Lithuania is one of largest countries in Europe, but exists only in early years of game (up to 1569). Historically it became a dual state with both crowns in a personal union, similar to Austria-Hungary of the late modern era.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||16|
|Center of Trade||None|
Lithuania's starting position for the Grand Campaign has been considerably worsened with Divine Wind. However, due to the new horde mechanics, if you can survive the first 50 years without conceding too many provinces, marching your troops all the way to Egypt, India and Pacific will be an easy task. In order to become a monstrous blob and westernize, which is absolutely necessary to remain a blob, playing with Lithuania is very gamey and therefore you need to make a lot of sneaky moves, backstabs and your timing has to be right. However, if you play your cards right, nothing will be able to stop The Purple Blob.
In 1399, you start out in a war against Golden Horde and you have a revolt in Smolensk and no fort in Bryansk, and to add to your troubles, you are not very rich. However, you have a very good general, Vytautas and a sizeable army. Your first move is to secure Smolensk and Bryansk, where you need to build a fort. This is your first priority, as otherwise Smolensk would declare independence if you ignore them by focusing on the Horde. After this has been done, you can focus your attention to the Horde.
In order to keep fighting the Horde, which will take a while, mint as much as you can. Nevermind the inflation at this point, you can fix it later. You have about 20.000 troops at start, which is quite good, but the Horde has closer to 80k. If you engage them, make sure you do so with the help of Poland or strike at a far weaker/smaller regiments. If you can, infiltrating Horde administration to lift fog of war would be a good idea. You cannot afford to lose any big battles or allow Vytautas to die. You will have to play with the most cowardly tactics you can imagine. As for provinces, your aim should be to take Cherson, or let Horde take Moldovia and steal Bessarabia and Budjak to yourself. In any case the goal is to isolate the Horde from Poland, Hungary, Austria and Bohemia. After 50 years, you will run through the Steppes as you please and you don't want any competitors. Even if you lose some of your own provinces and must cede to paying tribute, isolating the Horde is vital. Sweetest deal you can ask for is concede defeat, this way you can keep fighting the Horde every 5 years, which will get progressively easier.
Meanwhile, insult Poland every chance you get. You are under a personal union, which you need to get out of as soon as possible. Also, try to become best buddies with Austria and Bohemia, all the while making sure that you have military access etc. with Novgorod and Moscovy, just to keep them off your back for now. After you have become independent, you should pick and choose your wars carefully, only engage in easy wars that you have no chance of losing. The worse situation would have you fighting a losing battle, all the while Horde is knocking on your door. Use alliances, guarantees and warnings to make sure you have a casus belli handy when either Poland, Hungary, Teutonic Order, Muscovy or Novgorod gets into a losing war, then just march in and pick a few provinces. Whether you expand north or west, its really up to chance, but try not to fight any other western technology group enemies other than Teutons and make sure you don't hold any imperial provinces or cores of Bohemia/Austria etc. They will be far superior to you in the 16th century onwards, so you have to expand east and westernize as soon as possible. Remember that Holy War ends in 1650, so you want to expand as much to the Steppes and Muslim territories you can before that. Reaching India and the Ming should not be a problem before that. After you have westernized and finished with your holy wars, it is time to head west
Lithuania is one of the most powerful countries in eastern Europe, despite being the junior partner in a union with Poland. It boasts a strong base of 16 provinces. It owns no ports, nor does its firmest alliance; in order to construct a navy it is good to look to expanding either through Novgorod or the Teutonic Order.
The player's primary concern should be getting out of the union as quickly as possible. As long as the far more powerful Lithuania is kept on a leash by Poland it will have no chance of expanding and becoming the superpower it could be. This does not mean the alliance need to be disposed of altogether - these two countries, historically very close, tend to work together for much of the early game. If Lithuania has pushed far enough east, however, and has a large enough power base, it can turn on its neighbour and become the sole power in the east.
Naturally, as a land-locked country Lithuania can never really establish itself as a real regional power. The two closest choices for acquiring a harbour are Pommerania and the Teutons, though Novgorod is also an option for expansion. The Teutons, however, boast very fine armies and, even if they are conquered, Lithuania will not be able to take land while it remains in a union with Poland.
In the beginning you are a minor partner in a personal union with Poland. To get out of the union, send insults to Poland to drop relations to -200. The union will soon end and the player will get a new monarch within 2 years. It is good if it will be followed by training a large army and allying with another local power, such as Hungary or Bohemia.
The player can also choose to wait until the king dies, but during this time Poland will become more powerful, putting Lithuania more at risk. You will regain your freedom again after that happens: it may take a year, though it may also take 50 years (this way is total random). Until that happens, you have to participate in every war Poland starts. This can be painful as Poland is very aggressive, it usually attacks Moldavia, Crimea or Teutonic Order and drags Lithuania into these wars as well. What's worse, after the war is won, mostly thanks to your numerous and brave troops, Poland cuts the deal, very often ignoring your interests. This nightmare will end sooner or later so just wait and prepare yourself. This scenario can be avoided if you follow the instructions in the first paragraph.
Setting up the country is quite easy just after you decide what your priorities are. You have to realize that you're in position that makes you a better Fighter than Trader. It is probably not easy becoming peaceful, trading nation. Your strategy may be to hold Asia at bay, not allowing numerous hordes from there to tear Europe into pieces. You're not in wealthy Italy where wine is common, and provinces are full of ducats. It is possible that you will have to fight for your existence every single day. Lithuania, if it wants to survive, has to be a nation of warriors as strength is the only language mighty empires of Asia understand. And if you don't want to be caught unprepared when Ming or Timurid starts knocking on your door, you have to start configuring your country to that purpose, to the purpose of being an angel of death and destruction to everybody who dares to move their armies any near to your borders.
First things first, research. You may forget about naval technology, and trade technology. You may set them to zero. First priority is to research government technology level four for your first national idea. You can choose Military Drill, so your armies won't retreat from any danger, even if the whole hell of Asia is unleashed on them. You might soon need that. After you reach government level four, a good strategy is to set your slider to production technology until you can build workshops in all your provinces. Probably when you reach this point you can focus on two things: you need more government technology, and you need better troops and thus land technology. Neglect production, trade, and naval, and don't overspend on stability--if it's +1 or +2, it's OK.
Third, advisors. A land technology or a government technology advisor are good early choices. If they are not available, you might take an Artist or Diplomat; you will fight many wars, and more stability and better reputation can come really handy. If none of these is available, you might hire a missionary. Why? see the next paragraph.
Fourth, religion. This is key when you're playing Lithuania. Switch your map to the religious view. Notice that half of your country is Orthodox and that everything east of you is either Muslim or Orthodox. You may want spend a lot of time converting those heretics so the missionaries can be handy(unless you want go the tolerant way). Converting your homeland to Catholicism as soon as you can afford it makes it better income and less likely to revolt, so converting any other province you happened to conquer, may be as so as good. Trying to have a fully catholic country, might come in handy, because you won't like to have religious rebels spawned when, your armies marching Toward enemy. Also remember that you might be rewarded for your efforts in this area - you are very likely to be the Papal Controller for the most of the game if you convert many heretics.
Don't forget to set up your tolerance towards Muslim, Orthodox and (of course) Catholic to max, your provinces which are not yet converted will produce more and be less likely to revolt. Also, your second national idea should be Deus Vult to aid your crusading ambitions.
After the country is set up, you can finally move on and take a trip to see your potential allies and enemies. First of all, there's Poland, a country that is quite rich and has quite large population. It's your early ally and you might get it as a good plan to stick with them as long as you can, as they are the proving as strong and effective ally. To the north, there's your menace of last few hundreds of years, Teutonic Order. You could ally with them, or conquer them to get access to the Baltic after conquering some additional land. The second path is most probable as Poland is very likely to drag you into a war with them early on that will ruin your relations, destroy union insulting Poland many times to avoid this.
Poland separates you from German minors and this is not putting you in the best position. You will have to unite with or conquer Poland sooner or later. After you get some provinces east of you and build up your army, Poland is likely to accept to become your vassal and join you shortly after that. This is the easiest way, so move in that direction. If it's not possible, just conquer them, they really have lots of money and you need this funds in your eastern efforts. Now move your map to the east. You see there four Russian countries who are your main competitors in this region for next few years. The most dangerous of them is Muscovy. It has large armies and is hungry of conquest. It is very likely to expand quickly to the moment where it will become a serious threat. So try to hit them first, the sooner the weaker they are.
If you start when the mighty Golden Horde is your neighbour, get alliances, conquer your smaller neighbours and wait. It will be a buffer from other Asian countries for a while. However and according history and it happens in the game it will start to fall apart likely after 2-3 waves of uprisings will split apart country. When you are strong enough you should send some spies to speed up the process. In that time you should be strong enough to conquer one by one smaller pieces of Golden Horde (Crimea, Nogai, Kazakh, Russians if they will reborn).
There's also Novgorod, a merchant republic, that has a lot of money and a center of trade you really would like to have. They don't have many armies and they would be easy to conquer but part of their land is behind Muscovy and Russian minors so you might not be able to get to them. Let them be until after you've dealt with Muscovy. Farther to the east there are two Asian countries. Surprisingly (or not), they have a lot of manpower early in the game and some forts built, try not to mess with them until you've taken some land from Russia. Also, if you are at war with Kazan, whatever the cost, take Samara, it has gold which can really boost your economy. To the south there's a bunch of Muslim countries, which are mostly easy targets. You can start with Crimea, they have a few rich provinces and they don't even have forts built in some of them. I suggest your first war to be here, getting access to the Black Sea can come handy later on too.
Next is Golden Horde. They are rich, really, richer than most of middle-sized countries in Europe. They have a centre of trade in Astrakhan. They have no forts built. That's what we like the most, weak and rich prey. Take them quickly with cavalry rushing around their land and take everything that produces money, leaving left-overs to Genoa or whoever wants them. I suggest attacking them after you have sorted out the Crimea, you should have access to their land after that. Don't let Poland or your other allies to get any land in here, you aim at having both Crimea and Golden Horde out of the map.
Genoa, they are rich, but their capital is far away in Italy and they can't react in due time when their lands in the area are endangered. If they grow too big and outpace you to the fattest and richest Crimean lands, don't hesitate to kick them out of the area, they're easy if not allied with a major power. Persia (Qara Koyunlu), Timurid, Ming, Ottomans. It's a game and any of them can become a threat to you depending on circumstances. Remember they are quite backward and that every second of research makes you stronger and them weaker. Wait till you're strong and push them away from Europe. Georgia. This country is very tasty because it has a gold producing province called Alania. If they're not eaten by Muslims, you should move on to secure their lands.
Research land and government (and production no. 1). Convert any non catholic province you have money to convert. Be aggressive. Sort out Crimea and Golden Horde first to get money, then move on to Russia, to put an end to the rising power of Muscovy and Novgorod, then push Asian hordes of Kazan, Sibir and whoever is around there out behind the Ural. After this try to diplo-annex Poland, kick Genoa out of the place not to mess with your Crimean possessions and also try to push Persians (Qara Koyunlu and Timurid) amd ottomans south not allowing them to get Georgia. Somewhere between those wars force-vassalize and diplo-annex Teutonic Order to get access to the Baltic.