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Thursday, March 05, 2015

EU4 Scandinavia Campaign AAR

Post 1 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-04 01:24:52 UTC

So after watching some videos of people abusing manpower system to win wars in EU4 I thought I'll give it one more chance and play vanilla as Denmark. Some observations:
• Manpower system still blows. The only reasonable way to fight wars is to let your allies fight all serious battles while you siege (always with minimum sieging force to minimize manpower loses), do naval fighting (there's no manpower there), and maybe chase tiny enemy units.
• If I had manpower even halfway to EU3 levels, war could be a lot of fun. Instead war is about minimizing manpower losses not about winning battles.
• The whole thing is insanely slow compared with EU3. In EU3 I'd play on speed 2 wartime, 3 peacetime, EU4 often plays on speed 4 even during a war. It takes far more game years to achieve the same results as it did in EU3.
• I did some expansion - fairly slow by EU3 standards - and got hit by a coalition. Some coalition members make sense, others really don't. Hungary joined coalition against me with just -25 AE, overall positive attitude, and a big distance between me and them. (then it reconsidered and left). I wouldn't mind just beating the coalition in one big war if I could have separate peace with each member. Unfortunately the way it's implemented now, any such war is a total waste of time.
• I allied with Austria and joined HRE as the first thing (now borders across sea zones work). Expansion within HRE seems very hard (especially with coalitions). Nobody is even remotely close to voting for me. Apparently vassalizing electors is now all or nothing - having any electors vassalized means big penalty for all non-vassal electors. "Big nation within HRE" used to go up to +100, now I only get +50 even though I'm twice as big as Austria. It's weird that Austria isn't abusing its position and annoying everyone like it always did in EU3.
• So my plans are to vassalize 3-4 electors (Bohemia will vote for itself anyway, but in case of 3-3-1 tie I think current emperor still wins), or to hope for early Protestant reformation and to take Protestant side against Catholic Austria. If I take religious ideas, I think I can force electors to switch to Protestantism, and then Austria will lose elections. The Protestant plan is somewhat dubious as it depends on far too many random events, but it might be interesting to try. Another possibility is to just leave the empire if I'm unable to take it over, since after a few reforms negatives start to outweigh positives.
• Scripted events annoy me. This time Burgundy survived, but king of Lithuania jumped to Polish throne via magic event, screwing my alliance with Lithuania mid-war, leaving me with -100 or so AE against Lithuania I'd otherwise not get, and a worthless royal marriage which still cost me diplomatic relation slot (I took the stability hit to cancel it, I was bleeding too many diplo points).
• Diplomatic relations cap of 4 is really annoying. I decided to rush towards integrating everyone and to get third diplomatic idea to free my relations. I was at 5/4 - 6/4 relations for pretty much all game until I finally got to 5/6. It's annoying, but I can live with it I guess.

tl;dr Coalitions suck, new manpower system sucks, scripted events suck. The game would probably be better if all three got removed completely.

Post 2 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-06 22:52:00 UTC

Denmark campaign continued a bit further. By my threat assessment biggest issues were:
• Muscovy blobbing - it's not huge yet (Burgundy, Austria, and Ottomans are all more powerful), but if it unifies all Russian lands it will be extremely difficult to deal with
• Austria uniting HRE - they only passed first reform, but second reform starts giving non-emperor members significant penalties, and it only goes worse from there
• Reformation - it's an opportunity, but it could screw up the whole empire pretty hard

Since I couldn't deal with the other two problems, I beat up Muscovy while they were trying to conquer Novgorod, established vassal Russian Orthodox duchy of Pskov and started feeding it lands from Muscovy and Novgorod. I have no idea how to even get started with becoming new emperor. All electors are quite some distance away from me, so I can't just fabricate claims on them, and getting these votes peacefully seems impossible.

Right now pretty much all my neighbours are in a grand coalition against me. The big problem is Lithuania - I was allied and royal married to Lithuania while fighting Teutonic and Livonic Orders, but then magical event happened to make Lithuanian king jump over to the Polish throne, breaking our alliance, getting me ungodly amounts of aggressive expansion (which I wouldn't have if alliance held), and forcing me to break useless royal marriage (causing even more anger on their side). Then the king died, and since Poland had negative prestige somehow (not sure why) Lithuania is independent, really pissed at me, and still allied with Poland (like me). Poland is now extremely unwilling to join any wars on my side, so I'm basically screwed here.

If the game didn't use those fucking magical railroading events - or at least coded that event properly to transfer all diplomatic relationships, Poland would get into PU under Lithuania instead of the other way around, I wouldn't have to break royal marriage, I wouldn't get any significant AE (allies only get 10% of AE with current patch), Polish-Lithuanian union would remain up to now, and we'd still be best buddies and my South-Eastern front would be awesome.

Up till now I played without any mods, and I even accepted vanilla manpower (I still think it should recover at least 2x faster, but with cautious play it's tolerable). Now facing a coalition led by Lithuania (which is in it only due to magic throne jumping event) I'm really tempted to mod coalitions to allow for separate peace.

Generally the minimod I'd like to make out of all this:
• Either more diplomatic relations, or make some of them free. And maybe +1 diplomat while I'm at it. Currently Diplomatic Ideas as first pick are pretty much mandatory.
• At least 2x manpower recovery speed
• Disable some of railroading events (especially Burgundy inheritance)
• Separate peace with coalition members [unfortunately that doesn't seem to be moddable, that sucks pretty horribly, since coalitions are one of the biggest problem areas for EU4 right now]
• Make diplomats etc. return from their missions faster if possible
• Either reduce overextension penalties (20 base tax uncored and your whole realm goes into flames) or make direct coring cheaper.
• Maybe do something about monarch points. So far I was lucky with rulers, but I don't like this being so luck-based. "Pretend it's CK2" national decision which kills heir and replaces them with a genius baby at some cost in legitimacy and money would be fun. Or missions could improve your monarch like ambitions in CK2.

Post 3 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-10 03:42:00 UTC

I finally took some time to continue my Denmark EU4 campaign. I got to March 1496.

Muscovy is now convincingly defeated, and half of Russian lands now belong to me and my vassals. There's a large coalition against me including Lithuania, Muscovy, Hansa, and various HRE minors and that's really annoying, but not terribly dangerous. For a brief time Lithuania was out of it, and maybe I should have attacked HRE then, but I missed my window.

I'm not sure how to expand anywhere now. I want to be the new emperor, but I don't think I can realistically get enough votes peacefully, and I can't get a CB against any of the electors since we don't share borders. I once even had a war with electorate of Cologne on the enemy side, but nobody would give me military access to get to Cologne, so that went nowhere. The problem is - if I start butchering everyone standing on my way until I get to electorates' borders, the whole HRE will hate me, so it's all or nothing - either 100% peaceful or 100% aggressive.

I even have diplomatic idea that gives me permanent CB against different government types - and 3 of electorates are theocracies so that should work - but I still need to border them. It's really annoying how trivial it is to get CB against counties you border, and how difficult it is when you don't.

Another problem with becoming the emperor is that I'm constantly either maxed out on diplomatic relationships or 1-2 above the limit. Unfortunately while Austria, France, and England (and some other countries) get free diplomatic relations, Denmark doesn't. And useless royal marriages with Bohemia and Austria waste two of my relations (Bohemia broke the alliance for no reason, Austria was forced after losing a war). Poland is another ally, but they're completely worthless since they're also allied with Lithuania and Pomerania, both in coalition against me.

The plan right now is to keep integrating my vassals to free relation slots, and to keep expanding in Russia - possibly into Muslim territory since it looks really easy. I could also attack Poland and Lithuania to force breakup of Lithuania and to take over some of the Polish lands to get borders with Brandenburg and Saxony, but that would be a huge war for little obvious gain. Or I could attack the entire coalition against me directly, hoping to break down all of them (force Lithuania to release Ukraine, force Pomerania to release Mecklenburg etc.) - that would seriously reduce their power without getting me any AE, but I'm not sure if I would benefit from it much.

Another possibility is to just wait, but I really want to become HRE before reformation hits.

Another thing - missions are completely worthless. Currently my 3 mission choices are: become the emperor (not gonna happen anytime soon) and two cultural conversion missions (massive waste of diplo points). The game should notice that I'm ignoring these missions and generate new ones after a while, but it doesn't care.

Overall, it's not a bad game.

Post 4 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-11 11:52:54 UTC

A bit more EU4.

Coalitions are total bullshit the way they're implemented now. They could be sort of balanced by some modding, but there's very little about them exposed to modders. It got even worse with recent patches since they now ignore truce timer, apparently with no consequences. I'm not even sure if my idea on how to disable coalitions completely would work.

Apparently anything within HRE gets some massive multiplier to Aggressive Expansion penalty, so even fabricating a single claim makes half the empire hate me as much as if I'd taken a few provinces elsewhere. I assumed fabrication does only some trivial amounts of AE (and I think that was true back on 1.1), but that's definitely wrong as of 1.3 patch.

Railroading mechanics are all over the map. I've only noticed Burgundian inheritance before since it was so much in-your-face, but now I see many other nations have railroad events, decisions, and ridiculously powerful national ideas. For example Muscovy gets with their national ideas:
+25% and +100% National manpower modifier (not sure if additive or multiplicative)
-20% and -30% Infantry cost
+50% Land forcelimits modifier
+10% Manpower recovery speed
+0.5 Yearly army tradition
-15% Core-creation cost
+10% Production efficiency
Auto-exploration of all territory adjacent to owned home territory.
+1 Colonists
-10% Technology cost

That's totally insane. It nearly triples their army strength relative to what a different country with same territory would have - and they get ton of colonization without having to spend many resources on it. Meanwhile other countries have crap like 15% light ship combat ability or 10% tax increase.

I sort of want to make a mod that fixes all that crap, but much less seems to be moddable than was in previous Paradox games.

Post 5 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-12 17:13:56 UTC

EU4 as Denmark continued up to 1511, with coalitions disabled mid-game. France proposed alliance with me, so I tried to enforce peace against Burgundy (allied with Castile/Aragon/Naples blob created by railroading event) and joined French war this way.

• Warscore system is totally broken. I crushed Burgundian armies, occupied 2/3 of Burgundy (France occupied almost all else), and that still wasn't close to warcost of their only coastal province Holland (it's a rich province, but seriously...). Sure, there was still all of Castile etc. to occupy, but really?
• So I thought I'd take a non-coastal HRE province instead, since taking HRE provinces from non-HRE country always granted cores, and I can arrange access there somehow. Except now it only grants totally worthless claims, not cores, and I couldn't even core it by spending admin points because I don't share borders with it and it's not coastal. Instant load game. Seriously, they just broke the best reason to stay in HRE - it was more difficult to take over HRE members but in exchange it was easier to take non-HRE lands. Now it's just awful all the way unless you want to become the emperor.
• Meanwhile breaking alliances via peace negotiations costs just 10% warscore, no matter if it's one with tiny country, or one of the biggest blobs on the map. So I broke Burgundy-Castille alliance.

Other things:
• That's my first game where I'm trying vassal feeding thing, and of course I did it mostly wrong. The wrong way is to get loads of vassals and integrate them as soon as possible. The correct way is to get 1-3 large vassals and keep feeding them provinces as long as they take them.
• Early game manpower was everything, so I got everything that would increase it - ideas, buildings etc. all while trying to minimize manpower loses. Now I'm flooded by manpower but all AIs have severe manpower problems. I still don't like new manpower system.
•  I accidentally became curia controller, and that's going to seriously interfere with my plans of becoming reformation leader. It doesn't seem terribly useful - I excommunicated some countries and called for a crusade against Ottomans, but nobody cares about either of these things.
• Even after I got Russian as accepted culture after integrating Novgorod, converting any Russian Orthodox provinces would take forever. Not that I care, if I ever go Protestant all the effort to make Russians Catholic will be wasted.
• Game without coalitions and with just the usual network of alliances, guarantees, and warnings feels a lot like EU3, and I love it!


Post 6 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-14 05:05:05 UTC

EU4 Denmark->Scandinavia campaign continued unti 1554.

Reformation started, but it didn't seem interested in spreading to my lands, so I flipped religions with no popular support just like Henry the VIII. That meant decades of endless rebellions, with about one rebel stack popping up a month (and 30 years or so later, it's still not over), with manpower and money being lost really fast before it stabilized somewhat.

Meanwhile I became Defender of Protestant faith (for +1 missionary), finished religious idea group (for +1 missionary and massive conversion bonuses), I got my religious unity up to 68%, I managed to vassalize 3 electors, became Emperor, flipped maybe half the empire to Protestant (well, a lot of it flipped itself without my intervention), and even managed to pass 3rd reform (1st was by Austria, 2nd by Bohemia).

I'm constantly being called into defending some Protestant OPM from some Catholic OPM. I don't think AI cares about Defender of the Faith at all. Unfortunately "purging heresy" CB they use doesn't allow leader switching, so I can't demand that they go Protestant when they lose.

I think religious wars in the empire will end before 1575 and I'll start reclaiming imperial lands. I want to take Rome, Jerusalem, and Mecca for +3 missionaries. Thanks to emperor's +2 diplomatic relations I'm finally not bleeding diplo points and even catching up on diplo tech. With admin I'm a bit behind, but not much. Meanwhile military points are overflowing, I even had to buy new tech at +60% ahead of time penalty since I had nothing else to do with them. (I have full idea group in each - Diplomatic, Religious, and Offensive)

After that, I'm not really sure where to go with it. With my intended 6 missionaries, unified HRE, and coalitions still turned off I could probably manage something close to world conquest by 1821 (at least Europe and Middle East conquest). For now religious warfare in Europe continues.

EDIT*: And it seems that Imperial Ban CB got nerfed to the point of worthlessness. You get no AE reduction whatsoever, and only a worthless claim when you get a province. It's possible to kick out Burgundy since there are third party cores there, but as of current patch there's no way to restore lands held by Venice to the empire without the entire empire hating you like you're the some 16th century Hitler. (since they get proximity and HRE AE multipliers)

Post 7 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-14 17:08:04 UTC

Provinces that are not part of the wargoal cost base of 50 Diplomatic Power each. This can be reduced by:

Despotic Monarchy: -10%
Flexible Negotiations: -25%
Demanding provinces from rival: -33%
Have claim: -10%

If I understand it correctly the way they stack, that means it goes down to 11 if you have them all, or 16 if you have only flexible negotiations, claim, and rivalry. Might be totally worth losing 50 legitimacy and 100 admin to go despotic monarchy. -1 revolt risk and -10% unjustified demands (which due to the way they stack means more 5 diplo point per province conquered) is huge. Other governments are fairly underwhelming, since diplo points are the most important resource mid-game (early game manpower rules, so feudal is fine).

Generally I feel that diplo points > admin points > manpower > mil points > legitimacy > revolt risk > money > prestige. Prestige could be used for sphering in EU3, it was useless otherwise. Now that they removed sphering it is completely useless, you'll be at +100 all the time after first decade or two.

Money is surprisingly worthless past first few decades since all money dumps require some second resource as well (monarch points or manpower or tech etc.), except for advisors, but available advisors depend a lot on luck, since you often prefer level 1 advisor with useful bonus (like better relations or missionary strength) over level 3 advisor with shitty bonus. Making buildings require money only and no monarch points would balance things a bit, but then it would waste the best dumping ground for mil points.

Post 8 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-16 02:52:55 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign continued 1554-1564.

HRE and its neighbourhood is in state of endless war between Protestants and Catholics, with Protestants slowly winning. France is even on Protestant side as my ally, such lovely historicity without any forcing. I passed 4th imperial reform so I'm flooded with money, 5th reform stops all internal HRE wars and I definitely don't want that as long as Southern half of HRE is Catholic. I even got myself two vassals to feed - Ukraine (to take over Lithuania and Crimea), and Northumbria (to take over England and maybe Ireland), but I didn't really have much chance to expand since I was constantly being called to defend some Protestant OPM in HRE from Catholic attacks or other.

Unfortunately for cleansing of heresy CB war leader can't change, and original OPM remains in charge, so I can't use them to flip attacker's religion. After two simultaneous defensive wars with Burgundy and friends (at least that one was regular conquest CB, so I became war leader even as defender of the faith, I made them release some imperial minors), then Austria and friends I finally got my manpower to zero and lost half my army. That looks like pretty decent balance - I was definitely pushing it.

One funny thing - I had +3 stability and +100 prestige when I got an event giving me a choice between +1 stability and +25 prestige. Such a nice event wasted. I'm surprised EU4, no constant stream of comets this time... Apparently religious ideas give loads of random positive stability events, and achieving more or less religious unity (I'm at 95%) gives another +1 stab.

Quite a few times one of my allies (France and Poland) was in alliance network with some Catholic country I needed to be at war with - so I started unrelated war, called my allies in, then joined the intended war and they couldn't join against me. That's an old EU3 technique, still totally works.

Post 9 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-17 04:22:11 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign continued: 1564-1573.

Some religious wars within HRE (Christian world is now 45% Protestant and only 43% Catholic, so it's progressing well), some expansion in Crimea and Lithuania (feeding Ukraine), some expansion in England (feeding Northumberland), I got myself vassal Qara Qoyunlu planning to open a path to Persia and Ottoman Empire, so I'm bleeding diplo points somewhat. For a brief time 4 non-controlled electors all voted for Protestant Bohemia so I could have lost HRE, since they're all Protestant, while their previous choice Austria is still Catholic, but after a while they split their votes again, so it's fine for the time being. Discoveries of the New World finally reached me, and it seems Portugal and Castile are slowly colonizing, but nobody else is yet.

Anyway, the fun part. For no particular reason I pressed "Join coalition" button on Ottomans - the second greatest power on the map, and Mamluks were in that same coalition as well (even with my no coalitions minimod AI can still join via special events or missions). I didn't really think much of it, but then Mamluks decided to attack Ottomans, and now I'm in endless war against them. Fortunately I could at least annex last 3 Crimean provinces before truce timer this way. Not sure why Crimea joined that war even though we had truce.

France and Poland joined me, and one-on-one I'm stronger than Ottomans in both army size and army quality, so in theory I should be able to at least get white peace out of it, even though what's left of Mamluks is all occupied. The problem is that I can't really get there, all paths are blocked.
• Hungary hates me because of my HRE wars, and won't give me military access.
• Moldavia hates me because I just annexed Crimea, and won't give me military access.
• I can't move fleets all the way, since my naval forces are relatively weak and consist of obsolete ship types, and by the time I got to Ottomans naval attrition would kill me. It's super annoying that AI has zero naval attrition.
• I'm not sure how naval basing rights work. I can only get them from France, which probably won't be enough (South Europe has almost no Protestants, and Catholics and Muslims hate me), and I'm not even sure if they deal with attrition. I saved the game and checked that and at least UI acted as if naval basing did nothing.
• I could go through Asia, but that won't get me to Ottoman capital, and even there my options are limited. Georgia hates me for the same reasons as Moldavia.
• If I wait forever France and Poland will probably white peace out, so my situation while not desperate is deteriorating.
• I have like 150% overextension. My vassals will happily buy my recent conquests and I converted them all to Protestantism (my missionary bonuses are obscene), but I need to finish that war before I can sell any of that.

My options are:
• Fabricate claim on Mazovia in 6 months, attack Mazovia, which is allied with Bohemia and Moldavia. Then peace out Bohemia quickly and keep war with Moldavia and Mazovia, so I can walk through Moldavian territories. I could even vassalize them, but I'm already bleeding diplo points. The awkward part of it is that I'm still only getting very narrow path, but that still looks like the best option.
• Bribe Moldavia so much they'll let me though. I don't think they're in bribable range unfortunately. Hungary and Georgia aren't even close to bribable range.
• Attack Burgundy with Imperial ban. They are allied with Hungary, so that opens that path. Unfortunately both Burgundy and Hungary are somewhat strong, and there is huge network of alliances there, so I might end up fighting Ottomans, Burgundy, Hungary, Castile, Milan, Savoy, and probably a few minor places.
• Attack Persia, conquer myself a path to Ottomans empire. My vassal Qara Qoyunlu has cores on the whole path. I want to do that at some point, but it's horrible timing. Persia is also almost completely undiscovered, and has own big allies.
• Buy ton of big ships, hire admiral (it's not like mil points are of much use), pay for some fleet basing, and move my units by sea 20 at a time. That's really risky, and it takes very long time to build big ships, time which I don't really have.
• Pay Ottomans off. If it was just up to conceding defeat I might go for it, but they're not willing to accept that.

If I somehow deal with that war, I can get rid of my overextension and then I have a lot of reasonable options:
• Build that big fleet. AI is notoriously bad at fleet management, and if I block Bosphorus straits Ottoman empire is as good as over. Unfortunately while AI is bad, it gets 0 naval attrition while I'll be bleeding 10% a month at that distance.
• Get some naval bases in Mediterranean. Within 20 years I could presumably annex Ukraine or Qara Qoyunlu, but that's really slow. I'm tempted to conquer Rome the next time I'm at war with Naples even though it costs ton of AE since that gives me +1 missionary and +1 prestige/year, and that would also solve this problem. Unfortunately there's no vassal I can sell it to, and coring it myself would take very long time and ton of admin points, so that's also a 20 year plan.
• Force Hungary to release Croatia. A released nation would love me and happily let my troops through.
• Conquer path through Persia. That's still only halfway solution since the path leads far inland and Bosphorus will still be blocked.
• Vassalize or conquer Georgia. That's a better path than through Persia, and maybe at a bit less AE cost due to distance, but it's an awkward path.
• Vassalize or conquer Moldavia. That would cost ton of diplo points, and generate far more AE than I'm comfortable with.

Post 10 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-17 22:51:36 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign: 1573-1577.

So I was in a triple war:
• against Ottomans/Tripoli/Algiers/Yemen
• against Mazovia/Moldavia/Bohemia to get access to Ottomans
• against Savoy/Aragon/Hungary as defender of the faith

I build 16 more ships and sent them to Western Mediterranean to fight Algiers and Tripoli, but sending them all the way was just too risky. France did an admirable job fighting Ottomans in Balkans, and my troops marching through Moldavia finished the job. In the end I occupied all of their European possessions but I let them get away with cancelling vassalization of 4-province Tripoli, releasing 1-province Crete, and some pocket change. All that time Ottoman fleet of 69 ships and 30k soldiers were on Crete doing nothing (they had some more ships and soldiers but that was like 2/3 of it).

I got Hungary to release Croatia so my path to Ottoman Balkans is more reliable now, I got Bohemia to release some irrelevant OPM, and otherwise I just got people to give me some cash and break some alliances which I'm sure they'll reestablish anyway once truce expires.

I kept getting rebels and shitty events like losing diplo and admin points, increased revolt risk, extra inflation etc. all that time, so I was pretty eager to peace out fast. After the war even with 3 vassals to feed I'm still at 60% overextension from 3 unsold provinces.

Anyway, there's no time to waste, Persia has two provinces rightfully belonging to my vassal Qara Qoyunlu, which would also give me Asian path to Ottoman empire, and let me explore some Asia. They're also conveniently at war with Ottomans so they're basically totally screwed anyway and I can safely do that.

If all goes well, I'll have naval parity, no overextension, and land routes to both halves of Ottoman empire the next time we're at inevitable war.

Post 11 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-18 04:58:10 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign continued up to 1588.

I've been ignoring Europe as much as possible while trying to hack myself a way to India through Timurids and Persia. Fighting low tech enemies looks pretty much the same way as it did historically - total massacre. My permanent 100 army tradition and ridiculously good generals don't hurt either.

It seems that not having coalitions in game removes most limitations for rapid expansion. And not just for me - for Ottomans and Timurids as well, they're both huge, except of course Ottomans have tech only slightly behind mine, while Timurids are really really backwards. In the future it might be a good idea to add some more limited coalitions functionality, just not as much as in vanilla.

Anyway, of course Europe won't let me ignore it - I'm constantly being called into wars, often I can't even find time to sell my overextended provinces to vassals. I got myself Rome after one of such wars for +1 missionary +1 prestige bonuses, wanted to core it, turns out it's 431 away from my nearest cored port (in Scotland), while my range is only 425, and there's no range increase between diplo techs 10 where I was and 16... Hopefully once I annex Ukraine it will be tiny bit closer, and then I'll be able to core Rome, even if it takes 240 admin and 10 years. So I'm basically at permanent >100% overextension these days.

Plan Croatia failed, Hungary conquered them back while all my armies were in Central Asia, and I was already defending the faith against Austria/Lithuania/Savoy/Brunswick and assortment of constantly spawning rebels (with almost no troops left in Europe).

Protestantism finally reached 50% of Christianity, but it's been slow progress. I force flipped Milan to Protestantism 3 times, it flipped itself back to Catholicism 3 times. I'm not sure if that's some special event or what else - they definitely weren't forced to do so by a war, and getting overran by rebels 3 times sounds unlikely. Other than Milan Protestant gains usually persist. It's a shame there's nothing like CK2's religious authority where beating a religion up a lot and taking over its holy sites makes it disintegrate into endless heresies - that would sure be fun, and Rome is Protestant, and Papal States are no more (Catholic Naples conquered them, so that wasn't even me).

Plan for the next decade:
• finish integrating Ukraine, then hopefully start coring Rome
• try to get overextension down to zero
• pass 5th HRE reform banning internal warfare to give me a break from all that, there's a small risk that 4 electors will gang up and vote me out of the office, but if that seems likely I'll just take stability hit to attack without CB and vassalize the 4th. I'll need zero overextension to win that vote.
• continue conquering Central Asia, and then India
• Ottomans will probably have to wait, Timurids basically collapsed after losing two wars against me and every other horde ganged up on them, but Ottomans bounced back immediately and continued expanding as if nothing happened

Post 12 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-18 18:22:20 UTC

So I got up to 1599, suffering horrible overextension all the time. Rome is due to be cored in 1607, so maybe then I'll be able to continue reforming HRE.

I'm a lot better at managing diplo points now. Mass claims (even on provinces I want to return core to my vassals, that's still discount on diplo points), rivalry against Timurids, Persia, and England (due to die next war, I'm even going to get some colonies out of it, then I'll rerival someone in the Middle East), despotic monarchy, full diplomatic ideas - all that together and diplo cost of provinces is way lower.

I annexed Ukraine to get that port in range of Rome; I released the second time,  this time diplovasalized, and I'm soon to start anexing Croatia; and Northumbria is pretty close to finishing the entire island, so I'll probably start annexing them in 10-15 years. Now I think that maybe that was a bad idea - Britain is close enough to HRE that it still generates substantial amount of AE, and I really don't want that. It will take a very long time to burn AE I already generated, and I need to do that before I can pass 7th reform to make everyone my vassal. (I probably won't bother trying to get 100% of HRE like was totally easy in EU3, but it seems it will be much harder now).

Anyway, interesting bit of strategy. I have 3 vassals in the East: Qara Qoyunlu I simply force vassalized leaving them as Shia. This means their tech sucks, I can't royal marry them, our relations are worse due to religion and remaining pre-vassalization AE, but on the upside I can sell them any Shia provinces as soon as I get them.

Khorasan and Nogai I annexed, converted to Protestant, then released. That means we can royal marry, our relations are higher, we start at 0 AE, they got my tech levels at release time (but at their tech group), but I need to convert provinces before I sell them., and that means a lot of temporary overextension.

Relations can all easily go to 200 if I return some cores, so that's not a major issue. I'm not sure which way is better. Overextension hurts, but my missionaries are really fast thanks to all the bonuses, and I want to keep provinces to myself for a while so I can fabricate claims on the next batch. Just notice on the map below how far away from my actual borders I'm still fabricating claims.

I don't see any reason to annex Qara Qoyunlu, Khorasan, or Nogai anytime soon. Take a batch of provinces, make claims on next batch while converting, sell them, rinse, repeat works pretty nicely. At some point I might run out of Shia provinces to sell to Qara Qoyunlu, so they're likely to get annexed first, but that's still a long time to go.

And I'm pretty sure I won't be able to make Europe Protestant by 1650 holy wars deadline. Protestantism spreads to formerly Muslim Central Asia (and England has a few colonies), Castille and Portugal started more serious Catholic colonizing, within Europe religious boundary is barely moving. In stark contrast to a period of endless religious violence earlier this century, pretty much nothing happened between conquest and conversion of Rome a decade ago, and my planned annexation and conversion of 4-province Catholic Croatia due in a decade.

Post 13 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-19 04:01:19 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign up to 1615.

I took a long break while I cored Rome, annexed all non-elector vassals except Khorasan, and generally got my stuff together. I'm not sure if these annexations were a good idea or not - as long as I'm expanding it makes more sense to keep and feed vassals rather than annex them, but a long break changes things somewhat.

I even picked Expansion idea group and sent some colonists to Greenland and Labrador - mostly to learn how colonization works, I don't expect that to be anything but money sink. I don't really get how trade system works. It seems that putting all my light ships and one merchant in Lubeck trade nodes, and other merchants in nearby trade nodes with large numbers gets me more money than other things I tried, but it's really pretty vague. There's not much else where I could send my ships - all sea trade routes are hardcoded, and they don't go all the way to my node. I can totally see why Western Europe trade node would make sense.

I got reform that bans internal HRE warfare - it actually really does so in EU4, not just by removing CBs like in EU3, so you could always start a war anyway with small stability hit. Then I proceeded to attack random European countries allied with HRE members to force them to release OPMs, switch religion and so on. It's so much easier while I don't have to policy constant internal warfare between OPM and their allies at the same time. Of course just after an epic war against Burgundy, Hungary, and Castille all just to flip Aachen to Protestantism, it changed back to Catholic before my troops even came home, just like Milan a few times before. These were definitely not rebels, so I'm not sure what was it all about.

I'm not too far from the next reform which will make HRE hereditary and make all vassals within HRE diplomatic upkeep-free. That unfortunately means only 1 free relation, since I'm royal married with all my other vassals, and that still counts. My alliance with Austria is long gone, but that royal marriage still wastes a relationship slot. I should probably just take the stab hit to break it, since they'd be a completely worthless ally anyway.

If I manage 6th reform I'll have to wait at least 50 years for all accumulated AE to clear out before going forward with 7th. That means unified HRE will only get formed late 1600s / early 1700s - much closer to historical timescales than doing it before 1410 in EU3 by infinite Orthrodox-Catholic religion switching loop, or before 1500 by less gamey method of farming imperial authority with hordes.

I wonder if EU4 just has far fewer gamey tricks than EU3, or they're just not known yet.

In the East I released Kazakh, I'm pondering alliance with Vijayanagar before I get so close that AE starts spilling, and maybe creating Najd vassal to capture Arabian peninsula and block Ottomans from that side too. As long as I beat Muslims and keep alliance, Vijayanagar won't care much for all my conquests.

In the West I tried to annex and release England. Unfortunately it turns out to annex someone you need to capture all their provinces - including tiny scattered colonies. I wasn't sure what would happen if I tried to annex-and-release half-completed colonies, so I just force vassalized them instead. They had something like -600 AE against me - fortunately it goes away at pace of 5.8/year, so by early 1700s I'll be able to annex England, and unlike all my other vassals the English are happily colonizing. I sort of want to force vassalize Ireland since they also have colonies and seem small enough to be force-vassalizable, but I'm already forever above my diplo relationship limit (for a while I was at 12/8, that was fun).

It's pretty amazing how this game (with no coalition fix) gets enough content that I have plans into 1700s. EU3 usually had me dominating everything I cared about in 50 years or so.

Post 14 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-19 18:43:45 UTC

EU4 This is awkward moment.

I conquered Basra a while ago, planning to go into unprotected Oman, spawn Najd (nearest core two provinces away from Basra, but whatever). Then Oman got into fight with Ottomans, and lost badly.

So now my options are:
• core Basra manually - 12 years, bleh
• sell a lot of provinces to my nearest vassal - will probably take even longer before they can take them, and I need my vassal to do more important things than core provinces I already have cores on
• force vassalize Oman who already has core on Basra - unfortunately have too high warscore to do in one war, and I don't have land border with them now. Ottomans claim they'll let me through, strangely, and I can buy some ships since I have a port there, so I can sort of get there, but that's painful.
• force vassalize Persia who already has core on Basra - I have one vassal who hates me already, and Persia doesn't have any useful cores to expand to, just its two provinces, Basra, and one in Oman.
• sell it away to someone else - Ottomans, Iraq (PU under Ottomans, have cores on Basra, not sure if subject countries can even buy provinces from third parties), and Oman would probably buy it. I just hate losing land, and my long term goals include conquest of Mecca and Jerusalem (both held by Ottomans).
• maybe it's time for a huge war with Ottomans after all

I'm currently at 9/10 diplomatic relations - I took stab hit to free royal marriage with 3-province minor Austria, and got +2 from expansion ideas. I'm really really tempted to go all the way to 14/10. In addition to current:
• 3 allies - France, Poland, Vijayanagar
• 3 elector vassals - Trier, Cologne, Palatinate
• 1 colonizing vassal - England
• 2 feeding vassals - Kazakh, Khorasan

I'd want 5 more:
• release and diplo-vassalize Serbia, Bulgaria, and Georgia for feeding and annexation later (I'm hopefully assuming they'll all accept, but that's not totally obvious, especially Bulgaria which won't even border me - just Serbia, Hungary, and Moldavia)
• take over Ottoman provinces to release Najd, feed it Omani and Yemeni provinces later
• I sort of need to take over some Sibir core provinces and release Sibir to finish my conquest of Siberia against Uzbek, Perm, and Oirat Horde

One of elector relations might become free, but I have royal marriages with other two, so that'd be 13/10, still bad. I guess I could take 2 stab hits to break royal marriages with my elector vassals whom I'll no longer care about after next reform passes. That would take it down to manageable 11/10.

It really doesn't matter how many diplomatic relations I have, I constantly want more. Any silly ideas like vassalizing Ireland for second colonizing vassal, or random royal marriages hoping to PU someone are totally impossible for the time being.

And even with 5 diplomats (+1 embassy, +1 diplomatic idea group, +1 HRE reform) I'm constantly short on them, since it takes 3-4 month to travel back from Middle East or India where most of my diplomacy takes place. For a while I thought I had enough.

Post 15 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-20 03:31:13 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign up to 1634.

I finally executed that massively overplanned war against Ottomans, and it was a massacre before my allies even reached Ottoman borders. One weird thing was that they started with 50k manpower and ended up with 70k - they're getting over 2k/month, and I tried my best to annihilate their armies rather than let them retreat. For the first month I was basically playing at speed one and pausing every day to coordinate everything perfectly - unfortunately AI is an asshole with its one-day-ahead escapes so that's the only way to catch it unprepared before its morale gets restored. I even waited with declaration of war until Ottoman trade fleet was isolated and on top of my war fleet.

Naval part of the campaign wasn't terribly planned as well, and I lost all 10 blockading ships to their weirdly coordinated attack, on land execution was flawless.

One glitchy thing was that Ottoman army shattered retreated from Kartli to Constantinople around Black Sea and Hungary, through Wien - I counted 20 provinces.

I made them give me 3 provinces where I released Najd, a bit of money, release Bulgaria, Serbia, and Georgia, whom I diplovassalized, and Hedjaz to generally screw them and maybe make it easier for me to conquer Mecca for another missionary bonus.

Now that's a ton of diplomatic relationships so I broke royal marriage with Austria some time ago, and more recently I annexed Cologne and started annexing Palatinate. I thought I'd grant someone the now fairly irrelevant electorate, but the game won't even let me. Now electorates still do some stuff - like giving -1000 to enforce religious unity, but they probably thought it's not terribly relevant. I've heard the game basically fails if you try to revoke hereditary emperorship. And all that was definitely in time, since my heir is female, and according to the game female rulers can't be elected emperors. That would be an epic campaign screw-up if I lost emperorship to random number generator.

I got permanent CB against anybody in Nomad, Indian, or Chinese tech group - including non-neighbours. It finally gives 50% cost discount on all provinces and annexations, so I can take over someone twice as big as otherwise. Unfortunately I can't vassalize this way, and even 50% discount still means pretty much that after two such wars the entire Far East will hate me forever, so I better set my allies now rather than later. EU4 has far fewer CBs with war cost discount than EU3.

Another problem is that it does not give any diplo point discount, and unlike conquest you don't even get one wargoal province with no diplo point cost, and going more slowly with conquest CBs means I can usually claim all provinces before I take them, at total cost of 0 (war goal) / 11 (claim). With Overseas Expansion CB I'd be paying 11 (claim) / 16 (no claim). For two wars for 4 provinces each vs one war for 8 provinces, and assuming 3 border provinces I can claim that'd a difference of 76 vs 113 points - about 50% worse. (assuming rival etc.)
On the other hand if I can annex in one war that should result in some major savings.

It seems that I'll still need to go full conquer/convert/release vassal/feed/reintegrate route. I'm not totally sure if I want to just integrate my Orthodox vassals, or if I want to feed them some land instead. To manage diplo points reasonably I'd need to fabricate some claims, and I can do that next to Serbia and Georgia, not so much near Bulgaria just yet.

And one minor thing - I still don't have the faintest idea how strategic goods system works. I can see who produces how much, but how the hell is market share calculated? I'd make some serious effort at capturing some markets, but I have no idea how all that works.

Plans for the future:
• Continue beating up hordes, annex my vassals once they can no longer eat. I mostly did it to reach India, so now it's not terribly necessary, and some annexations will give me new ports - so far I only have one core port there with 10 transport ships.
• Continue beating up Ottomans and other Muslims, annex my vassals once they can no longer eat. Jerusalem and Mecca are mandatory, then it doesn't really matter all that much. I might take over Ethiopia to definitely crush Orthodox heretics (last Reformed country is Palatinate which I'm just annexing).
• Setup some Far East alliances beat up mid-sized Indian and Chinese, go full annex/covert/release cycle. Loads of fun ahead.
• I can't really do much in Europe. I want to beat up Burgundy and Venice and force them to release HRE minors, but all cores on Burgundian illegal lands already expired, and Venetian lands never had them in the first place, so I'd be paying massive AE for just some free claims. The best way forward is to just wait for AE to burn down and IA to increase.
• I'm still not sure why the hell I'm bothering with colonization. Its costs are ridiculous - 2/month for first colony, 4/month second, 10/month third, 20/month fourth. It feels like map painting for the sake of map painting, and I can't even steer trade to Lubeck trade node. I guess I could move capital to another trade node after I integrate HRE, but that's going to take forever
• I'm still pondering vassalizing Ireland, not sure if that fits war score - if not I guess I could force them to release some Irish minor, then try again, then conquer the minors since Ireland will still have cores on them. (or apparently I could diplovassalize them in 35-40 years it would take to burn AE down to diplovassalization range unless I missed some way of improving relations).

Post 16 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-20 05:05:48 UTC

Apparently releasing vassals burn a lot of AE. Tooltip acts as if it was distance-dependent, but it is not - you get same value for absolutely everyone, pretty close to max value displayed (about 85%-ish of it, weirdly). So basically it seems that if I proceeded with my plan to annex all of India in chunks, convert them, then release ton of vassals, then India will hate me (because annex and release is still net negative AE), but Europe will love me now (since annex is distance dependent, and release is distance independent).

That's probably how you avoid coalitions if you're playing vanilla.

They might have fixed that one for patch 1.4. Interestingly all best ways to burn infamy in EU3 also involved vassal exploits - first release vassals, break vassalage, reconquest war, then after they made releasing vassals by button lose your cores you had to "lose" a war to release them, just like you "lost" a war to flip religion without stability hit etc.

I won't be going out of my way to take advantage it, but I'll make some notes to see how significant this effect is in practice for things I already planned to do.

Post 17 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-20 12:29:58 UTC

Wait, so distance to you capital affects AE for annexing vassals, not distance to vassal being annexed? That sounds like a massive bug (AE for annexing provinces etc. is based on distance to actual provinces).

That would explain why all of Northern HRE hates me so much, while I haven't expanded there in like a century, and why places like Oldenburg and Friesland were so happy to join coalitions against me before I turned all that coalition nonsense off.

On one hand I now want to make notes of how AE changes (since tooltips are either absent or outright wrong). On the other hand they've redesigned this system for 1.4 patch, so even if I figure this out somehow it will be just for this campaign.

And If I understood trade system I'd seriously consider moving my capital. As far as I can tell best places to do so would be London trade node area (I don't think I can add that to HRE, so that's not possible), or Antwerpen trade node area (If Imperial Ban gave instant cores and 10% AE like in EU3 I'd just beat up Burgundy and take some land there, but with current broken CB that's really not going to work). Alternatives are either too far to conquer or really sucky. I guess my Croatian holdings in Venice node  or Rome are a possibility, but I'd start with nearly zero trade power there, while all of Russia feeds into Lubeck, so if I don't capture that Antwerpen gets that instead of me, and that's bad (I think, I have very vague idea of all that...).

I could wait until I unify HRE to move, but the only reason I care about AE anymore is because I want to unify it peacefully.

Or I could move my capital to Moscow or such place - that would probably screw my trade, but it would drastically reduce distance-dependent AE, and longer diplomat travel time to Europe would probably about balance shorter diplomat travel time to India.

Or I could conquer Constantinople and set my capital there for style points. I'm the Holy Roman Emperor after all, and what kind of Holy Roman Empire is it without Constantinople! (to be fair at least I hold Rome)

Post 18 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-20 22:39:48 UTC

I added a tool for extracting full AE data from save games and a proper save game parser.

It's a bit awkward, since basic data structure is like an ordered hash, except it allows for duplicate keys, and that doesn't map to any Ruby data structure. It's vaguely like URL params (which are also ordered and allow multiples), which are also really awkward to work with in Ruby.

I'll do some before/after AE diffs to see what the hell is happening.

Here's the current list of top haters (over 100 AE):
Timurids -996.0
Oman -522.522
Uzbek -516.522
Lithuania -455.312
Ottomans -411.808
England -405.588
Münster -379.312
Iraq -349.564
Brunswick -320.312
Pomerania -315.312
Saxe-Lauenburg -314.312
Saxony -311.312
Brandenburg -305.312
Genoa -298.588
The Hansa -291.312
Dhundhar -263.558
Burgundy -254.588
Oirat Horde -253.236
Yemen -250.522
Flanders -240.588
Ireland -235.446
Bohemia -210.53
Utrecht -205.312
Friesland -188.312
Brittany -172.808
Hainaut -170.808
Kashmir -170.558
Kangra -167.558
Kathiawar -155.558
Gujarat -155.522
Hesse -142.312
Mewar -141.558
Brabant -131.808
Mainz -126.312
Aachen -125.79

This list all looks totally wrong. Countries on the top were my targets or near them, but I didn't do anything near deserving that kind of AE - it's just that Holy War AE got nerfed to the point of worthlessness, and there's massive AE scaling based on your size. Still, that's relatively fair that they hate me.

Lithuania would be my best buddies if it wasn't for a stupid game bug that made Lithuanian king jump to Polish throne and them break alliance mid-war. But then, it's not too unreasonable, I did a lot of conquering around them. Against them I took a ton of land, but mostly using supposedly AE-free return cores to my vassal Ukraine, so they care more that I conquered Livonian Order two centuries ago than that I took half their land.

Münster, Brunswick, Pomerania , Saxe-Lauenburg, Saxony, Brandenburg are all total bullshit and due to bug which counts vassal integration from your capital not your vassal's lands, and then scales it up massively based on your size.

Genoa is actually somewhat reasonable since they hold lands in Crimea much closer to my expansion zone.

Places like Flanders, Utrecht etc. are probably a mix of vassal integration distance bug and their memories of my conquest of Britain.

Then you get to countries like Yemen, Kashmir etc. which are actually reasonable sane values - I recently conquered a lot of land somewhere near them - half of it with return core, or it would probably be a lot more AE.

And, here's the fun bit - it seems my biggest "mistake" AE-wise was not moving my capital somewhere far away, like St Petersburg, or Moscow, or at very least Stockholm. Even countries that keep taking each other territory all the time don't care at all. Highest AE not against me is -55.57 Korea has against Manchu. Ottomans have literally 0 AE against them now - probably because they burned a lot when I forced them to release 4 big vassals, but even then, they were major assholes through last two centuries. Even before they lost their big war their top AE was -62.256 against Oman.

So I'm now vaguely wondering if 1.4 patch fixed AE enough to make coalitions actually reasonable and if it would be worth a try to play with coalitions on for a while next time I play (that probably won't be for a very long time, one campaign takes like a month).

tl;dr The game is buggy and unbalanced as hell, it's still ton of fun.

Post 19 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-20 22:59:14 UTC

Apparently 1.4 fixes AE so much you can get negative AE for expanding if you're conquering religious and cultural enemies. Your Christian neighbours will love you for beating up Muslims. This makes so much sense.

Of course they broke a ton of other things instead now... I wish they just exposed stuff to modders who can balance things properly instead of just randomly changing stuff every patch for no good reason.

Post 20 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-21 00:59:19 UTC

OK, so I moved my capital to Moscow (still in Novgorod trade node), and finished annexing 3-province minor Palatinate.

I got -1 AE from a lot of countries, -2 from Moldavia, -3 from Lithuania. That's totally manageable.

Damn Milan conquered one of Venetian HRE provinces (yay!) and then flipped Catholic again (-18 IA). There's no hope for them.

In a more funny thing - 1-province HRE Netherlands (just Zeeland) rebelled from France. I got called into it since it's a defensive war. It was whole world vs OPM with 6k stack and a (surprisingly large) bunch of event-spawned trade ships. I hoped to become war leader and peace them out to get a new province, but no such luck - France remained war leader since it was rebellion against them. And what do they do when they crush Dutch resistance? They make them cancel some silly treaty and call it a day. So that's a net of 2 new Imperial provinces without me doing a thing. Sadly both are Catholic now, and I'm questioning the point of even trying to get them to convert, since they keep flipping back for no obvious reason.

I should have moved my capital to Moscow long time ago, I'd probably have like 100 AE less with them all.

Oh and I split my trade fleet in half between Lubeck and Novgorod, with merchants collecting in both, and 3rd merchant transfering trade power from North Sea to Lubeck. My income is about the same, so basically I have no idea how trade works.

Post 21 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-21 02:16:22 UTC

I want to conquer all of India, even if it means running into 1000% overextension while my missionaries convert.

Two most promising countries with ton of lost cores were Gujarat and Orissa, and I also declared war on 2-province minors Berar (all Gujarati cores) and Punjab (my vasal Khorasan is hungry).

It turned out Orissa is 110% to annex, so I just force them to release another minor and I'll try again in five years.

Now big test, AE:
• before annexations
• after annexations
• after I released Gujarat as vassal, including cores in Berar (I actually plan to do that after I convert them, but for test I did it same day as peace treaty)

• Vijayanagar (my ally, next door to two of annexed countries): 0, 56, 38
• Zhou (in China): 0, 39, 21
• Lithuania (closest to my new capital in Moscow): 418.672, 418.672, 400.672
• Hansa (notorious haters): 252.672, 252.672, 234.672

So basically if I conquer all India and China, release everybody as vassals, and reintegrate them, all of Europe will forget everything bad I've ever done to them.

Makes sense? Not really, but it's fun to fight half of the world, so if the game insists on that, I'm not going to complain.

I think I'll get back to Ottomans and HRE cleanup only after I conquer at least half the India. Then I'll try to conquer Ming - they have 48 cores all over China, but only control 14 provinces. It will probably take 2 maybe even 3 wars to annex them, but owning HRE, Russia, Middle East, India, and China in one game? EU3 would not let me get away with that. (well, without infamy burning exploits)

Post 22 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-21 06:40:47 UTC

This game is seriously awesome. I decided to go all in into India - conquer, convert to Protestantism, release Protestant vassal Indian states. (conversion is key because if they do that it will be really slow and rebels will probably overwhelm them)

So after my first conquest, and a brief war to break down some big Indian states, I thought - well, I need more missionaries, if I take Mecca I'll have 1 extra missionary and that means 25% faster expansion. And Mecca was owned by 2-province Hedjaz (they were bigger when I forced Ottomans to release them, but without protections new states don't last long), so it was easy, except I had no CB.

So I annexed all of Oman to get border and CB on Yemen. Then I attacked Yemen to get border and CB on Hedjaz. Then I proceeded to holy war and annex Hedjaz as planned.

Unfortunately two complications happened, and I was obligated to defend in both cases:
• Lithuania got into war of succession for some HRE OPM
• Naples got into massive war against HRE and France to take Ancona

Meanwhile I was at 332% overextension, -1 stability (that much overextension means stability increases are 332% more expensive), with rebel stacks popping every week or two, and all my armies were in Arabia and India... What's worse - I didn't even get to be war leader in that succession war - so it was years after years of constant warfare, when all I needed was one day of peace to get rid of all that.

In that war against Naples and friends at least France mostly held on its own, so I got them to peace out at +30 war score for me. I was really tempted to concede defeat even at +20 warscore, but that would lose me defender of the faith, and with female ruler I couldn't even get it back, so it was out of the question, no matter the cost.

That other war on the other hand... Warscore  was at +80 by the time that damn OPM decided to finally sign a peace treaty. I could destroy all Lithuanian (and Austrian, Silesian, Hessian, Moldavian etc.) armies without too much problem but I couldn't stay and siege since there were rebels popping up all the time.

By the time the war ended all that conquered Arabian lands were long converted, and finally one day after peace treaty got signed my overextension fell from 332% to 100% and I'll just sell the rest of that overextended stuff to whichever vassal will take it. I won't get down to 0% since I need to keep Mecca for the bonus, but seriously...

Pretty much the only thing that went right about that whole deal was that in spite of Castille and their junior PU partner Portugal being on enemy side, nothing happened in colonies except for one 6k peasant rebellion, which by 3k colonial stack fortunately managed to put down. Half my fleet is in Indian ocean, other half was transporting one of my rebel hunting stacks from place to place, there was no way to organize any serious resistance if they attacked me in the colonies at that time.

It's 6:35am and that campaign was just so awesome! Extrapolating from how fast that escalated the next time I should try to conquer all of China while fighting Ottomans for Jerusalem and getting backstabbed by France.

And just look at that blue protestant blob - Rome and Mecca are both Protestant! Now it's just time for Jerusalem and Constantinople (no bonuses, but I can't possibly not do that).

And speaking of religious warfare, Reformed faith has zero countries, Orthodox faith has 3 - my vassals Serbia, Bulgaria, and Georgia soon to be integrated. Now I just need to rid Europe of Muslims and Catholics and I'll call reformation successful, even if some survive in the colonies, Africa, and Indonesia. Only two more years until holy was CB expires, best time to capture Jerusalem?

Post 23 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-22 03:51:44 UTC

EU4 campaign continues to 1652.

This time I had a lot more restraint and limited myself to "only" under 200% overextension. It wasn't even by choice - I declared three wars of conquest in India against Dhundhar, Jaunpur and Orissa at once, but Orissa grew a bit too big to be annexed, and Dhundhar while of annexable size had a OPM vassal. You do not want to annex anybody with vassals, since then they become your vassals - and you have a truce with them, so you can't even release them until 5 years later at cost of 1 stability. Huge pain for no gain.

So I waited until I got my things together. I released fully converted vassal Jaunpur. They lost two of their cores this way somehow, not sure why exactly. I cored Mecca - no idea why but coring time was only 3 years, not 12 - other provinces nearby had 12 years coring time, and the game doesn't display coring time modifiers, just cost modifiers and there were no special discounts for Mecca; so basically I have no idea what was going on, but that sure helped me. I sold most of my other uncored provinces to my vassals bringing down overextension to record low of just 12%. And I finished annexations of Sibir and Kazakh - they still have foreign cores owned by Oirat Horde, but I'm not interested in fighting Oirats for their presumably worthless land anytime soon, or possibly ever.

And then I attacked Ottomans again! They recovered remarkably well since our last war, and even managed to finish their conquest of Egypt. The war is still ongoing, but there are many things going well for me - I have 5 armies attack from five directions - Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Basra, and Mecca. I specifically waited for 1st of the month to declare war to give them least time to recover morale and my 50k Bulgarian army attacked their 39k stack in Constantinople, which distintegrated with something ridiculous like 1k losses on my side.

On the more unfortunate side, my fleets are divided halfway between Mediterranean and India, so I pretty much have to concede naval superiority to them, and limit myself to harassing Algiers and Morocco. Other than stack in their capital they had no armies in Europe - this means their alliance has 150k troops all grouped together in Egypt and Northern Africa (probably from their still very recent conquest of the Mamluks) - and that will be a lot more difficult to deal with than divided armies from our previous war. And unfortunately this time they can cross Bosphorus straits any time they want.

That remaining 150k troops + 100k manpower reserve of just the Ottomans, not even counting their vassals, allies, and mercenaries, and their >2k/month manpower growth together would bleed my pretty effectively unless I'm cautious.

Another huge fail on my part was not noticing that France was at war against Burgundy and friends - and losing really badly. They joined my attack, but I doubt I'll get much more than naval and moral support from them this time.

Anyways, the plan for this war, if I convincingly win is:
• take some border provinces for Nadj (they have one core in Ottomans), Georgia (they have claim on Armenia, no idea why), Serbia (no cores or claims, but they should be willing to buy Orthodox and/or Serbian lands).
• Take some lands in Egypt, convert, release Mamluks, they have ton of cores all over the place including on Jerusalem, so I can use them on my quest to take Jerusalem and crush the Ottomans. Mamluks can take some Yemeni lands later as well - they have some cores there too.
• My best hope for beating Ottoman navy long term is to take as many of their ports as possible, and hope they disband excess ships over their now lower force limits. I don't particularly want to have massively expensive Mediterranean navy just to blockade Bosphorus every now and then. On the other hand if I start getting into regular colonial conflicts with Castille and their PU buddies Portugal that changes everything.

Bulgaria is already halfway annexed since it had much lower expansion potential than Georgia and Bulgaria - after Georgia takes Armenia it will also pretty much hit the wall, so that's another annexation. My vassal set is pretty dynamic.

Meanwhile in HRE vote is 30-14 in favour of everybody becoming my vassal. This requires near-unanimity, so I'll wait some more, I'm fine with losing maybe 10 provinces worth of traitors in exchange for vassalizing half of central Europe, but not more. I'm also still not sure what will happen to lands not held by HRE members when I pass that reform - will it still be HRE land I can get free claims on? We'll see.

And it turns out I didn't lose religious CBs in 1650 like I thought would happen. I doubled my colonial army size from 3k and 3 transport to 6k and 6 transports - and I'm really tempted to go beat some Indians while I'm not busy fighting the other Indians.

So basically next steps:
• a few more wars to take most of Northern India.
• a few more wars to beat Ottomans and take Jerusalem (assuming this one gets won of course)
• some minor colonial expansion, possibly stealing taking a few colonies from Castile or Portugal or Indian tribes if good opportunity come up
• working on HRE relations so I'm closer to 100% vote in favour of further integration and kicking Burgundy and Venice out of Imperial lands (France also has a lot of it, but the alliance is worth a lot more than a few provinces)
• possibly expanding to Indochina - Ayutthaya and Brunei are really tempting targets.

Post 24 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-22 11:41:13 UTC

EU4 patch 1.4 mechanics are total bullshit apparently. Not a surprise, every new mechanic in CK2 was totally unbalanced when introduced, then tweaked (or nerfed into unplayability) over subsequent patches.

I know it's totally possible to mod-disable colonial nations (they depend on colonial regions, and Africa/Asia already don't have colonial nations even if colonized), not sure if you can disable protectorates and restore vassal feeding.

I don't see anything related to how AI reacts to various offers to let modders change vassal feeding system (in 1.3.2 game files). Obviously can't check if protectorates are moddable without installing 1.4.

Long term I think colonial nations might be fun, protectorates not at all - maybe have some triggered modifiers for lower tech vassal, but just keep them as vassals. Western Europe trade nodes and fixed AE system are huge upgrades but not at cost of breaking stuff that works.

Post 25 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-22 20:16:57 UTC

Taking a break from my regular EU4 campaign updates, here's a profile of AD 1652 world's second greatest power - Castilian/Portuguese dual monarchy, and of other candidates for the title of world's second greatest power.

What frequently happens in Paradox games is that countries near human player have really back time - even if they don't get outright conquered, they get screwed up real hard by the player beating them up, forcing them to release other nations, or simply by having their expansion blocked by player picking up easy targets before they can.

What happens then is that next set of countries just after them can have really good time since their regional enemies got weakened so much.

In EU3 these could have been just about any countries, EU4 railroads things really hard, so you usually see the same countries being strong every campaign, and minor powers have extremely difficult time breaking out as long as AI runs them.

This was the faith of most competitors to the title of world's greatest power. Typical overpowered countries in EU history which didn't have much luck this time include:
• Poland/Lithuania - the key to Poland's success is getting and keeping PU over Lithuania. In this campaign it briefly took place, but then fell apart due to Poland's early lost war and resulting very low prestige, and without the union Poland has very few options. I feel somewhat bad about that, since I wanted Poland/Lithuania to be my most important ally, but I had no luck.
• Muscovy - it was on the verge of becoming world's second greatest power, about to integrate Perm and completely conquer Novgorod, but I put a lot of effort into making sure that doesn't happen.
• Austria - with Burgundian inheritance instantly doubling their lands at no AE they usually keep emperorship and are dominant European power. They also get bonuses to spread their dynasty throughout Europe and even have some special events to get early PU over Hungary or Poland. But if none of these random events happen, they're kinda screwed, and AI seems much more reluctant to expand within HRE than it used to be. After they took Catholic side against Protestant 2/3 of the empire, they were doomed.
• Bohemia - backup HRE if Austria falls. It takes a lot of luck for them to break out into great power, and while they held emperorship for a while.
• Burgundy - if they don't get instantly divided between France and HRE by stupid event (I forgot to delete that fucking awful event and had to reload autosave 3 times to make sure it does not happen, I hate it more than anything else in the game, even coalition wars) and either France or HRE is weak Burgundy can be ridiculously powerful due to owning high tax Netherlands and the richest trade node in game Antwerpen. This time France and HRE were both pretty strong and allied together, but nerfing of Imperial Ban CB to the point of worthlessness and quick core expiration of HRE minors on Burgundian lands made they pretty much untounchable.
• England - by latest patch AI England has 0% chance of winning Hundred Years War war against France to get PU over it. Even if it managed that by some magic, it would have very low chance of surviving first succession. This is pretty difficult achievement even for experienced human players, so you can imagine how well AI can do that. Then when they have massive war exhaustion, no manpower, and negative prestige from that lost war they get hit by a crapload of negative random events, so AI England is lucky if it's in one piece by 1480s. On the other hand if it survives that it can easily conquer Ireland and Scotland and can then be both major European power and major colonizer. Their problem was that just after they got their act together and conquered Scotland I noticed that I inherited a small island on Scottish coast from Norway - and that was good enough excuse to take over all of Britain. I'd probably let them be otherwise, but bastards were fabricating claims over my island, which I didn't even know existed before that, so I had to do something.

And the four winners were:
• Denmark/Sweden/Norway union - well, that worked really well so far, I'm not going to pretend like starting as Denmark was hard mode. Not screwing up early game and losing 3-way union, and not getting on receiving end of HRE's beatstick are two keys to becoming one of the superpowers and I planned these things really well.
• Ottomans - they were world's 2nd greatest superpower for a long time. They are still extremely formidable on both land and sea, not too far behind on tech, and all of Northern Africa stands behind them - this time Europeans made zero progress in conquering even isolated trade posts there. They got beaten really badly in a war against Scandinavia, and are (hopefully) about to get beaten again. I'd say there're about to fall from #3 to #4 spot now.
• France - the Big Blue Blob is everyone's favourite bogeyman. They didn't get half the Burgundy, but they still expanded quite convincingly in Europe, did quite a bit of colonization, and they have Scandinavian backing, even though Scandinavia is really annoyed at France illegally holding some Imperial lands. Right now they're losing a big war to Castille, Burgundy, and friends, but it's doubtful that such loss would be crushing, and Scandinavia might still decide to enforce peace once it deals with the Ottomans. Right now they're #4 but if Ottomans get beaten worse than France, they're probably about to jump to #3 slot. French colonization also offers expansion opportunities that Ottomans don't have, and Western tech increases advantage over Ottomans every decade, so whatever their current balance of power, future looks bright for France.
• And the world's second greatest power - Castilian/Portuguese dual monarchy. Castile and Portugal are very often major powers due to their huge colonial expansion opportunities and . I was really worried for some time since Castile once held PU over Aragon who held PU over Naples, which looked like it might become a superpower, but then the whole thing fell apart, so I went back to ignoring them. Of course things turned even worse - Castile got PU with Portugal instead. Individually both of them are about equally strong and both are weaker than France, but together they have huge stashes of money, joint colonial empire larger than all other colonial empires but together spreading all continents, and they're just winning a big war in Europe. It might be a bit difficult to see but that island north of Madagascar and tiny colony in Indonesia are both in as well.

And yes I specifically ignored everyone outside Western/Eastern/Ottoman tech groups - they have no change whatsoever in this game as AI. Even if they blob like crazy, a small European army can just massacre them effortlessly before tea o'clock and all trade gets stolen by Europeans thanks to hardcoded trade nodes system.

So what can I do about their empire? Well, not much. Castilian prestige is far too high for much chance of breaking their PU, and colonizing is a prestige factory. I'd have hard time conquering their colonies faster than they can spawn new ones, and then it would be really painful to core them, since you only get 90% coring cost discount for overseas colonies of your own culture - so I could neither core them myself in a reasonable matter, nor sell them to any vassal, nor force them to release anyone since their colonies have only their own cores.

Conventional war in Europe against them would be extremely slow - even if I crushed their land armies, they probably have decent naval superiority, and as long as their colonies are not taken they probably won't be in a mood for major concessions.

I considered taking over Spanish South Africa to block their expansion to India, but they already colonized Mahe island north of Madagascar, have a colony in Indonesia, and their colonial range from Kongo is probably far enough by now it wouldn't matter with their superior naval tech - not to mention how painful it would be to core South Africa myself.

I also wondered about diplovassalizing Aragon, then taking back Aragon's cores to weaken Castile, and they'd be just borderline unwilling to do that if it wasn't for heretic penalty. I could diplovassalize Ireland, and kick Spain and Portugal out of Eastern coast of current USA and Cuba. I could conquer and Swahili, colonize gap between Swahili and Spanish South Africa, and vassal feed that. I could try beating up Castile over and over again until their prestige falls into negative and their union breaks.

None of these are good options. So for now, their status as world's second greatest power seems secure.

Post 26 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-23 03:25:46 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign continued 1652-1659.

The war against Ottomans was successful, but I forgot that I entered a now 1-country Coalition Of The Willing against them, and that meant the only territory I could only demand from them was my claims and cores on them, not even on their PU partner Iraq, so instead of planned extensive conquests I only took 6 provinces I had claims on and forced them to release Syria. I could probably get them to release Crete as well if I waited a few more months, but my truces in India were about to finish, so I cut that war a bit short below 100% warscore.

That annoyed me quite a lot, so I decided it's time for a 5-way war of mass conquest, against Yemen, Dhundhar, Bengal, Mewar, and Orissa. This time I knew better and peaced them all out on the same day, so I could immediately sell conquered provinces to vassals etc. From Yemen I just took 5 provinces to sell to Mamluks and Najd, others I annexed completely - my vassals Mamluks, Gujayat and Jaunpurs had cores over most of annexed territory (well, that was the reason why I've chosen these particular countries as my vassals), so it wouldn't be much overextension for long, hopefully.

Unfortunately war leader in my war against Orissa was Zhou - now this was weird, since normally if war leader changes I can't negotiate with war target directly, only with war leader, but I could annex Orissa just fine. I expected Zhoe to white peace anyway, so I annexed Orissa - turns out they didn't, and even blockade didn't convince them, so I had to send my 30k stack to talk some sense into them.

Day after peace treaty I had instant 488% overextension! That wasn't actually half as bad as my previous 300%-something OE, since this time my vassals already had a ton of cores all over the place, and I wasn't at war, so it would be faster to deal with it. I couldn't really afford to wait to convert everything, so I quickly offloaded a lot of territory my vassals had cores on even if it wasn't all converted. They can handle 1 or 2 heathen provinces each, especially if it's Hindus who convert really easily, Muslims with their -2% missionary chance are pretty difficult for most countries, so I handled those myself even if it meant more time spent at high overextension levels.

So it took a couple years of rebel fighting, but my initially ridiculously high OE kept falling at a steady pace. I annexed Bulgaria and started annexing Khorasan. I hope to start annexing Georgia sometime soon. My new vassal The Mamluks have ton of cores including Jerusalem, so the next time I fight Ottomans I fully intend to take advantage of that.

About a year into all this Vijayanagar decided to call me into some aggressive war against OPM. The hell? France never bothered to call me into their war against Castille and Burgundy together (and I'd answer that call even if my OE was over 9000%), but Vijayanagar thinks it's sensible to do that while I'm fighting rebels all over the place? Anyway, I took the prestige hit and told them to go to hell. I'm probably going to suffer some diplo penalties as well (the "trust" value) - unfortunately they're not very transparent so I'm not sure how much.

Meanwhile HRE is moving backwards. Savoy flipped back to Catholic, wasting 20 IA overnight, and due to overextension-related events my prestige and legitimacy are both at about +50 instead of +100, so there's no chance of winning any votes.

In about October 1660 conversions are going to finish, so I'll release Orissa as my extra vassal (fairly annoying since Orissa and Jaunpur have highly overlapping cores, so I'm not getting much value out of Orissa's total high core count, but it's better than waiting at >100 OE for another decade), my OE will go down to just 2 awkwardly positioned Indian provinces I can't sell at the moment.

And as soon as that happens, I intend to immediately strike against the Ottomans. It's still over a year away, but I'm already positioning armies closer to Ottoman borders, as rebel spawn rate is thankfully much lower now. Since I couldn't take provinces I wanted, I forced Ottomans to release Syria instead, so between Syria, Bosphorus, and Serbia their lands are now divided into 4 very awkward parts. Mamluks, Najd, and Serbia are all hungry for more land, and even Georgia might be tempted into last meal before integration. The most important things to achieve here are taking Jerusalem and cutting Ottoman lands in Asia from their North African allies, the rest is just a bonus.

And after that and resulting temporary overextension, it will be time to finish conquest of India. Vijayanagar outgrew its usefulness as an ally, it's time to cut them into pieces and release maybe turn them into another vassal, then perhaps do the same to Ayutthaya and Brunei. Temporary overextension is painful to deal with, but it gets me a lot of territory really quickly, so that's what I'm going to continue doing.

Other than me, my vassals, and Vijayanagar nobody else in India has more than 2 provinces, and annexing 1/2-province minors is pretty wasteful in terms of diplo points, so that's going to be pretty low priority task. There are bigger and more promising targets further East.

If you're confused by what I'm talking about - green on right map is me, lighter green is my vassals. On the left map dark blue is Protestantism. Normally these are aligned perfectly outside Europe since there aren't any other non-European Protestant powers (not counting a few colonies by Ireland), but here I had to make some compromises and hope my vassals can deal with it.

By the way, annex/convert/sell-province-by-province methodology loses huge +40/province bonus for returning cores, but I feel saving diplo points is far more valuable than that.

Post 27 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-23 12:45:37 UTC

I decided to look into the code, and apparently overextension causes massively negative events at 25% (some minor stuff like merchants harassed) 101% (big stuff starts happening here) 150% (higher chance) and 200% (even higher change).

So that means my ridiculous 488% overextension  for conquering Northern India and Red Sea coast wasn't really that much worse than 200% - sure, there's linear revolt risk increase of course too, but that's not what's causing all the rebellions, rebel sentiment +15 revolt risk for 5 years in a province is the most common reason I'm getting rebels.

Post 28 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-24 05:57:29 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign, 1664 update. (some serious peace deal strategy explained towards the end)

It took a while to convert all provinces and deal with overexpansion, so I used it to attack Shawnee with my 6k stack against their 20k army, mostly to reveal some map (you can't see it from screenshots, but nothing except coast of Americas is known to me, Japan, Australia, deep Syberia, inner Africa etc. are also totally unknown), and get some easy prestige since overextension events really sap prestige, and without 100 prestige relations improve slower over time. I totally crushed their army, but they managed to win naval battle and sink one of my transports. Tech advantage on sea seems to be much less important than on land - it's pretty silly that low tech groups who can't even get muskets can yet get fully equipped early carracks with cannons and whatnot.

And then it was time for the war to break Ottomans once and for all. Before the war they annexed Tripoli, allied themselves with Aragon in addition to Morocco and Algeria, and Burgundy entered in a coalition against me, so even with weaker Ottomans total enemy alliance was much larger than the last time. On sea it was completely hopeless, I didn't even bother contesting it. My fleet was in 3 parts - one in Indian ocean, one in North Sea transporting rebel fighting stack, and one relatively small one in Mediterranean - the last one was so small any of 4 enemy fleets would probably crush it.

And I had 3 stacks outside primary theater of war - in HRE (that one later saw some serious action), in North Sea, and in India, so I wasn't even fighting at my full strength. Fortunately enemy forces were spread in even more awkward way.

I started with the usual opening of declaring war on 1st of the month so enemy morale can't recover and attacking Ottoman stack in their capital, which was about 50k, or half their army. This time it didn't get instantly killed, but shatter retreated all the way to Gaza, where the biggest battle of the war took place.

My armies marched from Egypt, Basra, Croatia, Georgia (in 2 columns), and largest one from Bulgaria, similar to the previous setup. This time they met almost zero enemy resistance in Europe and Asia - after Ottoman capital stack was crushed, the other one was deep in Tripoli. I was quite puzzled where the hell it was - the ledger clearly stated Ottomans had about 70k army, and 20k of that was doing a shattered retreat, but without any fleet on the sea I had minimal visibility. As soon as I saw their massive stack I took everyone who wasn't blocked by Bosphorus crossing (Ottomans had full superiority there, they sometimes unblocked it for no obvious reason, so I was able to send some troops every now and then, but usually it was blocked) and moved them to Gaza for the great battle. This time enemy army got completely annihilated, so it was just a matter of time until I slowly sieged through Ottoman empire now.

More interesting things were happening on other fronts. Burgundy won a major victory over France, and then it launched a surprise attack on my HRE stack without me noticing, ouch. I probably should have withdrawn them a few provinces further away or checked situation in France every now and then to avoid such nasty surprises. Fortunately because I couldn't cross Bosphorus with my massive Bulgarian army and everything was being sieged already I send another stack to meet my HRE army to maybe help France later. That was really fortunate, since they came barely just in time to reinforce the battle and achieve victory - and after that I chased Burgundian army until it was completely destroyed.

Aragon was blockading French ports, but France got its act together as soon as Burgundian army left to attack me, and with half their country sieged they agreed to concede defeat pretty quickly. That improved naval balance of power from horrible to just very bad, but I didn't try to take advantage of it.

Morocco and Algeria just like the last time each took their 40k army to sieged 3 colonies in Western Africa - one French and two English. The sieges were successful, but they more or less missed the war. Only very late, once the war was already pretty much over Algeria moved its troops to get defeated in Tripoli - if they coordinated with Ottomans from day one that would be a very different war, but you can't expect that much from AI, right?

So it was just a question of what do I want to take in the war. One pretty big problem was that almost all Ottoman lands are in Europe (Anatolia is part of Europe as far as EU4 is concerned), so it would generate massive AE. And I had a mission to improve relations with elector Bohemia, with awesome reward of +1 stability +5 imperial authority - which would be completely impossible to achieve with all that AE, so I prolonged the war for extra half a year just until my diplomats got Bohemia to magical +100 relationships (that failed quickly after the war of course).

So the whole list of spoils of war was:
• 2 Turkish provinces for Georgia - they wouldn't take them as Sunni, but took them as Protestant
• 3 Serbian and 1 Greek province for Serbia - all Orthodox or Protestant so I shipped them right away
• 3 provinces for Najd - I had to convert them first
• every single Mamluk core returned, including Jerusalem - they are all Sunni so Mamluks will have to take the pain of converting them, I parked some troops in Mamluk territory to help them with Sunni rebels
• Tripoli released (due to really weird way warscore scaling system works releasing them from vassalage was 38%, but releasing them from annexation just 10%)
• some spare cash

It might seem random, but it actually achieves a lot:
• Ottoman prestige is pretty close to -100, so after they lose PU with Iraq they'll lose everything east and South of Anatolia.
• Their European domains are split into 3 parts by Serbia (not counting islands), so inherently extremely indefensible
• They still have considerable amount of land, but there's no way any ally can reach them before my armies. Before all that there was a risk Algeria might send their troops to front lines while the war was still undecided. Right now it can't happen, unless maybe they ally Hungary or Syria, but that's really unlikely (Syria went to war with them before I even finished mine). They allied Yemen after war instead of Aragon, but Yemen is too far now.
• Converting Muslims is hard, but Mamluks have Jerusalem with its +1 missionary bonus, so they can convert much faster, so it wasn't overly big risk to give them unconverted cores.
• For Najd, Georgia, and Serbia I took only exactly as much territory as I could give them in one go (countries won't buy provinces if they have 7 or more base tax of uncored provinces already - so selling Serbia 2,2,2,8 base tax provinces works but if I sold them 8 base tax Macedonia first they wouldn't buy anything more - I began using this pretty aggressively once I figured that out)
• Hopefully Georgia will add Turkish and Serbia will add Greek as their cultures now. I'm not totally sure about the math, so maybe I'll need to give them one more province each, but if that happens they'll happily start eating unconverted Greek and Turkish provinces right away, and I'll be able to finish off Ottomans completely.
• And now's the best one - I got massive amount of AE from HRE countries due to all that conquests. That'd be bad right? Except I got massive amount of AE from Southern half of HRE - and I already need to wait for AE from Northern half of HRE (due to proximity to my old capital in Denmark and AE calculations bug in 1.3.2) to fall. Now all HRE hates me about equally, which is actually perfectly fine, and it won't delay HRE integration much assuming I want to go for near-unanimous vote.

Now I sort of want to finish off Ottomans, but then I also don't want to annoy HRE members any more than I already did, so I'm not sure if I'll take any European lands from them - and almost all cores on their territory already expired so there won't be much releasing either.

My Indian vassals are really slow at coring, so the next goal is to beat some tiny Indian states my vassals already have cores on. These states are also conveniently all allied with Vijayanagar who's about to receive some serious beating and release a bunch of countries.

Then I sort of want to conquer Pegu and sell it to Orissa, but that will take 2 sales batches until they can core it completely, and Pegu's allied with Oirat Horde and that alliance chain includes half of east Asia. The best things about Pegu is that it's the only land route deep into Indochina, and it's about the right size to annex it in one go.

And retrospectively I need to be more serious about keeping overextension at 100% or less (100% is maximum you can have without bad events, they start at 101%). Losing 50 prestige and 15 legitimacy in a year means losing better relations over time bonus and diplomatic relations bonus, so my AE will last longer and HRE members will be even less willing to vote for my reforms. I can deal with rebels just fine, and it was totally worth it to conquer half of India, but these events have long term consequences lingering long after rebel stacks are forgotten.

Post 29 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-24 09:16:48 UTC

How to unify HRE, ideas for my current campaign.

100 legitimacy is key, so after Khorasan annexation finishes I need to stop annexing vassals and avoid further going >100% overextension. It will still take 25 years to get to 100, and I don't know of many ways to speed it up.

0% overextension is necessary, but I already plan for that, by not taking over any impossible to core or vassal feed lands. Legitimacy concerns also means really avoiding going over 100% unless I really have to.

Then no more aggressive expansion in Europe. I need to beat up Burgundy and Ottomans but I'll have to restrict myself to forcing them to release countries and such, no more. In 25 years or so my AE should fall to low enough levels.

IA is not a problem, since internal HRE wars are banned I'm getting +1.2/year free, and I have huge reserve of non-HRE provinces I can add. I even thought about adding a pathway all the way to Asia and releasing HRE vassals, who don't count for diplo relations count. This isn't as easy to exploit as it sounds since you can only add cored provinces to HRE, and such vassal will be hard to annex, but it's doable.

And here's fun part - before I give it a go I need to move my capital from Moscow to center of HRE. With big stash of money, big stash of IA, I can bribe countries left and right and I'll be limited mostly by diplomat travel time.

Post 30 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-24 11:32:55 UTC

Something about EU4 I've only just noticed. Chinese tech group is no longer worse than Indian tech group - it has a lot better cavalry, somewhat worse infantry, but otherwise it's just the same. Back in EU3 the Chinese way were worse.

Not that it matters from European point of view, but in any East Asian games it's a big difference.

Post 31 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-26 01:51:06 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign 1664-1685.

I got everybody in HRE to swear oath of loyalty to the Emperor! Not one country defected. But it took some serious effort.

In 1670 I had a fun 4-way war:
• I did another pointless attack on Shawnee to discover some more territory and get them to concede defeat. Highlight of the war was that Georgia and Najd sent their troops all the way from Asia to help - Najd even had to go around Africa. It lost a bit of effect once I remembers that AI has zero naval attrition.
• Every time one of my vassals finished previous set of coring, I'd attack another Indian 1-2 province minor. I'll to eventually uniting India this way, and it costs me only one year of overextension while my 5 overpowered missionaries convert these provinces. That tiny red blob in the middle of India totally surrounded by my vassals was one such war.
• I attacked Pegu, triggering chain alliance of half of East Asia. That was a bit awkward, since I could only feed it to Orissa slowly. Even in 1685 I'm left with one of Pegu's uncored provinces, since Orissa is being slow.
• France attacked Burgundy, who's allied with Castille/Portugal, Venice, and some irrelevant minors. I joined that war and at first I only sent some troops to siege Venice, but France was getting beaten so badly I had no choice but to get like 4 stacks of 30k each to the frontlines from Asia and Africa. I burned one of Castille's colonies - that apparently causes 0 AE contrary to what the game says. France made some marginal gains this way, but it mostly just delayed my takeover of Pegu and Orissa's coring by many many years.

After this huge war I focused on unifying HRE. That means no wars where I'd get European AE or where I'd get overextension I couldn't sell to my vassals as soon as missionaries are done.

That was still quite a few wars, and I've taken over a lot of Indian minors and some land from Yemen - and even in Europe I did quite a bit of fighting, force converting Wallachia and Hainaut to Protestantism, and forcing Flanders and Ireland to release Brabant and Cornwall respectively. That war with Ireland might be useful - I'm so powerful that Ireland and Poland would both accept vassalization if only I could get relationship up to 190. The problem with Poland is that border friction + has casus belli + neighbouring heretic religion adds up to -102 or so, so that's impossible. For Ireland CB and border friction was just -31, and after I made them release Cornwall it's only -25, so they might even accept someday. I also beat up Ottomans, Vijayanagar, and Ayutthaya to get them to release some minors.

I ended up not moving my capital - at diplo tech 19 there's a Royal Palace building you can only build in your capital which gives +0.1 legitimacy/year (wiki says +1/year, I wish, but order of magnitude fail, by the way eu4wiki has a huge number of errors generally), so it would keep getting destroyed if I kept moving my capital around, and it ended up not being necessary.

For about 15 years until 7th HRE reform all my diplomats were constantly improving relations with the haters, and towards the end they were also bribing them, bestowing imperial grace, and so on. It ended up working just fine. I don't particularly care about unifying the empire, since that would lose me 2 precious diplomatic relations, and I'm not even sure if I'd be any more powerful if I did that.

Oh and I took very late exploration ideas - it got me second colonist, both of which settle various minor islands on the Indian ocean, and a conquistador who wanders aimlessly through Northern American wastelands, that is so far not much.

As for further plans... I don't have to care about AE or legitimacy all that much any more, since they were mostly necessary to get HRE reform votes to pass, and I don't care about 8th reform at all.

So on my hit list are:
• Conquer Muslim Middle East - Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Ottomans are all about to get eaten by Serbia, Georgia, Najd, and Mamluks. After that I lack good CBs to go against Tripoli, Algiers, and Morocco, or south against Swahili, so maybe I'll just integrate my vassals there.
• Expand my 3 Indian vassals - south into Vijayanagar, north into Tibet, east into Shan and Ayutthaya. Eventually I might need to release another vassal there, but that's probably still quite some time. All 3 of them still have huge potential for expansion, so they're in no hurry to get annexed. Eventually China and Japan of course, but that's going to take a while.
• A huge war against Castille to get them to release Portugal as independent state. This absolutely needs to be done, it's just a question of when.
• I sort of want to kick Burgundy and Venice out of HRE lands. France also has some, but that can be forgiven. Horrible CB doesn't matter as much when I no longer need to concern myself with ridiculous HRE AE multipliers any more.
• Once I complete exploration idea group, I'll have free really overpowered CB against all pagans in Africa and Americas.
• I still want to diplovassalize Ireland. Maybe Brittany and Aragon would be possible as well, even though they're Catholic? (probably won't work). Colonies seem to count for very little as far as diplovassalization works, and if I had Ireland and England both as vassals I could more or less kick Castille out of North America and distribute all its lands to vassals.

HRE is now all my vassals



Great 4-way war

Post 32 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-26 14:58:33 UTC

EU4 1685-1688.

The game took big turn for the worse fun-wise. I started small wars against Yemen, Iraq, and Ottomans to connect my lands through Bosphorus (it was technically an attempt to enforce peace in Ottoman attack against recently released Byzantium on Cyprus and Rhodos, so I got +20 IA for that as well - enforcing peace nets you IA even if war has nothing to do with HRE), and endless streams of vassal troops swamped the area. It's huge interface overload and it just hurt my head, and was not enjoyable at all. So now I'm wondering if maybe unifying HRE wouldn't be such a bad idea just so I can see what the hell is going on, even if it's clearly suboptimal from power level point of view. I don't care all that much about money and vassal troops, but losing +2 diplomatic relations would hurt a lot, I can think of great ways to use even 15 diplomatic relations, not just 10 I have - and I have half the exploration idea group to fill. I could always try annexing them one at a time, but that would take literally centuries (after first few annexed vassal and annexed HRE member penalties I doubt I could get anyone up to +190 for very long time) and my diplomats have other things to do.

Anyway, after I converted and sold most of what I conquered (as planned, Serbia indeed accepted Greek culture, and Georgia accepted Turkish culture, so I can sell them things without even converting if I want to now), I decided to attack Malabar and Tibet - basically expanding as far away from my vassal hordes as possible. Tibet looks huge on a map, but it's just a few very poor very large provinces so it won't take long to integrate that, and then Chinese, beware.

Of course France decided that it would be perfect time to attack Burgundy/Castille/Hungary/Venice/etc. That's really bad since I won't be able to sell any lands to my vassals while that stupid war lasts, and I don't particularly fancy years of overextension. Hopefully vassal horde can handle it on its own. In theory we have something like 5:1 troop ratio in this war, but with no coordination whatsoever.

Vijayanagar and Ayutthaya are both pretty close to annexable-in-one-war range with my overseas expansion CB (that's 50% discount), so the only thing stopping me from taking over all of India and half of Indochina is my vassals' coring speed. Except Brunei took ovne province in the middle of Ayutthaya, so I can't do any kind of useful vassal feeding here.

Another problem is with islands - you can't feed your vassals anything they don't border directly through land (or a strait crossing). That means the only way I could possibly conquer Indonesia is by vassalizing Brunei, and even that would only be about half of it, unless I wanted to spend all the admin points and 15 years coring it myself.

I feel this game would be better if diplomatic relationship limit was just +2/+3 higher, or some thing didn't count to it (either vassals or royal marriages). Manpower and money were a huge pain early game, but by midgame they're totally manageable. Diplo relations are a huge problem the entire game, from day 1 indefinitely into the future, even though I did absolutely everything I could to increase that limit. I can't even imagine why anybody would take anything except diplomatic ideas as first idea group unless they were force to to colonize, just for that damn +2 diplomatic relations bonus.

As far as I can tell it's not moddable what kind of relations count, so the only way to fix that would be by increasing the limit.

So for now my list of moddable things I'd like to mod if I play the next time:
• higher diplo relationship limit
• fewer railroading events
• no size-dependent coring slowdown, so coring manually is feasible if you pay the cost
• reverse some of the great CB nerf, especially Imperial Ban, and heresy CB should definitely have discount on forced conversions, that's the only reason it even exists, seriously...
• buildings shouldn't be destroyed on ownership change, so it makes some sense to gift money to vassals; I get it why people want to make them money-only, but I find that it's not a huge deal that they cost 10 monarch points each
• if the game has low stored monarch point limit it has, the game should have some kind of alert that the limit got hit and now you are wasting your points to overflow, if we can't have the alert maybe increase that limit somewhat, I don't see what would go horribly wrong this way
• (coalitions might be fixed by AE rebalance)
• (early game manpower might be fixed by battle modifiers rebalance)
• (silly 1.4 things like protectorates and colonial states need to be disabled until they're fixed, or forever; hopefully we can disable 1.4's vassal feeding nerf as well)

There's also a lot of other things I'd like to see changed, but as far as I can tell they can't really be modded.

Post 33 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-26 21:27:35 UTC

So here's my new campaign plan for EU4.

My biggest problem is that I have only 10 diplomatic relations slots, and they go:
• 2 allies with royal marriages etc. - France, Poland
• 1 colonizing vassal - England
• 7 frontline vassals - Mamluks, Najd, Georgia, Serbia, Gujaran, Jaunpur, Orissa
• huge number of totally free HRE vassals

So here's what I'm going to do:
• Annex all frontline vassals. This obviously needs to be done in batches, not all at once, I only have 5 diplomats and need some for other things - do this even if they still have expansion potential, especially if they still have expansion potential
• Add all annexed territory to HRE
• Release a lot of HRE vassals. Holy Roman Tibet, Holy Roman Pegu, Holy Roman Iraq, Holy Roman Greece, Holy Roman Malabar, Holy Roman Tripoli and so on. Depends on when I'm going to end that. They are totally relationship-slot free.
• Use my newly freed relations slots to diplovassalize various countries in Europe like Ireland, Brittany, Byzantium etc., or to setup new non-HRE vassals like Korea, Zapotecs, or Ming.
• If I have nothing better to do with my diplomats, just annex any HRE vassals without much potential. Catholic countries not on the borders are most obvious targets, like Bavaria and Aachen. I doubt I'll have much chance to do that.
• I can still use existing HRE members for foreign expansion. Not much, but Naples, Hungary, Burgundy, and Flanders all border some HRE minors and annoy me.
• Once this strategy no longer works or I'm close to world domination I can press the unify HRE button at any time. Thanks to 2 successful peace enforcement operations (Ireland attacked Cornwall, Syria attacked Byzantium) I got 20 IA for each, so now I'm at 100 IA, with unanimous support (and as far as I understand I only need majority for this anyway).

This strategy has some awkward limitations, since I can only add core lands to HRE, and only if it's next to existing HRE land, and of course it won't work in America or on various small islands. Another problem is that while a vassal is being annexed they can't eat any more lands, so that will stop many promising directions of expansions.

The most awkward thing is that I didn't many any preparations whatsoever for any of it, even though relevant facts were somewhere in the back of my mind all the time.

And for a completely minor thing, I'm really tempted to just conquer Poland now. They're Catholic, they won't ever accept diplo-vassalization, they're no longer useful, and they waste whole precious diplo slot. France is a completely different matter since they're super-powerful, but Poland just isn't that valuable to me.

Post 34 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-27 00:53:02 UTC

EU4 campaign 1688-1698.

I took Constantinople and remnants of Yemen (except island of Socotra) and I started unifying my empire. It's really funny how two of my vassals Gujarat and Jaunpur both have -25 competing great power modifier against me - and they are indeed in global top 10 in terms of income, army size etc., each has about a quarter of India, and they inherited my tech levels which even with Indian tech group would make them dominant powers in the East if I were to disappear.

I started annexing Najd and Gujarat. I wanted to annex Mamluks as well, but they are distant overseas (I can only get to them from my capital through Najd) so it would take 2x longer, so I should probably wait for now. They neighbour my core province Mecca, but that's totally isolated.

I diplovassalized Ireland (one relationship over limit), now I have 2 my own settlers and at least 2 English and 1 Irish settler, unless I missed some, so total pace of colonization is pretty fast.

I'd love to start annexing Jaunpur before Najd gets annexed, but getting them to 190 is painful. Even gifts I had to give Gujarat, Jaunpur and Ireland were in 500+ range - not a huge deal, but I remember back when 50 gold was enough to make someone love you forever.

I got myself completely crappy explorer (maneuver 1) who can't even see all of Australian coast while circling around it repeatedly. Oh well.

It was fairly quiet period. My diplomats are constantly busy improving relations and managing annexations. My vassals can't really expand much - Najd and Gujarat are being annexed, Serbia and Georgia are still trying to core what they got from Ottomans in the last war (Constantinople alone is 15 base tax, good luck coring that Serbs), Jaunpur is still digesting Tibet and I want to start annexing them in a few years if I can get relations to +190 somehow. Mamluks and Orissa are the only two who could take some major expansion, but they don't really have good places to expand.

I attacked Syria hoping to get their ally Algeria into the war (they ate Tripoli, I'd like to take one province from it so I can go forward with Holy Roman Tripoli plan), but Algeria doesn't seem very interested in joining, and Syria can't be eaten in one go.

In Indochina Shan is just a bit too big for annexing in one go and doesn't have anyone interesting releaseable, Ayutthaya has 1 separated province I won't be able to sensibly core probably ever (I could sell it to Brunei or something I guess), and to everybody else I'd have to walk though either of these two. South India is much more interesting, but the only vassal with very good access to it is Gujarat which is being annexed right now. Holy Roman Malabar will take that over in the future, but that's still long time ahead.

Or I could just throw away all caution and just conquer some new vassal seedlings like Dai Viet, Korea, Ming, or even all of them at once, and expand from there. That would get me even more over my relationship limit, but that most of my non-holy-roman vassals are due to be annexed sometime soon anyway (ten years of extra diplomatic relationship is 120 points, that's not fatal but not totally trivial either). I finally got down to 0% overextension, so maybe that's a sign.

Post 35 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-27 03:55:39 UTC

EU4 campaign 1698-1701.

I don't actually have that many releasable holy roman vassals. 1-province Polotsk to expand into 3 more Lithuanian provinces, and 2-province Kangra to conquer 1-province minor Kashmir are about the only ones. I'll get more once I finish annexations (I finally got Statesman advisor, he about doubles annexation speed, so two annexations are due next year).

I released Polotsk for a trial run, attacked Lithuania for its cores. (unfortunately I had to use conquest CB I accidentally had from some event, it's so annoying there's no reconquer-for-vassal CB). During the war I got an event where Polish king from same dynasty as me was asking for money, and I got +40 relations out of it. That was so-so close to being in vassalization range. I tried everything - war subsidies (bonus stops day after war ends), guarantee, military access, gift - it was almost but still not enough. Bastards fabricated a claim on Belz, so I just gave it to them, and that removed claim penalty and reduced border friction a bit, and so Poland was finally in vassalization range. They're in for quite some shock as I'm about to annex 4 vassals in rapid succession, and I'd totally annex Orissa as well if it looked feasible.

During the war I was bleeding 2 diplo points a turn - diplo warning was saying I'm 2 over my relationship limit, while it was only listing 11/10 relations. It's either a horrible bug breaking my whole holy roman vassal idea, or giving war subsidies counts for extra relation even if you already have one with a country. In any case, it stopped as soon as I peaced out. It's some kind of a bug, hopefully nothing campaign breaking.

Something horrible happened to my anti-Castille plans. Portugal broke out as a 3-province minor in South America. That's literally the best thing that could have happened to Castille. They can no longer be forced to release Portugal, and returning 49 other Portuguese cores one at a time would cost someone 2450 diplo points before discounts, and there aren't any warscore discounts on that.

I feel that's a massive game design fuckup - returning cores should cost 0 or very little few points, not as many as outright conquest. I could try vassalizing this new Portugal (probably by force), and then fight Castille ten times over and over again burning still ~600 diplo points even with best of discounts, hoping Portuguese cores don't expire... Actually now that I said that, that sounds fun, except I don't think I have any CB against Portugal. I guess one no-CB war per campaign isn't end of the world.

EDIT*: Just checked and I can force convert and vassalize Portugal in one war for just 1 stability and some AE. Forcing Castille to return all Portuguese cores would cost 784 diplo points (once I tag them as rivals) and 206% warscore - basically I could force them to return everything in Americas in one go since colonies are super-cheap if I somehow had 600+ diplo points which is never going to happen. I can't manufacture claims or make any of these colonies a  war target or anything like it.

I'm currently making 5 diplo/month, and I absolutely need that last idea in Exploration group for 360 diplo. I still feel that force vassalizing Portugal and expanding it at least somewhat is a good idea, even if I can't exactly blitz that. Or if cores somehow didn't expire I could annex that micro-Portugal, then forced Castille to release the full Portugal in another war. It depends if I'm more interested in screwing with Castille or in world domination - for world domination what happened is actually quite fortunate.

Post 36 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-27 12:54:42 UTC

EU4 currently outright broken features.

• Enforce Peace - attacker is meant to get a decision, either it backs down and white peaces, or you join the war on defender's side. Right now there's 0% chance of backing down, no matter how ridiculously one-sided it would be. I don't think they even bothered implementing that. (this is actually overpowered thanks to being broken rather than underpowered, since you can get into defensive war any time, ignoring truce timers and not getting your target's allies into it)
• Imperial Ban CB - it gives zero AE discount, and HRE has AE multipliers, so you end up with more AE than with non-HRE Conquest, and only a shitty claim in thanks for your effort. Considering how hard it is to abuse it should go back to working like in EU3 - 10% AE, cores on conquest.
• Cleansing of Heresy CB - forcing change religion costs just as much as annexation or vassalization (already a bad idea), and this CB doesn't even provide any discount, so you can never use it to flip anybody's religion.
• Crusades - in EU3 they gave all Catholics CB against target, here they only give CB to target's neighbours... who already have Conquest, Holy War, and other CBs anyway.
• Excommunication - requirement for relations with pope <-50 means only expansive Italian nations ever get there, unless by some special random event. And then even if Naples gets that AE, it's under Aragon early game so you still can't excommunicate them as junior partner. And even if you manage to excommunicate someone useful before Papal States disappear from the map, CB is pretty weak.

Post 37 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-28 00:24:12 UTC

EU4 in 1705.

Meet my new vassals - Holy Roman Polotsk, Holy Roman Tibet, Holy Roman Venad, Holy Roman Kangra, Holy Roman Malabar, and not even the tiniest bit holy Portugal. I think I'll release Garjat and Funj, maybe Adal as well.

Vijayanagar ate up every single minor I forced them to release while I was busy elsewhere, so I had to beat them to even release half of that back. No big deal, relation-free vassals are just awesome. I'm beaten Ottomans some more to get a few more provinces, then force converted Albania Protestant for no particular reason.

My relations list now:
• my ally France
• my vassal in process of being annexed - Mamluks
• my regular vassals to be annexed as soon as possible - Georgia, Serbia, Poland, Orissa. Unfortunately after recent round of mass annexations getting them to +190 will be quite hard. Serbia and Georgia still need to eat a few Ottoman provinces each, but that won't take longer than about 15 years, hopefully.
• my very long term vassals - England, Ireland, Portugal (hopefully Portugal will restart colonizing once they get their act together, other two are colonizing just fine)

That means after I annex Mamluks I'll be using only 8/10 diplo relationship slots. And if I manage to annex my other four not terribly useful vassals I'll be down to 4/10. There are so many options what to do with all those slots.
• I could finish Exploration idea group, and beat up and force vassalize or annex-then-release some natives.
• I could take some regular vassals with huge coring potential in East Asia like Dai Viet, Ming, or Korea.
• I could diplo-vassalize Brittany for another colonizer. Aragon is sadly now a Republic so I can't do that.
• I could release and force vassalize Fez to start annexing North Africa, or do that with Mutapa and East Africa. But then Holy Roman Funj or Adal could sort of do that as well, even if less effectively.

That's the first time ever I'm not desperately starved for diplomatic relations. Of course my shitty king has diplo skill 1, and I'm using skill 2 Statesman to speed up vassalization, so my diplo points are still shitty, but the future looks really bright.

In unrelated news, Japan got unified some time ago, and now it leads PU over huge Oirat Horde blob. If they were Western tech, that would be seriously worrying, but the way things are it's basically totally irrelevant what they'll do.

Post 38 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-28 03:13:51 UTC

EU4 1705-1708.

This game is suffering from serious case of core expiration. There's a huge cutoff in country size - either you can annex/vassalize it in one go, or you can't (OK, you can wait 5 years for province cost timer to start ticking, but that's just miserable, I've done it only once ever back in EU3 where the whole campaign would fail if I didn't annex Bihar center of trade as Orissa, and it was Bihar's capital, and annexation required 102% warscore).

If you can't, and the country has releasable minor state, you can keep forcing them to until they get into annexable/vassalizable range. Early game pretty much every country in the world can be divided this way, and it's awesome for gameplay. But so far into campaign, most of such cores expired already, provinces got more valuable so they cost more warscore, there are almost no CBs that offer warscore reduction, so you can't divide anyone, or even if you make them release a province or two that still won't be enough to vassalize them next war.

And if you can't, your options are really bad. Annexing a few province at a time costs huge number of diplo points, generates a lot of unnecessary AE, and such provinces are often extremely awkward to core.

Even with my CB that gives me 50% warscore discount, I can't get anything in China in a clean way. I can't make Brunei small enough to vassalize since Aceh's cores already expired. It's just really awkward, and if I played with cores that never expire mod I'd be much happier now.

What I can do is conquer Vijayanagar, Shan, and maybe Ayutthaya. The biggest difficulty is that even though I forced them to release various OPMs they attack them back as soon as truce timer expires, and I can't always police it right away. I should probably use warning function a lot more, but I'm not even totally sure if it works as designed - I warned quite a few countries, and call to war never triggered out of it.

Plan Funj also failed. I accidentally added too many provinces to HRE, and as emperor I can't sell HRE lands to my vassals, so that completely locks me out of an easy way to expand into North Africa. I think that might even get fixed in upcoming 1.5 since when you sell cored provinces vassals get instant cores on them replacing yours.

I could just spawn a regular vassal in Tripoli or Fez, since I have 2 free diplo slots (and I'm working on getting Poland, Serbia, and Georgia to +190 so I could free 3 more; Orissa is doable in theory, but diplomat travel time makes it really awkward).

Right now I'm waiting half a year for French truce timer against Castile to run out. Then I'll try to get Portugal some of its lands back. I've sent Portugal a big stash of money hoping they'll resume colonizing, but so far they're just building random stuff. Maybe they'll be more enthusiastic when they get Lisbon back.



Post 39 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-29 02:17:33 UTC

EU4 campaign: 1708-1710.

I got into a fight with Castille as planned - forcing it to give most of European parts of Portugal back (bastards still don't want a royal marriage due to excessive distance from Moscow to their capital in South America), and forcing its ally Algiers to release Tripoli, which I might annex and release later since Holy Roman Funj plan failed so miserably. Or maybe it would have been a better idea to take one border province with Tripoli core from them, core it the hard way (12 years, but they're very low base tax, so overextension is manageable), then release Tripoli as a Holy Roman vassal? I might end up not conquering North Africa at all this campaign.

I tried warning spam against Algiers, Vijayanagar, Shan, Ayutthaya, and Lan Xang to maybe stop them from taking over OPMs I just forced someone to release. Not sure if that's going to work.

I've sent a lot of money to Ireland, England, and Portugal to get them to start colonizing, and it seems to be working.

I finished Exploration idea group, which gives me some really nice CBs against Pagans. Between that and spending 112 diplo to give Portugal back to Portugal, and 66 to annex two Indian minors I'm at pretty much 0 diplo points, so it's going to be a long while until my expansion can speed up.

I want to use my diplomatic relationship to annex and release Zapotec (who control all of Mexico) with my new CB, and maybe do the same to Incas and Tripoli as well. Finishing off Syria, Ottomans, and the rest of India are pretty high on my list too. I think I'll be able to annex Shan in one go and divide it between Orissa and Holy Roman Tibet now, then maybe I'll do the same with Lan Xang and Dai Viet too. I'm much more cautious about overextension and much lower on diplo points than back during good old "let's conquer half of India in one war" days.

In retrospect that whole Exploration thing might have been a huge mistake - I get Holy War CB on Pagans anyway if I have neighbouring colony, and I can annex them in one go because they're Pagans, not because of special CB, so it was completely unnecessary to spend 2520 extremely precious diplo points on that idea group. And I thought it gives a CB against everyone in Subsaharan Africa as well (Mali, Swahili etc.), but it just doesn't.

It's not completely useless since it gives me 2 extra colonists and much faster colony growth, but given a choice between colonizing New Zealand and conquering all of China you can probably guess which one I'd take.

Post 40 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-30 06:23:37 UTC

EU4 campaign 1710-1715.

I didn't do a terribly good job last five years. I didn't check if Georgia could take Syrian provinces (and I still have 3 unsold Ottoman provinces in the region), but I was really eager to finish off Syria, so I was stuck with >100% overextension until yesterday.

In another fail I didn't micromanage my explorer, so the ship sunk together with him. I'm really annoyed by the whole naval attrition mechanic. With all other nasty mechanics like AE, land attrition, overextension, manpower shortages, war exhaustion etc. you are on both sides - you can be the victim, but your enemies can be victims too. Not here - it only affects players, and it only causes more micromanagement (especially with blockades). If I ever make a proper mod, I'll just remove that from the game completely.

And speaking of AI cheating - I tried again to use support rebels function to get Portuguese patriots to rebel in Castile (before that I tried that with England, no success whatsoever), which was at -3 stability, 0 legitimacy, some war exhaustion (unfortunately in EU4 war exhaustion is ridiculously low and easy to manage compared with EU3), with many of Portuguese overseas provinces being Protestant or Reformed (not sure why, Portugal was Catholic become I forced it to switch) so they really ought to rebel.

But then I remembered that AI has massively lower chance of overseas rebellions ("because it can't handle them"). Well, no shit, that's my point - I want to spawn those rebels *because* AI can't handle them. If it could, why would I be even throwing all that money on them?  Of course none of them spawned, but regular revolutionaries did, and flipped Castile into a republic with instant 80 republican tradition weirdly. Long after my rebel support was gone Portuguese patriots actually spawned on Cuba, so hopefully they'll flip those two provinces without my help.

Anyway, since I was already overextended anyway I decided to annex Shan and divide it between Orissa and Holy Roman Tibet, as my progress in Asia stalled somewhat. I'm dividing it in a way that they'll both border Lan Xang, so that's my next target (I'm not sure if I can actually annex that, the recurring pattern is that most countries are just a tiny bit above annexable range and most useful releasable cores already expired).

Now a really neat thing just happened. I attacked Zapotec as soon as I could offload 2 of Syrian provinces to Georgia and get my overextension under 100%, and then a few days into the way I got that amazing event that gives -20% unjustified demands for five years. Just a couple months before my truce with Castile expires. And what that means is that I'll be able to return all Portuguese cores at -33% (rival) -25% (diplo ideas) -10% (despotic monarchy) -20% (event) discount at 6/province - with a claim it would go down to just 1/province, but the only Portuguese core I could claim was Fernando Po.

So screw overextension for now - it's time to milk this event for all it's worth. If all goes well in five years I'll own all of Mexico, all of India, half of South American coast, some most of remaining Ottoman provinces, and maybe even Lan Xang.

And if things get really bad I still have 2 free diplomatic relations and Poland is being annexed as we speak to free my 3rd, so I can always release some of these conquests as vassals.

Post 41 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-30 13:17:50 UTC

I've rewritten the tools to use a single key/value pair as basic abstraction rather than using 1-element hashes, and the code is now way cleaner. For example to list tech groups of each country you just do:[:countries].content.each do |country_data|
  country_name = Localization[country_data.key]
  tech_group = country_data[:technology_group]
  tech_group &&= tech_group.content
  puts [country_name, tech_group || "-"].join("\t")

Ignoring single "EU4txt" line at the beginning of the save file, the parser should work just as well with CK2 saves and many other such files (or be easily adapted to them).

Parsing speed on my computer is about 1s/MB of save file, or ~30s for a typical late game 30M save file. It would be nice to speed it up, but it's not overly terrible.
 #eu4   #paradox

Post 42 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-01-31 22:02:07 UTC

EU4, or the story of total bullshit game bugs.

So I conquered Zapotec - it turned out that this gives me zero OE for that, so I thought I'm going to pay these 416 admin points and core it manually (I had 50% discount for animist province, and 10% for HRE reforms, it would be 1040 normally) even if it takes 12 years to core each province, whatever.

And then a few months in every province with Zapotec culture lost its Zapotec cores, and decided that actually it's going to start giving me OE. Aztec and Maya provinces remain with Zapotec cores. They're not supposed to ever expire, since Zapotec is primary culture of Zapotec, under any circumstances, and definitely no cores are meant to expire a few months in.

This looks like the same story as Moldavian cores in Hungary-conquered Moldavia expiring immediately, which was minor annoyance in my campaign since I wanted to force Hungary to release them again, except now I couldn't even release Zapotec as vassal if I wanted to since they no longer have cores there. And I can't even be sure if they'll ever expire or not.

So as a quick fix in my campaign I'm going to mid-game mod it to turn off all further core expiration, and I'll restore any obviously broken missing cores. I'm not sure how obvious it's going to be, so maybe I'll just add Moldavia and Zapotec back - if I can find a more complete fix, I'll do that instead. Now that doesn't 100% retroactively fix things, since they could still have same culture cores that expired prematurely, as nations that weren't primary in a culture won't be restored this way, but seriously, fuck bugs.

Post 43 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-02-01 03:15:55 UTC

EU4 1715-1719.

After I got a really bad case of core expiration bug I decided to just turn off core expiration and give back everybody all cores they ever had. That was somewhat excessive, but I really didn't feel like spending a few more hours carefully trying to figure out which cores expirations were due to outright bugs, which were due to dubious design decisions, and which were totally legitimate.

I expanded very aggressively to take advantage of 5 years of -20% unjustified demands, only just getting under 100% OE. I conquered Zapotec and started coring them, then conquered Incas... and it turns out I can't core them at all as they're on the wrong side of the ocean and too far from my ports. Awkward... Right now I'm building a colony on Tahiti which should get ready and cored faster than Zapotec lands - either way Incas are going to be constantly rebelling for 20 years or so.

I returned everything but 4 cores to Portugal. I've also found a pretty annoying bug while trying to debug disappearing cores - Portuguese Patriots spawned in Cuba and St Kitts - they're owned by Castile and have Portuguese culture and Castilian and Portuguese cores. All of Castilian ships got sunk, so they can't fight the rebels, and I thought Portugal is going to get some free provinces here. And no - the rebels want to join Castile, where they already are. So Castile just accepts their demands, they "join" Castile, then start rebelling again... The bugs in EU4 don't seem to ever stop if I look at anything close enough.

Far in the East I conquered 5 provinces where to spawned vassal Ming (who have cores all over China - they had cores only over about 80% of China before my bugfix - I think these were legitimate core losses via core revocation in lost wars, but I can't be bothered to check each core manually and in any case that matters relatively little either way), and finished conquest of India other than Ceylon (who's going to survive as it's too painful to core) and another OPM.

I've taken advantage of restored cores to return 3 HRE provinces Burgundy owned to various HRE minors (these really shouldn't have expired, it's probably more of a design fail than a bug, but I seriously don't like it either way). I could make them release HRE OPM Liege, but it won't actually become my vassal since 7th reform works as a trigger, not as static ability, and so it doesn't affect newly released HRE states. Doesn't really matter either way.

I got in a war against Ottomans. Georgia has serious troubles digesting provinces, so I got a bunch for Serbia instead. I could have pushed much harder, but with the kinds of OE I have I've decided not to.

I have some kind of regional domination is just about every region except all parts of Africa, and all parts of East Asia except India. Regional conquest plans:
• *China*: Ming has cores all over China, I can just feed them.
• *South-East Asia*: It's broken into countries which can be conquered in one war. Orissa and Tibet can take some provinces, or maybe even Ming since they don't actually have to core anything in China.
• *Indonesia*: Sudden reappearance of cores (as far as I can tell fully legit which should have never disappeared) could really help me conquer Indonesia by first splitting Brunei, then vassalizing them, then feeding them various splinter countries back.
• *Far East*:  maybe release Korea and go from there? Or perhaps one of Japanes daimyos? I might not make it in time for campaign to end.
• *Siberia*: that's really far from my current plans
• *North Africa*: Portugal has one core in Africa - it's wrong culture so it was actually legitimate expiration, but what the hell. I could make a vassal of either Tripoli, Fez, or newly recored Tunisia - then I have a choice of vassals to feed - England (has colony bordering Morocco), Portugal (once they get that core), and whichever country I decide to vassalize.
• *East Africa*: I could force Swahili to release Mutapa, vassalize Mutapa, then expand from there - that's actually very limited in potential since French colony stands between them and highly tempting target of Spanish South Africa. Or I could release Holy Roman Ethiopia or Adal, sell them my colony, and use them to expand into East Africa.
• *West Africa*: no idea really. Probably won't make it in time.
• *Europe*: except for cleaning up Ottomans, no further plans. If I get into war with someone I might force them to release some minor states and/or force them to convert to Protestant, but that's all very low priority.
• *North America*: once Zapotec are cored I'll send some armies to conquer Hurons and divide their lands between England and Ireland. The problem is that I can't core them ever since they're not connected to my lands or any ports, so if there are any provinces neither England nor Ireland will want, that somewhat screws my plans. Other than that, Ireland and England will happily colonize the continent.
• *South America*: Portugal will hopefully keep colonizing. I might conquer a few Castilian colonies to connect everything, but that's fairly low priority.

I don't think I'd be able to do a world conquest by 1821, but I should be able to become dominant power in all regions, maybe except Siberia, West Africa, and Japan, but then I got South America due to a lucky coincidence so who knows.

Post 44 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-02-03 01:09:35 UTC

EU4 campaign 1719-1726.

I can't believe it's literally a month of calendar time. (even though it's probably not that much clock time if I had undivided time for it)

I finished annexation of Poland - turns out they had no core over Belz I sold them a while ago since they were claiming it and hated me for it, so I need to core it now. Now sure if it's a bug or not, I'll just pay for it rather than spend another evening trying to debug coring bugs.

I conquered Hurons and sold their lands to the English and the Irish - and my colony in Tahiti got cored so I can start coring Inca lands. It turns out I misunderstood the mechanics here completely, and you get 50% animist/shamanist discount when core owner is animist/shamanist, not when the province is - so if I converted Zapotec lands straight away (4 months each) then cored I'd have about half the rebel issues I'm actually having. Oops. I'm not sure what are the implications for Shawnee lands - they are Catholics and westernized, but they conquered some tribes that were Pagan and they still have (restored) cores on them. Probably doesn't matter either way.

I have a plan of chain-conquering Shun. All countries in China area are too big, even releasable ones - but Shun's lands are divided between multiple countries. I could probably force Manchus to release their bit of Shun, conquer that, then do the same with Xi, then Zhou etc. - it actually takes 5x fewer diplo points than conquering straight away. I'm not sure if that would actually work, but it might.

I conquered Champa, Dai Viet, and 2 Dai Viet cores Lan Xang had - exactly enough to make them annexable in next war - then I released Dai Viet as a vassal.

All my new vassals - Ming, Dai Viet, Portugal, and (soon to be conquered) Korea share a major problem with very low religious unity. I pretty much have to fight rebels for them, since AI is so inept at it, and religious zealots will keep spawning. I didn't bother converting their lands first, since OE (and in case of Portugal these were returned cores, so they were never actually mine). I sort of miss how in CK2 liege could send missionaries to vassal's lands, but I guess it would be a bit silly in 18th century. Fortunately none of these lands are Muslim or Orthodox, so they get no penalties, and conversion is relatively fast.

It's probably hard to see on the map, but Portugal got its one province in North Africa - to be honest it should have expired by official rules, since it was wrong cultures, and my bug fixing script was just overly eager here, but what the hell. It helps, but doesn't make a huge difference since I had Tunisia, Fez, Tripoli vassals as backup plans, or I could have always started eating into Morocco and feeding it to the English who have neighbouring colony there.

I'm vaguely wondering if I could force vassalize Castile. It sounds ridiculous, but overseas provinces count for almost nothing as far as force vassalization goes, so I could just chomp bits of it in various wars, feed it into Portugal, and eventually it could become vassalizable. That's very long term plan, but I still have nearly 100 years to go, and in a way it would be the crowning achievement of the entire campaign (presumably domination over East Asia will be achieved by then, even if not outright total conquest). For now I made them release Granada (they are of the right culture, so they probably should have persisted, but it's a borderline care) and return all that's left they had of Portuguese lands.

For now I've taken a break for some shooters. I'm sure I'll come back to world conquest soon enough.

Post 45 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-02-04 03:32:03 UTC

EU4 campaign 1726-1730

I finally cored and converted Zapotec lands, conquered and released Korea, annexed Lan Xang, and got some lands from Manchu.

I tried to beat up Brunei to make them release Aceh, but that doesn't seem to work - instead of releasing them as entire island of Aceh they'd only get Malacca. Meanwhile releasing Malacca  would result in a Malacca-shaped hole in Malacca. I'm not sure if that's more core bugs, or if my bugfix somehow made things even weirder.

The same issue came up when I tried to chain-release Shun from Manchu or Xi - neither can do that. Switching tag to one of these countries, Shun is on releaseable vassal list, but with no provinces. If I understand culture and core criteria, both Aceh and Shun problems are outright bugs.

I also tried that with Japan, and there releasing would totally work, but bastards are extremely unwilling to give up any land without me going way above 45%-ish warscore I can easily get from just battles and blockades. I sort of hoped to break their prestige so their PU over Oirat Horde breaks, but that seems unlikely anytime soon, so I just got them to release Ryukyu and Date and called it a day.

Anyway, religious map is slowly catching up with political map, I'm slowly annexing Orissa and Serbia - I might release some small HRE vassal countries in their place instead if I need to eat more lands, but that might me unnecessary. I plan to have just one more war with Ottomans and then start annexing Georgia before -60 penalty for two ongoing annexations triggers (on top of penalties due to them being Orthodox and wannabie great power). That means Ottomans will be left with a couple of provinces, but I can live with that - I could try HRE Karaman or something to finish them off if that's necessary.

I've taken a look at colonist travel times, and I'd probably be able to colonize half of Siberia in time it took me to colonize a few provinces in Australia and New Zealand. Maybe that's a better way?

I just reached tech levels 26/21/26 and that gives me 7th idea group. Not sure what to take - my choices are innovative, economic, espionage, administrative, naval, trade, aristocratic, defensive, quantity.

I can't take trade or naval since I have barely any diplo points. Quantity and defensive are pretty much useless at this stage of the game. Of four remaining, none have really amazing bonuses, other than +1 diplomats and +1 possible advisors nothing is really that interesting. Espionage might have been interesting earlier, but supporting rebels was a total fail, even disregarding rebels being bugged (Portuguese Patriots in Castile wanting to defect from Castile to Castile...), so I'm guessing it's going to be really weak.

As for plans for near future, my current rivals are Castile, Ottomans, and Manchu, and these will be my primary targets. It's going to take a while until my vassal slots get freed, but once that happens North Africa and Japan are probably next.

Post 46 - Originally published on Google+ on 2014-02-05 01:57:53 UTC

EU4 Scandinavia campaign 1730-1738.

Ottomans are no more (I had to sell Cyprus to non-vassal Byzantium, islands are really hard to core in any way), Orissa is annexed (with HRE Pegu spawned it its easters provinces), and Serbia is about to be annexed. I finally have an awkward land route to Ming and Korea and I'm in close to full control over Indochina.

I tried to time annexations so that I would finish Ottomans and start annexing Georgia and Dai Viet just before previous round of annexations finishes to avoid -60 penalty, but I missed the time window with Dai Viet by a bit, so I'll need to start annexing them next year.

I started some colonization of Siberia, apparently that causes 0 OE, but why I have no idea. I went for aristocratic ideas to get some use of mil points, but it's probably not all that great.

There's not that much military challenge left - I'm beating up countries to break them up or convert to Protestantism for no particular reason - I got Shawnee to release Creek, and Oirats to release Mongol Khanate, not sure if that will ever be of much use.

Right now a small problem came up that my king is way over 70 (and a general to boot to increase his chance of death even further) and my 55 year old heir just randomly died. Apparently nobody else in the entire dynasty ever took any efforts to make sure the dynasty survives. The popup claims that I might end up in PU under France if that happens - that would be pretty hilarious late game complication, but I'm not even sure if that's true since they're of a different dynasty.

I could break our royal marriage, which would get our relations way into negatives and break our alliance which survived almost the entire game - and even then I'm not totally sure if that would work. I think a few of my vassals have the same dynasty as me - I don't think I can be a junior PU partner of my vassal, but then I really have little idea how dynastic politics works here, I was too busy conquering the world to take notice of that.

I'm going to have a few relations slots free (France, England, Ireland, Portugal, Ming, and Korea are my only relationships I don't plan to annex ASAP), so I might force vassalize a few countries - maybe in Africa, since that's the least conquered part of the world?

For that matter the world is starting to run out of accessible lands to colonize (anything in dark red or brown on the religion map is colonizable, more or less). I might annex my colonizing vassals as well if they become idle - Ireland definitely hit the wall in Canada, but they could still colonize someplace else like Africa if they really wanted to. If not, join the annexation queue.


Me and my vassals

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