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EU3 mod Magna Mundi Gold 2

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.

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Second attempt at an EU3: NA + MMG AAR

Just installed the latest version of Magna Mundi Gold for Europa Universails III: Napoleon’s Ambition, and will get cracking on a new AAR shortly.

Many EU3 players like to limit themselves to minor (i.e. one-province) nations, growing the minor into a major and eventually dominating world affairs.  There’s certainly enormous challenges involved in doing this, although I prefer to play the majors (Great Britain, France, Portugal, etc).  Playing a major nation is a little more forgiving, in that you can make a few mistakes and suffer a major calamity without totally hosing your economy / military / relations for all time.

The downside to the majors is that it’s easy to steamroll the world, if that’s your style of play.  I try to limit myself to what I would consider to be reasonable constraints.  For instance, as France you might have the capability to expand westward into Iberia, but why would you?  Different cultures, increased stability, lesser tax and production income, no historic French crusades or missions into that region.  Just because you can doesn’t always mean that you should.  Ergo for this round as England, I am going to revive my previous objectives and modify them a little.

OBJECTIVES:

  • Annex Scotland (by 1707) and Ireland (by 1801) to form Great Britain.
  • Kick Norway out of the Orkneys and annex them.
  • Mediæval crusade to free Judea and Lebanon.  Objective forfeit if not complete by 1500.
  • As Curia controller, guarantee the independence of the Papal States and the failed crusader
    state of the Knights Hospitallers of Rhodes (until the Reformation, if there is one).  If I’m not pulling the Curia’s strings then the Bishop of Rome can clean up his own messes.
  • Guarantee the independence of the Duchy of Athens (someone has to buy the Elgin Marbles!).  Sorry, fellas.  You dragged me into too many wars last time.
  • Seek the independence and unification of the Netherlands.
  • Drive the Ottoman Empire out of Rumelia and liberate Constantinople.  No Siege of Vienna on my watch, thank you very much.
  • Retain control of the thirteen American colonies (apologies to Messrs. Jefferson, Washington et al).
  • Control much of the territory of the historic British Empire, appropriate to its holdings in 1793 1820, by the end date.  The Napoleon’s Ambition add-on extends the end date.

LIMITATIONS:

  • No province in the British Isles—except the Orkneys—may be gained by military
    annexation, only by vassalship and diplomatic annexation (hopefully the
    Scots and Irish won’t be as resentful, then.  Don’t see any way around force-annexation of the Orkneys as I really don’t want to inherit the whole of Norway just to get one province
    ).
  • Never surrender Calais, and strive to retain all Continental French holdings.
  • No native/pagan states (Incas, Mayas, Aztecs, North American First
    Nations) are to be annexed in a war of aggression, but will permit annexation as the result of an unprovoked native-initiated war.
  • Do not colonise any province where the primary economic output is slaves.
  • The Royal Navy must outclass its nearest rivals in fleet size by half.  By 1820 it should be as large as the next two navies combined.  This is Britannia, after all.

So that’s the general strategy at the start.  As the game progresses, some of these will likely change.  Feel free to post suggestions on objectives / limits yourself.

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EU3: Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, 1479-1489

To see all installments of this Europa Universalis 3 AAR (after-action report), visit these posts:

1453-1456 Imperial Adventures
1453-1465 Imperatrix Romanorum Electus
1465-1479 Non Semper Erit Aestas
1479-1489 Graecia Capta Ferum Victorem Cepit

ENGLAND AT A GLANCE

eu3_snap608 eu3_snap609

eu3_snap614 eu3_snap615

Queen Mary has done a matchless job navigating her realm to the height of international prestige.  England is well-regarded in most European courts, due in no small part to Mary’s considerable influence with the Roman Curia and Imperial courts of the Holy Roman Empire.  England is also blessed with a reasonably stable economy, and the victorious wars in France, Greece and Turkey have helped spread her fame around the known world.  The English court is guided by knowledgeable peers, and the Queen’s subjects are protected by the Magna Carta Libertatum, in force since 1215 A.D. and reissued several times since.

EUROPE IN 1479

eu3_snap607Political Geography: The summer of 1479 finds England a major power in western Europe.  Queen Mary I rules the southern halves of Albion and Hibernia, as well as the ancient Plantagenet holdings of Normandy and Gascony.  Normandy is disputed territory since France maintains a feeble and unenforced claim on it, but the truth is that the French have not challenged England militarily for 22 years.  And Mary has always been careful to leave at least one French territory with a considerable garrison—even at the very height of the Ottoman wars.

eu3_snap618Holy Roman Empire:
The Queen has also reigned as Empress-Elect of the Holy Roman Empire for 18 years.  This additional role garners some manpower and research benefits from the Empire’s various member states.  The Empire is a fractious beast whose Electors and many members frequently war with one another.  Mary has threatened military and economic intervention several times to secure the liberty of small Imperial states (and Free Cities) subsumed by larger, more aggressive neighbours.  England itself is neither a member nor Elector, although its ruler is the Empress.

eu3_snap617Religion: Western Europe is entirely Catholic and all of its countries formally acknowledge the Pope as the head of the church.  Although rulers usually accede to the Pontiff’s wishes in matters spiritual, many seldom do in matters temporal.  Queen Mary in particular has focused her energies on reforming the Catholic church, trying to remedy some of its most damaging excesses.  The humanist values of ancient Greece and Rome have filtered into many English territories, particularly on the Continent.

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EU3: Non Semper Erit Aestas, 1465-1479

To see all installments of this Europa Universalis 3 AAR (after-action report), visit these posts:

1453-1456 Imperial Adventures
1453-1465 Imperatrix Romanorum Electus
1465-1479 Non Semper Erit Aestas
1479-1489 Graecia Capta Ferum Victorem Cepit

eu3_snap408Constantinople—the once-grand Nova Roma of the Eastern Roman Empire—is now home to Adam Dundas’ small, beleaguered occupation army.  Every few months an Ottoman force appears outside the Theodosian Walls, intent on sieging the city.   The English garrison dutifully marches out and repels the attackers, but attrition, desertion and disease are taking a heavy toll.  In November of 1464, 4,400 English knights and infantry occupied the city; by January of 1465, only 3,300 remain.

Concurrently, the newly-created Duke of Gascony, John Neville, lands at Avarino with the Home Army once again.  This time he easily ejects a small Ottoman garrison.  Lord Gascony’s old nemesis—Ottoman Sultan Mustafa I—is now hurrying northeast across Rumelia to battle Dundas for the capital.

The Black Death ravages the Italian peninsula and many minor German states, but so far it has not appeared in any English territories.

eu3_snap458In the English court, ecclesiastical arguments with Rome drag onward.  The practice of simony continues unabated, and there is also the problem of mortmain—the willing of one’s lands to the church.  Since the church was largely exempt from taxes, and never married or died, willed lands would be accrued in perpetuity.  Queen Mary is determined to end these practices within her realm.  She garners the support of some cardinals in the Roman Curia, demanding a General Council to resolve the issues.

Mary must also secure the northern border.  Scotland and England both maintain large 12,000-man armies on either side of the boundary—forces that should see better use against the Turks.  A series of treaties and gifts to the Stuart dynasty improves relations significantly by June of 1465.  The Scots border force is reduced by half, and the English Army of Scotland embarks for Greece.

Harmonious English-Burgundian diplomacy also permits the commitment of the Calais garrison.  Queen Mary gambles that cordial relations with this major Continental power are sufficient to keep France at bay.  The English Army maintains small forces in Ireland, Normandy and Gascony, but has left England itself undefended.  That task falls to the Royal Navy.

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EU3: Imperatrix Romanorum Electus, 1456-1465

To see all installments of this Europa Universalis 3 AAR (after-action report), visit these posts:

1453-1456 Imperial Adventures
1453-1465 Imperatrix Romanorum Electus
1465-1479 Non Semper Erit Aestas
1479-1489 Graecia Capta Ferum Victorem Cepit

Winning the Peace

eu3_snap016 An exhausted England rejoices at the Treaty of Toulouse and the end of the Hundred Years War.  Church bells exult the great victory, and John Neville earns the sobriquet “Hammer of the French”.  Finally, England’s Norman rights are confirmed.

Thousands of mercenaries are released from service, and both the army and navy are put on half-pay.  With the sudden lack of military employment, however, arrives malcontent and michief.  Out-of-work mercenaries start pillaging the Queen’s loyal subjects, causing a spike in crime.  Many of these ecorcheurs are caught and punished, and as a crime-fighting measure, the Chancellor of the Exchequer reluctantly agrees to delay separation for those mercenaries still on the payroll.

The war effort has also been detrimental to England’s reputation in foreign palaces; some kings on the Continent worry that she harbours expansionist ambitions beyond Normandy and Gascony.  Henry VI was never particularly gifted in quashing these rumours—??especially given his father’s martial  skill—??but fourteen-year-old Mary is a born diplomat and shrewd judge who easily befriends lords and nobles at home and abroad.  She uses this skill to good effect, marrying off cousins of Lancaster and York into the royal bloodlines of allied nations (Portugal, Munster, Leinster), useful neighbours (Scotland, Tyrone, Connaught, Brittany) and powerful potential allies (Burgundy).  Best of all, Mary stuns Europe by convincing loyal Portugal to abandon their alliance with Castile and become England’s vassal, complete with regular fief income.  Even relations with France become almost cordial.

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Imperial Adventures

Regular readers will know I have a fondness for history, so it’s no surprise that I like computer games that allow the player to take a historical situation and try to reproduce the flow of history, or alter its outcome.

One of my favourite games in this genre was Europa Universalis II, which lets the player select one of two-hundred-odd nations across the globe, and shepherd its military, diplomatic, financial, technological, colonial, religious and philosophical development from 1419 to 1820.  EU2 was a great game, made even better by the addition of user-created mods which added thousands of historical events to the timeline.  Its one great failing was that its AI was relatively restricted; it would follow the events scripted for all of the various computer-controlled nations, but not really adapt to dynamic local conditions.  The AI showed no finesse in diplomacy or waging wars; you could pretty much count on AI-controlled nations not to gang up on you unless you went on a world-conquering spree.  And certain events (i.e. Wars of the Roses) fired solely due to their implacable scripted nature, whether your nation was an oasis of calm and stability, or a revolution-riddled basket-case.

Things were much improved in its successor, Europa Universalis III.  The AI is much more crafty and aggressive, more like a human player.  If you are too powerful an opponent militarily, it will employ subtler methods, like spies or diplomatic persuasion.  Opponent nations will ally with powerful neighbours and wait until get yourself embroiled in a war, cut military funding or reduce the size of your forces before deciding to go for your jugular.  Friendly nations will sucker you into an alliance, and then promptly declare war on their hated enemy whose army is twice as big as yours.  The AI is a much cagier, craftier beast in the latest iteration of the game.

The game is no longer script-driven, and after selecting your historically-derived starting point, the game evolves dynamically.  You won’t always see the same countries experiencing the same revolutions on the same dates; it all depends on what is happening locally in that country (or province).  Monarchs (and their skills) are also dynamic, and do not follow the historical record.  There are also other nice features, like royal advisors, who add bonuses to your nation’s capabilities or research.  And facilities that can be built in each province, which increase trade, tax revenue or population-related stats like manpower and happiness/stability.  There is a military tradition system which improves (or degrades) the quality of generals/conquistadors and and admirals/explorers you can recruit; the more land or naval battles you fight, the greater your land or naval tradition.  But this tradition degrades over time, so if you don’t fight that often, your tradition will remain low (and so will the quality of your leaders!).

The only downside to the game is that the scope is a little smaller; there are still hundreds of nations to play, but you have less time in which to play them.  EU3’s timeframe runs from the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Revolutionary Era in 1793 (although I understand an add-on is being developed to extend the timeframe into the early 19th century Napoleonic Wars).

One interesting aspect of the game is that a lot of players like to write after-action reports (or AARs), little mini-histories of their nations as the game progresses.  I’m going to do the same here for my game as England, including some self-generated goals and limitations (to make the game mechanics less “gamey” and more like actual policy decisions
that would be carried out by real live human beings).

Objectives:

  • Annex Scotland and Ireland to form Great Britain.
  • Take and hold Jerusalem and Lebanon.
  • Guarantee the independence of the Papal States and the failed crusader
    state of the Knights of Rhodes (until the Reformation, if there is one).
  • Guarantee the independence of the Duchy of Athens (someone has to buy the Elgin Marbles!).
  • Seek the independence and unification of the Netherlands.
  • Control much of the territory of the historic British Empire, appropriate to its holdings in 1793, by the end date.

Limitations:

  • No province in the British Isles may be gained by military annexation, only by vassalship and diplomatic annexation (hopefully the Scots and Irish won’t be as resentful, then).
  • Never surrender Calais, and strive to retain all Continental French holdings.
  • No native/pagan states (Incas, Mayas, Aztecs, North American First
    Nations) are to be annexed in a war of aggression.  Still undecided if
    I will permit annexation as the result of a native-initiated war, but leaning against it.
  • Do not colonise any province where the primary economic output is slaves.

I’m using a couple of user-created add-ons for extra flavour and visual effects.  The Magna Mundi IV mod adds an lot of historical flavour and gameplay balance to the dynamically-generated events, and the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum mod makes the game’s playing map resemble those old 15th century parchment maps.

So without further adieu, here we go.

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