|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||6|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
In 1399, Milan starts with 7 provinces—5 around Lombardia (the capital) and 2 further south (cut off by Modena). Both the current king and heir are 5/5/5. Milan is a member of the HRE, and when the game starts, the 2 cut-off provinces (Siena and Pisa) are both unlawful imperial territories. These two provinces thus contribute -2% prestige and +0.50 infamy each year. These penalties (which continue for 50 years) make it difficult to expand early on (One option is to release the nations as Vassals and annex them later on with a mission that grant core). To the north, Milan has several strong neighbours — Austria and Switzerland especially. To the south, Milan is surrounded by Italian minors. Of note, Modena is the junior member in a personal union with Ferrara. On a more positive note, Milan has 3 provinces with Universities, giving a great boost to government research. And finally, Milan is in the Genovese trade league.
In terms of strategy, Milan is in a good position to unify Italy and this should be the priority in the early game. Milan's starting sliders also lean towards a militaristic route. The country only needs cores on 3 more provinces (Roma, Firenze, and Ancona) to enact the unification decision. Note that Ancona and Roma are not HRE territory, but Firenze is. Thus, you will incur the unlawful HRE territory with Firenze. If you take Firenze while still having Siena and Pisa with the unlawful HRE territory penalty, this will increase the stacked penalty to -3% prestige and -.75 infamy each year. Several things make it difficult to expand in the peninsula though:
- Italian minors quickly form web of alliances and guarantees.
- Milan starts with poor sliders for trading and cash-flow is tight in the early period.
- Penalties from the 2 unlawful HRE territories make it difficult to reduce infamy.
Milan needs to be patient with expansion to avoid accumulating too much infamy that it has trouble reducing. The best strategy seems to be using Milan's larger manpower to vassalize the minors holding the 3 provinces needed to unify Italy and then diploannexing them later on. Milan needs to be highly opportunistic and alert in the early game, focusing on taking those 3 provinces.
There are several reasons to avoid trading altogether in the early game and focus on tax and production income. First, you'll have trouble reducing infamy, and infamy kills merchant compete chance. Second, you begin at -3 on Mercantilism/Free Trade, but you don't own any centres of trade so this doesn't help you. And you don't want to move the slider towards Free Trade because you'll end up owning Venezia and Liguria after Italy is unified and you have cores on them. It's better to just leave the Mercantilism slider be, and benefit from it once you have taken Venezia and Liguria. In any case, in the early game, you're just throwing money away if you send merchants.
Since Austria is your most immediate threat, it is easiest to ally with Austria in the early game since your focus will be in the south. Austria then becomes a buffer against any northern threats.
When you do unify Italy, note that the capital moves to Roma. Because Roma does not start as an HRE territory, it is important to remember to use the provincial decision to make Roma "Join as HRE Territory" before the unification event otherwise you will be removed from the HRE when you unify Italy (because you can only be an HRE member if your capital is in HRE territory).
In 1399 Milan is one of the most powerful nations in Italy. It begins with 6 provinces; 4 in the main part around its capital, and two further south, cut off by Modena. It is a member of the Holy Roman Empire and has a number of possible targets around it, including the two Centers of Trade in Venice and Genoa.
Though capable of early expansion into the surrounding Italian minors as well as the larger states east and south, Milan can be quickly cut off by France in the west and Austria further east. The two main routes of expansion are north-east into the Holy Roman Empire, and south into Italy and the Muslim countries of North Africa. It is also possible to conquer both ways, but there is a risk of becoming to far stretched, as Milan can not expand west or east without encountering much larger nations.
Napoleon's Ambition & EU3 Vanilla
- You can form the united Italy
- You have universities
- You have 3 contiguous provinces when you begin
- You start with some ships and army
- All provinces in Italy are Catholic
- Austria and Venice are not far away from you, so you can't be aggressive when you start
- You have universities which other nations desire.
- Most of the country have been guaranteed the independence, so it will not be easy to take some provinces.
A good start is critical for hoping to survive in the chaotic Italian renaissance. Your top priority is an army leader, use your monarch as a general, if you are lucky, he will have insane amount of shock damage.
Another matter to solve quickly are advisors. Your absolute top priority is an advisor helping your Trade research. If you can't get one, take a Land one. You can ignore Naval and Government too, universities will make up for that. Take a stability guy if nobody useful is there.
Third step: alliances. Your best picks are, in order: Modena, Savoy, Mantua and Urbino. They have monarchies, same religion and cultural group. Start with a royal marriage to increase your chances, and hope for the best. There is some chance that the minor ones will offer you an alliance on their own, saving you a diplomat or two. Secure the others and be happy about it, you'll think about vassalization once you get some prestige (for better chances).
One last note before staring the game for real: at this point you can change policy sliders if/as you wish, but keep in mind that the Italian unification trigger will be more probable as your centralization increase, and it takes quite some time to get it to a reasonable value. Being Italy is not a big advantage though over being Milan, other strategy is to go full Free Trade instead of centralizing to aid your trading efforts.
Time to give Venice a taste of your steel or maybe not. Well, the fact is that there's a 1000/4000/0 with an excellent commander waiting for you in Brescia. Many people think that it's a cakewalk with Milan, those who played early patches. Austria was bound to attack Venice back then when Venice was busy with you. If you're playing 1.3, forget that, Austria will probably head north uniting Germany instead of helping your pitiful country. You are on your own here and the odds are strongly against you. Play it right though and no harm will be made to your lands. Don't unpause the game yet. Do the following: Convert your ruler to a general, join together your two armies and make him lead them. Make them move south to Parma immediately. In Parma start building a cavalry unit. Disband your whole fleet and move your budget slider as far as it's needed for you not to have to take a loan.
Now slowly unpause the game. You will see your King head south and be caught by Venetian stack. He is very likely to win this battle, 9 out of 10 tries he wins. If he doesn't just withdraw him to Parma. And if he does withdraw him to Parma too. Your new cavalry unit should be finishing to build when he arrives there. Venetians will focus on storming Lombardia. Watch them carefully, they are very likely to make an assault on your walls and fail, they will lose a lot of troops in the process and this is your chance. Be quick, attack them and pray they don't manage to bring reinforcements in time. If you drive their army out of your borders, do not follow. Retake your capital if you need and hide in Parma again for another sneaky attack. Even if they don't assault, their morale and numbers will be dropping down slowly due to attrition. Use that to your advantage and don't rush your attack. Wait till they are weak enough, push them back and hide again. You can make such attacks from Savoy if Venetians manage to push you back from Parma.
After a number of such wins puny Venetians will notice they're hopeless and ask you for white peace. Don't bother asking them for it yourself, they just won't accept and your relations will drop making it even harder in future.
Rebuilding the country
If you managed to get white peace in the war, you can congratulate yourself, you achieved something AI almost never achieves. Now you have to proceed quickly to rebuilding your country as you don't want to be in such a situation like you was when the game started.
Find the richest trade center on the map. It's Vlaanderen or Lubeck, send your merchants there. If you haven't moved your slider yet, move it towards Free Trade. I hope you hired advisors aiding your trade. Take Shrewd Commerce Practice as your first National Idea and do trade. Invest much in your trade tech. This will provide you with enough money to survive the start.
Disband all your armies except 3 or 4 units of cavalry. If you made your Doge lead them, make him not lead them anymore, he will live longer thanks to that. Get proper allies quickly. You want to ally with Modena and Savoy and then diplo-annex them. It will double and triple your strength. Keep the alliance with Tuscany though, you need every help you can get.
Be aware that Swiss and Venetians can come for you quickly, and be aware also that there's little you can do to prevent this except having a number of good allies who have their armies close to aid you. Modena and Savoy are perfect for it, Tuscany also can help. Do trade and try to be peaceful. Pray for Venetians to get busy with Ottomans or Austria. It will happen sooner or later as puny Venetian republic was teasing everybody around them for last few hundreds of years. Try to unite peacefully monarchies around you. By 1500, you should own at least Modena, Savoy and Mantua. Everything beyond that is an extraordinary achievement. Ally, make a royal marriage, grant and take military access, bribe them and ask to be your vassals, this works. After first 50 years you should be at least a regional power capable of waging a war against the Pope and the republics on the peninsula. Vassalize them and diplo-annex afterwards.