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England Invaded: An Alternative French Strategy

By Warguppy

The king sat at his desk reading the latest dispatches and reports on Great Britain's growing strength through its alliances and trade agreements. He was under no illusions that the island empire was of feeble status in the world. The wars in the last century had seen their power grow and he didn't think France's was keeping pace. Still, their power was not invincible. Yet. He decided to strike now while the world was at peace with France. He smiled at the irony of that thought but knew he couldn't wait til he was embroiled in yet another ill-conceived European war. Nor could he wait on such a war hoping that France would have an opportunity to expand in strength. He would make that opportunity instead. He would invade the British Isles.

I've played French campaigns many times and always had to eventually go up against the British at some point, usually when they are far too strong to be defeated easily and, often enough, when I'm occupied elsewhere to devote many armies and fleets to that task. But something has always struck me as interesting about the British position: on the Home Islands it is incredibly vulnerable at the beginning of the game. And, I believe, France alone is in a unique position to exploit this.

This strategy was worked out on Normal/Hard difficulty and I'll admit to having no experience playing on Very Hard for the campaign. But it *should* be adaptable to that setting as well, perhaps with a couple more turns preparation. It isn't foolproof since an untimely declaration of war against France can throw the timing completely off. More caveats are as follows. You will be all but ignoring North America. This is necessary so that as many resources as possible are devoted to the British invasion (no rock 'n roll pun intended). you'll be building a few things in North America just so it isn't totally defenseless but, on the whole, it will be incredibly weak. But once Britain is out of the way then you'll be able to devote more resources to it than would otherwise be the case.

Expect to be at war with the United Provinces, Austria and the Thirteen Colonies. All three are allied to Britain and so are likely to join her in the war. I have also found that the Native American tribes start declaring war soon after war starts with Britain so expect trouble there also. Yes it seems like you'll be at war with everyone but Austria and the UP will only give minimal problems during the invasion and pacification phases. This is due to intervening countries that inhibit their armies from rolling into a weak France. North America might see some lost colonies but they'll be gotten back soon enough. You might even get lucky and wean Austria or the UP out of the war.

The overall idea is to limit your spending to things that will directly help your build-up of troops or the turns immediately following the invasion and conquest. This means avoid attacking things that will cause you to repair units and not build units such as trade ships til the invasion succeeds. You don't need the financial distraction and it's only for 4 or 5 turns anyway. The key is to be able to hit all three British cities on the same turn and, if possible, defeating them on the same turn. This is the goal of all you do in the first 4 turns.

Some of the steps are not *essential* but, since I did them with the idea of following the strategy, I'm including them for the sake of continuity of the strategy.

Turn 1

  • Swap the American and Justice ministers for each other. This will improve Justice's effects which you will need during the pacification.
  • Move the gentleman to the college in Orleans
  • Research Square Formation. I know canister is very handy, but since demi-cannons and sakers are immobile and you don't want to wait for the cannon building - upgrade, the square will be very useful for defeating English horse units and it will become available the turn of invasion.
  • Build 5 line infantry in Paris, 1 line infantry in Strasbourg (Alsace-Lorraine) and 1 militia in both Quebec and French Guyana
  • Move the army in southern France (has an 8 or 9 start general in it) to just outside of Le Havre; it will arrive on turn 3. This will be part of your invasion force for London.
  • Move the Infantry and militia units in the fort northeast of Paris into Paris.
  • Move the 2 militia in the fort southwest of Strasbourg into Strasbourg.
  • Move the infantry stack (with the 4 star general) that's northeast of Paris into Paris. The general will be part of your invasion force for Ireland.
  • In the North American theatre build the barracks in Quebec (for the line infantry production), and a governors mansion in French Guyana.
  • In New France (North America) move the pikemen west of Montreal to Quebec. Move the other units from that stack to Montreal.
  • In France, build up the two farms in western France and the ironworks in Claremont-Ferrand.
  • Move the fleet in the English Channel to just outside of Le Havre.
  • Keep the Mediterranean fleet near Marseilles or even in the port, putting to sea only to keep the Barbary Corsairs from interdicting your trade lanes, if any exist in the Mediterranean for you.
  • Make as many trade agreements as possible. Assuming a trade agreement will influence their decision to go to war (I'm not sure it does much though, to be honest), Austria might be worth pursuing on this.

Turn 2

  • In Paris move all units except the four star general, the gendarmerie and both demi-cannons, to the 8-ish star general outside Le Havre. This should make the eight star general's stack consist of the following: 1 skirmisher, 1 gendarmerie, 1 lancer cavalry, 1 demi-cannon, 1 pikeman, 2 militia and 9 line infantry.
  • Build 5 more line infantry in Paris.
  • Build up the weaver workshop in Bordeaux (west coast of France) and the iron workshop in Nancy (Alsace-Lorraine).
  • Build a governors house in Quebec.

Turn 3

  • Move 5 line infantry and 1 demi-cannon to Le Havre. Take one brig from the naval fleet next to Le Havre and dock them, loading this army onto the brig. Move the brig to Brest but leave the troops on the ship. This will be Invasion Force - Scotland. It will be able to reach Glasgow easily from Brest when it's time to do the invasion.
  • Build 5 more Line infantry in Paris
  • Build a militia in Quebec and move the militia unit there to Montreal.

Turn 4

This is your invasion turn. Square formation is complete so you'll be able to deal effectively with the British horse units using your line infantry now. The barracks building in North America should be done as well. This will let you start churning out line infantry for that theatre.

  • Build 5 line infantry in Paris. this will be your guard force in case the Dutch do invade.
  • Bring a 6th rate from outside Le Havre to dock in Le Havre.
  • From Paris bring the 4 star General, a demi-cannon and 5 line infantry to Le Havre and embark them on the 6th rate. Move the 6th rate to just south of Waterford (Ireland). NOTE: When moving your fleets into their staging positions near the British ports you MUST make sure there are no UP/British fleets close enough to intercept the move into those ports else your plan to hit all three ports on 1 turn will probably fail. If a fleet is in any of the ports you're using then you'll have to find a place to land as near to the city in that region as possible. This will delay your conquest but only by a turn or 2 and might have the effect of drawing the British out to attack you, weakening them in a defensive battle. But the goal is to land in the ports and besiege the cities all on the same turn which your armies will have enough movement points to do.
  • Move the brig and embarked army in Brest to just west of Glasgow (so you can still reach Glasgow this turn).
  • Move the 5th and 6th rates just outside of Le Havre into Le Havre.
  • Move the 8 star general just outside Le Havre into Le Havre and embark him on the 5th and 6th rate fleet. Now you must decide which port (Portsmouth or Greenwich) this fleet will attack. In the unlikely event that both ports are unusable then move the fleet to just north of London out of the range of UP/British fleets and you'll just have to land there. The little bay north of Cambridge should work well if both the aforementioned ports are occupied. Move this fleet to its needed place based on that.
  • Declare war on Britain (and hope their allies desert them).
  • Negotiate any trade agreements in case ones were broken from going to war. This will be necessary as you don't want any serious drop in income.
  • Land the fleets in the ports they are near and disembark their armies. Move the Waterford army to Dublin and lay siege, the Glasgow army to Edinburgh and lay siege and the Portsmouth/Greenwich army (whichever port you decided on) to London and lay siege.

At this point you can either continue the siege or attack, depending on how much faith you have in your skills on the battlefield. The armies (except for the London besiegers) are not an overwhelming force but they should be able to take those cities since the majority of the British units will be firelock citizenry. If you do assault and win in all 3 cities, then Congratulations! You've just eliminated your closest threat, gained a potentially lucrative set of regions and made conquering North America easier by eliminating your closest competitor there. You'll still need to carry out pacification and rebuild as you see fit, but you *should* have enough money in your treasury to rebuild the capital cities' population unrest controllers (governors' houses, etc) as well as refitting your invasion armies. And I'll leave the builds in North America for you to decide, but at least you have a barracks there to produce line infantry.

Good Luck in your conquests!

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