Modena is one of many little countries in Italy. It has two very well developed provinces with Universities. It's not as wealthy as Tuscany or Genoa and can't afford much of an army early on, it also suffers from high Mercantilism that makes trading very difficult. Starting funds don't allow Modena to build any cavalry and this makes an early war impossible. So the start has to be very diplomatic.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||1|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Status of Italy
If you have never played in Italy before, you probably don't know what's about to happen soon after you start your game. First of all, two your neighbours, Venice and Milan, are at war. It was not very uncommon in their history to fight each other. But this time is quite different than it used to be. Venice is much stronger than Milan and probably able to take their land quickly. Sadly for Venice, it is attacked by Austria early that forces her to withdraw all their armies from Milan and move them to defend their homeland against much bigger Austrian invasion. This defence is desperate and can finish in three ways. The best for you is if Venice manages to keep the status quo (white peace) or win the war and take a province or two from Austria. This way Venice will keep fighting Austria and also will be capable of keeping the red blob outside the peninsula.
Most of the time though it's Austria who wins and usually all the power and wealth of Venice vanishes quickly. This puts you in danger from Austria. The bad news is that you can't do anything to protect Venice as your forces in comparison to what Austria can field are a joke. Just observe the situation and hope Venice wins this time.
Now good news. You're Monarchy. Your republican neighbours have a serious disadvantage as republics can't form royal marriages and vassalize countries diplomatically. No Doge can become the Holy Roman Emperor. You, as a King, can do any of this things any time you wish to. Also, most of the countries in Europe are monarchies and this means they like you more than they would if you had a republic. It is easier to get something from them, starting with royal marriage and ending on military access.
Now let's look around. You have to know your neighbours, knowing their strong and weak spots means you can decide with whom you should ally and who you should avoid.
- Venice - busy with Austria, a republic, too strong for you at the moment, avoid conflicts with them even if it costs breaking you an alliance
- Tuscany - a little country, two provinces, two universities, a bit wealthier than you are but a republic
- Milan - crushed, only a shadow of its former power, a monarchy
- Mantua - the smallest country in the region, mediocre income, good manpower
- Siena - little republic with a university, an early target of somebody's conquest
- Urbino - a monarchy, a target of early conquest
- Genoa - a republic with strong navy busy with keeping their possession in Crimea
Your first diplomatic moves should be to organize Royal Marriages with Milan and Mantua and to convince them to become your vassals. You can do it, provided you build your army up to the limit and this can happen after 1 January of 1454. You can also ally with either of Genoa or Tuscany if they ask you to do so. Ignore any alliance offers from Urbino, Siena, Venice and Sicily. Those will put you in danger of an early war that you can't win. Especially Urbino. Savoy is a mystery. It can help you a lot in any war if you are lucky, it can also drag you into a conflict with France or Burgundy if you are unlucky. So it's better not to ally with Savoy, just to avoid the risk.
You need correct advisors too. First of all, you need +3 stability all the time so hire an artist. Secondly, you want to boost your Government and Trade research so employ advisors who help in that if they are available. If not, take a Land reformer. If there are no advisors in this areas take a bonus to the number of merchants and diplomats you can send per year. Your starting values are way too low and will seriously hold you back so any bonus here is better than nothing. Ignore Navy completely. Your early wars will be land only and getting military access from your neighbours is much easier than building and paying upkeep for a fleet. Disband your starting ships if you're cheap or leave them where they are to strengthen your position in negotiations. Move your slider towards Free Trade and you are free to unpause your game.
Start with reading Trading strategies. Now, after you have some basic knowledge we can discuss trading from some practical point of view. The truth is that (in 1.1) the way the game handles trading at the moment causes it to be either hopeless or too easy. If you take Shrewd commerce practice and National trade policy your merchants will be unstoppable. You will be able to have 5 of them in every single CoT you know about and also be able to hold monopolies in the wealthiest ones.
Of course there's a long way to achieve that. Merchants can't be sent automatically, also as Modena you don't get that many of them per year due to your heavy Mercantilism. First thing you have to realize if you ever want to become something more than a vassal of Austria is that without trading achieving anything with a small country is nearly impossible. Trading will put you well ahead in the technology race and also allow you to field a huge mercenary armies should any big blob decide to take your land. So you should treat trading as your main priority during your game and never do anything that could hurt your traders significantly.
You should be especially careful when a monarch with low Administration skill rules your nation. Don't wage any wars, don't take any land. Especially don't take any centre of trade except Liguria and Venice. To be a great trading nation you need three things. You need Shrewd Commerce Pracitices as your first National Idea, you need National Trade Policy as your second NI. You also need a high value of Free Trade to be able to send so many merchants that you could keep your position in centers of trade you already conquered.
Choose the wealthiest CoT you know about (17th page of the ledger), send two merchants there, one of them kicks a foreign merchant out, second takes his place. As simple as that. After you have 5 guys inside, move on to the next CoT on the list. Keep working until you have all of them covered. If one of your merchants it's kicked out, move to take the position in that CoT back first. 4 merchants are easier to kick out than 5 so keep 5 everywhere. Also, there is a number of nice events connected with Merchant Adventures that temporarily raise your incomes and competitiveness so don't be afraid to take this NI. It is not required but very helpful. Being successful in trade means your incomes will skyrocket. Having two merchants in Vlandeeren pays as much as one of your starting provinces. Having five doubles your income. Guess what happens when you discover this wealthy CoTs in Asia!
Holy Roman Emperor
Modena is a monarchy. This means that the King of Modena can become the Holy Roman Emperor. The Emperor gets a huge bonus to his stability investment. Secondly, and what's more important in your miserable position, it gives a giant (for Italian standards) bonus to your manpower pool and to your land force limit. This means you can field a huge army even as a small country. This means that Venice and Genoa won't be out of your reach anymore. You will be able to kick their sorry republican ass quite easily. You will also pose some danger to Austria and Aragon should they want your wealth.
They vote on you after you're the most friendly country towards them. This means higher relations with you than with any other King in the Empire. If there's a draw in relations, they vote on those with whom they have royal marriages. They also choose those with military access and an alliance over those without those. So keep giving and asking for military access. Don't ally with anybody though. You don't want to be dragged into any conflict between electors. And you have to know that the HRE in this game is a real battlefield. Small countries jump on and tear into pieces each other like a pack of jackals. Don't be very critical over that. You're doing the same most of the time and you call it unification.
The problem is that to become the Emperor you have to pay a lot of bribes. And as you're not that big you most of the time aren't able to bribe too big and too many countries at once. If you're patient, you can keep forming Royal Marriages with electors every times your or their King dies. This way after 40 or so years, if you're not a troublemaker those of the electors who are monarchies will love you and put their vote on you. The rest you have to bribe.
To bribe you need to mint. Minting means that you move your budget slider to give you substantial monthly incomes instead of relying on yearly ones. Bribe smaller countries, everything bigger than Bohemia is too much. Sooner or later you will succeed and become the emperor. And it really pays off. Also, don't waste your advisor slot for employing a diplomat, you get enough of them already due to your strong alignment towards Aristocracy.
- Main article: Form Italian Nation
This is difficult with Modena. No army, no real cash. You have to forget any conquest for a while. Instead you have to use your diplomatic skills and your monarchy as a mean to get what you want.
We advised allying with Mantua and Milan and asking those to become your vassals early. It may happen. Of course Milan has to lose its war with Venice before you can make such an offer. Also Mantua seems to be not very cooperative in your quest to build Italy and will refuse such offers a number of times. Keep on trying. Build bigger armies and fleets, improve your prestige by organizing royal marriages with every catholic monarchy in the world. They will agree, sooner or later. Wait till you have a monarch with better diplomatic skills if everything else fails.
Your goal is to vassalize all the Italian monarchies around you and annex them diplomatically after ten years of vassalege. Believe us or not. You can do it without sending a single soldier abroad. Just stay persistent, improve your relations and keep asking until they agree. You get many diplomats per year and asking doesn't cost you a ducat.
Now, having all the monarchies you can proceed to stripping the Pope from his land as he certainly has too much. Romagna is your priority here. Siena and Urbino if the Pope has them are also nice gifts. Ask Provence for military access and take Avignon for its Tax Assessor (reduced inflation) if you feel like going on a trip. Leave Rome where it is though. The Pope has to be done with using military. He won't agree to become your vassal, he won't join you diplomatically under any circumstances. Be warned that he is able to field huge mercenary armies so before you attack, be well prepared. After you have the Pope's lands and all the monarchies are united under your rule you can afford building some substantial fleets. This you will need to beat your final opponents, Venice and Genoa. Both have huge fleets on their own and both are very wealthy. Build galleys if you are cheap or go for Carracks if you want to stay a naval power after you have dealt with Venice and Genoa.
To beat them quickly and without much hassle you need to prepare invasions of 3k of mercenary infantry to each overseas province they have and also station your cavalry next to their borders. Siege all their provinces at once, wait a year until they surrender, vassalize them in the peace deal. Bribe them for ten years, ask for diplomatic annexation. As simple as that! Now you have two centers of trade of your state culture and the five stars in your economical rating that you dreamed about for so long.
A few more things to add before you turn your game on and start uniting Italy. Countries on the peninsula ally it each other randomly. You have to learn how to use those alliances to your advantage. You also have to vassalize every ally your direct opponents have before you vassalize them. This way you will get most of the republics, especially Tuscany and Siena that are very dependent on their alliances. Also, watch your reputation carefully, remember that when your badboy goes over 10 points your merchants will start dying quickly.
In 1.1 there is a bug making it impossible to hold Rome for long as the Pope keeps spamming you with messages to give him his city back which lower your prestige. Unite Italy and give Rome back to the old guy. Also, you can't be at war and your primary culture has to be Lombard. And if you have a Bureaucracy National Idea. High Decentralization can help here too and you have it from the beginning so make sure you don't change that till you are Italy. The event itself will (obviously) change you into Italy, give you some prestige, a missionary and will raise base tax in one of your provinces by 1 ducat. If you decline the event, you will get the opposite.
You have better things to do than exploration. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have any overseas colonies at all. Portugal and Castille start discovering the world around 1455 and after 50 years you are shown everything they know about. This means that around 1520 you have most of the Americas uncovered and the race for colonies will start. Many countries will try to get a colony or two. You will see very ahistorical things here.
What's great, you have a narrowminded society and were implementing Free Trade for most of your game to aid your trading efforts. Thanks to that you can send more colonies than others. Also, you should have a huge portion of Italy and that means, along with your income from Trade, that you can afford some serious colonisation effort. With Modena which is not a naval superpower it is better to colonise a part of a continent instead of islands. If it's still free, it is good to go to Brazil. Colonize province called Santana first, then move inland to get all the gold producing provinces in the area. Then proceed with taking what's left free in Brazil.
If you learn the map of Incan territory you can make an attempt to join their glorious and wealthy empire to your domain. It is easy if they still didn't manage to build any forts. Just use cavalry and blitzkried tactics. Don't vassalize them, annex all their land immediately after you have it. It costs you 5 BB points, less than annexing Urbino. Also, convert Cuzco immediately. Having a foreign culture CoT negates the bonuses you have from Shrewd Commerce and National Trade Policy and this means you lose half of your merchants or even all of them if your monarch is not a good administrator. After you have converted Cuzco you can start regaining your trading position slowly. During conversion Cuzco joined your state culture and thus the penalty disappeared. By the way, all the pagan provinces you convert join your culture.
Religion and Government
You want to stay monarchy. You want to be the Holy Roman Emperor and you want to be friendly with all the monarchies in Europe, especially that you have just annexed most of the republics in the game. Also, it is not worth going Protestant. It is hard to convert a huge empire from Catholic. Fight with any Protestant uprising you see. Of course if you're bored you can become a Protestant Administrative Republic. At some point in the game you can really do whatever you wish and you will stay safe anyway.