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Monday, April 19, 2021

European Super League

Yoda by elycefeliz from flickr (CC-NC-ND)

There's been a lull in politics recently, fortunately there's new entertainment from the football world. Not the matches, I never watch those, that's 90 minute snoozefest, but these's fun drama involving creation of European Super League.

It look like 15 clubs (12 publicly known, 3 weirdly still secret) announced that they're dumping existing UEFA league, and creating their own league.

As far as I can tell, the main motivations seems to be that:

  • it's under control of the big clubs, not the greedy and corrupt UEFA and FIFA and (somehow) Qatar
  • it will provide more predictable income streams to the big clubs, without risk of losing tens of millions due to a bad match or two and failing to qualify
  • it will just make a lot more money, as big clubs won't have to waste time playing weak clubs few people care to watch
Now the most interesting thing is predicting who's going to win, Super League or UEFA.

For this I checked UEFA's club rankings. Members of the new league are rated 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 26, and 53. So 10 out of top 15 clubs, plus two baffling additions.

To make sure this isn't some artifact of weird storing, I also checked 538's global rankings, and clubs in the Super League are ranked 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 28, 36. So again 10 of top 15, plus two baffling additions.

The low ranked outliers are not even the same - it's AC Milan and Tottenham by 538's ranking; and AC Milan and Inter Milan by UEFA's.

Interestingly 538's global ranking shows total dominance of European teams. The only non-European club in top 50 is a Brazilian one at 41.

So it looks like if Super League plans go ahead, it will likely completely dominate European and global football.

Greedy and corrupt UEFA and FIFA threatened every club and every player involved in the Super League with a ban from participating in everything else including the World Cup, to which the Super League responded in hilariously ballsy way that if that's so, they'll just create their own World Cup.

And according to rankings, Super League's World Cup will be far higher level event than one by what's left of UEFA and FIFA.

Of course supporters of smaller teams, as well as supporters of greedy and corrupt UEFA and FIFA, are really hating on this development, and trying to use all their corrupt politician friends like Boris Johnson to stop it. But right now I'd bet on the Super League winning.

And as a final aside, the very fact that Boris Johnson is on UEFA's side clearly shows that the Super League are the good guys here.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Review of Vanilla Beyond mod for Medieval 2 Total War

sweet baby by Neticola from flickr (CC-ND)

Vanilla Beyond is my favorite kind of mod, one that tries to improve the base game without turning it into a kitchen sink of every cool feature modders possible.

The mod changes world map - extending the map a bit to the East, squeezing the Atlantic (probably to avoid game engine limitations on max campaign size), adding a bunch of extra factions (some from Kingdoms campaigns).

The new map is definitely a great improvement.

The mod changes how New World and Mongols are implemented. New World colonization is open from day one, and you'll see Norwegians, Portuguese and so on colonize right away, which feels a bit off, but the way it works in vanilla where they might as well not be in the game is also a bit off. Maybe it would be best to actually remove them from the game completely instead?

Mongols start on-map, and instead of a lot of free doom stack they get a bit of gold, troops, and king's purse every time they conquer new settlement, with the idea of creating a huge snowball. I didn't play long enough to see if it works properly or not. They seem to have long range missiles (including horse archers), which feels a bit bs in terms of both gameplay and historical accuracy, but game gives long range missiles and effective against armor effect quite generously to everyone.

These seem like sensible changes.

I played a quick game as Armenia on normal, as that faction wasn't available in any previous campaign. I got from 1 to 8 regions by turn 13, defeating Emirate of Damascus and getting some rebel lands.

AI was extremely passive, and nobody declared any wars against anyone else. In vanilla there's a 10 turn timer for AI, maybe it's much longer here? It felt like I can do a lot before AI wakes up. I guess I could have been more aggressive, in Empire I usually get 3 declaration of war on me turn one, and I got used to that a bit.

The biggest change in the came is in recruitment buildings. Basic city/castle tier has no recruitment slots at all - that means city or castle cannot recruit any units at all just by existing. That's an especially huge nerf to castles (which in vanilla can already recruit Mailed Knights or equivalent even at low level). You need to build a bunch of recruitment buildings to do any recruiting, so early game you'll be mostly relying on mercenaries and your starting army.

The related change is that higher tier buildings can only recruit higher tier units, and cannot recruit anything low tier. This is annoying for garrison logic, and sometimes you just don't have any units at all in the pool to recruit because of this. I suspect after a while (like 20-50 turns), it all starts working properly, but very early game is extremely awkward due to these changes.

There's a bit less difference between cities and castles - castles get some trade buildings, some low tier units overlap between both instead of having completely separate chains, and some castle garrison is upkeep free.

There's also a bunch of unique buildings in various settlements, which make sense I guess.

Merchant income got deservedly increased, as it was just way too low in vanilla.

Overall the mod has very awkward early game, so I don't think it's suitable for quick campaigns, but it could work better for something longer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Empire Total War Campaign Guides

 

Origins by pjmorse from flickr (CC-SA)

As I got back to Empire Total War, somehow I couldn't find any good faction guides. All advice was awful, or only applicable to outdated patches.

So I decided to did some research and write my own guides. It's mostly based on campaigns I played before, but for factions I played less I did a lot of testing.

The guides apply to unmodded campaigns, or lightly modded campaigns (things like removing forts, faction unlocks, additional units, graphics mods etc.). Because Empire modding is rather limited, you can still mostly follow them even for big mods like Darthmod as long as they have start similar to 1700 vanilla start.

The guide mostly targets hard/hard campaign difficulty. I find it's an enjoyable balance of modest AI bonuses to be a bit more challenging without game being completely stupid they way very hard is.

Most of the advice would still apply on very hard, but some fights I see as very winnable on hard might be pushing your luck a bit on very hard. It definitely applies on normal - on normal you can just play without much plan too and do fine.

I genuinely believe these are the best guides for pretty much every country, but I might have missed something big, so feedback is very welcome.

I also wrote some general gameplay tips before (one, two). They're not essential, but a few factions can really use techniques like ship switching and move after landing.

General advice

The stuff advisor says is mostly nonsense. Also you shouldn't care the tiniest bit about your victory conditions. Your priorities should always be:

  • safety
  • economy
  • everything else

in this order. Once you're safe and rich, getting any victory conditions is trivial.

Whoever you play as, your main concern should be safety of your country. Empire Total War is an offense-only game, with no good defense options. Armies no longer need to wait a turn to build siege equipment before taking a province. Garrison troops are completely worthless and just 1-2 Line Infantry can crush every garrison except maybe capitals. Walls would be worthless even if it wasn't for 0fps bug that makes people mod them out. And AI is really aggressive and will randomly declare war on you a lot.

Generally the easiest factions are those with one or two fronts, and hardest are those which need to defend from every direction at once.

You can predict which wars you'll need to fight by starting new campaign, and pressing end turn a few times. AI moves in the first few turns are extremely predictable, that's one of the reasons this guide works as well as it does.

The only ways to protect yourself are:

  • keeping very expensive troops on the borders - one full stack can protect your frontline very well, but one full stack costs about 5000 a turn
  • attacking first to eliminate your opponents and get more favorable borders. However simply eliminating your current enemies isn't enough, as countries that become your new neighbours really love to declare war on you next turn (give them military access and trade agreements instantly)
  • alliances with potential enemies - you might need to use bribes to secure alliances. At least AI doesn't surprise backstab its allies as much as it did back in Medieval 2, at least as long as it has some other ways to expand available. If you get allies, they generally won't attack you, but do not call them into your wars unless you absolutely have to, as allies abandon you more often than not
  • bribe your enemies to peace out - AI especially loves technologies, and giving away technologies doesn't cost you anything; however game tracks how many times you trades each technology; which presumably means other AIs will value it less each time you trade it; don't count on such peace lasting long, so use time you bought well

You can and should tone down AI aggressiveness by giving everyone unlimited military access and trying to get trade agreements with all neighbouring factions. If AI wants some money for trade agreement, it's usually worth paying, as it will repay itself in a few turns, and trade agreements make AIs a lot less aggressive.

Also give unlimited military access to Great Britain, and any other great powers far away from you, so they don't get an idea of dropping a surprise naval landing on you.

You should trade with all your neighbours by land, as it cannot be blocked and doesn't cost you trade slots. For naval trade, best partners are Marathas and Britain as pretty much they never get trade blockaded. New Spain, Thirteen Colonies, and Louisiana are good for the first few turns, but then they get annexed. The worst partner are the Mughals, they get blockaded every time without exception. Everyone else, it depends on how campaign goes - having trade agreement that cannot be fulfilled due to blockaded ports loses you huge amounts of money, so be sure to break any such agreements unless you think they'll fix it soon.

Pirates and Barbary States are a big hassle first few turns, but AI fleets usually crush them even if you do nothing, so don't worry too much.

You should aim at having about 4 universities within first ten turns, usually 2 universities in your capital region, replacing any inn or church that's there. Best place for others are 6-slot settlements (so you can build culture buildings to counter unhappiness), but not capitals of playable factions (capitals of playable factions start with -30 resistance to foreign occupation, everything else just -13).

So places like: Portugal, Denmark, Koenigsberg, Saxony, Rome, Mysore, and so on. If you play with factions unlocked mod, be sure to use a version that only unlocks whichever faction you want to play - otherwise every faction's capital will have -30 resistance to foreign occupation.

Always research Canister Shot first, no exceptions or excuses. It unlocks mobile artillery, adds ridiculously overpowered canister shot ability for artillery, and even gives that ability to your existing fixed Demi-Cannons. After that, aim for Fire by Rank as soon as possible, and get Square Formation on the way - these technologies make your Line Infantry a lot better. Enlightenment technologies that let you build better schools and give research bonuses are great as well. Everything else has much much lower priority.

You really shouldn't obsess over special units - most European factions will have core army of Line Infantry, 12-lber Foot Artillery, and a bit of whichever cavalry you can get, and that's perfectly adequate. Getting military techs earlier than your enemies matters far far more than faction-unique units.

You start with some really trash units - Pikemen, Militia, Demicanons, and worse. You absolutely want to replace them with proper troops as soon as you can, but don't disband that trash - have them die for their country instead, that will save some of your regular units. Just don't reinforce them, and merge depleted units, until there's not much left, or you find yourself at peace for a few turns.

Austria

I'm a bit baffled by Austria.

If you do nothing, Prussia, Poland, and Ottomans will attack you within first few turns, setting you up for awkward fights on multiple fronts. It's not too bad, as Prussia and Poland will also fight each other, while Ottomans are weak and have a lot of other enemies, but it's somewhat challenging.

However, on completely unmodded hard/hard campaign, if you give away military access and trade agreements to all your neighbours, nobody will attack you. This trick is supposed to tone down AI aggressiveness, but in testing with every other faction, it was never anywhere near that kind of effective. Perhaps that trick plus your extremely long list of allies is enough to be a perfect deterrent?

But that's not all - the usual wars between Austria's neighbours like Prussia vs Saxony and Poland, just don't start. If allowed, Prussia and Poland both keep armies just barely within Austria's borders, and there they stayed on extended holidays.

So that's pretty much the guide - just offer all your neighbours except one free holidays, and then do whatever you want to that last one. I recommend taking Balkans from the Ottomans, as early game Ottomans are a total pushover, and you'll have very easy to defend natural borders in either Constantinople or Anatolia by the time you stop.

Eventually, Prussia and Poland might finally wake up, but once you have your Southern border secure, it's going to be extremely easy.

Once you're in a mood for fighting Poland, attack their protectorate - Saxony if it still exists, or Courland otherwise. Poland will likely still be allied to Russia, and maybe Denmark, and getting them involved is a pointless distraction. Prussia usually has no allies or just Hannover, so they can be declared upon directly.

Your starting ministers are decent. You can get better with a small reshuffle, but it's not essential.

You should absolutely destroy church in Innsbruck, Austria and replace by university. Same with inn in Olmutz, Bohemia. That gives you 3 universities, you can build another one or two on conquered lands like Saxony or Greece.

You start with a missionary and a rake. Missionary should be converting Muslims not other Christians, as Muslims generate 5x more unrest per person for Christian rulers, and converting in Europe is really slow. Your rake should try to assassinate Ottoman imam in Bosnia for the same reason. You'll be taking over those lands, and the agents are literally standing there next to their targets so might as well use them.

France

France starts with ministers with mostly good stats who infuriate everyone, with total of -2 nobility and -3 lower class happiness. The worst offender is your treasury minister, who gives +7% tax income at cost of -2 lower class happiness - +7% means 7% of wealth not of taxes, so he increases your tax income by about 20% over what it would otherwise be. Your king has -2 happiness for nobility, and sadly cannot be replaced except through a guillotine. You should replace at least your incompetent justice minister by someone who can keep the masses in check.

You start allied with Spain, and that means you'll be pulled into turn one war with Netherlands. Your Canadian holdings will be attacked by the Iroquois, and likely also the Huron.

You have 6 provinces in the New World, and not one of them can recruit any good units. It's a good idea to at least build Barracks and Ordnance Factory in Quebec, so you don't have to rely on Militia, and native troops.

If you start war with Netherlands in your colonies, Netherlands can get a lot better units in Curacao than you on your holdings.

You'll be issued a mission that lets you annex Louisiana if you take 3 native provinces, but it's not worth the rush - Louisiana is just 2 poor provinces, just let them be.

I'd go even further - if you can find a buyer for Montreal, I'd recommend selling it, as it's just a liability - it makes no money, can recruit no troops, and will expose you to inevitable expensive wars with the natives which you'll need to fight with awful troops. I couldn't find anyone who'd exchange any provinces for it, but you can sell it to random European minors for all their cash.

Natives will likely take it at some point, but by that time you'll have some military buildings in Quebec to retake that with decent force.

Your European situation is much better. Move all your armies towards Le Havre, and recruit as much Life Infantry as you can in Paris and Alsace, and move them there too. Your fleets can be split between Le Havre, Brest, and Marseille (just to protect it from Barbary States blockade).

Then you have two options:

Netherlands will attack Spain, accept call to arms, drop your troops on Amsterdam, and take it, eliminating Netherlands from the game, turn two or three. If you do that, be sure to take Curacao and Dutch Guyana, they are great provinces close to you.

Netherlands will attack Spain, accept call to arms, ignore that as Dutch and Spaniards will likely just stare at each other for a few turns. Instead attack Britain (declaring on their protectorate, not on Britain!), drop your troops on Ireland, Scotland, and England to take it over with overwhelming force in one turn before they can react. You can destroy Britain turn three to five, without a single naval battle. Britain has so many ports it's likely a lot of them will be undefended, and you can just land and walk to your target. And if not, you can use move-after-landing technique as a fallback.

Going Netherlands first, you could do Britain second - in one way it's great, since it gives you a few extra turns to recruit more troops. But German minors might then decide to attack you in Netherlands or Alsace, so that could be quite awkward.

Going Britain first you can do Netherlands second. This order completely closes that frontline, as AI will never land in French Britain. If Netherlands takes Flanders from Spain you'll even have pretty borders once you take both. The downside of that is that you can have French Guyana attacked, and there's a chance Netherlands can take Flanders too fast, invade France, and complicate your plans.

So neither of these orders are perfect, but either way you'll eliminate your two main rivals by 1702 or 1703.

After that you can focus on Pirates, or Italy, or German minors, or Iroquois. If you want to conquer India, you could send a small army to Ceylon or Begal, but it will take it very long time to get there, and you'll be paying it all that time. Basically whatever you conquer there should be your main recruiting base, moving troops between theaters is just too expensive to do except in most exceptional cases.

Spain will remain your ally, and other than Flanders looking annoying you have no real reason to break that.

Great Britain

You will need to fight a bit on sea, so this campaign is easy if you're comfortable with naval battles, and maybe less so if you're not.

Great Britain starts allied with Portugal, Netherlands, Hannover, Austria, and overlord of Thirteen Colonies. Of these Austria is a huge liability, will drag you into pointless wars with Prussia, Poland, and Ottomans, never do anything useful for you, so just break that alliance right away.

You or your protectorate will get attacked by Iroqouis and Huron turn one. The Pirates will also attack your fleets in the Caribbean.

There's really easy way to fix some of those issues. The Huron really want Rupert's Land, so sell it to them for their whole treasury of 8000. It would take something like 50 turns for that region to make that kind of money, even if you didn't have to pay to defend it.

This will also teleport your army from there to Bahamas. It's only 2 bad units, but add 4 units already on Bahamas, put them on ships, and sail towards Antigua. You'll have to fight two naval battles (3 ships vs 3; and then what's left vs another 3), which you can win by chainshot zigzag easily. You can capture Antigua turn two, then eliminate pirates turn three or four. If you feel uncomfortable with that, there's 2 extra ships that are a bit slower, but they'll still reach Antigua turn 2 if you keep all 5 together. There are also some units in Jamaica, if you want to send one ship to pick them up and return.

For every captured island, if it has a shipyard, you absolutely must destroy it and build a trade port. Otherwise, plantations on those islands cannot export and they whole island is completely worthless.

Thirteen Colonies will likely struggle against Iroquois, and might lose New York, but they shouldn't get overrun. If they struggle for very long time you can send some troops to help them, but that's not a priority.

To annex Thirteen Colonies you'll need to take over three provinces. From Cherokees you need Georgia, and Cherokee Territory; from France you need Quebec (New France in game). Defeating Cherokees is relatively easy and they're close to your Caribbean power base, France is a much harder, and it's out of the way.

In any case, there's no rush. Thirteen Colonies start really poor, so let them develop, using magical extra money each faction gets. You can give them techs for free to help them a bit.

In Europe you're at no risk of any invasion, but your weak starting army and limited recruitment slots will limit your ability to achieve much in first few turns.

The most obvious thing to do is put all your troops in Greenwich and recruit some more, then drop them all in the usually undefended Le Havre, and take Paris in same turn as you declare war. If you then take Alsace-Lorraine, France will be removed from the game, and all their colonies will go rebel - except your mission goal Quebec will instead form a new nation. In occupied France destroy church in Dijon. It's up to you want to keep university in Orleans or not. France has decent happiness bonuses, with inn in Lille, and you can build another in Dijon, so it's relatively fine as far as -30 resistance to foreign occupation provinces go.

You can try to drop on Spain as well, but Spain has far too many European provinces to be eliminated quickly, no convenient port accessible for easy landing from Britain, and France might interfere if you do, so I'd recommend eliminating France first, and Spain only later.

You can pack all your army on ships and send them to India, to attack Mughals - or for a bigger challenge Marathas. Sending armies is obscenely expensive, so just get enough on the boats to conquer first couple of provinces, and then rely on local recruits. Even Sepoys can deal with Mughal trash troops just fine.

Replace church in Oxford by second university. There aren't any amazing places for third, but Cork, Ireland, is a very poor town, and is likely better used for an university than a factory.

If you have spare cash, and you'll be fairly well off, just build Indianmen in every port that can, all the time. Britain is in great position to exploit all trade.

Your ministers have good stats, but they really piss off your nobility (-4 nobility, +2 middle class), so you might want to replace them.

Marathas

It's about the easiest campaign in the game.

Just rush Mughals like crazy. If you're feeling confident in your ability to win even battles, you should be able to take Ahmadnagar, take Hyderabad, and destroy Mughal army in Bijapur all on turn one. If you're feeling less confident in your abilities, try to do at least do two of those three things.

Don't stop pushing until Mughals are eliminated - if the first punch is hard enough, they'll never get their stuff together. Even better, as Mughals are a non-playable faction, their capital has only -13 resistance, not -30, so you can keep its university without much hassle.

Destroy pointless tavern in Trichinopoly, Carnatica. It's not a perfect place, but I'd recommend building university there. Or alternatively you could build a factory there instead.

Your starting ministers are quite good. Be sure to prioritize unrest reduction (especially for lower classes), as you'll be conquering a lot of land, with many Muslims in it (Muslims generate far more unrest than various Christians), and your troops should be pushing hard, not wasting their time on rebels. South India is mostly Hindu, but you should build some ashrams in North India to help convert the peasants there.

It's important to avoid temptation of attacking Goa and Ceylon. Portugal and Netherlands both have only one provinces in Europe each, and they very frequently get eliminated. This will make their Indian possessions go rebel, and then you can take them for free.

Mysore is a valuable region with pre-built university, but they're very unlikely to attack you, so just let them live until you're dealt with the Mughals. They'll invest most of their money back into developing your future province.

Consider getting a few boats to blockade the Mughals, and build a lot of trade ships for Indonesia and East Africa. You don't really need to protect them - AIs will likely eliminate Pirates before you even get there, and you won't have any wars with Europeans.

After conquering Mughals, Mysore, and getting Goa and Ceylon from rebels, you can take Persia for the Maharajah of the Indies achievement. It's a lot easier than achievements for other theaters.

Mughals

Mughals are the only major faction that's not playable, so you'll need to play with that faction unlocked. Due to playable factions getting -30 resistance to foreign occupation, it messes up the game a bit if you make all factions playable, so get a mod that only unlocks the Mughals if possible.

I think they were intended to be playable, as there's even recorded advisor speech for them, they were likely cut at the last minute.

Anyway, the whole campaign can be basically won turn one. Just offer Marathas some money for peace deal. If you do it right away, they'll request your whole 12000, but you can bargain it down a bit. Just queue some buildings to make you appear to have less money, and they should accept about 6000-8000 plus military access (at least on hard) - you might even get trade agreement as part of the deal. Then unqueue those buildings and buy something else.

Once you have peace, just move all your troops to the frontline. Then you can take your time to get your country in order - about 10 turns should be enough. Once you're done, either break your peace treaty and attack once your whole army can do it together, or just stay there waiting for Marathas to do their first move, there's really no rush, time is absolutely on your side here.

Playing Mughals the hard way, and actually winning the war with Marathas while your armies are scattered all over India is a lot harder.

Your early troops are absolute trash and far worse than any other factions, but you'll get decent troops eventually.

Your economy starts terrible, but if you fill all empty towns with tier 1 buildings, and replace your shitty treasury minister, it will get better fast.

You have a bunch of inns which you should replace by universities, factories, or at least madrasas. Hindu peasantry in India does not like you, so converting them is a good long term investment.

Persia will not attack you, and they might even ally you. You have no other enemies for very long time. Europeans might show up eventually, but it will be very late game.

Netherlands

Netherlands start as a republic, so you'll be constantly replacing ministers one by one by kicking out the worst to get a random new one. It's a lot of hassle, and every 16 turns it's all thrown away and a completely new random cabinet replaces what you worked so long for. Other than that, being a republic comes with a lot of bonuses to research rate, town wealth growth, and lower class happiness.

Your universities generate 80% less unhappiness, so you can put them pretty much anywhere, and you don't need to destroy captured ones. On the other hand you have very limited building slots at start, so I recommend destroying factory in Kandy, Ceylon, and building your second university there. A few more will need to be on captured land.

Netherlands start is challenging not because it's particularly difficult, but because you'll wants to do so many things at once, but you'll need to choose just some:

  • you want to take Flanders from Spain; then either conquer France or conquer German minors
  • you want to start conquering defenceless land from the Mughals
  • you want to take over New World, starting from French Guyana, and islands controlled by Pirates, France, and Spain; then either New Spain or coastal North America
  • you want to just spam trade ships, send them everywhere, and have piles of trade goods

Sadly you won't have money and armies to do all those things at once, so just pick whichever one or two of these you fancy to do first.

I'd recommend breaking your alliance with Austria, as that only pulls you into a lot of wars you don't want, and Austria does nothing to help you. Cancel your trade agreement with the Mughals - their ports will get blockaded by Marathas in a few turns every campaign, and that makes your ships throw all cargo overboard for some reason, instead of trading somewhere else.

Here's a sketch of what you could do with every direction.

If you want to expand in India, I recommend starting from Orissa and Begal, using usual tricks to jump form ship to ship to double your movement range, and to attack same turn you land. Ceylon can recruit 2 Sepoys a turn, which are not great, but Mughals have absolutely trash units and zero navy, so they'll do just fine. From there either walk West to Gujarat, or build second army in Ceylon to land in Gujarat.

It would be nice to ally Marathas and divide India between you, but they're unlikely to accept that. If by some change they would, just take it. If not, at least give them military access so they chill a bit. Once you upgrade your barracks, you'll get VOC infantry and cavalry units instead of Sepoys - VOC troops massively outclass anything Indians have.

Portugal will likely get destroyed at some point, so that's a good time to snipe Goa from the rebels before Marathas do.

If you want to exapnd in Europe, you need to start with Flanders, and that means war with Spain. Do not declare war on Spain, declare war on their protectorate New Spain. This way France doesn't join, and New Spain will do literally nothing anyway - they can't walk to Dutch Guyana or Curacao, and they have no ships.

Unfortunately France is very likely to attack you in the first few turns anyway. It won't be an easy fight, but you could just keep recruiting as fast as you can, take Paris, France and Strassburg, Alsace-Lorraine, and that eliminates your biggest rival. German minors you neighbour are likely to ally you and trade with you, but they probably won't defend you. It's worth it anyway, at least one less thing to worry about - you definitely don't have anyone to spare for protecting your borders there.

In Americas you have military building at Curacao able to recruit 2 Line Infantry per turn. Destroy Pirates, and then island hop to take colony after colony of whomever you're fighting against - Spain and France typically. Pirate capital will have stronger garrison than any other settlement in the game, so you might need to recruit for a few turns before you can take them on.

For every captured island, if it has a shipyard, you absolutely must destroy it and build a trade port. Otherwise, plantations on those islands cannot export and they whole island is completely worthless. It's a good idea to destroy and replace shipyard in Antwerp, Flanders as well, as it's wealthy town and that gives you more trade slots.

Your best investment other than tier 1 buildings (there's one empty slot in Dutch Guyana) will be trade ships, which you can send everywhere. The game tries to trick you into recruiting Fluyts as trade ships. Do not fall for that, and recruit only regular Indianmen. Fluyts are obscenely expensive in upkeep so they won't even pay for themselves, and they're absolute trash at fighting as well due to low range of their guns.

If you eliminate Pirates by taking their both islands, that removes all Pirate fleets from all trade theaters, so you can trade in peace. If not, AI usually overbuilds fleets and fights Pirate fleets anyway, it will just take a while.

Ottomans

You start with 12 provinces, and two protectorates with 4 more. You seem like overextended extremely poor empire on verge of collapse under imminent attack from every direction.

You already start at war with Russia; and Austria and Persia will attack you turn one. Georgia and Venice will probably attack you turn two or three. As every Christian power in Europe is at war with your protectorate Barbary states, you cannot ally any of them. Morocco might attack Barbary States, so if you accept that's another war you'll be pulled into.

So 6 wars in three turns, and no money to fight them? Oh and all your troops are absolute garbage, barely better than Mughals. Looks really hard, right?

Well, you can turn it all around very quickly. For some crazy reason Venice will trade Morea for Bosnia. That gets you far more valuable province, prevents war with Venice, and lets you move your Greek troops somewhere more useful. You should always take this no matter what else you do.

Fix your awful ministers, this will massively increase your income. Build tier 1 buildings in every empty slot, as soon as you can. That won't completely turn your economy around, but it will make a huge difference.

Give away military access and trade agreements to Austria, Georgia, and Persia. This should at least slow down the inevitable declarations of war.

Your units are trash, but one is very good - 18-lber Foot Artillery which starts with Canister Shot (which you can also get in Istanbul) - and two others are at least serviceable - Isarelys (which you can get in Istanbul), and sort of Desert Warriors (which you can get in Middle East).

All other troops, I'd recommend not disbanding yet, just have them be a distraction in first few battles.

Now you have a few options. If you do what I just described, out of original 6 wars you were facing:

  • move your Moldovan troops to help Crimea survive. just sit on river crossing in Crimea - this is especially effective as it has additional effect of confusing AI pathing. Russian attacks against Crimea are fairly anemic, and while Crimea would likely fall undefended, even your modest additional forces should save them pretty much indefinitely - soon Russia will fight Sweden as well, so they won't have too many forces to send against you
  • move all your Balkan troops to Serbia and recruit more to defend it from Austria; without Bosnia there's a lot less to defend, so that war is a lot better. Unfortunately this isn't quite enough as Austria will also attack Moldavia if you just sit in Belgrade, so you'll need to take the fight into Transylvania, and be generally a massive nuissance - eventually Austria will get into wars with Prussia and Poland, and you can probably push them out; this is the hardest frontline, but still a good deal easier without Bosnia
  • recruit troops in Baghdad (spam Desert Warriors; you have general, Demi-Cannons there and some trash there) to defend against Persian invasion. Persia will attack with their own comparable trash, so you'll do fine.
  • Morocco will fight Barbary States, but it's too far to actually attack your lands, so feel free to ignore it indefinitely
  • Venice without Morea is very unlikely to go to war with you now
  • while not completely guaranteed, hopefully Georgia leaves your alone with military access - this won't work on anyone else here

If that's the level of challenge you like, go for it. Time is on your side. You're slowly rebuilding, and your enemies will get more and more enemies.

But you can go for an even easier challenge:

  • buy alliance with Persia for 2 technologies. Do not call them into your wars when attacked, as they will dishonour, but at least this will give you peace and quiet
  • if you ally Persia, then you can move your Mesopotamian troops to face Georgia, and you'll easily defeat them if attacked
  • you can abandon Barbary States (just keep trade), that prevents Morocco from attacking you, and even lets you have alliances with Europeans eventually (but they won't like you due to religious differences)
  • you can sell Moldavia, Serbia or both to any minor country for some petty cash - the point is to either prevent war with Austria, or at least simplify your frontline to one place to defend not two; if you sell both Serbia and Moldavia (as well as Bosnia, which you always do), then Austria shouldn't bother you, so you can go fight Persia or Russia instead

I couldn't find anyone who'd give me anything good fo Serbia or Moldova, but the point is buffer zone, not land. Getting Morea for almost free gets you very far ahead on tax income anyway.

For longer term strategy, it's really tempting to go for Vienna, but then you're exposing yourself like crazy to Poland, Prussia, Russia, and so on. Russia, or India are easier directions for defensive borders.

As soon as you have money, replace all your madrasas and inns by universities - you don't have any slot in your capital province, and you'll need at least one to build Modern University, as it can only be built there. By the time you get the technology, Kozani and other town will pop out.

Poland

You start as Constitutional Monarchy, which is a great system. Your starting ministers are trash so before you do anything else just press election button to get new random ones - they'll be far better, and you should build up from your new cabinet.

If you play campaign without knowing what to do, you'll find yourself in very difficult situation. You are allied with Denmark and Russia, and have Saxony and Courland as protectorates. Without fail, Sweden will attack Denmark, and Prussia will attack Saxony turn one. Then Austria is very likely also attack Saxony turn two.

It gets so much easier if you're prepared. First, Denmark is a liability. They will not defend you, they add nothing of value, just break that alliance right away. Just be sure to break alliance yourself, that costs no diplomatic reputation with other countries. Refusing to defend your ally costs you a lot of diplomatic reputation.

Abandoning Saxony seems like it would save you from two other wars, especially since they'll get destroyed before you can reach them anyway, but that only delays war with Prussia by a few turns, as you're their next target once Saxony falls.

But there's a great way to deal with Prussia - for some crazy reason they want Gdańsk, West Prussia so badly they're willing to give you Koenigsberg, East Prussia for it, and even throw some cash for a good measure. It's an insane deal and you should absolutely take it whatever your other plans are - East Prussia in about 4x more valuable than West Prussia, and it massively weakens your main enemy.

Now you have a few options. You could break your overlordship over Saxony, then fight just Prussia - either attack them right away, or get attacked in a few turns. You could ally Austria, as that generally stops them from declaring war on your protectorate, but they'll want some cash to agree to an alliance. The worst option is to keep Saxony and have wars with both Prussia and Austria right away, but even that is not end of the world, as Austria is really sluggish at gathering its armies for an attack.

Whichever way you choose, you need to deal with Prussia. Since you took Koenigsberg for cheap, you have a huge headstart. Position your troops as close to Gdańsk as you can, so you can take it the turn war begins. Then take all your troops, recruit some more Line Infantry in Warsaw and Koenigsberg, and march on Prussian to take Berlin and Saxony (which at that point will most likely be occupied). War against Prussia won't be the easiest, but once you win, you'll be in really great political situation.

Sweden, Austria, and German minors will likely attack you at some point (unless you ally Austria), but once Prussia is dealt with, your situation is really quite comfortable. Russia is unlikely to backstab you, I've never seen a protectorate backstab its master, so Courland is safe, and Ottomans will likely have too many bigger issues to even think of attacking you, especially if you give them military access and trade agreement.

Polish early campaign is really inflexible, as Prussia will force early war no matter what you do, but once you deal with them, you really have a ton of options.

For universities, replace Gardinas inn in Lithuania, and Tannenberg inn in East Prussia by universities.

Once you take Brandenburg, it's best to destroy university there, as it's a huge hassle with -30 resistance to foreign occupation on top of university penalty. Then again, at this point you can afford to take it slow, and just keep your troops there for a bit longer anyway.

Prussia

Prussia has a start so obvious that even AI manages to do it correctly every time. Attack Saxony, this gets you into a war with Poland without getting Polish allies Denmark and Russia involved, then use your East Prussian armies to take Gdańsk, West Prussia without a fight.

You can do better than that! Attacking Saxony as before, but send just one crappy unit to siege Gdańsk. Alexander's army standing halfway between Gdańsk and Koenigsberg will reinforce without moving. After Gdańsk that is taken, attack Warsaw with your Koeningsberg army, then make Alexander's army reinforce the siege.

You should then move your one unit which was sieging Gdańsk back to Koeningsberg, as it might be attacked by small Polish force in Lithuania (1 Pikemen and 1 Militia). You might want to recruit general for it if you're not feeling confident.

These 4 fights (conquest of Saxony, Gdańsk, Warsaw, and defense of Koeningberg) are not the easiest, but if you win, you crush your main enemy and increase your country from 2 to 5 good provinces on turn one.

A much much less ambitious opening is to recruit a few Line Infantry units in Berlin and Koeningsberg, and take only Saxony and Gdańsk on turn two or three. You can't wait too long, or Austria will take Saxony, and that really complicates that whole campaign.

This is a great start, but you'll face some new issues soon. Austria will likely attack you, German minors you border (Hannover, Westphalia, Bavaria) might attack you, and what remains of Poland might try to attack you from the East. Of these Hannover makes a decent ally, and giving away military access and trade agreements to minors might placate them for a while.

Attacking Austria directly is a terrible idea, as that would bring up to 6 new countries into your fight. Fortunately they'll probably attack you soon themselves. Just keep a few units in Saxony to defend from such attack.

If for some reason Austria doesn't attack you, and you're done fighting Poland, you could declare on one of German minors allied to Austria. They're also allied with each other, so you can't fight just one, but at least it won't pull Great Britain and Netherlands into the war.

Once war with Austria starts, Saxony army can attack Prague, and Warsaw army can attack Breslau. For that other one you might need to move without artillery to start the siege, and then move artillery second to join the existing siege. That, or build better roads, or position Warsaw army closer to the border.

There's no space in your capital for second university, but Leipzig, Saxony, and Tannenberg, East Prussia are good spots - destroy the inns, build schools. University in Kraków is best destroyed and replaced by a factory, as Poland is going to take forever to control, and you'll need those armies elsewhere.

Your ministers are already good enough, just replace one for the navy.

Russia

Russia has two starts, normal start, and sell-your-provinces start. Let's first talk about the normal start.

Russia has 9 provinces, but 4 of them look terrible. Komi has 0 literally tax revenue, and Bashkiria, Don Voisko, and Astrakhan are not much better. In fact they all make you negative money as administrative costs are based on just number of provinces.

So your economic situation looks desperate at first, but it's not really quite as bad.

The first thing you need to do is fix your cabinet. 4/5 of your starting ministers are awful, and you should replace them by other candidates before you do anything else, especially treasury minister.

Then try to construct all tier 1 buildings in every empty slot, starting from farms, then mines. Upgrading Governor's Residence in your good provinces is a great idea as well. Still, you should exempt all provinces with wealth less than 1000 or so from taxes so their villages grow faster. Get farm tech maybe a bit earlier than you would as other countries (but Canister Shot first, no exceptions!).

Replace inn in Yaroslavl by university. There's no great place for an early third university.

The most interesting thing about Russia is bug in the game. Empire is supposed to increase wealth level of towns (very poor / poor / growing / prosperous / wealthy) as province "town wealth" increases, but due a bug it is never happens if there's a port in a province. Since Muscovy and Kiev have tons of town slots, and no ports, they'll get obscenely rich by mid-game, with all towns including emergent ones becoming wealthy, and making twice as much money as other factions' very poor emergent towns. So really, there's nothing to worry about long term.

Russia has pretty decent strategic position.

Russia starts at war with Crimea and their protector Ottomans. You should take Crimea for the port, turn two or three, but there's really no rush going after Ottomans after that. Their Balkan lands are trash, and very awkward to defend.

Your ally Poland is really unlikely to backstab you so you're safe from the West. To your East there's edge of the map.

Sweden might attack you, but they can't reach any of your cities fast enough, so even if they catch you completely unprepared, you'll be able to recruit a whole new army in Moscow before it comes under Swedish siege.

Once you go to war with Sweden, you should take Ingria, destroy shipyard at Staraya Ladoga, and replace it with Trading Port. After that you can go for Riga or Finland, but there's really no rush. If Sweden is reduced to just their capital (plus possibly Norway or Denmark), don't try the slow walk around Gulf of Finland, use ships to drop on Stockholm. You don't need to fight any naval battles, just haul your troops and attack Stockholm in one go.

All this is really easy, there's just one complication - Georgia and Dagestan hate you, and really want to attack you. Giving them trade agreements and military access might delay that, but it will happen. I'd recommend not caring too much about this risk. If Don Voisko or Astrakhan fall before you can reinforce them, it's really no big deal, and there's no way for them to surprise reach Muscovy or Kiev.

After you eliminated Sweden, Crimea, Georgia, and Dagestan, you can do pretty much whatever you want. Maybe backstab Poland, maybe take over India by land through Persia, maybe destroy the Ottomans and take over the Holy Lands? Everything is possible.

The other Russia start is to sell a lot of your provinces, especially to minor powers. You get huge injection of cash this way (just check below each faction's starting money, they'll often pay you all they have), your income will be higher as they're net negative at start, and the new owners will even develop your provinces for you.

I'd recommend keeping at least 4 since that's what has no administrative costs. Those 4 should be Muscovy, Kiev, Karelia, and Arkhangelsk - all very good provinces (Karelia and Arkhangelsk a lot better than wealth number says, since they also produce furs). Kazan is maybe worth keeping as 5th.

Province selling strategy also prevents Georgia and Dagestan from attacking you, so you can fight Sweden and Ottomans in peace.

Spain

Spain starts with enormous empire of 9 provinces and a 6 province protectorate of New Spain - making it the biggest country in game, as well as one with least defensible borders.

You start allied to France, which is great, and Bavaria, which is fairly pointless, but unlikely to drag you into too many wars.

Your cabinet is decent, but your king is terrible. You could switch to a republic early, but then again bad king mostly costs you diplomatic reputation, and revolution also costs you a lot of diplomatic reputation. The country is mostly ran by ministers not by the monarch.

If you do nothing, you'll be attacked by Netherlands, as they really want Flanders. Pirates will also attack your ships in the Caribbean, and Barbary States will attack your ships in Mediterranean.

Because of your extensive European possessions, you'll likely get attacked by Pope, Genoa, Morocco, Venice, Portugal, and even Westphalia over next few turns. These attacks are not as predictable as Dutch attack.

Including your two starting wars, which for you start with naval battles turn one, that's 8 wars, far too many.

You can avoid 3 wars by alliances with Pope, Venice, and Genoa. They all want your land, but weirdly they also really like you, and will ally you right away without any demands. Just never call them into your wars, and your Italy is safe for a while. You could try to conquer Italy instead, but you have so many other more urgent fronts, it's best if you wait a while with backstabbing Italian minors.

Flanders I recommend just selling. You have many possible buyers. France will trade it for Newfoundland, which is not as rich, but completely safe, and once you upgrade its high yield fur trapper and other slots, it's actually quite close in value to Flanders. Venice will trade it for Morea, which might be direction you're going for. Westphalia will buy it for 7500, or Prussia for 8000, and so on - it's not so much about money, it's mainly about which wars do you want Germans to fight. Check list below for how much money other potential buyers have.

Alternatively you could try to fight the Dutch for Flanders. This is mostly a bad idea. If you call your allies to get France in, then your other allies will abandon you and you'll get some wars in Italy. If you don't call allies, then the Dutch can recruit 3 Line Infantry a turn, while you can only recruit 1 Militia, and it would take at least 4 turns for first reinforcements from Spain to show up. You can do this if you feel very confident in your skills, but that's definitely hard mode. Even if Westphalia somehow doesn't attack Flanders.

This leaves you with much fewer wars:

  • Netherlands will attack you anyway turn one, for your Caribbean colonies, but you won't need any land armies to defend
  • Morocco and Portugal will still attack you soon enough
  • Pirates and Barbary States will still harass your ships

Do not call anyone into your wars, or you'll lose your allies. The only fight of these you care about is one between France and Netherlands, and they'll start it anyway.

What I'd instead recommend is to focus on Morocco first. March troops towards Tangier. Your navies as well, you can burn Oran on your way. Recruit some Line Infantry in Madrid, it will be useful later. Morocco might attack you or not - if they don't, they never have any allies so just declare war on them, conquer them turn 2, and then remove that risk early. There will be massive religious unrest there, so you might even want to destroy factory in Fes to build a church.

You cannot really declare war on Portugal, as you don't want to fight Britain early, but if Portugal declares war on you, that's amazing, just drop your Morocco army and take Lisbon same turn. You'll also get another university this way.

If Portugal is not interested, then you can take Algiers, Tunis, and Malta. Sadly Algiers and Tunis are full of rebellious Muslim peasants, and don't even have a slot for a church, but you'll need to deal with Barbary States sooner or later. Just crush a few rebellions, they tend to be very weak (6 shitty units typically).

As Spain you should prioritize getting Secular Humanism as early as you can in your technology tree, to reduce Muslim peasant unrest, but even rushed it's a mid-game tech.

Once you have that under control, you can sail from Porto to fight the Dutch, saving a turn compared with sailing from Cadiz. But really, you're better off just letting them go.

Italy is a good second target after Morocco / Portugal / Malta. Once those alliances outlived their usefulness, get Italy under your direct control. Malta almost always have zero allies, and most of the time so does Savoy.

I think Mediterranean Empire is much better direction for Spain than trying to get Flanders and Netherlands back and getting dragged into wars against various Germans.

In the New World you'll be at war with Pirates and Netherlands. You can recruit Line Infantry in Florida, but you lack ships to move things around safely.

To integrate your protectorate of New Spain you need three provinces - Curacao from Netherlands, which should be your first target anyway, as it instantly doubles your recruitment capacity; then Trinidad & Tobago from the Pirates, which should be your second target anyway, as you want to remove pirates as soon as possible. Now your next targets should be Antigua and Dutch Guyana. For the mission however, you'll need to take Texas. It's really easy once you've dealt with the Pirates and the Dutch - natives put almost no resistance, and it's very easy to drop troops there.

For every captured island, if it has a shipyard, you absolutely must destroy it and build a trade port. Otherwise, plantations on those islands cannot export and they whole island is completely worthless.

Of all protectorates, New Spain is most valuable to annex. New Spain and New Grenada provinces are some of the richest in the game once their building slots are filled, Guatemala and New Andalusia are good as well. Panama is poor, but you need it for continuity of your defenses. New Mexico is a trash province, if you can find a buyer for it, you probably should sell it.

Overall first 10-20 turns basically play themselves this way, and you'll end up owning Iberia, most of Italy (leaving Venice as buffer state makes sense), most of North Africa, South America, most of Caribbean, and Newfoundland (which you traded for Flanders).

Then you have many options:

  • you could backstab France
  • you could invade Netherlands (possibly after France)
  • you could attack Britain (possibly after France)
  • you could conquer Ottoman lands
  • you could invade India
  • you could spam trade ships

And so on. There's likely going to be very little pressure for you.

Going back to first few turns, destroy church in Sevilla, Spain and inn in Barcelona, Spain and replace one of them with an university. 3 universities in one province in too much unrest for an absolute monarchy, so unless you plan to switch to a republic early, it's best to make the other one a factory.

Palermo, Naples is another useless church that can be an university instead.

Send all your priests to North Africa, converting Protestants is useless, Muslim peasants you'll conquer later generate 5x as much unrest per person as Protestant peasants.

If you want to build trade ships, Spain has unique Galleon. Absolutely do not build it ever. It is obscenely expensive compared to Indianmen (300 vs 50) and will never pay for its own upkeep, and because its guns have low range it's terrible as warship.

Sweden

Sweden's main issue is that it's surrounded by alliance block - Denmark, Poland, and Russia, as well as Poland's protectorate of Courland. You'd like to fight one of them at a time, not all of them.

Related issue is that Riga is impossible to defend, and not even worth trying.

There are two obvious approaches:

Plan Denmark First - move your 7 Swedish units to port of Malmo by 1 ship. This is not strictly necessary, but using 2 more ships and mid-sea ship-to-ship transfer you can even move your 4 Riga units there too. Declare on Denmark, Poland will not honor alliance, and there are zero units in Copenhagen so you can take in turn one. After that, blockade crossing from Copenhagen to Europe with a ship, trapping main Danish army, and turn two drop on Norway and take it. Iceland doesn't matter, you can now destroy remaining Danish forces, and then move your troops to Eastern front before that front goes hot. This plan can be greatly improved by giving Russia military access and trade agreement - that makes them also abandon Denmark (at least on hard/hard), so you'll be fighting Denmark and nobody else.

Plan Courland First - declare war on Courland which will bring their protector Poland into the fight as well. Besiege Courland with 4 units you have in Riga. Drop 7 units from Sweden to reinforce - there's no port, so you might need to use movement trick to have them move after landing, but even without it, it's not too hard - just take time to let reinforcing troops join. After that just get more troops and march them towards Vilnius and Minsk. Poland will likely be busy fighting Prussia and Austria, so it will be really easy.

There's no real Plan Russia First, as both their allies will honor their alliances. If you want to focus on Russia, just start with Denmark and let Russia join. Your army in Ingria can defend itself until Denmark is destroyed.

If you don't do that and wait - one of the three enemies will attack you sooner or later, and then you can fight them before others do so as well. If you split your army in three (Malmo / Riga / Ingria), none of those attacks can do much, and then use your ships to reinforce whichever front goes hot. If it's Poland, just seize Courland before invading Poland itself.

Whichever way you go, after you take over Denmark, make sure you have good relations with Hannover (trade agreement and military access) and keep that crossing blockaded anyway, just to completely secure your Western borders.

Your starting ministers are all decent, but you can do better.

Destroy inn in Karlstad, Sweden and replace it with university. Keep the one you capture in Denmark.

At some point destroy inn in Narva, Estonia & Livonia, and replace it by factory or university. The risk is that you'll need to leave Riga undefended early game, so your investment might get wasted, so it makes sense to do it a bit later.

If you capture Muscovy, Poland, or Brandenburg, they have too much unrest, so I'd destroy their universities and replace them with factories. Instead I'd recommend building some in Koenigsberg, Lithuania, and so on.

Initial Faction Treasuries

This is most helpful when selling provinces turn one. Minors are starting with surprising pile of cash.

Beyond turn one, there's no easy way to find out how much money each faction has, so you can start by offering a province for a ton, and just keep going lower until they accept.

  • Austria - 10000
  • Barbary States - 9000
  • Bavaria - 7500
  • Britain - 7500
  • Chechnya Dagestan - 7500
  • Cherokee - 8000
  • Courland - 7500
  • Crimean Khanate - 7500
  • Denmark - 8000
  • France - 10000
  • Genoa - 7500
  • Georgia - 7500
  • Hannover - 7500
  • Huron - 8000
  • Inuit - 7500
  • Iroquois - 8000
  • Knights of St. John - 7500
  • Louisiana - 8500
  • Maratha - 6500
  • Morocco - 9000
  • Mughal - 12000
  • Mysore - 7500
  • Netherlands - 7500
  • New Spain - 8000
  • Ottomans - 7500
  • Papal States - 7500
  • Piedmont-Savoy - 7500
  • Pirates - 7500
  • Plains - 7500
  • Poland-Lithuania - 6000
  • Portugal - 7500
  • Prussia - 8000
  • Pueblo - 7500
  • Russia - 6000
  • Safavids - 8000
  • Saxony - 7500
  • Spain - 7000
  • Sweden - 7000
  • Thirteen Colonies - 9000
  • Venice - 7500
  • Westphalia - 7500
  • Wurttemberg - 7500

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Conquering Empire Total War World as United Provinces - Part 2

So back to my World Conquest adventure! First part was here.

I started assassinating and duelling, mostly for achievement's sake, as both activities are fairly pointless. If you kill someone, they respawn new agent of same type next turn anyway most of the time.

More Indian and Italian Wars

For a while I was just fighting rebels, and the only settlement I got was Northwest Territory on exactly that part of New World map.

My Italian and Indian unrest got dealt with about the same time, so I started fresh wars with Indians and with Spain same turn.

Indian war was one stack on Mysore, the other on Goa, and then giving Marathas 5 techs to peace them out. I do this nonsense mainly to avoid naval combat. Indians still outnumber my armies there, but I'm not terribly worried about that.

By the way it looks like the game is keeping track how many times tech was trades, so that explain why AI is so unwilling to take a seemingly reasonable deal.

Same turn, attack Spanish holding in Italy. I took Milan and Sardinia with one stack. Then Naples and Tunis with the other.

By the way here's the trick for same turn naval invasions:

  • have one unit in army have less movement - artillery does it for free, but you can also move your unit a bit
  • do naval landing, that's supposed to reset all units' movement points to 0
  • but it actually just subtracts however much the lowest one how
  • so everyone can move and attack!
  • and those units with 0 move - they're still close enough to be reinforcements

I guess it's technically exploit, same as jumping from ship to another mid-ocean, but I've always been playing with it.

Then I gave Spain 3 techs for peace. Same reason, I really don't want any naval combat.

I was technically at war with Poland and Bavaria as well - Bavaria took a peace deal where they'd take 3 techs for peace, but give me some money. Works for me. Poland was too far to matter anyway.

Persian Wars

I took Morocco as it was basically defenseless. In New World Spain defeated army of natives in Texas, so I moved in to take it over.

Marathas had 3 nearly full stacks, but they spread them around their last province, so I attacked them, and in one final battle conquered India.

Marathas literally asking to be conquered by moving their stacks away from their capital

This was extremely important, as my Indian army can finally move to another theater - this theater being conquering my way from India through Persia into Ottoman lands. Persia was doing extremely well and conquered its way all the way to Anatolia, so I could attack them from three sides - Italian army landing in Anatolia, Indian army landing in Persia, and a few freshly recruited spare units walking into undefended Afghanistan and Baluchistan.

While losing to me Persians managed to conquer Syria, so I dropped my Moroccan troops there.

By 1727 Persia was destroyed and I had 63 regions. Still very far to go.

This is a fairly standard formation, I kept changing my mind between placing inf 3/2/2/3 or 2/3/3/2

Secular Humanism

A lot of minors have been taken out by other powers. I took Georgia, taking the list to just 8 major and 8 minor powers other than me.

I finally got my first achievement this campaign - Assassin! for assassinating 20 characters. It's fairly pointless other than achievement for achievement's sake.

The next important event was invention of Secular Humanism, which cuts religious unrest by half. In a fully Muslim province that meant going from -10 to just -5, which means 5 fewer turns of babysitting a province, for every such province. Reduction is much less for other religions, like Catholic provinces go from -2 to -1, but it's still a turn saved.

My New World armies started another one with Iroquois and their ally Quebec. Quebec itself was already taken by Britain, but they took two British settlements instead. Iroquois stacks showed up really far from their homelands, and were about to take 2 of my undefended settlements, so I ended up bribing them with 4 techs as recompense for taking 2/3 of their provinces. I think it's fair.

This freed my armies all over, and my Indian armies were finally coming to European theater, landing in Mesopotamia and walking from there. So I started a big war with Russia, whose allies were Poland (already at war) and Denmark (exiled to Iceland). Denmark decided to value its life and didn't come to Russia's defence, first such case this campaign.

Invasion of Russia

With this out of the way, I moved most of my armies from Europe and India to Russia, and they were slowly walking North. There really wasn't much risk to it - Russia had only 5 ships in the Mediterranean which I sunk, and Poland had none. And fortunately winter attrition has not been intended until the next Total War game.


I try to have artillery superiority, but when I don't (4 Russian vs 3 mine) cavalry charge from one or both sides can often fix it.
I'm using Horde Grenadiers from Additional Units Mod, they're like early Light Dragoons but you can only have 8 and they're a bit heavier and pricier.

Russia decided to interfere with my plans by selling Kazan to the Ottomans. I got up to Moscow itself, then peaced them out taking 5000 gold from them. I then bought Kazan from the Ottomans for ridiculous number of 12 or so technologies. Ridiculously they decided to sell me Jerusalem for alliance and 1 more tech. Sure, we can be allies. Nice thing about bought settlements is that they are completely undamaged and with zero resistance to occupation.

Then I remembered Iroquois I was about to attack are allied to Poland and Russian. Oh well, turns out Russia did not honor that anyway. Funny thing is that I captured native university equivalent, that gives 20 research points and +2 happiness, normal universities outside capital give just 17 and -6 happiness.

Diplomatic Interlude

I was sort of wondering if countries will align in competing blocks, but nothing like that happened, and there's alliance chain covering almost everyone.

Denmark, Prussia, and Plains Indians are all separate. Everyone else is in one big alliance block, where countries at war also have shared allies.

Here's how I'm connected with everyone:

  • Netherlands - Britain
  • Netherlands - Ottomans
  • Netherlands - Ottomans - Sweden
  • Netherlands - Hannover
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Bavaria
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Bavaria - Spain
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Wurttemberg
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Wurttemberg - Austria
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Wurttemberg - Austria - Venice
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Poland
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Poland - Courland
  • Netherlands - Hannover - Westphalia - Poland - Russia

There's also 17 ongoing wars, 12 of them between countries in the big cluster.

For other events, Hannover, Bavaria, and Courland all disappeared for a while and were brought back to life by rebels. As did some other countries which have since ceased to exist. I've only seen one of such events - Sweden and Prussians kept fighting over Hannover, while leftovers of rebels just swoope into the city, and that made Hannover reemerge, hilariously at peace with both of them.

Strangely I haven't seen any revolutions yet, and I remember a lot of countries flipping to republics by late game in my old campaigns years ago.

Invasion of Poland

With Russian campaign temporarily halted, I invaded Poland instead. Poland was conveniently also at war with Prussia, Austria, Sweden, and somehow Spain.

Prussia attacked my ally Hannover and for the first time this campaign I decided to honor my obligations, and entered war on Hannover's side. This was risky as Hannover's tiny army was all that stood between Prussian and my capital.

After getting to East Prussia as my 80th region of 137, I sold Poland a peace treaty for 10k. Poland did not appreciate my generosity, and when I went back to fight Russia a turn later, they rejoined Russia's war.

Fighting Russia, Poland, and Prussia at the same time was a bit awkward - Prussia and Poland had between them 8 stacks (and some Polish rebels) to my 1 stack Warsaw and 1 in Ukraine. Fortunately AI is rather passive, separates stacks from each other a lot, and typical result of 1 full stack vs 1 full stack battle is a total destruction with losses of 10%-20%.

A baffling thing happened and Polish protectorate of Courland declared war on me. In an even more baffling move, Poland sold its second last region of Riga to Spain. Like that wasn't enough, Russia became Swedish protectorate, but that doesn't drag their protector into any preexistent wars, and at that point it was far too late for them anyway.

Poland fell in winter 1734. In summer 1735 I destroyed three countries - Plains Nations (which is so far in map of America and not worth it except for achievement), Courland, and Russia, getting me to 90/137 regions.

Invasion of Prussia

Even after I destroyed one of their stacks on holidays in Silesia, Prussia had over 2 full stacks in Brandenburg and Saxony, and any attack on one would make the other one reinforce.

There are fun tricks around that, but Prussia decided to just take their Brandenburg troops, only 15 of max 20, without general (since I assassinated one, and they never replaced him), and walked to fight me on a bridge battle. Well, if you want to lose, I can provide that.

That didn't go anywhere as well as I expected. Empire does ridiculous thing with bridge maps and gives them two crossings, making them far less fun, so it much less effective than it should be. And I discovered some fun bugs as well - when you tell cavalry to cross a bridge, it will ignore all your orders until the last soldier finishes crossing. So my units of attacking unprotected enemy artillery they went head first into some pikes.

Prussia sold Saxony to Sweden, and had just one province with 2 nearly-full stacks in it.

Well, I can't always have easy fights - so I took my two stacks against them, and even consolidated a lot of units between first and second battle as they were heavily battered.

And so ended Prussia in winter 1735. That leaves just 5 major and 6 minor powers competing with me. And I'm at peace with all of them.

With all that region trading I tried to see if I can buy some region, but nobody was interested. The best thing about Total War Three Kingdoms is that CA finally figured out that showing AI weights make diplomacy ten times better, sadly not a single game before then had this feature, so I have no idea why they're not doing some deal and if some other deal would be possible instead.

Armies which conquered 2/3 of the world

I took a few turns to move my scattered armies back to frontlines, and deal with widespread unrest. I abolished slavery, which made very little difference.

I had very small army at this point - 126 units, basically 5 stacks and some rebel suppression units:

  • 5x General
  • 57x Line Infantry (8x Swiss Grenadiers, 17x European, 16x Colonial, 14x VOC, 2x Sepoys)
  • 28x 12lber artillery
  • 5x Native American Mounted Auxiliary (low level missile cavalry)
  • 8x Horse Grenadier Guards (elite missile cavalry)
  • 5x Melee Cavalry (1x Regiment of Horse, 1x Hussars, 3x VOC Cavalry)
  • 18x Dragoon (not meant for fighting, just policing bonus)

By comparison, rest of the world had this for armies, 478 units:

  • 14x Gerenal
  • 184x Line Infantry and similar missile infantry
  • 21x Light Infantry
  • 53x Pikemen and other Melee Infantry
  • 57x Artillery
  • 139x Melee Cavalry
  • 2x Dragoons
  • 8x Missile Cavalry

And for ships I have crazy much 294, but it's almost all trade ships and light transports:

  • 274x trade ships
  • 14x Sloop
  • 2x Brig
  • 2x 6th Rate
  • 2x 5th Rate

Rest of the world invests very heavily in war navies, 223 ships:

  • 1x 2nd Rate
  • 2x 3rd Rate
  • 9x 4rd Rate
  • 17x 5th Rate
  • 11x 6th Rate
  • 3x Bomb Ketch
  • 59x Brig
  • 45x Sloop
  • 16x Privateer
  • 23x Galleon
  • 24x Indianman
  • 9x Galley
  • 2x Xebec
  • 2x Dhow

I think AI overuses cavalry like crazy, gets absolutely no value from them, and it would be far better off buying more artillery. Its light infantry and melee infantry are actually not too bad.

My typical stack

My stack is typically 10 infantry, 6 artillery, 1 general, and 3 other cav (missile if possible; melee otherwise), deployed like this left to right:

  • cav cav
  • inf inf inf
  • art art
  • inf inf
  • art art
  • inf inf
  • art art
  • inf inf inf
  • cav cav

Cavalry usually stays a bit behind - it might only go into action to chase routing enemies, or it could get deployed to reinforce melee on a flank, or go on a charge against enemy artillery.

This formation obliterates enemy melee cavalry, and it's very good against enemy line infantry. It's actually somewhat weak to melee infantry as they charge into me, and artillery can't shoot them without friendly fire. It's also fairly weak to light infantry, as they have higher range than line infantry, and forcing my line infantry forward obstructs nearby artillery from shooting in same direction.

My economy in 1737

My income was 86k from taxes, 64k from trade, 3k from base income, 153k total.

Of that trade, 25k comes from trade ships, 19k from plantations (not sure why European fur isn't listed there), and the rest from various bonuses from having multiple trade partners (7 right now).

My spending is 34k army upkeep, 15k navy upkeep (mostly trade ships), 2k town watch, 52k total, so 101k net income.

Blitzkrieg of Venice and Austria

None of the possible targets were particularly easy, but I picked Venice and their ally Austria as next target. Venice expanded from 2 to 4 provinces - Venice, Morea, Algiers, and Tripoli. Austria had 5 of its starting 6 as it lost Silesia already.

It was annoying that once again I had a lot fewer units than my opponents (not counting units in New World, on garrison duty, or still walking back from Siberia), so I expanded my army a bit. The problem wasn't beating their armies in fair fight, it was Venice walking on Tunis or Morocco or Rome or Genoa or whatever and all my stacks being in the wrong place.

Two new stacks I raised in Italy had some Light Cavalry Sharpshooters, Horse Artillery, and other newer troops, but mostly followed similar build.

With 5 stacks moving in at once, it was really not much of a challenge.

Venice performed really well, and my attack on Tripoli killed half the soldiers in my army, mostly because it turned into an total mess really early.

In one turn I had two small battles with border stacks from Austria, then each attacked a city - Tripoli, Venice, Prague, Pressburg, and Vienna.

This meant I finally had unbrocked land route all the way from Amsterdam to India! It was a bit roundabout, going through France, Italy, Vienna, Poland, Ukraine, Caucasus, and Persia, but it works.

The Vienna stack also left its artillery behind and marched on new Austrian capital of Zagreb.

I wasn't done. I let Austrians peace out keeping their last province of Transylvania to kick surprisingly big Austrian navy out of it. That let me move my Venice stack to Morea. 1 turn, 7 provinces taken. That's alse 3 provinces with -30 unrest, but I just recruit Dragoons to babysit that these days.

Venice's last holding of Tripoli fell next turn.

Blitzkrieg of Spain

Finally it was time to destroy Spain - they had 3 settlements in Iberia (Madrid, Lisbon, Gibraltar), 3 in New World (Mexico, New Mexico, and Guatemala), and Riga they bought from Poland.

It was the blitzkriegest blitzkrieg yet. Their ally Bavaria abandoned them - too bad as I had a stack waiting there.

One stack landed next to Lisbon and it surrendered without a fight. Half-stack babysitting Courland took Riga without a fight. Army returning from conquest of Plains Indians took New Mexico, also without a fight.

I had 3 stack landings that had to fight - Cadiz into Gibraltar, @@@ into Mexico, and @@@ into Madrid. Somehow Spain didn't bother protecting any of these ports, and the only blockade I needed to do took me 1 whole Sloop.

In this battle I finally had a chance to use howitzers with quicklime - instead of 6 regular artillery I had just 4 artillery and 2 howitzers. They were fairly nice as they can shoot from behind my lines, but I think going all howitzers might limit my firepower a bit too much, and their range is hard.

Of all the battles of the war battle of Gibraltar was the hardest. Mexico and Madrid were both poorly defended.

For all that effort I got three new -30 unrest provinces - Madrid, Lisbon (former capital of Portugal), and Mexico (former capital of New Spain). It is quite annoying how capturing even a former capital of a minor country can get me -30, but these days with no religious unrest, decent ministers, and big budget for hiring dragoons it's not a huge deal.

That destroyed a 7-province country in just 1 turn and 3 battles. Their last New World province of Guatemala turned into a native rebels' den.

And thanks to the famous Gibraltar-Morocco bridge, my African holdings were now connected to my mainland.

Battle of Gibraltar
Artillery sandbags is a stupid feature that not only immobilizes artillery, but won't even let them turn, so I can do silly stuff like this.

War with Sweden

That was 105/137 regions conquered, and the only remaining powers were some minors, Sweden, and my allies Britain and Ottomans.

I didn't go to war with Sweden earlier, as they were allied with Ottomans, and that would be awkward multifront war if Ottomans honored that. Except almost nobody's honoring any alliances anymore, and Ottomans are severely battered, and even managed to lose Bulgaria atd Moldova to Austrian remnants somehow.

So war with Sweden it is!

I didn't really prepare for it much, I just still had a lot of troops stuck in Austria, Brandenburg, Poland, and Courland on rebel duty, so they might go North now that these lands are at least somewhat pacified for a while. Troops which conquered Spain and Venice will take their time pacifying those lands.

I landed Portuguesue stack in Norway by jumping from ship to ship. Austrian stack took Saxony (which Prussia sold to Sweden before dying). Courland stack did even better - they landed in port next to St Petersburg, took it, then got back on another ship, landed in Finlantd, and took that as well. 3 stacks, 4 regions of their 6, 0 battles. At this point I asked them if they had enough and would like to peace out, but they did not.

Interestingly taking settlements by demanding surrender doesn't generate any war exhaustion, while making them lose battles and lose regions in fights does, so maybe I made it too difficult for myself here.

I wasn't worried about Sweden's troops - 2 full stacks in Denmark, and a bit over half stack in Sweden and Finland each. The real problem were their 49 ships mostly around Denmark, which cannot be reached by land from any direction.

There was no helping it. My only solutions were either spending exhausting and tedious half a day fighting those ships "legitimately" (with chainshot zigzag), or blockading every Swedish port by 1 Sloop and letting 20 minute timer sink them while I watch some youtube on another screen.

Sadly I had to do a lot of such boring timer battles. In 2 battles the timer sunk only 3 ships.

At least Swedes had decency to attack my stack that landed in mainland parts of Denmark.

A much less good battle was one my Courland stack had to fight. It was actually 1 General, 3 Artillery, 2 Missile Cavalry, 4 Line infantry, and 7 Dragoons for policing. I sort of didn't notice just how unprepared that was for a real fight. On the other hand, normal AI stacks have just as trashy composition as this anyway.

Trash vs Trash battle

It was all fine though, Swedish fleets weren't sunk, but they couldn't leave ports before timers ran out, so I blockaded all their ports, and that unblocked bridge to Denmark. Meanwhile my Norway stack walked to Stockholm. So I just needed 3 battles to destroy them - one to clear my way to Copenhagen, then just take both cities.

War with Britain

That left very little to conquer:

  • Britain with 3 European and 9 American provinces
  • Ottomans with 5
  • Austria with 3 (recently conquered its way back to a major status)
  • 5 OPMs - Hannover, Westphalia, Wurttemberg, Bavaria, Denmark

So without waiting for anything, I destroyed Britain in one turn. Troops that took New Spain landed in Carolinas and Jamaica, taking both undefended. Two highly battered stacks took Ireland and Scotland, also undefended. My fully recovered Portuguese stack now walked on London.

I thought the remaining 7 English colonies would turn into random rebels, but instead they became Pirates in Bahamas, Quebec in Quebec, United States in 4 provinces, and only Rupert's Land became generic rebels.

Well, Pirates cannot possibly stand, so I took that province as well same turn.

War with United States

It was 1741, and I started destroying my existing universities, to be replaced by industry. There was still research that needed to be done, but it was small number of expensive technologies, and I can't assign more than one university to same research, so many were idle.

The next target just had to be the United States - they just started and barely had any troops, but they'd be spamming them like crazy if I let them live.

Hilariously I got "Campaign Won" only in 1742 by taking New Amsterdam (game has no localized names so still just "New York"), but I won't get achievements unless I keep it until 1799. It was my 119th province, of 137 on the map.


Battle of New York, which let me "win" the campaign goals
I really like Native Mounted Auxiliaries, it's a trashy mounted cavalry
This fog is with a mod that massively reduces bad weather effects, vanilla sometimes has weather so awful it's impossible to see anything without pausing every minute.

My colonial army still had Quebec and Rupert's Land to conquer, but there was no rush with that.

War with the Ottomans

There were really only two options left - Austria or Ottomans, both with 4 provinces (Austria impressively growing that big from OPM I left them at). Now Ottomans were technically allied with me, but at this point let's be real.

The main reason to go for Ottomans first was that Austria was allied with some OPMs and they might respect that, and then it would be really awkward for everyone.

A weird thing is that even at this point, with me controlling nearly 90% of the world, my enemies' armies still outnumber mine, and (if we exclude my trade ships) their war fleets as well. OPMs just really loved to spend all their money on armies. Even silly Westphalia has 3 full stacks, I have just 10, and many of them are dragoons for policing.

For a quick detour I just needed to take over Quebec.

Then I swooped in and liberated Constantinople in summer 1743, after 290 years of occupation.

Liberation of Constantinople

War with Bavaria and Austria

That left just 10 provinces to conquer - 4 Austrian, 1 rebel, and 5 OPMs.

And most baffling thing happened - Bavaria declared war on me.

Well, first I needed to get Rupert's land from the rebels, getting me Master of the Americas achievement.

I didn't go to war with Austria because they were allied with Bavaria nad Wurttemberg, but since Bavaria already declared on me anyway, I moved London stack to Alsace in case Wurttemberg respected their alliance, and I was free to declare anytime.

As they were deep inland, and it all caught be unprepared, the whole war lasted 3 turns instead of the usual 1.

In my final battle against Austria I finally had shrapnel shot, which adds a strong medium range weapon to artillery, but my superiority is so overwhelming I didn't have a chance to test it in any sort of meaningful battle.

Separate Timelines

At this point it was pretty clear I need to diverge timelines to get all the achievements.

So I saved the game, and pressed next turn 110 times to actually get achievements for "winning the campaign" while for getting all the research.

The only thing I had to do was duelling (trying to get that achievement), choosing research, and fixing government after elections. I finally got achievement for killing 20 people in duels in 1757.

I research all technologies in 1763 - which is really late considering how much I tried to accelerate tech progress - but there was no achievement! Then it suddenly appeared in 1797. A lot of people had similar issue and speculated about it.

After far too many times pressing end turn, I got to end of 1799, and got my Victory video, first time ever, even though I won like fifty campaign for all I know. And there was no achievement, ffs.

Hilariously, after clicking a bunch of times I got achievement for winning on easy. This is on hard/hard, and I never played this game on easy in my life. Is the first victory going to unlock just easiest achievement regardless of how you play? And so you need to win 2nd and 3rd time to get achievements for normal and hard victory? I kept clicking, but no more achievements came by 1830+. Oh well, I guess I won't be getting it.

War with German minors

Well, loading back the original save, I still 4 OPMs to defeat - Hannover, Westphalia, Wurttemberg, and Denmark.

German minors had 7 full stacks between them, Denmark instead got 2 full stack of ships.

I'm not sure why, but Westphalia's 2.5 stacks were just a tiny bit too far to join the battle when I attacked their city.

Wurttemberg was a really fun battle of the Rhine bridges, where we both started on the same side, but their reinforcements were slowly coming from the other side, so I could exploit that chaos and get 10:1 casualties ratio, instead of the usual 5:1.

Battle of the Rhine. We both started on same side, but their reinforcements kept coming through both crossings, it was fun chaos. It's difficult to form defensive line against such split attack, and pivoting with inf+art line is very slow. I accidentally misplaced one of my howitzers to be in the line, the other one (on the right) stayed behind while my line advanced. I'm not really used to howitzers.

After that I got Hannover, and I didn't even use any tricks this time.

And in winter 1745 I got Emperor of Europe achievement.


Final battle of the campaign. Overall I relied so much on inf+art line as it's stupidly overpowered, and only changed tactics if that wasn't possible. I use a lot more diverse tactics in other Total War games, but Empire has this very narrow meta. I don't think there are any other tactics that allow routine 10:1 K:D ratios at even odds.

Achievement Scorecard

Before that I have only 6 achievements (conquer India, kill 100k enemies, conquer region, conquer 10 regions, conquer 100 regions, steal 5 technologies).

In the end I got 6 achievements (conquer Americas, conquer Europe, kill 20 by assassinations, kill 20 by duels, research everything, win campaign on easy).

I did not get 2 achievement I should have gotten (win campaign on normal, win campaign on hard - assuming these are inclusive).

I'm reasonably sure I killed 500k and likely also 1000k enemies by now, and I should have gotten achievements for those too, but I can't prove it for sure.

I also started a quick campaign as Austria to get achievement for backstabbing 5 allies, it takes just 1 turn if they don't join wars against you.

Most other achievements are for multiplayer, and I just don't care.

Not counting bugged ones, remaining single player achievements I could try (but won't):

  • successfully use diplomatic threats 5 times (does this feature even work?)
  • do 30 missions (that requires replaying tutorial it over and over, as missions didn't make it to main game, other than 1 each for a few countries)
  • win independence campaign as Americans

That was too much

I rarely bother doing world conquest in any games, and I definitely don't plan to do this ever again in Empire.

I never even did one in EU4, and only once in CK2 (and back when it was super easy and map was a lot smaller, without even India). I think I might have done some in HoI4, but I'm not even completely sure.

I'm not even sure if I ever did any World Conquests in Total War, not counting short Kingdoms campaigns.

All Total War games

I went back to Empire mostly because I didn't like new Total War games much.

  • I tried Rome 2, but that was terribly boring.
  • Warhammer 2 seemed good on paper, but I just couldn't get into the setting, and dominant role of single entity units really kills any chance of immersion for me.
  • Rome 1 doesn't work too well on new hardware anymore
  • Napoleon is just Empire with smaller more boring map and somewhat better engine; I played it a few times but I'd rather play Empire
  • so all I had was Medieval 2 (still amazing) and its expansions campaigns

There's a few Total War games I haven't tried yet, but I might:

  • Shogun 2 - mostly because identical factions I don't know anything about seems boring as hell; and I'm really weirded out by game just deleting all diplomacy and everyone being at war with you forever as soon as you have 10 regions
  • Three Kingdoms (in default mode it's fantasy game; but it has historical mode without fantasy style stupidly overpowered generals)

There's also some I'm really unlikely to:

  • Thrones of Britannia - everyone hates it for some reason
  • Rome 1 expansions and Rome 2 Atilla - I really don't care for those super scripted campaigns, sandboxes are what Total War should be about
  • Troy - it's fantasy game, and looks a lot worse than Warhammer

How Empire could be improved with mods

Here are some simple fixes that could make Empire better. There are mods for some of them.

I already had fixes for some vanilla issues:

  • 0 fps bug due to walls damaged in fort sieges is really killing the game, so either forts need to be removed (what I did), or artillery capable of damaging the walls
  • removing heavy weather effects is easy improvement (using this mod); most other Total War games before and after let you reroll awful weather, Empire weirdly skips this
  • diplomacy is completely broken, but it's largely fixed by just giving away military access to everyone; maybe even "fixed" too much

These seem fixable:

  • I played with Additional Units Mod, but most of units it adds are pointless variations of existing units, like just another elite Line Infantry with a few points to some stats; a few new units are interesting, but overall I'm not sure this mod helps, and UI is awkward when I can recruit 30 different units but there's really only space for 15
  • I was splitting stacks on campaign all the time to move faster - cavalry, infantry, and artillery have different ranges, and it's mostly just annoying - making them move same speed would save a lot of hassle (and it's very simple mod); interestingly this would also make some exploits a bit harder
  • garrisons are stupidly weak; changing from 2x 80-strong Firelock Armed Citizen to like 5x 160-strong Militia would be a huge improvement. DMUC mod I used to play in the past goes a bit too far for my taste giving them free mortars with crazy range, but it might be for the better
  • naval warfare is miserable, but hard to avoid as economy is so heavily reliant on trade - there are two fixes, either nerf trade, or fix naval battles
  • to fix trade, trade nodes need to get nerfed (I'm not sure where that logic is) while industry needs to be massively buffed
  • arguably industry was supposed to be far more powerful; it would all be 2x more profitable if the port wealth bug (see here) was fixed, as then industrial slots would grow from very poor they start on (1x multiplier) gradually to wealthy (2x multiplier); since I don't think mods can fix it, just massively increasing wealth from higher tier buildings would work (I'm not sure if it's possible to disable that town wealth system)
  • and speaking of economics, after running some numbers, I believe I wasn't playing quite optimally, and optimal tax is upper class on 2, and lower on 3, not both on 3 as is default
  • artillery sandbags are just pure AI nerf and it's best for AI to remove them from the game

I'm not sure if these is fixable:

  • to fix naval combat I think the easiest way would be to make every ship's range the same (easy to mod), and give them far wider firing ranges (not sure how much work it is to mod this) so fighting with multiple ships isn't infinite tedium just to make your guns point at the enemy; this would also seriously reduce cheesiness
  • I couldn't figure out what makes resistance to foreign occupation -30 so often. It's way too much for minors' capitals.

It's not broken as such, but I think land battles would be a lot more interesting with artillery rebalance. Canister shot is just way too powerful, while round shot is stupidly weak.

I think an interesting idea would be removing direct fire artillery from early techs, and mostly replacing it with howitzers, which are stronger at long range, much weaker short range, and mostly a lot less finicky to use, so they'd allow more dynamic battles.

Everyone's morale is also too high, especially on higher difficulty levels, so you need to focus on killing them (with cannister shot) rather than just making them rout (with like cavalry).

Cavalry units could be made a bit bigger (so 160 infantry vs 60 cavalry could be like 160 inf and 80 or 100 cav), as they just don't do enough.