Unintentionally, I had a recent session in Europa Universalis IV where I spent rather more time than I intended to trying to clean a mess up. I’m sure we’ve all had those sorts of moments in games, just like in real life. EU4 however, being published by Paradox Interactive, and especially in Ironman mode, where no reloading is permitted, can be very punishing if you make one little mistake. This will be a warning to anyone who wants to try this game, and a complete recommendation because it’s a very engaging game once you figure out how everything works. Which it took me watching a full Youtube tutorial before I was able to, there is a lot to keep under control, and this wasn’t even my first Paradox game.
My situation starts as the Ottomans. It’s my first full Ironman campaign on EU4. I have played a normal game as Castile into Spain and have experienced all the colonization mechanics that I will have to go back and try, but obviously in normal mode you cannot earn Steam achievements. And that is something I love to aim for particularly in Paradox games like EU4 as one of their features is that there is nothing to aim for and you can play it however you want. So I started an Ottoman campaign with the aim of easing myself into Ironman mode and to aim to ultimately earn the achievement ‘Definitely The Sultan of Rum’, where you must own and core Rome, Moscow and Istanbul, as well as picking up as many easy generic achievements as possible with the aim of clearing those out so I can focus on other country specific ones for other campaigns. That goal will be a long-term one as I spread my light green tide out across the globe, conquering anything weak I see.
Anyway, let us return to the point of this post, the perils of being at war too much in EU4. The cover photo was taken some time after the situation had returned to normal. Initially, I had been down south, fighting the Mamluks for the Levant, as there was a mission to take that from them. I had taken half of that after a long war. I then pushed back Aq Qonyulu down to one province. At this time my manpower was down to 0 because of all of the casualties I had been taking. I won those wars fine and turned my army’s attentions to Europe, I would attack there next. Now here is where the mistakes came in. I declared war on Bosnia not a year after peacing with the Aq, thinking they looked weak. They were allied with Poland, who I figured I could just about take if they decided to side with the Bosnians. Of course they did, and they did cause me a little bit of trouble, I lost a few battles but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. However Venice, who I still haven’t cleared out from the Aegean by the way, decided to jump in with all of their allies with a claim on Athens. And then it began. Venice had huge amounts of forces, far more than I had expected them to and them, Poland and Bosnia began to utterly defeat my forces, and before I knew it, I had those armies occupying most of Greece. Up until now I had been enjoying playing as the near invincible Ottomans so this completely brought me down to earth. I even swallowed my pride and took a peace deal around 1478 such that Poland and Bosnia would back off, losing me two Serbian territories and giving my core in Albania to Venice, which as you can see from that map, I have still not reclaimed (although it’ll only be a matter of time before I get round to it). Even then, the Venetian troops still managed to outplay my army multiple times, even when I had superior numbers and better generals, I guess their troops must have been better trained. It took nearly 10 years of beating them back, retaking the forts they’d occupied and ignoring peace deals that wrecked my stability briefly to get me into a position where I was just able to call for a white peace, take a deep breath and spend a few years rebuilding my forces to a point where they could take on more things again. I thought I had set myself back further at the worst of it and it was a game experience I don’t think I’ll forget, that I persevered and would not give anything away to Venice, particularly as I pushed them back the peace deals got less and less disastrous for me but at that point a white peace was my goal and I wouldn’t give them anything.
This of course does have a happy ending, I managed to rescue my army, and immediately turned to Bosnia, who had now lost their alliance with Poland as Poland itself got swallowed away, and easily beat them down to one province, where they remain. I pushed eastward, have absorbed Iraq and have been pushing heavily on the Qara, punished the Mamluks some more and lately have swallowed Kiev in preparation for war against Muscovy. Kebab is stronk, and I won’t make any mistakes like I did again.
So if you love country based warfare, particularly the strategic part of it, and you somehow don’t have EU4 already, what are you doing with your life (answer: probably something far more productive). Get it, and love it and have experiences like that with it.