|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Merchant Republic|
|Number of provinces||2|
|Center of Trade||Lübeck|
The Hansa is a trading nation added in the third expansion to EU3, Heir to the Throne. It is a north German trading state and is a Merchant Republic, allowing it to head a trade league and sign trade rights pacts. The Hansa begins the game with 2 rich coastal provinces, Hamburg and Lübeck, with Lübeck having the richest center of trade in Europe, and in the world. Due to its rich starting provinces and high trading ability, it is able to field proportionally large armies and navies and is in a good position to expand both colonially and within Europe. Will the Hansa become a great European power, dominating the mainland? Or will it become a great colonial power, ruling by the sea? Or perhaps both?
The Hansa, while possessing proportionally large military strength and a powerful economy, is still a two province minor within the Holy Roman Empire. In order to expand there needs to a balance between devoting diplomats and gold to maintain the trade league and to field an army. The penalties for reckless expansion within the Holy Roman Empire are dire, more so to a trader than any other nation. Holding non-core Imperial territory as a member of the Empire gives a +0.25 yearly infamy penalty per province. It takes 50 years to acquire a core on an owned province totaling to a whopping 12.5 extra infamy per province. Each point of infamy reduces Compete chance by 2% as well as souring relations with other nations, and is crippling to the Hansa.
There are a number of ways to approach this dilemma
- Leave the HRE.
While this will allow the Hansa to expand within the Empire without crippling Infamy penalties there are other considerations. The Hansa will lose the Imperial Integrity bonus which provides large bonuses to research and reduces revolt risk. Expanding into the Empire, even with a Casus Belli will alert the Emperor and once Reichsreform is passed, holding Imperial territory without being in the empire will give the Emperor the Imperial Ban CB. While it is possible for the Hansa to field an army of similar power to the emperor the costs are huge and her manpower is limited. It is usually not a wise option to leave the Empire, but depending on the situation it is a possibility.
- Expand colonially.
Expanding to America, Africa and Asia allows the Hansa to limit conflict with European powers and enact a powerful decision which gives her very powerful bonuses to her naval power and colonial capacity. Once a colonial empire is established it is possibly for the Hansa to return her sights on Europe.
- Be alert and an opportunist.
The Hansa can in fact remain in the empire, expand within the empire as well as colonially and take portions non-Imperial land in the process. This requires her to take advantage of the Boundary Dispute or Claims on Our Rivals! events, Excommunicated leaders and managing alliances. Having a leader with 8, or preferably 9 diplomatic skill is vital for the boundary dispute event to fire often. It gives a core on a neighbour and its probability of firing is greatly increased while within the HRE, greatly increased by the neighbour being a rival and greatly decreased by breaking the 30% and 60% infamy thresholds. Forming Germany is a possibility by being patient and expanding through boundary disputes and possibly acquiring non-Imperial territory from an excommunicated leader. The German unification decision requires cores on all the required provinces and it is often faster and easier to wait for boundary disputes than take infamy hits and waiting 50 years for a core. If a crusade is called and the target is either limited in naval power or is heavily engaged in war, it is possible to acquire some provinces or gold from such conflicts. The main consideration in all of this is for the Hansa to not endanger her colonies. Conflicts with superior naval powers is to be avoided and positioning small armies on her colonies can protect her global assets. All in all with a bit of luck and a capable leader, the Hansa can become a major power, unify Germany within a moderately short timeframe and create a vast colonial empire.
- Rich provinces and powerful self-sufficient economy
- Relatively powerful military and large forcelimits
- Controls the richest CoT in the game
- Powerful missions and decisions, proximity to the Sound (Free Trade through the Sound Mission gives a permanent +15% Trade Value Modifier, Controlling the Sound gives +20% and they stack!)
- Republic generates better rulers (with a selectable focus) than monarchies and allows you to easily replace incompetent leaders. Also means no regency councils!
- Surrounded by OPMs, allowing for rapid Boundary Disputes
- Holy Roman Empire provides stability, revolt and technology bonuses and even faster Boundary Disputes
- Constant trade league CBs against other merchant republics
- Coastal provinces and CoT provides extra merchants, colonists and immediate access to the sea.
- Close to heavyweights Bohemia, Poland and Austria
- Even utilising Boundary Disputes will disrupt trade
- The constant trade league CB other trade leagues have on you can cause them to attack you while you're already in war
- Unable to become Holy Roman Emperor
- Small manpower pool prohibits extended warfare in the early game and makes attrition extra deadly.
- Splitting funding between infrastructure, navy, army and research can be difficult at times, especially without heavy minting.
Early Game Strategy
There are three primary areas that the Hansa has to focus on in the initial century or so. Each area includes certain missions and decisions, some of which are unique to the Hansa and quite powerful.
- Land Expansion
The Hansa is in an excellent position to form Germany as well as control the Danish straits. The Unification of Germany grants a huge number of cores on relatively rich provinces, all of which will gain 1 base tax whether or not you control it at time of unification. This greatly increases available manpower, forcelimits and income and is an excellent path to staging further conquests. Controlling the Danish straits grants the Sound Toll triggered modifier which increases the trade value of goods in your provinces by 20%. There are a number of ways the Hansa can expand but most method would either put the Hansa against the Holy Roman Emperor, the significantly larger Eastern European states or cripple its economy. By utilising the Boundary Dispute and potentially the Cultural Dispute events as well as general conquest missions, the Hansa can expand with minimal impact to trade and establish itself as a regional power in Europe. The priority of the game assigning the player with a Hansa-specific mission is far higher than that of a generic mission, and generally if you have any Hansa missions incomplete, you will be effectively forced to complete them if you wish to access other missions. If the player wishes to gain access to the generic conquest missions, which grant a free core on the conquered province once completed, the trade league and trade rights missions will have to remain completed or you will have to stop being a merchant republic. Boundary Disputes grant you a free core on a neighbouring province and optimising its trigger frequency is in the player's best interests. A ruler of diplomatic skill of 8 or 9 decreases the MTTH significantly, with a 9 DIP ruler decreasing it by significantly more than an 8 DIP ruler. The 30% and 60% thresholds for infamy increase the MTTH significantly while also crippling trade. Being in the HRE and being a rival nation to a neighbour also decrease the MTTH by very large amounts. It is not advisable to acquire any other states than a conquest mission target or a core in a peace agreement. If multiple nations are involved in conflict with the Hansa, force trade league agreements and demand monetary reparations. Release nations if it would break up a major threat and revoke cores if they are on Hanseatic territories. Vassalise sparingly as without a suitable CB the Hansa will acquire significant amounts of Infamy. Generally vassalising when infamy is low then letting it drain back to almost zero is optimal. After the Hansa's first few acquisitions the rate of Boundary Disputes will likely decrease. As she become surrounded by fewer neighbours due to their increased size, as well as possibly losing rival status due to their significant inferiority, so will the rate of disputes. This is temporary. Once the Hansa borders Bavaria and possibly Austria, she should be powerful enough and technologically advanced enough to reach rival status with them and win in land conflicts.
- Trade, Economy and Research
The Polish Grain Trade mission is deactivated after completion and grants a permanent trade research bonus, the Swedish Iron Rights and English Trade League missions are both hard to complete and maintain. If the player expands into Denmark, Sweden will most likely become involved, souring relations, breaking any trade agreements they have with you and making it far more difficult to reacquire them. It is therefore wise to maintain good relations with the Scandinavian states and acquire the relevant Sound Toll provinces once Germany is formed. England is another matter entirely. The likelihood of them joining the trade league is low at best and is increased through high relations and relative wealth of Lübeck to Antwerpen, their closest CoT.
Now you have increased your trade income, you will have to spend the money. Mint a small amount of money without gaining inflation (recruit a Master of the Mint) and put the rest in technological research, especially in trade and government technology, later also naval technology. Always keep an eye on your research. Due to your huge trade income, you will be very often a couple of years ahead. If this happens, just research something else until other countries caught up with you. Don't hire any scientists or other advisers which help speed up your trade, because you'll be ahead of other nations resulting in a very expensive small bonus. Hire a trader or Master of the Mint instead. You can safely mint some money, as long as you keep an eye on your inflation, because you don't need all of it for research.
The Hansa is probably in the best position to unite Germany. The Hansa is a merchant republic which means that you can build huge armies and have elections every 4 years. You also start with quite some allies. The huge army and number of allies comes in handy when you attack your neighbours. If you get involved in a war with 4 or 5 minors, you can beat them all, annex the one you have a core on and vassalize the other ones. The elections are a very big advantage compared to other countries around you. When there are elections, choose a diplomat candidate until you have a ruler with diplomacy 9. The diplomacy will help you reduce badboy and gain cores on your neighbours from boundary disputes. You should expect a lot of boundary disputes since you have 5 neighbours which are all minors Their badboy will never be high and they will never be lucky nations. If they view you as a rival (which they will usually do), the MTTH is reduced by 75%. There's also a 50% bonus as long as the Empire has at least 25 states and a 50% bonus if you don't have any badboy. In my game I had 10 boundary disputes by 1550.
You can't expand the Hanseatic league much in Europe without war, but you can be aggressive about trading rights. Set the message settings to pop up if a nation breaks a trade league compact with another nation - as soon as they do, swoop in and ask for rights. You can get rights from pretty much anywhere - you just need really good relations for people farther away.
Your sliders are more towards mercantilism, but the Merchant Fractures event happens twice as often for Merchant Republics, so moving to Free Trade isn't too hard. A worldwide trading empire is in your grasp. This option does require you to try to avoid wars, as those will devastate your trade league.
The Hanseatic League will only expand significantly if you build or take a CoT. In Europe, it's better to take than to build, so Antwerpen, Genoa, Venice, and Novrogrod are the easiest, since Burgundy almost always gets excommunicated and dogpiled, and you always have a free CB against other Merchant Republics and can force-vassalize them if they're weak. Once you take the CoT, you can bring neighbors into the trade league. Paris, London, and Wien (the last two the AI usually builds) will be hard ones to take since they are capitals of relatively powerful nations. However, take heart - once a nation is in your league, they can't create a CoT until they leave.
Just remember - going to war with someone almost always results in them leaving their trade league.
It is generally optimal for the Hansa to change to either the Reformed or Protestant faith. The Reformed faith offers faster colonial growth and higher trade efficiency at the cost of a small amount of tax income. Protestantism grants a bonus to tax income and production income but only gains 0.5 colonists yearly. Both have a higher stability cost per province. If the Hansa has expanded within Europe through boundary disputes and other means or has a large colonial empire, it might be a better choice to go Protestant. If it has remained small or trade income is still a huge proportion of its income then going reformed offers more appropriate bonuses. If the Hansa plans to form Germany, or already has, the large number of cores, added with the large Trade Value bonuses it receives through decisions, missions and triggered modifiers will allow it to generate more revenue by going Protestant. Colonies could then be obtained through force or by selection of National Ideas. If the Hansa plans to base itself overseas, and Confirm thalassocracy then the reformed faith will provide a slight edge over its competitors.