Saturday, December 16, 2017

EU4 : Sneaky Savoy Part 1 – The Betrayal

Now that my CK2 campaign is finished, I thought I would try out EU4 to see if I’m able to get much out of it. I watched a few let’s plays and at first I believed the game to be impenetrable, but to be honest I think I’m getting the hang of most aspects of it now. I’ll be updating this blog periodically with my progress because I’m obsessed and hey, why not? I’m not sure if anyone still reads this blog anyway.

So, who to play? I’d considered playing a game as Russia or Japan, but there’s DLC for both of those countries I haven’t got yet. I figure I’ll do them when the prices come down. I’m on a bit of a Holy Roman Empire kick right now so I decided to pick Savoy, in honour of my dude Prince Eugene. Savoy is a pretty fascinating place, occupying lands that are technically French, Italian or German. I have a thing for countries that don’t exist anymore too. In real life, the Dukes of Savoy eventually became the kings of Piedmont-Sardinia and eventually Italy, so perhaps I’ll see if I can duplicate that success. Long-term, I also want to try colonising something in the new world. If I can get an Italian-speaking Florida or something similarly daft I’ll be happy.

Savoy start off with a fairly decent duke named Ludovico and a lacklustre heir. We also have one vassal state, the tiny one-province Monferrat. They seem pretty accepting of this state of affairs.
I start my diplomatic onslaught by royal marrying and forming alliances with both France and Austria. I know getting the French alliance is a big deal because sometimes France gets a mission to annex Savoy and there’s no way I want to be in a fight with France right now. Fortunately both alliances come through so I should be covered for any eventuality. I also royal marry Milan, in the hope of a future personal union.

For rivals I choose my neighbours, Burgundy and Provence, and the annoying Swiss. Expansion into Provence is hampered by the fact they have also allied France, and the Swiss, as part of the HRE are protected by the Emperor. So it looks like I’ll have to fabricate a claim on Burgundy, who utterly hate me. I try to pull a Bismarck and insult them into attacking me, but that doesn’t work. I end up using the fabricated claim.

My good friends the French join the war with me. Apparently, they also have some bones to pick with the Burgundians. My first battle in the game goes appallingly and my whole army is wiped out, despite having a numerical advantage. RNGesus did not smile on me that day. Fortunately, the French armies make short work of the Burgundian forces and as I hastily rebuild some units they siege down the three southern provinces of Burgundy. France also gives me an extra boost by offering subsidies to me, no strings attached. Excellent people, the French.

In the ensuing peace negotiations I demand Charloais and Franche-Comté for myself, and Bourgogne and Cambray for my friends the French. The war concludes and everyone goes away happy. Apart from the Burgundians, who are now limited to their lands up in the Netherlands.

Although my new acquisitions are utterly riddled with angry Burgundians (I spend some military points to crack down on rebels) I’m pretty pleased and start coring the provinces fast. I get another boost when the Duke of Milan dies and I inherit his title too. So now Savoy is in a Personal Union with Milan, meaning I essentially have control over Milan until the union ends. The immediate benefit of this is that my army is now effectively double the size, and my income is increasing too.
I get the opportunity to take the new army out for a spin when Austria calls me in to a war with Ravensburg. I get to grips with the sieging mechanic, but I honestly don’t get anything out of the war except an opinion boost with Austria. Hopefully this will come in handy.

I spend the next little while building up my forces and trying to figure out what to do next. Since Provence is still out of the question, I decide to have a poke at the Swiss to see what will come of it. What comes of it is a claim on Bern, which I push. Switzerland is alone, and even though my big allies are not interested in joining me, Milan is on side automatically, and Ferrara, who I also allied, join in too. Although the Swiss avoid doing battle with the main Savoyard army, instead tangling with a joint Milanese and Ferraran force in the Po valley, the odds are clearly in our favour.
A quick aside to admire the fort system in EU4. I love that you can’t just walk past forts, you have to take them in order to move forward. This is going to allow me to essentially block the Alpine passes in future, which is a sound defensive strategy.

Anyway, we beat the Swiss. In the peace talks, I get greedy and demand Zurich and Waldestadt as well as Bern. Since the Swiss are in no position to refuse, the deal goes through. Coring and repression of dissidents begins. And apparently, also my aggressive expansion goes through the roof, because a coalition forms against me.

My best buds ever, France, then call me into their war for Bordeaux against England. Since they helped me out so much last time, I march my whole army over to the war goal and siege it down. I’m helping raise the warscore bit by bit while the French and English forces battle in Normandy. Then, disaster strikes – I had forgotten to order my fleet back to port in the event of a war, and instead they are still sailing around the Mediterranean protecting trade. England’s Portuguese allies sail in, trounce my fleet and blockade Nice, my only coastal province. My trade income is utterly strangled.
Luckily, I have by now finished sieging Bordeaux and – since I have no boats left – decide to take the fight to the Portuguese. Maybe if I can knock them out of the war, the English will lose the advantage. There’s a large French force on the way to Portugal, obviously thinking the same thing, so we combine and ravage the Portuguese lands. The Portuguese army has no intention of fighting, though. They’re heading straight for Bordeaux. Bollocks to that, I say, and detach my forces hoping to beat them before they can undo all of my good work. I catch them as they are sieging Bordeaux, and a huge battle ensues. Since I have almost twice their numbers, I’m triumphant, but they gave a really good fight. I think I ended up with more casualties than they did. Portugal makes a separate peace with France and withdraws.

Unfortunately, Portugal has done its job too well. I had to take a loan to make up for my loss of income due to the blockade, and now I’m going into debt. Surely France can handle England on its own? I tentatively send out feelers and find that England is very keen to be rid of me. In fact, they would be willing to pay a considerable sum of gold for Savoy to leave the war. Well, economics can be a real bitch. I take the gold, peace out and return to the Alps to cackle about it. France is not super pleased with this turn of events but I figure I can make it up to them. I send a diplomat to smooth things over.

Little do I know I have just sown the seeds of my own destruction.

Using the cash from my peace settlement with England, I build a nice church in Bern and embrace the renaissance. Everything’s coming up Savoy.

Remember that coalition that formed against me? Well, led by Cologne, they decide to declare a punitive war on me. How many nations are in this coalition, you ask? All of the HRE. Yes, that’s right. Every single member – Except Austria.

Proud Austria! My beautiful relative the Emperor would never forsake me, and so he joins the war on my side. Still, against the might of the princes of Germany we are a poor match. Surely my friends the French will join us in this battle…?

Ah. Shit. Guess I shouldn’t have betrayed the French, then. Because now they have abandoned me to my fate. Double betrayalI I suppose I should have seen this coming.

My Austrian brothers and I dig in for a long battle. The coalition are fielding 100,000 troops while Austria has around 60,000, I have around 16,000, and Milan 12,000. This isn’t looking good. Part of me is tempted to hide up in the mountains and utilise my defensive bonuses, but with the numbers they are throwing at me I don’t think it will do any good. My Savoyard forces and Milanese allies skirt the south side of the Alps and make for Austria to try and link up with the Emperor’s army. The best I can hope for is to make some early gains and white peace out before they can take any territory. But the coalition forces are ravaging Savoy. I settle in to siege Ulm and the Palatinate, but it’s only a matter of time. Warscore is at 32% and my fort defences are cracking, so I reluctantly go to the bargaining table.

This is a problem.

The cost of peace is… demeaning. I’m forced to return all three of the Swiss provinces I grabbed. I’m just glad they let me keep the parts of Burgundy I stole. My prestige takes an incredible whack. That I managed to avoid fighting is the only reason my army is relatively unscathed. The rampaging Germans return north with their booty.

OK, so maybe this was my own fault for not understanding the aggressive expansion system, and for dicking over the French. But this insult against my Savoyard honour will not stand. I hereby swear under holy God that I will have my revenge upon the French for their cowardly abandonment. Cologne, you are also on my shitlist. Austria, we cool. Everyone else, though, you better watch out. Savoy has a long memory. And one day, she will have vengeance.

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