Date: March 1451
Country Size: 39 Provinces (plus vassal Georgia)
Status: Unsure on how to proceed.
As I half-expected, as soon as I fire up the game, the coalition against me dissolves for want of participants. A coalition needs at least four members to be viable, and the coalition against me had formed with too few members to sustain it (many were only technically eligible to join, and once their AE ticked down in January the coalition ceased to be even theoretically sustainable.)
Still, it’s a problem to consider, and one that probably means I’ll wait at least another year before going to war. It also means my next target is probably Wallachia, just to remove one high-AE country from the map. By my calculation, Hungary is not going to get into Coalition levels of AE if I vassalize Wallachia.
Wallachia has 39 development. Hungary adds a 25% for that value because they’re in the same culture group. Add to that 4.42% from my own development. So figure about 42 AE base, minus 6.6% from my prestige (so let’s call it 40 base AE)
Since I’m planning on vassalizing Wallachia, that’s a 50% reduction, taking it to 20 AE. Then a border hop should reduce that a bit.
Hungary has 30 AE already, and it’ll be a bit lower by the time I peace out with Wallachia. So I should be barely OK.
The war actually goes quicker than expected, but by a combination of improving relations with a bunch of faraway countries, and a lucky event that gives me a bunch of free prestige, I barely manage to vassalize Wallachia without risking a coalition forming.
But now it’s time to let Europe relax a bit, and to allow my armies to recover. We have one more easy core recovery, which I’ll get to right now, and then it’s war against Qara Qoyunlu… after a long, relaxing period of recovery (and possibly a quick invasion of Crimea.)
I swallow Crimea (again skirting the edge of a Coalition) then return my troops to prepare for an invasion of Qara Qoyunlu. In this case, I should be able to avoid the worst of the AE: my goal in that war is to recover some of my cores, and to force Qara Qoyunlu to release Syria as a free state (which I’ll then diplomatically vassalize.)
Unlike my other wars so far, Qara Q. is roughly my equal (at least in my current manpower-depleted state). Which means I need to fight smart. In this case, this means making sure not to engage the enemy without a significant numerical advantage, and otherwise not making dumb mistake. And by the by, I manage. I grab my objectives, liberate Syria, and grab an early peace deal (in this case willingly: I’m not up to grabbing too much aggressive expansion)
And then Hungary, now a world power, allies with the Mamluks. Ouch. That just became a small nightmare. Breaking that Alliance is a priority (it’s not complicated, I can fabricate a claim on Cyprus, which is guaranteed by the Mamluks, and drag them in a war. Then I just need to beat the Mamluks and get them to break their alliance with Hungary as part of the peace deal.)
If I don’t break that alliance, I will be stuck with two avenues of expansion blocked, and I’ll be at the mercy of any coalition forming that includes one of those two states. And such a coalition would be inevitable: either I expand in Christian lands which would make Hungary eventually go into Coalition, or in Muslim lands in which case the Mamluks would join..
But that means it’s time for a big war.
MECHANICS: Battles (pre-artillery)
You’d think that for a game about world conquest, battles would have been one of the subjects I’d have covered early. But EU4 combat is quite abstracted, and it’s not something that I bother micromanaging.
But let’s cover them now, while they’re still relatively simple.
Armies are made of thousand-men regiments. Regiments can be infantry, cavalry or artillery. We’ll cover artillery later, when it finally enters the fray, but for now I can only field infantry and cavalry.
Cavalry is more expensive, but much more powerful and durable than infantry. However, barring a few exceptions, you need lots of infantry to support your cavalry or your army will take a tactics penalty. Also, infantry takes the brunt of losses, so you need to have extra infantry to compensate for that.
To compound that, terrain also affect how many regiments can join the battle, as do your tech level, through a concept called combat width. Basically, your troops form a line of regiments (infantry covering most of the center position, and the last few spots on each side of the line being occupied by your cavalry.
The tech level determines the maximum possible width, and terrain reduces it. Once artillery enters the game, it can fire from a second row of regiments onto the enemy army, but otherwise you’re stuck with that line formation.
I imagine that with knowledge of the algorithms of the game, it would be possible to work out the very best army composition for any situation, but that would require a degree of micromanagement that would drive anyone insane. Instead, I usually just build a stack with a composition I like (in pre-artillery combat, I’ll have 4-6 cavalry and 10-16 infantry in a stack, with a few loose regiments of infantry following around to siege unforted provinces and to rejoin the main stack if the war goes long)
Now, there are tons of factor that go into figuring out an army’s strength and resilience. But again, it’s not something worth micromanaging. It’s a bunch of little modifiers that add up to something great.
First, armies intended to see combat need leaders. Leaderless armies can be broken completely (disappearing from the map entirely), while even on a defeat an army with a leader will almost always just retreat (thus saving some of your men). Plus leaders give significant bonuses, especially in the early game, so a good leader is one of the few ways to give a visible boost to your army.
Second, when at peace, it’s a good idea to drive down the army maintenance slider. Your soldiers’ morale will collapse, but who cares, we’re at peace. But when you do go back to war, make sure you’ve paid your soldiers in full for a few months, because low-morale units don’t last long in combat.
Now, this has barely touched upon all the little fiddly bits that make EU4 combat. But if you want more detail, head over to the wiki.