I noticed a new achievement was added with Europa Universalis IV’s Cossack extension: as Riga, own and core all provinces in the Baltic region.
Quite a fun area this Baltic Area… In my (failed) Baltic Crusader run, I had the opportunity to get a taste of the Swedes wrath. So I allied them. And kept this alliance until the end of the game. By keeping it, I mean most of the time keeping a diplomat assigned to maintains relations, unless the guy was really needed elsewhere. Only once, Scandinavia (what became of the Swedes) made a separate peace. And this alliance kept at bay Muscowy and Poland/Lithuania, until they got weakened so we could actually beat them. Great!
Soon enough, I got enough in advance technologically that it made sense to use “Policies”, which I never used before, instead of overpaying technological progress (maybe not even possible, with -190%), which I used to favor trade.
And with trade, I made a massive amount of cash. By 1619, I was earning 21.75 monthly from the Baltic Sea, collecting there and forwarding with a merchant in Krakow, Kiev, Crimea, and Novgorod (each merchant from related note provides +10% to the collecting node). By 1740, it was up to 53,34, with an additional merchant in Kazan, with a trade power of 1122,5 in Baltic Sea.
For long, Papal States prevented me to attack Lithuania or Poland that still owned 4 provinces needed for the achievement, having more than 78000 troops at the ready and defending them as good christian leader – since I went Protestant as soon as Scandinavia did. I finally attacked when even Hungary was joining me. It went good since Ottomans find it was a good time to strike on Austria and Papal States. By 1777, I got the Terra Mariana cored. Well, I’d mention that I only survived this war due to cash: I was up to the max of mercernaries at all time and was consolidating obliterated stacks and producing new mercenaries continously. Only this allowed me to actually defeat the powerful 178000 troops from Austria/Papal State and the weaker ~ 100000 troops of Poland (Scandinavia having ~63000 good troops at that time).
Then Riga became Kurland. And then I learned, really deep, about the mecanism of liberty desire of vassals. I had a very good and strong march, bordering Bohemia and Hungary, a client state named Neumark. When destroying Lithuania, I made it release Polotsk that I later vassalized and overfed. Yeah, overfed. Troops of Neumark and Polotsk got big enough for them to never ever have liberty desire below 50%. So annexing Polotsk goes impossible. Worse, the interface led me to think I’d decrease liberty desire of Potosk by giving it a province big enough. So I gave it Pskov. And I only made it stronger and even more impossible to handle. I tried to make Neumark weaker by removing its March status: the only resultat that now Neumark hated me. At some point, Neumark and Polotsk gone together to war for independance, with Papal States as ally, and I did not get white peace willy-nilly. Interestingly enough, Papal States was only interested, when asked for peace conditions, into canceling my alliance with Scandinavia.
This whole issue with vassal seriously slowed down the end game.
Not a surprise, Kurland in 1821 get the worldwide highest trade income.
Too sum up, notes:
- policies are actually useful: it makes perfect sense not to waste monarch points when you are too far in advance so you’d pay technology way too much, instead of getting something like +25 % trade steering for instance ;
- for this Baltic game, Scandinavia was a perfectly alliance, since it focused for conquest on further away (Russia or Denmark) but was readily available with big stack of decent quality ;
- if cash allows, continuous production of mercenaries is a valid option to overcome low manpower – for most of the game, only canons and cavalries where regular non-mercs;
- marches are useful but growing one to have a noticeable army makes it very hard to deal with big vassals later – clearly diplo-annexing is not as easy as it was (and that’s good, but habits need to be changed) ;
- forts are actually much more useful than I thought – for instance, a stack of at least 30000 is necessary to even attempt to capture in years a level 8 fort ;
- good approach to deal with an enemy that takes a lot of allies to prevent you to attack him is actually to remove his alliances separately, in war against only a few of the allies.