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Empire: Total War - Campaign & General Discussion
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Empire: Total War Heaven » Forums » Empire: Total War - Campaign & General Discussion » Trying for the perfect Russian long campaign
Topic Subject:Trying for the perfect Russian long campaign
posted 05-01-13 03:10 PM EDT (US)         
I have this habit, when getting into the last few turns of the game, to realize all the things I could have done better. Add a preference for the early and mid-period game, and lots of restarts results.

My favorite side to play is Russia. I'm still playing on H/H. As noted in the thread 'Selling off poor Russian provinces' I give myself a big cash boost on the first turn by selling off 4 of the starting 9 provinces. To recap:

1) Karelia sold to Denmark for 8k gold
2) Arkhangelsk sold to Persia for 8k gold
3) Don Voisko & Astrakhan sold to the Mughals for 12k gold

Persia declares war within a decade, and they don't do anything with Arkhangelsk except build up archers and muslim mobs. This is one area where autocalc battles is your friend: 45 mounted cossacks vs 600 peasants w/ pitchforks? see http://imgur.com/YpC40U6

Starting treasury expands from initial 6k gold to 34k gold.

I only tax Muscovy and Ukraine. The others are exempt till they're worth taxing. I re-arrange starting towns as follows:

1) The poor weavers in Muscovy north is dismantled and replaced with a church.
2) The poor weavers in Muscovy east is dismantled and replaced with a school.
3) The growing tavern in Muscovy east is dismantled and replaced with a weavers.

With the initial cash bonus, I also upgrade the two remaining fur traders to markets.

The first new town slightly south of Moscow is made into a school, and this becomes the primary school to upgrade up to and including modern university.

I send my starting priest to Bashkira to convert them fully. Bashkira and Komi get one new town and these both become schools. So by fairly early I have 5 schools operating. (When the Bashkira and Komi schools become wealthy, which always happens eventually, I convert them into industries. Only then do I tax Komi. I avoid building a school in Tartariya, it always seems to lead to trouble. Luga, though, in Ingria works well for a school when it appears.

The starting school at Nizhny Novgorod is eventually replaced by a smith but not until other schools are operational. This means that Muscovy gets 3 schools, and I specalize one each for military, industrial, and enlightenment tech and allocate gentlemen appropriately. This means that gentlemen (unless on tech-stealing duty) all remain within Muscovy. I also go the Museum route for Muscovy to help keep order and because Moscow gets a unique top museum structure.

The reason I restarted my most recent game is that I had only 5 years left to get my required southern provinces (which includes Persia) and these were occupied by stack after stack of hindus. (see http://imgur.com/8gPqr96 ) I figured I could do better. I'm also not helping to slow down Maratha by denuding the treasuries of the Mughals and Persia.

Prior to this strategy, I would always trade Karelia to Sweden for Estonia & Livonia when Sweden suggests. Then go after Georgia and Dagestan as soon as possible after finishing off Crimean Khanate. Then I would get to trade for a few turns until the Ottomans blockaded my port in Crimea.

The selling-off provinces strategy means the south is quiet until Maratha moves up. I don't have to worry about Georgia and/or Dagestan, neither moves into Don Voisko or Astrakhan either when the Mughals are there or when they rebel after the Mughals are destroyed. My prior experience suggests that going after Georgia and Dagestan must be done very early and quickly to avoid the large stacks of european style line infantry that these provinces will produce once they get going.

My goals for the restart was to give me more time to go after these southern provinces, including Persia.

It's important to concentrate on food production early. Indeed, for this restart I researched common land enclosures even before canister. On first turn, all provinces get a road upgrade. Most of the town-wealth bonus from roads comes from basic roads so except for Muscovy and Ukraine basic roads will do. In prior games I over-emphasized roads and governance buildings too early.

I build civilian governance structures everywhere except Komi (I want the Siberian Hunters), Moldavia when I conquer it, and Astrakhan when I take it back. Thus, only the poorest provinces get military governors. In crimea and (later) transylvania I take down the military HQ and build civilian structures. Crimea and Transylvania can eventually get very rich (as will Hungary if you replace the military HQ).

So now it's 1760 and I've conquered all my long campaign victory provinces in Europe. I still need to take Rumelia (I've done everything I can to keep the Ottomans in the game, including giving them back all the balkan provinces I had taken from them and built up in exchange for peace. They are the only current player fighting the hindus). So now I have some 40 years to make war against Maratha. (I figure I can grab Rumelia at my leisure). Poland is reduced to a couple single-slot-city provinces and the Prussians are little better off. The Dutch have taken most of western europe, though.

Nonetheless, I should be in good shape, with a line of fortress cities separating me and the Dutch in Europe, while on the southern front, Georgia and Dagestan are still there, still at peace, and Don Voisko and Astrakhan remain rebel provinces. I would move in but am hoping I can get the Maratha to clear out Georgia and Dagestan, which woud hopefully weaken them as both these provinces have full stacks of european style line infantry.

My plan is to start a war with Maratha, but not with Georgia and Dagestan. Maybe the hindus will move thru Caucasia to get to me, that's my hope anyway. The Ottomans are quite powerful but except for Egypt are confined to europe, all their middle eastern lands having been assimilated into Maratha. Thinking about launching a naval invasion with a stack of Tatar cavalry (btw, I'm preferring Tatars to Kamluks because they're cheaper to maintain, 160/turn instead of 180, not to mention they reload much faster than Kamluks) and just raiding Maratha lands. Of course with my luck they'll instead send a fleet halfway around the world and attack Archangel or something.

Hopefully, my steampunk Russian baltic fleet will be ready for them. 'Steampunk' as in:

1) no middling ships. Only Admirals First Rate and Heavy First Rate for the big hitters. Maybe some 2nd Rates especially if I capture any.
2) lots of steam ships.
3) lots of rocket ships.
4) and gallies!

Perhaps you can guess that Russians are my favorite side to play (haven't yet played as Spanish or Ottomans though).
posted 05-03-13 08:24 AM EDT (US)     1 / 7       
This is an interesting read. I have never tried a Russian campaign. I should probably finish my years old Ottoman campaign; but if i ever do, Russia may be next.

"It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do.
Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen." -- Jerome K. Jerome

"Some people become so expert at reading between the lines they don't read the lines." -- Margaret Millar

ERADICATE CONDESCENSION! (That means don't talk down to people.)
posted 05-13-13 12:09 PM EDT (US)     2 / 7       
Look what you did: you mentioned Ottomans and so I started my first Ottoman campaign (my first turn maximizations in another thread).

It's probably just my playing style, but out of the factions I've played so far (everyone except Spain, Austria, Poland, Maratha) I'm liking the Russians & (now) Ottomans best. Both are mostly outside the interlocking western alliances and hence have some greater freedom of action Both have numerous poor regions that if carefully traded will result in first turn treasuries of $36,000+. This first-turn boost allows replacing initial buildings w/structures perhaps more suited to the prosperity status of towns. (I should have done this with the Ottomans, e.g. replacing those initial fishing ports with trade ports).

So I set aside my Russian campaign where I was stockpiling for a long final war against Maratha, with huge artillery trains and lots of Tatars for raiding their towns. To play as the Ottomans with maybe not quite as massive but more effective artillery trains and lots of camel shooters for raiding towns.

As the Ottomans, wars with the Maratha didn't start for me till around 1750. Indeed, I gave Persia back to the Persians first time I took it from the northward advancing Marathas, though I kept it the second time after securing indefinite access w/the Persians. The key for me is raiding: basically, nearly all Maratha towns and ports were on fire when I offered peace+trade & they give me Afghanistan. Second war ending w/me taking Punjab and again offering peace + trade if they give me Kashmir. Ive been churning out a Gurka per turn & now it's the 3rd and final war. Was surprised to find that Ottoman demicannons can fire shrapnel.
posted 05-16-13 01:30 AM EDT (US)     3 / 7       
Iíve never completed a Russia campaign. Things keep getting in the way. I have played a couple of good Sweden campaigns, though. Inevitably, it seems, Iím drawn towards Muscovy. In my first Sweden campaign, I captured Muscovy before I was ready to swallow such a mouthful. My main army got tied down for years on peacekeeping duty in Moscow. I crushed maybe a half-dozen rebellions. Then the Russians launched a counteroffensive out of Ukraine. Eventually, I captured Ukraine and moved on to mop up the rest of Russia. This was quite early in my time playing Empire: Total War, so the whole business was messy and fraught with setbacks.

The next time I played Sweden, I resolved to get it right. I brought to the table the economic tools I had invented for playing Great Britain. The tools made a huge difference. However, I was feeling more confident and had bumped the difficulty to VH/VH. I ended up at war with Denmark, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia simultaneously. It appears that managing the diplomatic part of the game is my salient weakness. Oh, and Great Britain declared war, too. Fighting a British fleet in the western Baltic Sea using tactics I had developed while playing Great Britain was an odd experience.

Back on trackÖ I had resolved before starting that I was not going to be sucked into fighting at Muscovy again. I believed I had gotten away with being drawn into Muscovy last time because I was playing at an easier level. I was certain that on VH/VH I was going to need massive superiority to take Muscovy. Basically, I thought I would need a field army of 20 units to take Moscow, plus a separate army of occupation of 20 units to hold Moscow while the field army dealt with Russian ripostes coming from Ukraine or Crimea and/or Polish-Lithuanian efforts to take advantage of my apparent commitment further east. So the strategic plan revolved around having a large enough economy to support these two big armies, plus whatever was needed to defend what I already had.

I decided at the start that I would focus on taking Norway and Denmark. As anyone who has played a few times knows, Denmark is quite the rich prize. Norway is very useful and prosperous, but Denmarkís ports and other towns, her school, and her multi-slot capitol are very rich prizes indeed. I planned to hold what I had in the east by trying to secure good relations with Russia and Poland-Lithuania through trade.

The strategic plan went wrong almost from the start. Denmark declared war right away, which is what happens when the campaign difficulty is set at VH. I was able to use my navy to keep the Danes from moving from Denmark to southern Sweden. However, Danish troops in Norway promptly began raiding on my side of the border. I was obliged to mass troops before I had addressed my development needs. I captured Norway, but several turns went by while I levied the right mix of units for the job.

My original plan was to move on Denmark immediately after capturing Norway. Around 1704, the correlation of forces between the First Swedish Army in southern Sweden and the Danish Army in Copenhagen distinctly favored Denmark. He had 16 or so good-quality units. I could scrape together 10. Iím a good general, but my instincts told me that without a significant technological advantage, I wasnít going to be able to take on Denmark yet. Without a significant increase in my economic output, I wasnít going to be able to mass the kind of numbers needed to take Denmark by brute force. I was, in a word, stymied.

The logical thing to do was to gear up my economy. This would mean keeping the Army as small as possible to free revenue for investments. I got a couple of good years of development in before Great Britain and Poland-Lithuania declared war. Now I needed troops and ships. This was around 1709.

The Brits came right for the jugular. I fought them off the coast of Denmark with my fleet and won. The good news about this fight was that I captured a number of British warships, obviating the need to construct them myself. The bad news was that I now had a larger fleet to maintain and, apparently, the need to do so. Iíd end up sailing into British waters, raiding a couple of ports, and beating them again in naval combat in order to secure peace and a new trading agreement.

Poland-Lithuania invaded and captured Estonia & Livonia. I had concentrated my forces in the East at St. Petersburg in anticipation of a Russian move first. I immediately moved the not-very-impressive Second Swedish Army (maybe 8 units) west to eject the Poles from Riga. I was risking that Russia would choose that moment to declare war and capture St. Petersburg. The Russians stood fast, and I inflicted a tidy reversal on Poland-Lithuania.

At this point in the game (about 1711), the logic looked a little different. With my sloops, I was able to raid the Danish ports every turn. I could keep the Danish Army on their side of the Skagerrak. I had pretty much uncontested control of the Baltic. In other words, I could hold Denmark at bay with a handful of naval assets and concentrate my available ground forces in the East to force a decision against Poland-Lithuania. The naval units were going to have to be on-station at the Baltic Exits, anyway. So before my strategy of conquering Denmark first had gotten off the ground, I was fighting in the East.

I left a token ground force, euphemistically named Third Swedish Army, on the ground in southern Sweden to defend against amphibious landings. I transferred First Swedish Army to Estonia & Livonia, then started painstakingly building a Second Swedish Army in St. Petersburg to defend against the inevitable Russian attack. Once First Swedish Army, now with about a dozen units, was on the ground in Estonia & Livonia, I had a decision to make. I was at war with Poland-Lithuania but not Courland. To head straight south for Poland would leave Courland in my rear. Given the inevitability of back stabbing in a VH/VH game, I decided against leaving Courland in my rear. And so my first offensive of the First Swedish-Polish War was aimed at Courland, not Poland-Lithuania.

I captured Courland in short order. To this point, the Poles had done very little to interfere with me after the initial incursion. They were already at war with Prussia and Austria-Hungary, though. My plan was not elegant. I intended to march southeast and capture Lithuania. I intended to hold Lithuania, which would meant levying and moving up militia until public order became less of a problem. The Russians were hostile but still hadnít declared war. For the time it took to get enough militia into Lithuania, I intended to use First Swedish Army to parry Polish counteroffensives I anticipated coming out of Poland. If the Russians hadnít declared war by the time I had things sorted in Lithuania, Iíd march on Warsaw, capture it, destroy everything, and trade it back to the Poles in return for peace.

Lithuania fell by 1715. I levied a handful of militia units, exempted Lithuania from taxes, and kept First Swedish Army on the move. I reached Warsaw quickly. The Poles sallied, and I crushed a modest Polish force by having the good luck to find superior ground for my field guns. I took Warsaw by storm and broke everything in the region.

The Russians did declare war just after I captured Warsaw. Their initial efforts against St. Petersburg were not very impressive. Still, the risk was obvious. More importantly, the potential gains were obvious. Occupying Poland-Lithuania would put me in a position to defend against everyone who had been neighbors of the Poles at the start of the game. Occupying Russia would secure my entire eastern flank, which would then put me in a position to invade Poland-Lithuania with a deep and secure rear area. Once again, I was being drawn inevitably towards Muscovy.

At the start of the campaign, I didnít intend to take all of Russia in one big bite. The plan went roughly like this: First Swedish Army would march on Moscow while absorbing additional units en route. Second Swedish Army, still at St. Petersburg, would swing north to Petrovskaya Sloboda in Karelia and secure the left strategic flank against mischief from that direction. The route First Swedish Army would take would depend on the attitude of the Poles. I intended to offer peace and trade. If the Poles accepted, First Swedish Army would march through Lithuania to northern Muscovy. If the Poles refused, First Swedish Army would march through Belarus, breaking everything I could along the way. As it turned out, the Poles accepted the peace and trade offer.

I swung through Ingria, picking up a few more units before marching on Moscow. The Russians did not do a very good job of defending Moscow. They were actively fighting the Ottomans at the time, so most of their combat power was in the south. Once more, I found myself trying to digest Muscovy without a large force of militia to free my real combat troops for combat operations.

So it seems to me that Sweden inevitably gets drawn towards Muscovy by the logic of geography. One of these days, Iíll try Sweden again. Reading your commentary, Grognir, I wonder if I have been going about the business of securing peace in the East all wrong. Maybe the way to go is to trade regions with Russia for peace in the East while I concentrate my energies on taking Denmark. However, I do know that once I have captured Denmark, Hannover will declare war and invade Denmark. Iím wary of being forced to fight and conquer one little German state after another in Western Europe. This can only bring me into conflict with the United Provinces, France, Prussia, and Austria.

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.
posted 05-16-13 01:02 PM EDT (US)     4 / 7       

I reread your strategy for managing Russia, and I have to confess that I find it fascinating! Your willingness to trade territory is completely out of the box for me. Perhaps I am too conventional a thinker. I am curious about the math, though. Karelia and Archangelsk have fur wealth. At some point, the accumulated loss of fur trade revenues must surpass the selling price of these regions. On the other hand, I suppose that if you retake them before you reach that point, youíre in the blackóexcepting, of course, the cost of replacing lost troops, etc. Do you find that the new owners invest in the roads and governance structures? If so, that would be interesting items to enter into the ledger.

What do the Mughals do with Don Voisko and Astrakhan?

Having all those schools is smartódaring, but smart. How do you manage the public order penalty? When I have played autocratic governments, I find that revolution is an inevitability. Of course, the real culprit is enlightenment technology. I trust youíre in good shape so long as four of your five mentioned schools are researching military and/or industrial technologies. How long does it take for Komi and Bashkira to develop their towns when they are tax exempt? Also, do you keep the schools as schools knowing that you will replace them with industry later, or do you develop the schools and write off the loss of a college or university?

You say that the selling-off strategy keeps the south quiet until the Confederacy appears. Does this mean you donít conquer the Crimean Khanate? I see from the map that Don Voisko and Astrakhan provide a buffer between you and Georgia and Dagestan. Smart. So where do you expand?

Swapping out the textile buildings in poor towns for a church and school is a smart thing to do. After looking at the numbers, I started doing something similar in England (replacing the church in growing Oxford with textiles and constructing a school in Manchester as soon as the town becomes available). Iím always torn between keeping a church in at Galway, Ireland to keep conversion going or replacing the church with industry to bolster the economy. Maybe I really need to put a church in at Scotland and send a missionary to Ireland for conversion.

ďIn prior games I over-emphasized roads and governance buildings too early.Ē

I hear this one. When one looks at the ROI for cobbled or metalled roads, they never pay for themselves. Not even close. I feel like this is one of the great weaknesses of Empire: Total War. Improved roads should have a much greater impact on town wealth than they do. If I ever have the time and learn enough about programming to make a mod, I will include an improved town wealth modifier for cobbled roads and metalled roads.

The governance structures tempt one, donít they? When I started calculating ROI, I saw how poor an investment a governance structure is under most conditions. I have regions that never get beyond the governorís residence, or its equivalent, because the ROI doesnít compete with other investments.

The next time I play Russia, Iím going to seriously consider selling Don Voisko and Astrakhan to the Mughals as an experiment. Having a secure land frontier in the south seems invaluable, given that there is still a need to face troops towards the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the North.

Okay, so it just occurred to me that Iíve been missing an opportunity to turn loss into profit with Great Britain. On their first turn, the Huron-Wyandot declare war and begin an invasion of Rupertís Land. I make peace by trading them Rupertís Land, and the troops end up in the Bahamas where I need them to fight the Pirates. Why not trade Rupertís Land to them on the very first turn of the game and make some money from the process? $2000 would be a welcome addition to the treasury, if thatís what I can get. Alternatively, I could trade the territory to a European power. Peace with the Barbary States would be worth having. I could sell it to Portugal, who will disappear soon enough anyway. Additional revenues from furs might keep the Portuguese in the game a bit longer, which would be useful. I could sell it to the Mughals, who sure could use the additional revenue from furs to keep the Maratha Confederacy in check in India. I could sell it to the United Provinces, who could use the additional fur revenues to fight France and Spain. I could sell it to one of the German states, which would result in the territory going rebel when the Prussians destroy the German state in question.

Thanks for helping to liberate my thinking on the prospects, Grognir!

The musket is for fixing and softening the enemy. The bayonet is for destroying him.

[This message has been edited by webstral (edited 05-16-2013 @ 01:33 PM).]

posted 05-19-13 01:25 PM EDT (US)     5 / 7       
For the Russians, the southern front seems endless - it's not just the Georgians and Dagestanis that hate you, it's the Persians too. When I was new to ETW I built up and fortified Don Voisko and was constantly attacked by Georgian and Dagestani armies. Reading up on tips showed the way to end this threat was to take these provinces early, as soon as you've taken Crimean Khanate. Of course while you're doing this, Sweden is threatening from the north.

But of course I do take Crimean Khanate right away (interesting, as the Ottomans, getting to see the top CK government structure, it can build cossacks (foot and mounted), cossack Ataman cavalry, and both Tatar and Kameluk horse archers, but no artillery at all. Almost makes we (as the Russians) want to just pen in the CK until they build this.)

Partly, my strategy is based upon avoiding a battle map crash-to-desktop bug that rarely occurs but (I've found) occurs most often in very large battles (full stack vs full stack, or worse, allied full stacks against your troops) when defending a small city fortification. I've sent savegames to Feral (I'm on a mac) but they haven't been able to reproduce it. In any case, keeping the south quiet and having the funds to build the large fort around Moscow before Sweden threatens seems to help avert such crashes.

The Mughals do mostly nothing w/Don Voisko and Astrakhan, they may build some of the farms up. When the Mughals fall these provinces become rebels and for some reason neithr Georgia and Dagestan nor anyone else never seem to move in.

Further, in my earlier 'conventional' tries, Sweden always wants to trade my Karelia for Estonia, which I always accept since Estonia's city has a fortification and there's eventually a port there, and because I'm trying to avoid war with Sweden as long as possible. Selling Karelia to Denmark prolongs the Swedish-Denmark war, though, indeed, the Swedes may well declare war on the Russians before conquering Copenhagen. I'm going to lose Karelia to the Swedes in any case, and the real prize is St Petersburg, which seems seldom defended in strength and not fortified; it falls easily after the war with Sweden starts. I then occupy the fort Sweden builds across the strait in Finland.

Persia does nothing with Archangelesk except make some bowmen and declares war on me. Also, it seems Archangelesk is a British magnet in the early game so again by selling it I make money and avoid having to defend it against the British. Curiously, after I remove the Persians from there, the British often don't attack, and if they do it's in insufficient strength to take the city, which I immediately fortify after taking it from the Persians.

The schools aren't so much of a problem, but I did have trouble keeping order in Tatariya (spelling?) so I now avoid having a school there. I go the museum building route in Moscow since it leads to a unique Russian structure. When it does become a problem I dismantle the initial school, it's growing or prosperous initially anyway. A school in Riga is fine since St Petersburg usually has a lot of troops passing through it fighting Sweden. Komi is built w/ a military structure to get Siberian Hunters which is more fun that a good example of ROI (since you have to build up the top military governor to get Hunters) and is tax exempt until the school there becomes wealthy whereupon it becomes a smithies. Bashkira can be taxed earlier since it has more towns.

Now, for a change in direction, in my Ottoman World Dominatiobn campaign I'm doing great except there's no way I'm going to get 45 provinces before 1800. I can take all of India, and then, with India's riches, move north against my ally Persia in the north and maybe expand into Russia a bit, but there's 10-12 years left and I don't think it's anywhere near enough time to gather the 45 needed provinces. Also, selling Moldavia to Crimean Khanate may be a mistake since Austria goes after it early and thus involves me in a war if I want to keep the protectorate. Georgia will buy Moldavia early for $7k, the same I offered to CK, so there's that.
posted 10-16-13 00:16 AM EDT (US)     6 / 7       
Just an idea that worked for me no one mentioned; move that general you start with down to the south, and take the Khanate city after the Ottomans do. At the port on the Black Sea, build a cheap ship. Take your army and sail the Black Sea on one turn, and then attack Georgia's capital. If you auto-resolve, you should win. By taking our a rival so early, it means you don't have to start recruiting soldiers to defend Don Cossack. Also, you get two ports and a university. Dagestan is pretty weak, too, so you can potentially take them out if your battles go the way you want them to. Canister shot is one of the best techs in the game, and obviously for Russia, farming is key (which is think is awesome!)
posted 10-26-13 10:52 AM EDT (US)     7 / 7       
These days I can't play Russia w/o selling off *all* provinces other than Muscovy - see my 'Gaming the System' guide in the Guides forum.
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