otI was contemplating the notion of doing the Spain is the Emperor achievement (Become the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as Spain, added in 1.1 classified hard). Except I already had both a Castillian and Portuguese run already. So I went for Aragon, with has the perk of starting in personal union with Milan, not so far from the Holy Roman Empire.
Starting Aragon strategy is determined by attitude toward France: ally or oppose fast. You need either a strong ally to defeat Castille or a weakened french rival for him not to be able to destroy you. At that moment, I thought possible to progress towards the Empire through Italy.
For that I needed a strong France focused on beating Austria. So I allied France and destroyed Castille pieces by pieces, expanding in Maghreb otherwise to get confortable on Genoa trade node by having Tunis. I also stole Provence (the county) during a french-joint war against Provence (the duchy), considering it has a lot of trade power on Genoa trade node also. I also moved my capital up north also to get bigger trade power but the result was trivial. My massive conversion of Maghreb to christianism provided me with lots of papal influence which I turned into mercantilism increase systematically.
By 1512 I was earning 22 zł/month by trade. By 1558 I had the world highest trade income and second highest total income. At the same time, I was still allied to France and Austria and had no clue as how to actually keep such strong allies and getting the vote of any Holy Roman Empire prince. Plus Ottomans were not attended to, growing massively, which could be a problem in Maghreb. That actually made me consider focusing on Trade Hegemon instead (Conquer and have cores on Aden, Hormoz and Malacca with any Western European, added in 1.2, classified hard), which implies getting to these location fast, especially in Hormoz before Ottomans. Side note: the name of the provinces varies depending on the owner (Adan, Melaka, Hormuz, etc).
I usually got benefits from the Protestant/Catholic league. So I tend to easily join them. In this game, since Ottoman joined the Protestant league along with Great Britain, Sweden, Bohemia, Brandebourg, Muscowy, Venice, I thought smart to make sure to keep my alliance with France and Austria, along in the Catholic league. Not so smart.
Yeah, the Catholic league got utterly destroyed, my French strong ally not so strong anymore, etc. The only thing that saved is that I was far away from the front line, so my territory was not up from grab in peace treaties. And now, the notion of getting elected seemeed even less plausible, as Empire center moved to the Protestant east.
So I changed my focus and made some protectorates in Africa while grabbing colonies built by Portugal or Castille. No one was in Carribeans: it looked still possible to get the No Pirates in my Caribbean (own or have a subject own the entire Caribbean, added in 1.1, medium difficulty).
In 1623, I still had the world highest trade income and second highest total income.
French, dwarfed by the Protestant league war, turned on me, made me a rival, since it could not expand anywhere else now. Ottomans were growing and going towards Hormuz. Then, for some reason, Hormuz got independant as one province country: I attacked it on the spot and conquered it due to my ships preventing any enemy to do anything. I made it a vassal, since annexing was not an option since I had neither possibility to core it neither relevant casus belli. I got a massive expansive aggression and stability hit from attacking with no casus but that was worth it.
By 1660, I was earning 117 zł/month by trade in Genoa with 993 trade power in the node. Next in line in this node was Papal State, earning 5,74 with 70 trade power.
Afterwards, the Papal State, now my ally along with Austria, attacked Venice allied to France. Now hateful France got cut even more.
In 1685, I still had the world highest trade income and had now also highest total income – along with the largest navy, the second largest army, 3rd most provinces and 3rd highest provinces value.
Later, I got a casus belli and started a war against a small entity allied to Hejaz that owned Aden. Hejaz had decent army stack with a decent army level. And, by experience of my wars in Europe, I knew that my troops were numerous but shit, often destroyed by much smaller stacks. I let Hejaz get to Hormuz and and blocked the stack in Hormuz. Note that in current version of the game (1.15), troops are blocked by straits only if they dont hold both sides of the said strait (which totally makes sense). So the trick was to jump to conquier the Qwasim. That allowed my to get Aden without too much effort – and clearly the situation in Europe was dire, loosing a massive amount of troops would have caused my rivals (notably Great Britain and Ottomans) to attack me on the spot.
So if France was not going to be an ally, I tried to ally Great Britain. And after a while, it worked, it stopped consider me as rival.
But for that result, I had to join a war against France, on which occasion I noticed that, no matter how big, my troops could never defeat the French. Too stacks of 40k joined were unable to defeat 50k french. Not glorious, I had to let my allies do the work, hiding being castles.
I had a much better time in the straits of Johor, getting Melacca, fighting against primitive troops.
There, I was fine and got the Trade Hegemon achievement.
Well, it was already 1728!
So what next? Getting Emperor was out of scope. Plus I already formed Spain as Castille and fancied staying Aragon until the end.
So I focused on the Carribean. I went to war against Scandinavia, which was not much an issue since Lithuania utterly destroyed it, and got very cheap a colony it made in Carribean. To avoid further issue, I started to colonize every little carribean island at once: the price of such approach seems to go exponentially. So I devoted all my income to that effect. Only to discover at some point that I missed Bermuda, part of the Carribean region, but further north and already part of the Thirteen Colonies – yes, my ally, Great Britain, colony.
I noticed that Great Britain was not having as many troops as my other allies and me – and a smaller navy. At that time I was contemplating the idea of doing also the The Grand Armada (Have 500 heavy ships and no loans, added 1.6 marked as hard) achievement, so I had tons of heavy ships. I later dropped the whole notion when I reached around 250 heavy ship and noticed that I would have to stop any development in any way to continue building these useless ships: useless since the exact same amount of cash spent in light ships would not only be a invicible war party plus would bring benefits in trade, beside war. The achievement might be hard to get: it is mainly boring. Anyway, Great Britain looked weak and so I dropped it and went to war against.
It was not possible to set foot in England: my allies where only sending small parties and my big stacks were not able to overcome the only big stack Great Britain had. But I ruled the sea and made Great Britain leave Bermuda to me. And that was it: No Pirates there!
A bit later, I got the Market Control achievement (Be trade leader of seven different goods, added in 1.1, medium difficulty).
I did not do anything toward this goal but, eh, trade profit was getting nicely.
Next, I started a war against Ottoman, along with Austria, Papal State and Lithuania as allies. The alliance was much stronger in any regards so it was the perfect opportunity to strike.
Later, I got the Factionalism achievement: have 3 different estates in your country with at least 70% influence each (added in 1.14, very easy). It is really not an achievement, it is more mismanagement reward, since you actually don’t want this situation, since if any of the estates reach 80%, they’ll stage a coup against your regime. Anyway, the estate mechanism introduced in the Cossacks is quite smart.
By 1821, I got a bit distanced by Ming. To improve technologically, I was using +3 level advisors so I did not maintain troop up to my landlimit. And there was no easy target for war anyway. So I end ed with only the 3rd highest income (though still 1st in trade), 5th largest army (though still the biggest navy), 4th most provinces and 4th highest province value. It is nonetheless my best score (19728) as far as I remember. No colonial power beside Aragon were not dwarfed. Ottoman was broken but still big, Ming and Lithania were massive, Austria, Teutonic Order and USA major.
To sum up:
- seems to be that to be Holy Roman Emperor as Spain would require to get involved earlier in the Empire. The way through Naples is non existant due to Papal State (which in all my recent games -1.14/1.15- became the most dangerous player in Italy);
- there is something broken with the notion of the Grand Armada achievement: it does not seems to have much historical ground; it is no fun;
- Bermuda is easy to forget for the Carribean achievement.