We rejoin Duke Ludovico in the wake of his humbling by Cologne and the Coalition forces. Money-wise, I’m still doing OK, but my income is terribly curtailed. Especially galling is the income from that church I built in Bern, now filling the coffers of the ghastly Swiss.
Their time shall come. Oh yes. As shall the cowardly French. But to humble them, I’ll need to play smart.
Luckily, it’s time to pick an idea group. Since everyone appears to despise me (except Austria) I pick diplomatic ideas which gives me a third diplomat and will eventually allow me to improve other countries’ opinions of me faster. At its highest levels, it’ll also give me a bonus in peace negotiations which will allow me to nab more territory.
It’s the diplomats I need now, though. I quickly send them out amongst my erstwhile foes in the HRE and start sweet-talking princes. Soon I have royal marriages all over the shop and alliances with Brittany, Saxony and the Palatinate. Next time a coalition forms against me, at least it’ll be down two of its most powerful members.
The Shadow Kingdom event fires. This gives me the option of leaving the HRE with the rest of the Italian States or staying loyal to the Emperor. I go independent but maintain my Austrian alliance because they like me SO much.
Unfortunately, Ludovico snuffs it and his underwhelming son Amadeo takes over. He has 3/2/0 stats meaning he’s a competent administrator but absolutely god-awful at anything else. He also has no heir and is 50 years old. Luckily, I get an event for him siring a bastard, and Phillippo (3/3/3) is born with a weak claim.
Things are going well, though, and I take the mission to rebuild my navy, which is still a shell following its defeat by the Portuguese. This seems to annoy Genoa, and they announce they are rivaling me. Since I need a new rival anyway, I pick them back. I’m then able to pick a mission to grab the province directly adjacent to Nice. Unfortunately, it appears to be occupied by the Ottomans (!) who are allied with Crimea against Genoa in a war to shove them out of their colony on the peninsula.
Since I can’t occupy the province I need I decide to wait a little while. I busy myself by improving relations with my neighbours and building up my army. I pick a second idea group – defensive. I decided to go down this route more because it fits in with my idea of what Savoy is than because of any particular bonus it gives me. We’re the entrenched Alpine hill people, and if you come into our mountains, woe betide you. I switch up my infantry from Latin Infantry to Men at Arms, but I leave my cavalry as they are (Latin Knights).
My plotting is interrupted by Austria declaring war on Salzburg and pulling me in. I end up fighting Brandenburg and the Palatinate too because of alliances. I move to siege some provinces in the Palatinate and actually end up winning a stirring victory against the Brandenburgers, which affects the warscore not a jot but makes me feel better. When Austria makes peace, I end up with nothing except prestige. And that’s OK. I send a diplomat to Brandenburg to let them know there’s no hard feelings. I really hope we’re cool because I don’t want angry proto-Prussians holding a grudge.
Anyway, Genoa are being arses, causing trade disputes all over the shop. Rather than fight them on those grounds I falsify claims on them. They are still at war with the Ottomans, so it proves to be a complete pushover, nabbing me Corsica and two more Ligurian provinces. My coastline is now massive, so I invest in some more docks and ships.
Of course, now that Genoa is reduced to one province, there’s no real reason to leave it at that, is there? I pick the mission to eliminate Genoa once and for all, and once my truce with them is over immediately go in for the kill. It’s another short war, though my navies sit it out because Genoa has an outsize fleet. With the numerical advantage I have on land it is no contest really, and Genoa falls.
However, I had forgotten about Genoa’s Crimean possessions, still hanging on despite encroachment from the Ottomans. I could in theory have pressed for them in the peace talks, but they are too far away for me to administer, so that wasn’t an option. Genoa lives on to fight another day.
We’re beginning to have a problem with Protestants in the old HRE. Two centres of reformation have sprung up: Hamburg and Ravensburg. Hamburg is sufficiently far away that I only need to worry about it infecting Brandenburg, since it’s one of the conditions for forming Prussia. As for Ravensburg though, it’s really not far at all from us. Only Switzerland stands between me and the proddies, and they’re starting to look uncomfortably blue. At this point I’m not sure I want to go Protestant, but at the same time I find it hard to resist such ahistoric choices since I’m pretty sure Savoy always stayed Catholic. Anyway, I’ll need to do a cost-benefit analysis and get back to you.
With Genoa now officially exiled from the Italian peninsula, I need a new rival. Venice seem to fit the bill well. They are still horrendously strong on the sea, and have a reasonably decent army. I am offered a mission to take Brescia, which gives me a free claim. Since they are also at war with the Ottomans for Dalmatia, I decide to press the issue.
Despite my hordes of troops compared to Venice, they take a beating and inflict heavy casualties on me. I realise this is because the clever Venicians have invested in some newfangled device called a “cannon”. What this is I have no idea but I will probably have to look into it. The Venicians defeated on land, I march through Ottoman occupied territory to lay siege to Venice itself. Then something weird happens – The war with the Ottomans ends, and Venice comes back into possession of the forts I just bypassed. This has the effect of stranding me on the island of Venice with no way to get out. Venice has naval superiority so my fleet will be no good, even if I did own enough transports to get my army out. So I just sit there sieging, losing men to attrition. When I do win the siege, it’s obvious we’ve reached a stalemate.
I can picture the negotiations now. My ambassador makes a sharp demand for Brescia, which is refused. Then he makes a slightly more muted inquiry as to whether there is any land that the Venicians would be willing to relinquish claim on, just to make this whole sorry situation go away.
I mean, Crete? It’s very nice and sunny and all but what the hell am I supposed to do with an island territory so close to the Ottomans? Such a provocation. Now I know why Venice were so keen to get rid of it. I put out feelers to the Ottomans and see if they’d be interested in buying it, but the answer is no. Not even Albania wants it. So know I’m stuck with a big, dangerous Greek island to defend. Great. Still have claim on Brescia, though. Second time’s a charm?