Country Size: 28 Provinces
Status: Depressed at my small, small size compared to how big I was last game.
Let’s get started quickly.
I have a couple of false starts (allying with Crimea and getting dragged into one of Crimea’s patented “let’s piss everyone off” war, overreaching and getting Europe angry at me) as I readjust to “not-monstrous-blob” play.
Then I start my real game. As with the previous attemot, I take my decisions, pick up advisors (ignoring the need for a Better Relations over time bonus. No save-scumming there, the minor boost it gives is pretty much irrelevant when compared to doing smart Aggressive Expansion management.)
Then I set up my alliance with Bohemia, and go with my usual opening of wiping away Albania and Byzantium. Then I take on Trebizond and Theodoro. Then Poland and Lithuania again decide not to form a personal union. Cool start.
And then Qara Qoyunlu eats Aq Qoyunlu. Whoa. That’s… actually a fairly significant development, setting me on a path to war against Qara Q early.
And then I get a random event that’s usually no big deal. I’m about to click it away then I realize it means I could get a development discount in Edirne, one of the province in Thrace, my capital region. Ergo… it’ll be cheaper to force the Renaissance there when it appears, meaning this isn’t an irrelevant event, it’s a major boon.
Then I notice that somehow, Ramazan, one of the minor countries on my south has allied with the Mamluks. It’s bothersome but not a huge issue – I think. It’s not something that usually happens, so hopefully this means the Mamluks failed to get one of their more significant alliances up, but I’ll need to check that out.
Really – this game just got interesting. That’s not how the early game usually pans out. Typically, Qara Qoyunlu will take its time vassalizing Georgia, letting me eat reconquer Aq Qoyunlu. And the Mamluks ignore Ramazan, letting me eat them without trouble. Interesting times.
Over the course of the next few wars, I slowly build up my territory, recovering cores and capturing the small local powers. Those wars are pretty much formalities: crush the small opposing force, siege everything, win. Then I vassalize Georgia, triggering the first coalition of minor powers against me. Time to let the men take a breather.
Oh, also, the Renaissance happened.
Institutions are the current system intended to simulate the evolution of technology. In the time period covered by EU4, Europe saw rapid technological development while most of the rest of the world didn’t. The idea behind Institutions is that they’re the cultural forces which made that fast technological progress possible.
How they work is that as soon as an Institution appears, technological costs go up for all countries that haven’t Embraced the institution. It’s a small tick (1% per year, topping at 50% per institution) that ends up being prohibitively expensive.
If you have the right expansion installed (Common Sense) you can spend monarch points to develop provinces, which also speeds up adoption of an institution in a province. It’s the only way you can affect Institution spread inside a province, with one exception.
Institutions are adopted over time by provinces – each province slowly ticking upward to adoption. And once provinces totalling 10% of your Development value have fully embraced an Institution, you can force the rest of your country to embrace it, erasing the tech cost penalty at a rather high cost in ducats.
Lots of factor affect institution spread (and they vary depending on the institution), but at least in the case of the early institutions like the Renaissance and Colonialism, you’ll want to force one of your provinces to adopt the institution as fast as possible, so that it can then spread more quickly to surrounding provinces.
The thing to understand is that institution spread is incredibly slow except for that Friendly province factor. Waiting for the spread to occur naturally means you’ll have to buy multiple tech levels at a large penalty. So it makes sense to throw monarch points at a province, just to get the institution in one province to start that faster spread.