let the Spanish get in between my two colonies. This means when the Antilles troops attack the Florida peninsula, New Savoy’s troops can’t get to them because they don’t have military access and they don’t have enough troop transports. I can’t get into the war unless they call me, so I just have to watch while the Antilles troops dogpile my very first successful colonies until New Savoy peaces out and just lets them have three of the four provinces. I am not at all pleased.

I’ve just about recovered my manpower from the Austrian war when I get a call to arms from Great Britain, who are invading Scotland for what looks like the final time. All that is left of Scotland is Shetland and the Hebrides, with all their land in the new world having been gobbled up by Canada (still going strong). For a moment I’m not sure why they bother calling me in at all, but then I realise that since the last battle on the British Isles, Scotland has picked up an alliance with Spain. Ah.
So clearly GB’s plan is to use me to absorb the attacks of the Spanish. Unfortunately, France won’t let me cross their lands so I’m stuck on defense. No plundering through the Spanish countryside for me this time. What I can do though is raid those annoyingly situated Spanish colonies in Florida, the ones that cut New Savoy in two. I do just that, but a huge Spanish force comes down from around Quebec where they’ve recently been trying to expand. It’s a 23K stack against my 14.9K, so even though I have higher military technology the odds are still not good. I park my army in between two river crossings and put my best general in command.

This is probably the biggest battle the New World has ever seen. The Spanish suffer a penalty for attacking across a river and I get a bonus for defensive fighting through my Savoyard ideas. Huge numbers of men fall but my Gustavian Infantry hold the line. Another 6K Spanish forces join the fight but I too am reinforced by 4K New Savoyard troops. In the end Sardinia-Piedmont wins the day at a cost of nearly 10K dead, having inflicted a similar number on the Spanish. But the Spanish force, broken and in disarray has nowhere to flee, so my forces pursue and put them to a rout. When the second battle is over Spain’s military presence in the New World is virtually eliminated.

And now, once again, I get to the point I get to in every war when I wonder what I might get if I were to make a separate peace deal. It’s not honourable, I know, but I didn’t get to be king by being honourable. Turns out, Spain is willing to give me the parts of Alabama and Georgia they colonised to peace out. I mean, I could help GB to the end, but with them negotiating on my behalf what am I likely to get? In one fell swoop I could take the lands that ought to have been mine in the first place. I’m tempted, so I go for it. 

New Savoy is big and strong now, the second strongest Colonial Nation after French Mexico. Unfortunately, it is starting to get a little bit too big for its britches. Maybe I taxed it too high or involved it in too many costly wars, but there are murmurs from some quarters that maybe New Savoy would be better off without its colonial overlord…

Sneaky Sardinia-Piedmont Part 9 – The Dutch Reconquest of Utrecht

The Dutch are becoming a pain in the arse. In my rush to colonise as much of eastern North America as possible, they’ve taken over France as my number 1 competitor. France seems to be concerning itself with fighting the Navajo on the Great Plains for now, so I conquered the Huron and took over Michigan and the Golden Horseshoe. However, I ran straight into an annoying orange blob called Nova Hollandia. Yes, the Dutch have come, and they’ve conquered a bunch of the former lands of the Grand Republic of Canada (Would be Nova Scotia and New Brunswick IRL) banishing them to the island of Anticosti. To make matters worse, they’re also colonising around Hudson Bay, and moving south towards my new colonial subject nation of New Piedmont (Southern Ontario and Michigan).
It’s not only New Savoy that the Dutch have been menacing though. Over in Europe, they’ve been eyeing tiny Utrecht, which they somehow lost control of. When they declare war, Utrecht calls in Austria who in turn asks me for aid. Any opportunity to mess with the Dutch, I accept.

Whoops, turns out this war is much bigger than I first thought. In the red corner, the Netherlands, France, Bohemia, Antilles, French Mexico, French Louisiana and Tuscany! In the blue corner, it’s me, my babies Baden and New Savoy, Utrecht, Austria, Spain, Spanish Florida (now located in Maine and New Hampshire), Hungary, Switzerland and Silesia. Technically, our side seems to have the advantage. We’ve got a lot more men. However, they have the most boats and have a huge manpower advantage in the New World. I’m concerned that if me and Florida are wiped out there, France will run roughshod over my colonies.

The European theatre opens with a joint offensive by the Austrians and Hungarians on Bohemia. They’re cut off and isolated from their allies so it’s over rather fast. While this is happening my armies crush what’s left of Tuscany and push into southern France. France is locked down tight, however with forts, so it’s hard going. Meanwhile France ignores us, crosses the Pyrenees and inflicts a few defeats on the Spanish, who peace out fairly quickly.

I’ve assigned my general with the best manouver ability to my North American forces, who only number around 12,000. I initially try to push into the Mississippi, but give up when I’m almost caught by a huge doomstack. I resolve never to fight it if I can. Instead I siege the three provinces on the Florida peninsula that used to belong to me, and then push north to fight smaller French armies while the doomstack undoes my good work. Then I siege some territory at the north of the country and I come back down and re-seige the freed provinces. While I do this, Florida is sieging Nova Hollandia. The warscore is ticking up as more French provinces fall, and eventually, France gives up, ceding me my Floridan territory and leaving the Netherlands in the lurch. Netherlands comes to terms and we all go home richer.

Unfortunately for me, Hungary takes this opportunity to backstab Austria. Despite only just teaming up with Austria to fight the Bohemians, French and Dutch, Hungary seems to think it will try to take a bite out of them and launches a war to conquer Poznan. Since Hungary is a shadow of its former self having been half-devoured by the Ottomans, I think this is a bad idea. Nevertheless I send troops to siege the Dalmatian coast.

Back in the colonies, it looks like Britain are tiring of Portugal’s continued presence in South and Central America, which I feel vindicates my decision to abandon my original Brazilian colony back in the day. Britain calls me into the British-Portuguese Imperialist War which necessitates me fighting the very Spaniards I was only just allied to. Realising I’m going to need all of my strength for this, I’m forced to curtail the Hungarian war, demanding the province of Dalmatia in exchange for a cessation of hostilities. It’s a very rich province but I’m only just realising now it puts me right in the Ottoman’s crosshairs. Oh well, they tolerated Crete for almost 200 years, maybe they’ll leave me be.
The fight with Spain goes my way relatively easily. I’m beginning to realise Spain is a bit of a paper tiger. Their military technology is not as good as it might be and they don’t quite have the manpower to protect their colonies. Sardinian troops march into Spanish Canada and quickly put it to the torch. At the same time, my troops are transported to Barcelona, where they disembark and begin the slow slog from fort to fort that has characterised each invasion of Spain I’ve made so far. Before long, the Brits have got the upper hand over Portugal, and the diplomatic wrangling begins.

Naturally, I make significant gains in Spanish Canada, taking all of the land around Massachussets that I’ve been coveting for a while. Portuguese Colombia is eaten up by the burgeoning British Empire. Nice doing business with you, Tudors. Same time next year?

Since my colonisation efforts in North America have hit a big blue wall called French Louisiana, I need to look for some more places to spread the toothpaste colour. I decide to try for a base in South America which I can use to reach the Pacific. Tierra Del Fuego isn’t taken yet, probably because it’s an arid hellhole, so I send my colonists and soon I have a couple of provinces of rocks full of people who hate me. Luckily, I know have access to the Pacific, so I send an explorer and a conquistador out to see what’s there. Apparently France has colonised Indonesia while Britain has Australia. Nobody has bothered with New Zealand, though, so I set down my colonists there and have a bash at settling it.

Oh boy, big mistake. I thought the Native Americans were trouble. These guys *hate* being colonised. I’m barely able to look away without a 9K stack of rebels appearing to trash the colony. The 3,000 men I’ve left there get slaughtered, so I’m forced to move an army of about 10K over and order them to suppress any rebellions (not that the autonomous rebel suppression option actually works). I’m now a little worried that my armies in Europe might be depleting… will I fall prey to the same curse of overextension that is afflicting the Spanish?

Sneaky Sardinia-Piedmont Part 10 - The Spanish and Indian War

I have a plan. More of a ruse actually. Actually, more like a plot. I’m plotting, like a true sneaky Sardinian, a way to take my birthright from the hated Spaniards. Now, although I’m the king of Sardinia-Piedmont (and Baden!) I’ve never actually owned all of Sardinia. I never managed to capture the province of Cagliari. It is still owned by Spain. Now, knowing as I do of the weakness of the Spanish forces and their relative overextension, I’m fairly certain I could beat them if I attacked. However, they are in tight with the Austrians, and even though I have an alliance with them too, if I attacked Spain they would be duty bound to attack. So how do I start a war with Spain without them calling in Austria? That’s the sneaky part.

The Mikmaq are pretty much the only North American tribe that has thrived since the advent of colonialism. In the early days they fought a valiant war against Scotland, and took Newfoundland and much of Quebec. Then a weird kind of osmosis took place that resulted in the formation of the Grand Republic of Canada, which was culturally Scottish but religiously totemist. When the Catholics in Canada rose up, the state was severed in two, the powerful animist Mikmaq, and the weak Catholic Canada. Later the Mikmaq fought Nova Hollandia and succeeded in pushing the Dutch back to Hudson’s Bay. Following that, they allied Spain and now serve as a barrier between the three Sardinian colonies of New Savoy, New Piedmont and New Milan and Spanish Canada.

So, this is the plan. I’m going to make war on Spain’s native allies, and drag them into a conflict without the aid of Austria, a conflict they can never hope to win. I’m going to beat them in America, and beat them so soundly that they will have to give me the other half of my beloved island. If I get some Mikmaq land as well, great, if not, so be it.

I use the old manifest destiny excuse and declare war on the Mikmaq. An incensed Spain declares war on me shortly afterwards. A small force immediately takes Cagliari while two larger armies rampage through Catalonia. I have a numbers advantage in the New World, since all of my colonies have been building their own armies. Without too much delay the Mikmaq have given in and I’ve occupied all of Spanish Canada, again. My sole object in the peace deal is to receive Cagliari, which I do. My three colonial nations get a grab bag of Mikmaq and Spanish Canadian land.

Now Sardinia-Piedmont has almost united Italy. There is only one province I need before I can form the country, and that’s Rome. It’s about 1710 and it’s time, at last, to teach the Pope that temporal power rests in the hands of the DiSavoia, not some jumped up priest.

Sneaky Sardinia Part 11: The Sardinian War for the Provencal Throne, and the 2nd Spanish and Indian War

Unfortunately, I will have to wait for a truce to wear off before I roll up on the Pope. I have until about 1720 to plot how to take him out, provided I don’t get distracted by other objectives. Another issue is that my allies, Great Britain and Austria don’t seem too eager to fight the Papal State. This should resolve itself after the truce wears off though.

It’s not going to be an easy fight, due to France and Hungary being allied to the Papal State. This means I’m going to have to be really serious about alliance building in order to make this work. So who hates or at least doesn’t care for the Pope? My first thought was to go to the Ottomans. I’ve always been on relatively good terms with them, but try as I might I can’t convince them to let me ally them. Another option is the Protestant Brandenburg, now taking up most of northern Germany and some of the lands formerly belonging to the now hollowed-out Commonwealth. Brandenburg would be happy to ally, at least, and I give them a royal marriage as well.

What was I saying about distractions? Ah yes. An opportunity has arisen that could delay my conquest of Rome but perhaps leave me in a better position when the time comes to strike. Provence has been a dedicated ally of France for some time, and the French DiSavoias currently hold the Duchy. Provence holds some former Burgundian land in the Trier/Luxembourg area, and they also conquered Brittany some centuries ago. Since I’ll have to fight the Papal State, Hungary, Provence and France together, it makes sense to remove one part of their alliance first if I can get away with it. The Duke of Provence has no heir so I pointedly insist it should be me, and then launch a war to claim the throne. Predictably, France and the Papal State leap in, but along with the Austrians and the British and Brandenburg, I am in a much stronger position. Yes, I’m aware this strategy involves fighting two wars instead of one, but it also nets me a buttload of new territory.

It’s another long, brutal slog, characterised by the same back and forth skirmishing in the New World, along with the same long, extended sieges through the southern French lands. Britain provides naval support but as usual doesn’t land any significant troops. Baden is sieged and relieved twice. Austria mostly fights Hungary but once it has destroyed their dwindling manpower her armies swing back and lay siege to the Provencal possessions in what used to be Burgundy. Eventually, though, we get there, and I add “Duke of Provence” to my list of titles. I’d fight the Pope now if it wasn’t due to the 20 year truce.

In the meantime I busy myself with improving my army and continuing my colonisation of New Zealand (I’m calling it New Venice). Frequent attacks by the Maori (represented with Middle-eastern models, annoyingly) ensure that building a stable colony here is as difficult as slogging through France, but finally I have enough provinces developed to form a colonial nation. Repressing the native population is no longer my problem.

I do have a big choice to make, though. Britain and Austria are at war, putting me right in the middle. Britain calls me to arms, and I’m forced to choose between my two biggest allies. One the one hand, Britain has never let me down. In every fight I’ve had, their ships have been right there, blockading enemy ports. They rarely land troops, though. Austria has been a treacherous bastard, and I’ve fought more than one war against them. But they have the land armies I really need to defeat France again. I mull it over and choose to do the smart thing rather than the thing that feels right. I refuse Britain’s call, break the alliance and watch from a distance as GB and Austria go at it.

It’s just as well I do, because there are problems in the Americas to attend to. Our old friends the Mikmaq hate the Sardinians and their colonies more than ever, since we used them as an excuse to take land from the Spanish a decade ago. Well, now they want that land back, and declare war on New Piedmont, my colony that takes up roughly all of southern Ontario and some of Michigan. I’m content to let them go at it, until it becomes apparent that New Piedmont are going to lose and lose bad. The Mikmaq are counting on my fear of the Spanish to keep me from trying to enforce a peace on them. This is a grave miscalculation, because I no longer have any fear whatsoever of the Spanish.
I deliver my ultimatum to the Mikmaq, and predictably it is refused. I am immediately dragged into the war on the side of New Piedmont, while Spain joins the war on the side of the Mikmaq. At this point Spain’s dedication to their native ally would honestly be admirable if one weren’t aware that their power in Canada is waning and they need them for defensive reasons. 

Well, here we are again. My three American colonies immediate dogpile the Mikmaq before working their way round the St. Lawrence seaway to occupy Spanish Canada. Meanwhile I launch an aquatic invasion of Spain, and work my way from fort to fort until I’m able to take Madrid. Then they fold, as usual. New Piedmont annexes most of the Mikmaq territory, and I get another ten years of peace with Spain. Which is nice if you want to, I dunno, attack the Pope or something.

Sneaky Sardinia Part 12 – Risorgimento

The battle lines are drawn for the final war of Italian unification. In the toothpaste blue corner, Sardinia-Piedmont, the scrappy little kingdom who won’t take no for an answer! Also his manservants Baden and Provence! Finally, the two bruisers Brandenburg and Austria. In the white corner, the Pope, attended by big daddy France and Bohemia, which sits screeching on its shoulder like Koko B. Ware’s parrot. The Hungarians are there too, but who cares?

After a short rest to allow my manpower reserves to get back up to normal, I declare a nationalist war on Rome. Hopefully the rest of Catholic Europe won’t hate me too much for this. Don’t worry everybody, the Pope’s spiritual authority remains unchallenged. It’s just his temporal authority that’s being taken away! It’s 1740 for god’s sake!

In preparation I’ve hired thousands of mercenaries and gone way over my army limit. I’ve split my European forces into three companies of around 30,000 men each. One – the most merced up one – will siege Rome, never an easy task. The other two will attack the French from Provence, moving through Lyonaisse and into southern France. I’m hoping Austria will direct its main strength at France rather than Hungary.

I declare, and instantly move my armies into position. Austria, predictably attacks Hungary, even though realistically they aren’t that much of a threat. Brandenburg is sieging down Mainz and Switzerland, who’ve joined the side of the Pope.

In America, New Savoy sieges New Hampshire, which is the last remaining part of the French colony of Floride, and we push into French Mexico. However, I don’t have quite enough troops to match the French colonials, so I have to send some transports halfway around the world to collect the men I’ve had sitting in New Zealand for the last few decades. They make some difference, but mostly the fighting in America is the same pattern of quick sieges and retreats that have characterised my colonial wars for the whole game. My tactic in these situations is to put a high-maneuver general in charge and simply do a couple of lightning sieges, and then flee when the enemy doomstack comes close. Then I relieve some sieges and the process begins again. The AI wants to send a huge stack towards you but when it realises it can’t catch you, it tends to divide its forces. These smaller armies can be caught and crushed.

Meanwhile, back in Europe, Baden is being sieged AGAIN, and I’m finding that having Provence to defend as well as Sardinia-Piedmont is actually complicating things. France has taken Nantes and I have to break off a siege to try and catch the French army and relieve the fort.
Brandenburg is soaking up a great deal of French attention, with much of the significant action of the war happening here. Weirdly, France seems content to try and take Brandenburg’s land and not mine. Perhaps it fears my Savoyard defensive bonuses.

Elsewhere, Hungary is receiving another thrashing at the hands of Austria. Only when it has been fully occupied do the Austrians make any significant effort to aid the Brandenburgers, but it’s enough to turn the tide. All the while, my fleets in the Mediterranean are hunting down the last of the Papal and Hungarian seapower.

When the warscore hits 67%, with my manpower reserves drained after years of fighting, I agree to make peace. The Papal State is fully annexed, and I take a large swathe of French land too, including the pesky fort of Lyonaisse, which has given me so much trouble over the years. Now, back at the beginning of the campaign I vowed to avenge myself on the French for abandoning me in the war against Cologne and its impertinent little coalition, and I think taking three provinces from them is fair recompense.

I proclaim myself King of Italy, and it is done.

But what now? I hadn’t really thought of anything past this point. My colonial expansion is pretty much blocked without fighting another war against France or Spain. Europe doesn’t look ripe for conquest either. France is weak, and I could probably take sufficient land to gain access to the Provencal lands in Brittany for when it finally comes time to integrate them.

That gigantic Austria is concerning, especially now that they’ve lost the emperorship, which always makes them go a little crazy. 

The Ottomans are a major worry – they’ve conquered through much of Hungary, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Caucuses. I can see them becoming a threat to my provinces of Crete and Dalmatia.

I’d be tempted to try and go revolutionary but it seems like this is impossible to make happen naturally. You have to deliberately play the game badly to make it happen and that seems so… gamey. I will need some time to digest this situation and plan my next steps.

EU4 – Italy Part 13: The Brothers' Quarrel

I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually have to fight Austria for supremacy. Our alliance, which, if we’re being honest, neither of us took particularly seriously, was never going to survive Italy turning its interests outwards. Besides, I’m trying to integrate Baden and Provence’s Burgundian possessions. That means cutting through the spindly outstretched arm of Austria, which took over most of Switzerland a long time ago and now reaches through the Alps to border with France.
This means another war, and though I’m reluctant to confront them, my new ally Scandinavia is about to create the situation in which another head to head battle is necessary. Scandinavia seems to be one of those unicorns the AI rarely forms. In my game Norway and Denmark were ruled by the Von Wittelsbachs in a personal union, and expanded to devour most of Sweden. Now, they’re one of the greatest Northern powers, and allied to the Ottoman Empire, making them extremely dangerous. Fortunately, they like Italy a lot and have agreed to a royal marriage and an alliance, something I deemed necessary given that I can’t get the Ottomans to ally with me directly. Perhaps aligning myself with that bloc will be enough to save me when the time comes for the dread Turk to press further into Europe.

Now, as I have mentioned before, the League war in my campaign was extremely short and a clear victory for Catholicism. The only countries that are left with Protestantism as the state religion are Brandenburg, Hamburg and Lübeck. In an anachronistic throwback to pre-enlightenment days, Scandinavia accuses Lübeck of Heresy and invades. Austria and Switzerland intervene on their behalf. Scandinavia calls in me and the Ottomans.

The war is right on my doorstep. Baden and Alsace are ground zero for a serious of gigantic battles between myself and the Austrians. My troops are better and my new commander, Napoleon De Medici (who sounds like the sort of person who’d argue with you on Twitter about whether there were black Romans or not but is actually just a pretty solid general) should give me an advantage but it’s a really hard fought war. Austria appeared to have issued a leveé en masse (Quantity ideas for the win) and they have so many men its unreal. I siege Sundgau and Lotheringen as well as Zurich, before moving onto Alsace. In this time, the Austrians have occupied Baden, AGAIN, but have had to retreat to deal with the encroaching Turks on their Eastern flank. I relieve Baden, but I’m forced to drive south to relieve the city of Provence from a rampaging army from Cologne who snuck through France to take me from behind. Baden is taken again in my absence, and I go back to relieve them again. I have to fight a bunch of battles against the Austrians in which I lose 10,000 men a time. I’m able to replace them fairly quickly since I let my manpower regenerate after the war for Provence, but this is becoming costly. In the end, I peace out on the understanding that I get to keep Elsas, which means that Baden and Provence are now both connected to Italy.

While I’ve been distracted in Europe, my most pugnacious colony New Piedmont (Think of it as Italian Upper Canada) has been throwing its weight around, declaring wars it can’t hope to win. It took on Nova Hollandia, Dutch Alberta and tiny Canada in one bout, and I didn’t intervene quick enough due to manpower shortages. Most of Ontario now belongs to the Dutch, and not only that, they forced New Piedmont to cede the lands in Quebec that they (read: I) conquered from the Mikmaq to Canada. This is quite the boon for Canada, going from a tiny one province nonentity to a reasonably large state in a single war. I vow revenge on Canada.

Unfortunately, there’s another situation in the New World which requires my attention. A while ago Great Britain’s colonies experienced a bunch of turmoil that resulted in Chile and Peru breaking free (Chile as a kingdom under the house of York and Peru as a republic). GB has recently launched a war of reconquest to win them back, and calls me in. Since I don’t want to take the prestige bump of refusing and put our alliance into question so soon after alienating Austria, I accept.
This highlights a strategic blunder in my colonisation efforts that I had foreseen but had actually been powerless to do anything about. Back in the early colonisation days, when I was trying to reach the Pacific, I took Tierra Del Fuego, on the southernmost tip of South America as a waystation that would improve my colonial range. I colonised the three provinces that GB had left alone, but never got enough land to form a colonial nation. So I was stuck with a little chunk of Patagonia that produced nothing and, additionally, would be completely indefensible if I ever had to fight Britain. Of course, I never planned on doing that, but I didn’t expect two large independent nations to pop up right in my backyard.

They didn’t bother with me at first so I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. I used the 3,000 men I had there to launch an attack on Peru’s southern provinces, hoping that they wouldn’t have the manpower to spare to stop me. Boy, was I wrong about that. A 12K stack popped up, massacred my troops and went to town on my lands.

I was furious, so I built up my transports and prepared to send a large force to South America to liberate my admitted useless lands. Unfortunately, I forgot to provide an escort for the transport, and the Peruvian navy caught them off the coast of English Brazil. All ships were lost with 24,000 men dead. At this point I figured I’d better cut my losses and asked for a white peace. And that’s the story about how mighty Italy got its ass beat by Chile and Peru.

Italy Part 14 – The War for Better Borders

Bad things are happening back in Italy. The heiress to the throne, Princess Lauretta, has proven definitively that female heirs CAN die in hunting accidents (take note Reddit debaters) and pushed my stability dangerously low. A random event gives me negative stability, which I could put right but I want to go revolutionary so I don’t bother. Having said that, fighting constant revolts is boring and since it’s 1800 now and I would need to get through 10 years civil disorder to spawn revolutionaries I don’t think it is worthwhile. Instead, I focus on tidying up my borders for the photo finish.

First, though, I have to defend my colonial subjects from a resurgent Canada. Now basically holding the St. Lawrence Valley, Canada fancies a go at New Piedmont (Italian Upper Canada, remember?). Well, screw that. I rally to the cause and start shipping men (with an escort this time) back to the New World. In the meantime, my European forces invade Spain. Because you know when you fight Canada, you fight Spain too.

Napoleone De Medici, my crack general, really comes into his own in this war, fighting his way down the coast, before doubling back to fight a series of pitched battles against King Carlos III of Spain. Three times Napoleone humbled the king and sent him limping back over the Pyrenees! Truly, the greatest commander Italy has ever known.

Meanwhile, in America, My forces and those of my subjects cut through Canada and Spanish Canada like butter. It’s over pretty quickly. New Piedmont makes peace for war reparations and a couple of rich provinces in Quebec. I get nothing, but that’s fine.

Now for another war with Austria. Those borders aren’t going to fix themselves. I get round the truce by declaring on poor Ragusa, and forcing Austria to defend its ally. This war goes even better than the first, the only hiccup coming when Napoleone De Medici dies while sieging Vienna. According to his epitaph he did “nothing of note”. Apparently besting the Austrians in every engagement he ever fought and personally trouncing the King of Spain in three separate battles wasn’t impressive enough. Damn, EU4, you have high standards.

When the war is over, Austria is humbled, and back down to its normal size. Italy has definitely overtaken its former ally now. What’s more, I have now gained enough prestige to declare myself Emperor and switch to the Enlightened Despotism government mode.

But to be honest… that’s it. There’s only a couple of years left on the clock. I launch a war against France but there isn’t time to conclude it. I have built an incredibly swollen, authoritarian Italy, with a number of relatively stable, happy colonial subjects. Maybe I’ll come back and play on the extended timeline one day and try and usher it through 1848. Maybe I’ll finally go revolutionary. But I think that might be a story for another playthrough. For now I’m happy with the tale of a scrappy little duchy that wheeled, dealed, betrayed and backstabbed its way to greatness, played the powers off against one another and eventually took its place among them.

Next game is the Toki Clan into Japan. I think I’m going to try to build a trade empire and dominate my neighbours with an enormous navy. Or maybe something totally different will happen. You never know.