I tried a failed a few games with minor balkanik states. I dont get how to handle Ottomans properly. Getting to war against it is a lost cause, not getting to war against it mean it just grows indefinitely until it actually attacks. Being orthodox makes it even harder to maintain proper alliance. So I tried to get some playthrough with Hungary.
There is an achievement to get with Hungary, Take that, von Habsburgs!: as Hungary, own all of Austria as core provinces. It is marked as hard was created with 1.12. There is an playthrough stating that one logically simple method for owning all Austrian core provinces, would be to form a personal union over Austria Austria and then inherit or integrating them. Thanks but no. Seems boring and lazy.
No, I decided to go the hard way. Hungary playthrough would be easy allying Austria but I decided not to, in order to get it weak enough to be able to grab its territory. It means getting other possibly strong allies. Lengyel, magyar – két jó barát, együtt harcol, s issza borát, Poland only come as natural, since it is strong and allows not to care about north frontier or eastern threats like Russia. The rest is more circumstancial: best is to ally Poland allies to make sure the ally is still worth it.
First moves were getting as much of balkans before Ottomans. So I conquered Wallachia, Bosnia, split and vassalized Serbia.
I thought smart to also ally Venice, since it is an obvious strong enemy to both Austria and Ottomans. That was quite dumb, in retrospect: a war broke out and we got punished by Ottomans. Even when the number were in our favor, which were not most of the time, we got destroyed. I only manage not to loose anything but soon spending energy just to make sure that no territory corable by Ottoman was occupied, instead of doing any real fighting.
Logical conclusion: Ottoman will need to be defeated not only but numbers but also by quality, which mean I need some technological edge. So, by 1528, the country succesfully westernized.
I followed polish alliance with Swedes, which was actually good to handle eastern enemies, especially since Poland ties to Lithuania were severed (no commonwealth!). I noticed that with current version, Papal State is over dominant in Italy, so I allied it also, since I need strong ally with ties to the mare nostrum. This was convenient to make a strong alliance to dwarf Austria, even though there was some failure, especially against France allied to Bohemia.
Since Ottomans and Muscovy were involved in christian leagues, I did not get involved. I kept my focus on developing my area and also conquered Raguse as soon as it was not tied to too strong allies.
Attacking Ottomans seemed premature. But Austria was getting weaker due to internal HRE wars, including religious war. Instead, I went against Bohemia that was getting way to strong. As the same time, I tried to get a military technological edge paying a lot to advisors.
By 1600, I had some personal union with Tyrol (dont know how, except that I forced Austria to free Tyrol as state), Serbia as southern balkan march, Poland, Swedes, Papal States, Bavaria and Venice as ally. The question was: should I or should I not attack Ottomans?
More war against Austria, more victories. Our alliance in Europe is probably the strongest worlwide, as shown there, it is quite hard to resist a 200k stack led by swedes. I keep my allies happy by giving them the territories they expect while I feed Tyrol that I intend to integrate later.
Finally, AI stopped the final countdown: Ottoman declared war on Poland. I was then called to war. First battles were tight. After that, it was just a matter of properly handling Constantinople choke point. Clearly, the technological military advanced helped.
This war Ottomans’s Stalingrad: we split with Poland territory. It was smarter for me to take only half of the balkan and have my main ally also involved in the same territory. I picked territory depending on trade zone (and set priorities with the new diplomacy thing). After that, once against we pounded Austria. In the meantime, Ottomans was still world #1 military wise. Once done, once again on Ottomans. We gradually grabbed massive amount. And reach the point that our armies (with Poland and Scandinivia) were all among the world top 6, which means that, combined, they would be invicible.
So now, even France or Great Britain would not be a concern and Ottomans are definitely now some minor country up for grabs:
I also have a strong religious conversion policy, useful to deal with muslim territories. By 1762 (yeah, late), I got all of Austria. Or I think so, but still no achievement: Istria is required!
To sum up, you need:
- 8 infantry, including 6 mercenaries
- 2 calvary
- 10 artillery
(artillery only since we already reached advanced technology)
Finally, in 1778, it is done, Istria is cored and the achievement obtained:
I reached the point to have the biggest army and strongest worldwide. But, that late, starting big conquest would not make that much sense. I continued, then, grabbing territory in africain.
So reach the end date. Not my best score. I guess, with such army, and being allied to next major powers, I could have played more aggressively. Still, for once I properly dealth with Ottomans. Fine by me.