Russia: East to the Sea is a new Let’s Play series (with a new, updated name) that will follow my progress as I play a Europa Universalis IV campaign as Muscovy, starting in the year 1444. Goals for this series include: forming Russia as soon as possible, securing my western borders, and then ignoring Europe and expanding east into Southeast Asia (and possibly western North America). So let’s get this party started! (Part 4 available here)
Things are going fairly swimmingly. I don’t have many allies, but so far Europe is leaving me alone. That all changes in 1582 where Austria ruins my plans to integrate the Livonian Order and attack Nogai. They call me to war against the Ottomans and Algiers.
This is the fight I’ve been dreading, and I knew it was going to happen at some point. Well, Austria’s strong; they have allies. If I accept the call I might be able to hurt the Ottomans and maybe get them to stop being allied with Crimea.
I’m spread thin–oh so very thin–but I manage to get an army of 43K together. I’m equal to or more advanced in Military Tech when compared to the Ottomans, but I don’t have any military Ideas. I also have terrible commanders and a limit of 1. I march my troops down into modern-day Turkey and besiege a province along the coast of the Black Sea.
And here’s where I make a mistake: I take my eye off my army for just a moment. Next thing I know they’re fighting an 80 stack of Ottoman troops. Within seconds my army is wiped out. Not half killed and the rest shattered retreating all the way to the middle of fricken’ nowhere, Siberia. 43K all dead.
Sorry, Austria! You’re on your own with this one! And to rub salt in the wound, France–sensing Austria’s weakness–declares war on them over some French provinces Austria took when they expanded their Burgundian holdings. I decline that call to arms and end up pissing Austria off. For as big as a I am, I can’t contribute troops to two major, continent-spanning wars.
Their war’s still going on in 1587, but I don’t care. In 1591, I attack Uzbek and by extension Crimea. Crimea is allied with Uzbek, but they don’t become the war leader, so they can’t call on the Ottomans. I can handle Crimea by myself (and with a little help from Lithuania). The war lasts about a year, and I take a province for myself from Crimea, give one of theirs to Lithuania, and annul their treaty with the Ottomans. For some reason the game isn’t letting me demand territory from Uzbek aside from 2 places I have claims on. I’m occupying their whole country, but only those 2 provinces show up in the Cede Territory list. I don’t know if it was some mechanic I don’t understand or if it was a bug.
So Much for Gratitude
Despite our years of friendship and the fact that I gave them a core province, Lithuania breaks our alliance and rivals me in 1596. So much for gratitude, amirite? The 17th Century rolls around and I find myself fighting Manchu–well, more like they find themselves fighting me. I take two more provinces from them, but my expansion is slow. Each of these Asian provinces I take has a relatively low cost to core but ridiculously long times. 96 months for a 3 base tax province? It’s just silly. That’s 96 months I need to leave a few regiments there to keep revolts down. Or that’s another chunk of Military Points to spend on harsh treatment.
The years march on. Russia’s star is still ascendant, but maybe its velocity is slowing. The pace of the game sure is, that’s for damn sure.
By 1610 I’ve accomplished: colonizing Taiwan, northern Japan, Manila, Midway, and now Hawaii. I found the west coast of North America, and as soon as I can, I’ll send colonists there.
However, with an empire that stretches across a continent and a variety of island chains in the South Pacific, I’m finding that I need to pause the game every few minutes to micromanage everything. Oh look, a pirate’s popped up on one of my trade routes. Gotta make sure it doesn’t sink my light ships. Oh look, my colonies are under attack. Oh look, rebels are popping up in provinces that are taking forever (seriously, for. ev. er.) to core. It’s a lot of start and stop, and the 16th century is taking twice as long as the 15th.
Still, I haven’t faced any heavy resistance. No coalitions. Manchu has lots of territory, but they’re a pushover. With my Westernized Military Tech (that’s like 10 years ahead of time because I haven’t taken a military Idea Group yet), I steamroll them.
All by Myself
The funny thing is, even though the game says I’m in 4th place and have one of the largest militaries, I don’t feel powerful. I don’t want to fight any of my western neighbors. And especially not the Ottomans. It’s barely 1600 and they already have almost 200K troops at their disposal. They’re over their force limits by about 50 regiments. I don’t understand how they do it. Maybe it’s something to do with their national Ideas? I dunno.
The reason I don’t feel powerful is because I have so many goddamn provinces. It takes forever to move troops from my eastern regions back to my European borders. I don’t have enough money to build up units (because I’m at 50% Patriarch Authority. It makes converting Sunni provinces easier but eats my income). The ledger says I have over 100K troops at my disposal, but they’re spread out from Livland to Sibir to Saghalian Oula to Taiwan and to Hawaii. Maybe it’s overkill, but I put at least 3 or 4 regiments on each colony until it becomes self-sustaining. I haven’t lost a single one, but I’m stretched paper-thin. It doesn’t help that I’m keeping regiments in place to quell rebellions after I fully annexed Nogai in 1618.
And that’s why I find myself bereft of allies. Austria hates me from when I didn’t help them against France. Lithuania upped and decided that I’m scum. Now my only friend is the Ming, and they haven’t joined a single war yet–not even those against Manchu.
Oh well, Russia doesn’t need friends. Russia is fine on its own. Russia doesn’t need to worry that both Great Britain and Castile are forming colonies in the South Pacific. It’s almost 1620 and in less than a year my colonists will reach the West Coast of North America. British Mexico and British Brazil don’t scare me! (Okay yeah. Britain scares me.) I’ve never seen them colonize so extensively before. Usually Spain and Portugal lock that down first. Maybe with Aragón controlling most of modern-day Spain, it’s created a vacuum for Great Britain to fill.
We’ll see how much more I’ll go with this series once my colonies in California are done forming. I think my initial strategy was flawed: I don’t like have to micromanage a global empire. It’s too slow for my tastes with far too many moving parts. Does that make me a bad EUIV player? Yeah, it probably does.
I think playing the colonization game in the Pacific is also much more micro-y than say South America or North America. With all the island chains, you have to constantly keep moving troops on and off ships, sometimes just to get to “neighboring” provinces in the same archipelago.
If I was to do this playthrough over–sticking with the plan of ignoring Europe–I would conquer more of mainland Asia rather than racing across the ocean for Hawaii and California. I think I would enjoy myself more doing that. Alternatively, if I was to play Russia again, I’d turn my attentions westward from the start and try to conquer most of Europe.
Come back in another few days for the final part of “Russia: East to the Sea.” Let’s see if I can conquer some of the Korean peninsula before getting fed up with the micro-aspects of the game and calling it quits!