Good sign, in a holy war along with Austria, Ottomans were kept at bay and Crimea lost territory. Disturbingly, Swedes were extending in the Russian area needed for the achievement. And they look strong.
Lituany was all in revolt with no ally. That was an easy grab. Livonia was going to Novgorod. I assumed it was better to make a vassal out if it instead of an ally. I went to war, made it smaller so it could be made vassal next. Bad move. Swedes then attacked Livonia and took a part of the cake.
In 1694-1697, I took revenge on Bohemia (see previous post), partly because I needed a better march than broken Silesia. Gluttony was back: a big coalition appeared in the Holy Roman Empire. Just after this, in 1698, Hungary, Austria and Muscovy went to war against Naple that has Swede as ally. It looked like the perfect opportunity to push back Swedes.
It was not. Every battle with Swede was lost even when my side had a considerable numeric advantage. A real nightmare. After tons of lost battles, the coalition went to war with perfect timing. Once again, gluttony was not rewarded. Even with big armies, decent manpower, I could not make any progress, surrounded.
At some point, I had to go for the less terrible peace offer – loosing Kiev, Pommerania, Mecklemburg, Polotsk, Postdam, etc. And the Baltic Crusader achievement looked impossible at this point: no way to expand east with such a strong contender going the same direction, not without getting stronger in central europe first. Swedes should have been kept at bay earlier. The only sane decision was not change objective: forming Germany and getting the Form an Early Reich achievement, supposedly as hard to obtain as Baltic Crusader.
I completely went to the other direction. I switched to Prussia – which forced me to move to Protestant. That allowed me to befriend and ally Great Britain, the only Protestant country, with incidentally could pose threat for Swedes, keeping them at bay. I also change the governement type to monarchy, so I could benefit from royal ties.
That was a fine idea. Being allied to Austria, the Emperor, for a moment to Bavaria, and Bohemia until the end, it was not so hard to make a path through Germany without getting unlawful territory sanctioned. I took only what was absolutely necessary to form Germany (requires cores in Hamburg, Rostock, Berlin, Braunschweig, Sachsen, Thüringen, München, Nürnberg, Hessen, Köln, Pfalz, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Königsberg/Elsass). They once again made some coalition, but it was never strong enough to actually act upon it.
Side note: I removed all forts. They are expensive to maintain, still expensive when empty (mothballed). And when lost during war, it makes it longer to get back territory. That is a bit strange – though Modern Era was probably both the historical high point and the decline of fortress.
In the meantime, I got a few easy achievements, more or less by accident: This is My Faith (Convert to Protestantism and unlock 3 Aspects of Faith), A Fine Goosestep (Form Prussia and have at least 125% Discipline), Bleed Them Dry (Have 10 different War Reparations being paid to you at the same time) and Marshy March (Have a march with at least two marsh provinces – Mazovia got Brest and Turow).
I soon reach the point where I missed only three provinces owned by Austria or Holland (French ally). I ended rivalry with France, use to my benefit the fact it was also Protestant at the moment. Finally, I went to war against Austria along with France when Austria had no manpower anymore and smaller armies than mine, according to the relevant ledger. It worked perfectly.
Later, France got involved in a war with Great Britain – I did not went against Great Britain that I still needed for the Swedes not be a problem. But France also went to war against Holland, so I could take the latest province required. By 1793, Germany was formed. A very Mitteleuropaish one, if not easternish.
Next year, Muscovy went into revolutionary state, giving me a malus. I went to destroy this revolution. After some painy micromanagement, it took up to the very end of Asia. It gaves me the This Revolution Was Crushed (In a war against the target of the Revolution, control their capital and have at least 99% war score) achievement.
- all infantery as mercenaries
- no forts at all
- Marches are useful
- for the Baltic Crusader achievement, Swedes must urgently be kept at bay
- allying powerful enemies of your enemies is a working strategy, even if is means they wont get more friendly