After all that introduction in the last post, it’s now time to get started in earnest. As a reminder, this is the political situation at the start of the game:
Now, there are a few strategic decisions to make first, because they shape the at least the next few decades. To finish the reconquista is a given. However, what about Aragon and Burgundy?
While you’re free to play the game however you want (there’s even a ridiculously hard achievement for conquering the world as Ryūkyū), it is not history-based. That means that many countries have specific “flavor” events that might fire, based on the important historical events for that country. For Aragon and Castile, that means the Iberian wedding, resulting in a Personal Union for Castile over Aragon. The bad thing is, it’s very random, with no real possibility to influence the chance of it happening: Aragon needs to go into a regency, or the rulers of the two kingdoms must be of opposite sex. The good thing is that it does not take into account political relationships: even if Aragon hates Castile’s guts, if the requirements are met, the event has a certain chance to fire every month. Which is just as well, because Aragon tends to rival Castile from the start (more about rivals in a bit).
The second event is the Burgundian succession: Burgundy is hard-coded to have a high risk of the king dying without an heir, and its land will be distributed among others in Europe. Since the Burgundian lands are quite rich, inheriting them is a great boost. However, by looking into the source files (EU IV is supremely moddable, almost all control information is in plaintext), we know that Castile comes quite late in the priority chain. The Holy Roman Emperor (Austria at the start of the game) is first in line to grab the lands. To not be eligible, he has to be quite weak (own fewer than 8 provinces, 6 if Austria). Next are Burgundy’s neighbors, if they have a royal marriage with them. Only then comes Castile. So, while those lands are deliciously juicy and would increase Castile’s power base a lot, I wouldn’t count on getting them: you cannot really influence who marries into Burgundy’s royal family, and you’d need to make sure the emperor is weak. Which you’d need to ensure by aggressively fighting Austria from the beginning.
It’s settled then: leave Burgundy alone, let Austria (who is likely to stay the HRE for some time, unless they mess up) have it, and instead be friends with them. Maybe down the line, we’ll reverse history and get a personal union over Austria? Who knows. Speaking of personal unions, let us gamble and hope the Iberian Wedding event will fire for us. Until then, we can ignore Aragon. If it doesn’t happen, we can always crush them later with military force.
These decisions also shape our ally and rival network. As we start, the game warns us:
Rivals have to be of roughly equal power to yours. At the start, we have the choice of Aragon, England, France, Morocco, and Portugal. Rivaling France is risky, because of their extremely powerful armies, so I’d rather make them an ally than a rival. Portugal might be a decent choice, but I’d rather first try the gentle diplomatic route. In fact, I might as well choose rivals for now that I don’t care much about. I can always change them later if I reconsider. But, what’s that? Aragon rival’d me, right from the start! Well, fine then! Aragon and England it is.
Now I want to get France and Austria as allies. This might require a bit of work, though:
So, let’s send one of our two diplomats to increase the relations between our two countries. And while we’re waiting, let’s wait with allying France. Austria and France generally aren’t on the best terms, so it’s probably best if we get both alliances at the same time, otherwise one country will dislike us for being allied to their enemy. (This also has the nice side effect that we will be able to stay neutral in future French-Austrian Wars, if we decide so.)
However, we might as well at least get something set up with Portugal already. The game has a mission available for us for exactly that:
You can see that “Finish the Reconquista” is another choice. We can always take that one afterwards. The ally mission is pretty much an instant one. First, let’s marry to improve our relations…
… and there we go:
Now, while we’re waiting on Austria to like us more, let’s ride into battle! Reconquista! But wait, what’s that?
Boo. Boo indeed. Alright, we’ll have to wait a few years. Breaking a truce, even with infidels, really trashes your realm’s stability, and we can’t have that.
But let’s get some advisors in the meantime to boost our economy and army:
Since Castile is relatively large and reasonably rich, we can even afford a +2 advisor immediately. This will help us with monarch points (MPs), because, if you remember, our king is… lacking in that respect:
We’ll be going from simpleton to imbecile. Hmm… maybe we should make sure he can show his talents in the army?
Yes. This will do nicely. Let’s hope he dies for God and Glory in our soon-to-be happening reconquista.
Coming back to MPs, let’s also focus on diplomatic points for now:
Reason being, we will soon be able to pick up our first idea set, exploration. We need it to be able to hire explorer and conquistadores, and we need those in turn to do any sort of colonization. And exploration ideas are paid for with diplomatic MPs, so we’ll want to have as many as possible for now.
While we’ve been working on all this, Austria has decided they like us enough for an alliance. So it’s time to send our two diplomats to both Paris and Vienna at the same time, to get alliances out of those two great powers.
In the meantime, the province of Andalucia has suffered from an outbreak of influenza.
Better to quarantine the city for a year, otherwise it might spread. And in other bad news, our nobles are acting up.
Just wait, you… Castile is stable enough to eat the year of +2% national unrest. We’re sitting at something like -7.5% anyway. Hmm, I might have to compile a list of unruly nobles that would be perfectly fit to lead a suicide assault on Granadan fortress, once we get the war started…
Other countries have their own share of troubles, too:
Then January 1448 rolls around, and finally, we can get those infidels out of Spain!
Austria? France? Portugal? Some allies you are. Take a lesson from Morocco! Portugal at least has an excuse… pah. Well, I can do this without you!
The next picture tells three stories in one:
- My war against Granada is going well, we already occupy two of its three provinces.
- France had at least a weak excuse to miss this war. They had still been at war with England. They won, though. No wonder, seeing how the English are warring among themselves about different colors of roses and that stuff.
- Morocco is not in any shape to support Granada. The black striped provinces are occupied by rebels.
It’s no surprise then that they’re more than willing to quit the war and focus on their internal affairs:
And without them, Granada is utterly beaten.
Very generous, indeed!
Almost immediately, some religiously more extreme advisors urge me to expel the Muslim population. It’s a hard choice. The expulsion comes with strong negative modifiers for a decade. On the other hand, my missionaries don’t seem to be up to the job to convert the province on their own, and religious unity is a great asset for a stable country. So I decided to go with the historic choice and get rid of the Moors.
One thing I noticed is that my heir is still alive. He can’t even die properly and honorably in battle! Just a short while later though, in peacetime, he finally snuffs it:
Probably fell off a horse at a parade or something. Good riddance, especially because his replacement Enrique (they seem to like the name Enrique?) is so much better:
It’s a bit sad that he’s lacking the most in diplomacy points, which I need the most in the beginning. But I won’t complain. Plus, it seems it might not be too long until he comes into power:
In the meantime, however, diplomatic MPs have been piling up, and it’s finally time to start on our colonial endeavour:
We can finally explore those white spots on the map, starting from the Canary Islands. Suddenly, those specks of land at the edge of the world become extremely useful. Our plan is to sail south and establish a colony in Africa. To establish colonies, you need them to be within a “colonial radius” distance from your nearest core possession. At the beginning of the game, the colonial radius is small, so we’ll need an intermediate hop to get to the new world as Castile. (Portugal might have the advantage here, because they have the Azores).
However, there’s a shock moment when I see that Portugal already has claimed Arguin, the sole province available on the western coast of Africa (the grey shade around it is unclaimable and unusable wasteland).
However, they missed the grand prize. The Cape Verde Islands are ours!
But wait… 20 new settlers per year, with a 21% chance of some additional settlers? And I need 1000 before it becomes a full-fledged, self-contained colony? This will take ages! So I’m happy to take whoever wants (or doesn’t want) to join the colony!
Now we’ll have to play the waiting game again for some time. And hope we outpace Portugal in the race to the New World.