With the next expansion due out in 20 days, I have started playing Europa Universalis III again. Tried out the Magna Mundi Gold 2 mod, which is an enormous improvement over previous mod versions, with lots and lots of historical detail and enhancements. The only downside is that it has completely destroyed my usual playing style, although that is something of a plus, too.
THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR
Typically I play northern European countries, because it is fun to stick pins in France and the Holy Roman Empire. When I play England, I like to try to win back Normandy and Caux in the game-opening Hundred Years War. Vassalising Armagnac and Foix is also something of a priority.
Under the original MMG mod, this wasn’t too big a deal. Yes, you start with only 11,000 Englishmen versus 30,000 Frenchmen, but you used to have a couple of highly skilled generals as well. Invade Armagnac, get a couple of loans, hire a wad of mercenaries in Gascogne and southern England, and dispatch the bulk of them to northern France. Most French armies start the game in the south, poised to invade English-held Gascony, and by the time they have taken Gascony and marched north to meet you, you’ve already occupied Paris and most of northern France. They have no choice but to roll over and accept your demands.
Well, that doesn’t work anymore. In-game, John Neville is no longer the medieval Stormin’ Norman. Mercenaries can no longer be hired in mass quantities right at game start, so the puny 1000-man Gascony garrison gets obliterated. The only thing that can save them is frantic diplomacy to get military access from Armagnac or Foix. There they will sit out the remainder of the war, while 30,000 Frenchmen prowl around the surrounding territories, taunting them to come out and fight.
Magna Mundi Gold 2 also increases the average fort strength, so sieges take a lot longer. You can no longer romp through northern France like Erwin Rommel on summer vacation. Sieging Paris’s 5,000-strong fort takes literal years. Ample time for the French armies clustered in the south to march north and kick your sorry ass off the Continent. The best outcome you can hope for, if you fight tooth and nail, is to end up with a white peace and a likely rematch 5-10 years later. The most usual outcome is for Gascony or Calais to end up part of the French patrimony while England gets overwhelmed by revolts in the Wars of the Roses.
Finally (and I’m not sure if this is part of MMG2), France’s manpower levels are just off the charts compared to England. My armies reinforced much more slowly, at about 400 men per month, so it took ages to get back up to fighting strength after a particularly bloody outing.
I ended up fighting to a draw on the game-opening war, then warned France not to start any wars, and guaranteed the independence of a lot of itty bitty French minors. The idea was to wait until one of the minors sucked France into a war with another European major (like Castile or Aragon), then seize the opportunity and grab Normandy and Caux back again. Which I did, although it is worth noting that even the combined fighting forces of Castile, Aragon, England and Brittany were barely able to pull it off. In the game, much as in history, France is THE Continental superpower. In 1453, no other Western European nation comes close.
WARS OF THE ROSES
The Wars of the Roses have also been upgraded, gone are the small, easily-dispatched peasant revolts. Now you face rebel armies that are numerically superior by far, and since most of your starting armies and manpower will be completely depleted by the fighting in France, you have no choice but to bring troops home quickly to impose law and order. Chances are the rebels are going to take a couple of provinces. If you don’t get them back in a timely fashion, they may even declare independence from England itself. So keep the home county rebellions suppressed.
Imposing that law and order is no picnic either. Your stability drops to -2 (or horror of horrors, -3) and you will spend the next ten years fighting off massive rebel armies (if you’re lucky), or foreign invasions from supporters of York or Lancaster (if you’re unlucky).
I lucked out a little by getting a 6-starred artist as court advisor (which grants considerably bonuses to national stability). I further lucked out by gaining Scotland as an ally, which allowed me to grant them military access (and therefore give them the problem of quelling revolts in Northumberland and Cumbria).
Often in EU3 AARs, I see guys playing England give up their French turf and rush to invade Scotland. I don’t understand that at all. Scotland starts the game allied with France, but not at war with you. Why drag your home territories into a two-front war for no good reason? Your best window of opportunity for dealing with Scotland (diplomatically or military) is centuries. Your best window of opportunity for taking territory from continental France is at game’s start. After that, France starts to absorb her smaller neighbours and vassals, and only gets more powerful. The longer you wait, the more difficult and impossible it becomes. So make nice with the Scots, send lots of gifts; get them as allies and
they will defend your northern territories from rebellious subjects
while you’re putting the boots to their putative allies, the French.
Personally, I like to let Scotland hang in there for a good long while, they are one of the best allies you can have and never fail to contribute troops to my harebrained invasion schemes. I get a big laugh out of watching them go to war with Norway (over the Orkneys), and asbolutely shellack the hell out of the Norwegians without me having to come bail them out.
In one game Scotland and Portugal (both allies of mine) ended up at war with each other because of their vassals. It was ridiculous. Portugal is no slouch in the fighting department either, but Scotland absolutely walked all over them. Destroyed the Portuguese fleet with a much smaller Scottish fleet, and had half the country occupied in the first couple months. Portugal eventually coughed up money to end the war, but I thought I was about to see the Scots start colonising Iberia. Too many times in EU3, you get allies who start a fight with a
huge adversary and then expect you to come save them from destruction.
In Eu3, Scotland starts and ends its own fights, and that’s okay by me. They will eventually get absorbed into Great Britain, but I’m never in a rush to do it. Ireland is far more prone to the small-vassal-starting-huge-war syndrome, so I like to get them squared away first.
THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE
The gent who coded this part of the mod really outdid himself. He created a system to gauge the Emperor’s relative power and influence. The more powerful the Emperor, the less likely it is that the various districts of the Empire will want to set up their own administrative units (or circuits). Conversely, the weaker the Emperor gets, the more the Empire’s component states will seize opportunities to expand their own influence.
And as Emperor, you have a duty to protect the rights of the Empire’s component states. So if someone within (or without) invades an Imperial state, you will be called upon to formulate a response. That response can run the gamut from tacit acceptance to diplomatic/economic sanctions, from supporting dissidents and arming rebels to outright war. And if it comes to war, the various member states will actually contribute troops, manpower and money to the war effort. These are serious improvements to the standard game’s HRE mechanics, which are lacklustre at best.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the Reformation looks like in this new version, because prior iterations were quite tepid. Realistically there should be a whole lot of intrafaith whoopass going on until around 1648.