This is a guide on how to get started and achieve common goals as Muscovy. There are three separate sections for Divine Wind, In Nomine and for Napoleon's Ambition/vanilla, since the starting situation is quite different. All three however are for Grand Campaigns.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Despotic Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||6|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
There are few Most popular opening moves you have when you start as Muscovy. It depends of course, if you are playing a singleplayer or multiplayer game. Moscow is in a very good position, if you know how to exploit it. It is, however, hard to play for newbie players, because of how complicated it's situation is and because of how you should play. Muscovy starts off between a rock and several hard places, so the opening moves are critical for success and survival. Your economy is weak and fragile, so minting and loans will probably be necessary.
Horde gamble : If you get the mission Claim the steppes, which gives you a core on a random province you own, don't have core on and that has a Golden Horde core, and in addition increase tax by 1 and increases manpower slightly) You quickly conquer Kazan, and don't engage in any fights with Golden Horde armies - just assault or siege it quickly, before horde forces come, or just let them siege your provinces while aiming to occupy this. Then quickly put all your colonists into there, and make sure it does not fall back to Golden Horde before you get it as your province. Then after you get it, quickly peace Golden Horde at all costs. If you manage to do this, you will get a rich province that is your core, and is Golden Horde core. This mean that you can recruit their troop type. You can easily convert it to Orthodox, so it will be a great asset to your power.
Lithuanian Gamble : In very rare cases, you get mission to conquer Smolensk as a first mission. It is not impossible to accomplish, and if you manage to conquer it, you will be able to form Russia much faster than normally. However to accomplish this mission you will need lot of experience and/or luck. In the first place, ally as many Polish-Lithuanian neighbours as possible (do not do it with Tver). Then, royal marriage Tver, and claim their throne, then declare war them for Personal Union (unless you get super lucky and get PU with them, without a war). After taking Tver, you immediately look if your allies are going to join you in that war. You don't want to attack Lithuania immediately after start, because they start quite strong, and you want them to get stuck into war with horde, or in case of MP to get dragged into polish wars. When you see Lithuania weak enough, and enough of allies willing to join war, dow it, and fight until you get enough warscore to get Smolensk. If Poland is player, and is friendly to you, you can just ask him for Smolensk, it is possible that you will get it pretty much instantly after you occupy the province. If Smolenskian rebels succeed against Lithuania it is even easier since you get conquers mission on OPM/TPM, and allows you to just conquer it outright without any alliances needed.
Tverian Union : If you get any mission that does not ask you to conquer Russian minors or subjugate Tver, best option is to PU Tver. Just royal marriage them, and force PU. Rest depend on whatever mission you got, and perhaps lucky cores you might get. Make sure that you put Russian minors in your sphere of influence, and ally countries strong enough.
Fast Conquest : If you get missions to conquer Russian minors/subjugate Tver just instantly DoW the first mission target. And if you don't get mission to vassalize Tver you can also try to PU it at the same time (but you don't need to). Immediately after you done with one mission start the next. It shouldn't take more than 5 years to conquer all Russian minors, if you get missions on them, one after another.
Usually, it is not preferred to attack Novgorod as first move. However if you get a core/mission on Novgorod territory, you can declare war for it, even as a first move. Just make sure you call Teutonic Order and/or Denmark into that war. Trading in Novgorod is recommended only if you are going to have little to no infamy. In fact, when you later on conquer Novgorod, you should destroy it's Centre of Trade, and create new one in either Moscow or Neva.
The Golden Horde
At the very beginning, fighting the Golden Horde will be suicidal, as they can overwhelm you with numbers alone. Fortunately, they will always accept a tribute payment on day one. There are two main advantages to doing so. First, it lets you focus on defending against your relatively weaker neighbours, Poland-Lithuania and Novgorod, and on annexing the other Russian minor principalities. Second, the amount you pay tribute is based on your monthly income at the time of the treaty signing, so as your economy grows, you will be paying a smaller portion of your income. The disadvantage is that the Horde will no longer declare war on you, and since settled nations don't get casus belli against nomads, you'll have to take the stability and legitimacy hit in the future when and if you're ready to attack them. There is situation when you may choose to attack them, just to gain little advantage over your competition - if you get cross the Mongol border mission, it gives you core on any province you will conquer from Golden Horde. It means that the province is less likely to revolt and will give you full income. If you will do it quick enough, before the horde will retaliate, you might conquer Kazan, and then just offer them tribute before you get into too much trouble. If you succeed to do so you will gain their technology group units (you will be available to recruit them from province you conquered from them), which means further fights with them will be much easier, and all other countries around you, will have weaker units than you, and conquering them will be much easier for you. Also, if you will be lucky, the province will spawn Kazan revolters, which might spread from your province, into Golden Horde realm, and if they fail to defeat them, Kazan might revolt from them, making it easier for you to conquer it as it will be divided into smaller realms.
Muscovy usually receives several unique missions to vassalize and/or annex the other Russian principalities of Tver, Ryazan, Yaroslavl, and Novgorod. Acquiring these missions is extremely important to your long term success, as they reward cores on the provinces necessary to form the Russian nation. Ryazan and Yaroslavl can be easily conquered from the get-go, although they are sometimes protected by your larger neighbors. There is no unique mission to annex Tver, only one to vassalize it, and it only grants a core on the province of Tver. However, once Tver is your vassal, you have the chance to acquire the generic mission to incorporate a vassal, which will grant a core on the other province, Rzhev. By following these missions, you can double the size of your domain, giving you the possibility to successfully wage war on Novogord. If you are fast enough in doing those missions, you may conquer Yaroslavl and Ryazan, and Vassalize Tver in one or two years. You should do it as soon as possible, before Golden Horde will start conquering Ryazan, or conquer Lithuanian provinces and gain access to Tver, making it open to attack, and most likely doomed to be conquered.
Novgorod is weaker than you, because of its sliders being more quantity than yours, and not having the powerful Librium Veto decision, which spawns 15k troops. But early, on it is hard to defeat it, as it often starts with a bigger army, due to the fact they are getting more income. But on the other hand, most of their army are mercenaries, as they are not having much manpower, and cannot support such big number of troops. But they can get very good leader, due to fact they are republic. They often help Ryazan, less often Yaroslavl or Tver, if you declare war on them. Don't despair if they do, if you manage to either get Liberum Veto, or defeat them in major battle - you can make them into white peace or even demand some provinces if you destroy their army/armies. You need to be cautious because they sometimes ally Poland and/or Denmark and/or Teutonic Order. If on the other hand you are allied to one of those countries, defeating them should be piece of cake, as long as they join you. Most dangerous situation is when Novgorod, allies Poland - as they can bring very big forces along with Lithuania. Still, in any case, it is better to wait with conquering Novgorod, until you have core on Smolensk, since when you vassalize and annex Novgorod, it is much less likely to get mission to annex Smolensk. If you want to form Russia quickly, it is proposed that you wait, and attack Lithuania first. While this may be risky, you may gain enough provinces to get vassalize Novgorod mission, without conquering it's provinces, making their vassalization just one war. Defeating Lithuania, might be tough quest, so you might prefer to take down Novgorod first.
Smolensk or Chernigov
Smolensk and Chernigov are the final requirements for forming Russia. Acquiring either one and gaining a core there will satisfy the requirement. Both provinces start in the hands of Lithuania, which starts in a personal union with Poland. Whether they remain in the union or not, they are still a force to be reckoned with. There are several ways to acquire this territory.
The first is through brute force. Simply wage war on Lithuania, take the province, and wait fifty years for the core. Another way is through a mission. Smolensk's culture is in the Russian group while Lithuania's is not, so you are eligible to receive a mission to acquire Smolensk that will reward you with a core upon completion. A third way is if either province is taken by another nation. Smolensk is not a Lithuanian core at the start, and so Smolenskian rebel uprisings are prevalent. If Lithuania is facing heavy internal turmoil, there is a good chance that Smolensk could secede entirely, giving you the opportunity to snatch it up. Alternatively, it is possible for the Golden Horde to conquer much of Lithuania's land. Of course, taking back land from the Horde is a task in and of itself. Finally, employing spies to instigate a revolt in Smolensk could be effective. Since Smolensk shares your culture group, the province will eventually defect to you if Lithuania is incapable of dealing with the rebellion. Whatever method you choose, when you acquire either province and have a core in it, you will be able to enact the Form Russian Nation decision.
For Mother Russia!
A word of caution before enacting the decision to form Russia. Doing so will grant you cores on a vast swathe of territory. Most of this territory will most likely still be in the hands of the Golden Horde, and thus will take a long time to reacquire. If you are not war with the Horde, you will suffer a severe penalty for not pressing your claims, and your prestige will plummet as a result. Low prestige could cause a number of problems, so it might be a good idea to hold off on forming Russia until you are ready to attack the Horde.
Heir to the Throne
The strategy is much like In Nomine, but it is easier due to that you can annex nations faster, and Golden Horde seems to be even weaker. Some provinces are added, and Ryazan got more provinces, but you can annex it instantly anyway.
In In Nomine, Muscovy starts in much the same position as before, with seven provinces in the heart of the Rus lands, no vassals, and surrounded by rivals. Muscovy has a strong army and not a lot of money, and a single trader in Astrakhan, a COT held by your mortal enemies. Two of your seven provinces, Orel and Bryansk, lack fortifications, something you must remedy as soon as money allows.
This guide is written assuming that the player is pursuing the goal of Russian unification, and will advise the player as to the quickest path to become Russia and dominate Eastern Europe. There are other ways to play the game as Muscovy, but this one will focus on how to lead Muscovy through triumphant military conquest.
Muscovy occupies a north - central position in Russia. On two sides of Muscovy are three small Russian principalities - Tver, Yaroslavl, and Ryazan - all with only one province except for Tver, which has two. Along with Novgorod, they are the only powers in the region that share your faith, and thus the only powers likely to think highly of you.
To the North, you will find Novgorod, the largest of the Russian principalities, with the most extensive holdings from the Baltic coast to the edge of the Urals. They initially are at least reasonably inclined towards Muscovy, but they are one of the other countries most likely to attempt and achieve Russian Unification, and they will most likely take a dim view of you attempting the same, especially considering that the road to Russia runs through their capital. Beyond Novgorod to the Northwest is Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, which holds Finland as part of its country. Though Sweden is a relatively 'soft' military power at this time, they are joined with Denmark and Norway in a personal union, so they will not deal with Muscovy initially except through Denmark.
To the West is the Teutonic Order, Riga, Pskov, and Lithuania. Of these, Lithuania is the most powerful and can quite easily field armies capable of defeating Muscovy's forces at the beginning of the game, especially considering that they will be backed up by Poland courtesy of the Union between their countries. This Union can be a boon, because they will not attack independently of Poland, so to keep Lithuania at bay, keep Poland happy or tie them to you with an alliance. The Teutonic Order is a possible ally in a very vulnerable position. Historically, they will fight Poland and Lithuania repeatedly, and lose, but an alliance with Muscovy could help to protect them, as Poland seems to be deterred from attacking the Teutons while allied with Muscovy. The Teutons would likely be happy to help Muscovy fight Novgorod for the chance to gain territory along the Northern Baltic, but this you must deny them as much as possible, as Muscovy will want access to the Baltic in the future. Pskov and Riga are two tiny states that present opportunities for conquest to their neighbors - Pskov is usually conquered quickly by Novgorod or the Teutonic Order, and Riga will fall to either the Teutons or the Poles and Lithuanians after the fall of the Teutonic Order.
To the South and East is the Golden Horde. This massive state is controlled by the Tartars, and has historically been the bane of the Rus. These will be your most deadly enemies at the beginning of the game and most of this guide will be counselling the player on the best means of defeating them once and for all.
Unifying Russian Princes
Muscovy's first moves in the quest to unite the Rus under a single crown are against its smaller neighbours. The first missions will encourage the Player to conquer the little Principalities because they are too weak to effectively oppose the Tartars. This is the truth, and one way Muscovy can quickly improve its own chances of survival is to integrate Ryazan, Tver, and Yaroslavl into Muscovy's territory. Follow the missions one at a time, and Muscovy will gain cores on the little princes' lands as they are conquered.
This will not be without its challenges. Muscovy's resources are stretched rather thin, and you have a lot of border to defend against small, agile foes. Be assured that Tver will guarantee Yaroslavl and Ryazan's independence, so Muscovy will end up fighting them when attacking either Yaroslavl and Ryazan. Plan accordingly by having armies ready to march into Tver and put them under siege. Most of Muscovy's armies at this point will be formed of infantry, which will help speed your sieges, but the player may consider building at least one army that is pure Cavalry, because the Provinces of Russia are large, and the speed and shock of Druzhina Cavalry can shatter the little princes' small armies before they even set foot in Muscovy proper.
Ideally, Muscovy will take out its first target very quickly, force their annexation, and then turn its attention to finishing off Tver. Taking even one of their provinces will usually make them more than willing to make peace. Force them to give up Rhzev and anything in their treasuries, but don't make them your vassal as you want all their territory. Once the first war is over, move on the target of the next mission. Once again, Tver has probably guaranteed their independence, so you will be fighting Tver again. If Tver is leading the alliance, conquer the target then annex them, then do the same thing to Tver if that is the next mission to come up. If Tver is not the leader of the alliance, then make a separate peace that forces Tver to give up its claims on Rhzev and get any other treasury gains they have. Muscovy's next mission will probably be to destroy Tver, and by this point you will almost certainly be fighting Novgorod as well.
Conflict with Novgorod
By 1410, Muscovy should either have conquered all its smaller neighbors or have reduced them to Tver by itself pending Tver's occupation and annexation. Muscovy's ambitions of conquest are now limited by its big three neighbors - Lithuania, Novgorod, and the Golden Horde. Unless Muscovy is under attack by the Golden Horde, Muscovy's next move should be to pick a fight with the weakest of these three, and that is Novgorod. The Golden Horde's armies are vast and powerful, Lithuania is only restrained from attacking Muscovy by Poland's territorial ambitions, and though Novgorod is no pushover, by comparison to the other two options, it is the target of choice for Muscovy.
To provoke a war with Novgorod, Muscovy can take advantage of their own territorial greed and guarantee the independence of Pskov. Sooner or later, Novgorod will try to take Pskov, probably while Muscovy is distracted with one of their small wars on the minor Russian Principalities. Join the war anyway and move into Novgorod's territory to take the fight to them. Be warned that the Teutons may also attack Pskov, so Muscovy may end up fighting with Novgorod to preserve them from the Teutonic Order.
Fighting Novgorod is a completely different sort of war. They will likely have an army that is as large if not larger than Muscovy's, so you must win some hard battles in the years ahead. One strategy Muscovy might employ to quickly defeat Novgorod is to split their empire down the middle. Raise a few small armies and send them to attack Novgorod's eastern provinces, with a large army blocking the way while sieging Vologda. Ideally, there will be no army in Novgorod's eastern frontier and Muscovy's forces can put all of its eastern provinces under siege and just wait for them to capitulate. Novgorod may have colonized beyond their borders in the east, in Berenov and Obdorsk; if so, push into the Terra Incognita - it may take some time, but once you discover those provinces, you can conquer them. With Novgorod's armies tied up fighting Muscovy's larger forces in the West near Novgorod itself, conquering their eastern empire should be easy enough. Depending on how the war is going, Muscovy should be able to demand most of Novgorod's eastern provinces - Ustyug, Kostroma, Vologda, Zavolochye, and Viatka will probably be the most you can get, but if Muscovy must settle for less, it should try to obtain Zavolochye and Viatka at the very least, as these provinces will open the gateway to eastern expansion as described below. These provinces are less populous than their western territories and thus require less warscore to obtain. If you have trouble getting Novgorod to surrender, just push for their capital. Most AI nations will be willing to end their wars with you on your terms once you have their capital occupied. This is important to remember during the Tartar Wars described below.
Completely annihilating Novgorod will require several wars of conquest, taking as much of their territory as possible in each war. Raise your warscore as close to 100% as you can get and demand as much territory as you can take. Their lands will be much easier to control than territories populated by Tartars, as their territories are almost all Russian people believing in the Orthodox faith - just like Muscovy. The wars will get progressively easier as Muscovy controls more and more of their territory. Eventually, you will be able to subjugate them and complete the Subjugate Novgorod mission.
(Sometimes the game gets stuck in an error loop after this happens when it assigns your next mission as Annex Novgorod, which you cannot do because Vassalization by truce cannot end in annexation for at least 10 years after. The mission will automatically fail and the game will assign the same mission again and again, causing a storm of pop - ups informing you that the mission has failed. To get out of this, pause the game and cancel the mission. It will assign you a new mission, and hopefully by the next time you get the Annex Novgorod mission, you can either immediately offer them annexation or start the last war of conquest against them.)
Once you have conquered Novgorod's Eastern provinces, Muscovy may find that it has unexplored and unclaimed territory on its borders. To discover the territory, keep an army in your furthest eastern conquest and eventually you will discover the territory. Once you can see Berenov, move a good sized army into the province (about 4000 - 5000 men should do) and send colonists in after them until the territory is a city. Repeat the process until Berenov is a city. Try to avoid exterminating the natives if at all possible - remember that once the colony reaches 1000 settlers, any natives in the province are added to the city's population, resulting in faster growth of the city itself in the future. Be sure to put down any rebellions in the former territories of Novgorod that could cut you off from the Colonies, as you cannot send colonists unless you control a solid route to the virgin territories.
After a successful War with the Golden Horde that leaves you in possession of Surgut, Koda, and Tara, maintain armies in those provinces to discover the unclaimed lands beyond. Move troops in to secure the territories and send colonists in to start claiming these vast lands for yourself. The territory from here on East to the coast of Siberia is all unclaimed and uncolonized, and the empires to the south are not likely to claim it before Muscovy, and Russia by extension, can stake a claim to the territory. Your cities this far East will be small, but they will be your culture and religion, and thus will grow faster and be less likely to rebel. To complete the colonization even faster, consider embracing the Quest for the New World and Colonial Ventures Ideas, the former for its explorers and conquistadors to map the terrain for you, and the latter for extra colonists to claim it faster. Without these ideas, you will advance only slowly, discovering new territories after you finish colonizing known ones, but it can be done such that Muscovy controls most of Siberia by the end of the 16th Century.
The Tartar Wars
While Muscovy is pursuing its campaign of conquest against the other Russian Principalities or against Novgorod, you may get a sudden and terrible omen of your forthcoming doom as the Golden Horde sends Muscovy a Warning not to start any wars. Treat this as your warning that the Golden Horde is coming and prepare accordingly, because a Declaration of War is not far behind - because the Golden Horde is Muslim, and Muscovy is not, so they do not suffer any stability hit whatsoever for attacking Muscovy.
The Golden Horde will usually begin the game attacking Genoa's holdings along the Black Sea, in Azow and Kaffa, and it often moves on to attack Georgia before turning their attention to Muscovy. These wars will occupy their attention for about ten to twenty years, depending on how much help Genoa can rally to defend its distant shores, but be assured that lacking strong allies, Genoa will fall. Georgia is a special case that will be discussed below, under the heading 'The Plight of Georgia'.
Your warning will probably come at the worst possible time - the AI can smell an advantage as well as a human can, and will wait for you to be deeply embroiled in a costly war, preferably while your Stability is low and your War Exhaustion high. The Golden Horde also likes to wait until Muscovy is without any allies to protect you from their wrath, but they have no fear of European nations, and with good reason - their ancestors almost conquered the whole of Europe and made the Rus bow before them. Never again!
To be prepared for the Golden Horde's attack, maintain a posture of constant military readiness. Keep your armies together in peacetime as much as possible, so that if the Horde comes suddenly, you are not caught unawares and without defenses. If you are planning to use the 'Scorched Earth Trap' strategy outlined below, having several small armies posted all along the border will help carry out that strategy. The 'Burn the East' Strategy also benefits from several small armies posted along your eastern borders, ready to move when the Golden Horde attacks.
Having some strong allies in your corner helps. Try to get Poland or Sweden on your side if you can - Poland is more useful because they are closer to the Golden Horde. If Lithuania is not under the Personal Union with Poland anymore, Muscovy can try to win them over as well, but their price will be high, and they want your territory as much as the Tartars do. If you decide to cast in your lot with the Georgians, they can also help in your war against the Horde.
If you find yourself without allies against the Horde, do not despair. It is possible to defeat the Horde alone, but will require more work on your part. Settle in and get comfortable - this war is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
The Golden Horde
The Golden Horde is the most dangerous fighting machine in its corner of the world. They start with Government 4 and the Idea of National Conscripts, which gives them an enormous manpower pool, and they have lots of provinces with high populations that can support large armies comfortably. They get a lot of taxes from their far-flung empire and are more than a match for just about any of the European Nations they border.
The Golden Horde also often allies with the Timurids and the Ottoman Empire, both of which will be more than happy to join them in kicking down your gates. Of the choices, the Timurids are less likely to be able to effectively threaten you as they usually lack a direct connection by land to the Golden Horde. Muscovy is less fortunate if the Ottomans are the Horde's ally, as the Ottomans usually have a strong navy and can land troops on the Golden Horde's shores and march them right into your territories. Sometimes the Golden Horde allies with the Mamluks, who can also land troops like the Ottomans, but are less likely to actively support the war against Muscovy.
The Golden Horde is not an invincible colossus. It has a weak form of government, a Tribal Despotism, which guarantees a succession crisis every time one of their rulers dies. Their methods of waging war result in high attrition and war exhaustion and this can make their empire prone to tearing itself apart with rebellion while still fighting a war. If they cannot win the war against you quickly, they will call for a white peace just to deal with their own internal problems. Do not allow them to get out of the war without paying tribute to Muscovy's throne - preferably in the form of provinces ceded to you.
War of Attrition with the Golden Horde
Most EU Players take their battle strategies from the German Blitzkrieg manual: hit them hard and fast with as big an army as you can muster, assaulting fortifications, raising War Taxes, and doing everything in their power to force a quick capitulation from the enemy. This strategy works very well when fighting wars against smaller powers and can even turn the tide of a war against a power of comparable size, though a battle going against you can cost you armies you can ill afford to replace. Muscovy can use these tactics to great effect against the small Russian Principalities, and they may even prevail in the wars against Novgorod. This strategy will not work against the Golden Horde.
In fact, that is exactly what the Golden Horde will be trying to do to Muscovy. They have huge armies and wield those armies like a medieval wrecking ball, trying to overwhelm you with huge armies, quick assaults on fortifications, and bullrushing their way to Moskova in the hopes of sacking your capital and forcing your surrender. When their 40,000 men army hits a 15,000 man Russian army, all technology being roughly equal, the Horde will win, and thanks to be Big Army AI upgrade from Napoleon's Ambition, the Golden Horde will chase your forces until it annihilates your armies completely, forcing you to retrain the whole army from scratch. This is a loss Muscovy cannot afford, so you cannot let your forces engage the Golden Horde unless your numbers are equal to theirs or if you outnumber them.
To defeat the Golden Horde, you must find some way to thin their numbers. This is not a war of pitched battles and valiant charges but a war of long sieges and national endurance. Muscovy must outlast the Golden Horde, let them exhaust their troops and their nation with a protracted war, and then turn the tables and overwhelm their weakened foes.
The Scorched Earth Trap
The Golden Horde will declare war on you, gather a big army, and punch right into your provinces nearest to Moskova, putting them under siege and trying to break their defenses by assaulting the walls with all the men they can muster. Since Muscovy has the advantage of knowing where to expect the enemy's attack, you can prepare a nasty surprise for them as they invade your lands.
To use this strategy, train a few small armies and post them in all the provinces along Muscovy's western border with the Golden Horde. When the Declaration of War comes as expected, pause the game, select the armies in the border provinces. In the bottom left of the army's unit card is an option to Scorch the Earth. What this basically does is destroy all agriculture in the province, massively reducing the province's income for you, but reducing its support limit and increasing its attrition rate for any army stationed in it, hence why small armies are best for executing this strategy. You want to starve the Horde, not your own men. Once the provinces' land is barren and desolate, withdraw your forces to the next provinces inside your borders, ready to repeat the process if the Horde breaks through your first layer of defenses. This creates a no man's land in your border provinces that this article will refer to as the Scorched Zone.
The Golden Horde will charge in, put your fortresses under siege, and assault them almost immediately. If their defenses hold, the Horde will be stuck in sieging the fortress until their morale recovers for another assault - meaning they will be there, on average, two to three months. The Scorched Earth of the provinces they are standing in is going to lower the support limit for their invading troops and increasing the maximum attrition they suffer. It is not difficult for a sizable Golden Horde force to suffer attrition of 10% or more per month. This will reduce their numbers by whole battalions every month - within six months of a siege in the scorched zones, the invaders' army should be cut in half. With their morale drained from a lengthy series of attempted assaults, Muscovy might be able to rout the invaders with one hard blow. Send in a force of comparable size to the Golden Horde's weakened army, a force that is heavily if not completely Cavalry, and follow it up with enough infantry to quickly assault and retake the fortress to make their whole effort for naught. If possible, chase down and annihilate the Horde's forces as they retreat, but remember that your armies are now in the scorched zone and suffering the same attrition as the Horde. Let the Horde retreat, resupply their armies, and attempt the siege again. With a few repetitions of this siege - rout - retake scenario, the Golden Horde's War Capacity should go down almost as fast as their War Exhaustion goes up. Keep your forces out of the Scorched Zone and out of combat so that you are ready to destroy their weakened forces as they retreat.
Alternatively, you can set up a trap for the Golden Horde's armies, using the Big Army AI against the Horde. Since you know that the Horde will pursue a large enough army to try and destroy it completely, station an army with enough battalions in it to be close to the (now lower) supply limit in the Scorched Zone, and use this army to fight the Horde's biggest force when they enter the Scorched Zone. Cavalry work well for this, as they move fast and can escape the Horde's slower, infantry - laden armies. You want to let your Cavalry stand for one full shock phase, then order a manual retreat to a nearby province that is still within the Scorched Zone. Hopefully, the Horde will take the bait and give chase with everything they have in hopes of catching and killing your army, incurring attrition all the way. Lead the Horde's dupes on a merry chase through the Scorched Zone, standing and fighting for one shock phase and then retreating. Try to end the chase in a province deep in your territory, with three sizeable armies in neighbouring provinces ready to pounce on the Horde's weakened army. Spring the trap by ordering all those forces to enter the territory when the Golden Horde's army arrives and starts whaling on your Cavalry. If all goes well, your fresh, rested armies should arrive within a few shock phases, reinforce the weakened Cavalry, and prove more than a match for the Golden Horde's exhausted forces, and if the dice roll in your favor, you could do significant damage to the Horde's army and force their retreat. Turn the tables on the Horde and chase their armies until you have completely annihilated them. With luck, this should destroy their armies and reduce their War Capacity significantly, leaving Muscovy a clear path to invade the Golden Horde's lands.
Be warned that if the dice do not favour you, Muscovy could still lose the battle with the Horde and a lot of troops trying to trap and kill their armies. Know when to retreat to preserve your armies from annihilation. Keeping your armies intact to turn the war on the exhausted Horde is the most important thing you can do to ensure that you come away from this war with a victory. This trap can also be used against the Ottomans or any other allies of the Horde that actually show up to fight in Muscovy.
Remember that Scorching the Earth lasts only two years, so a reapplication of the scorching process on your border provinces may be necessary if the war goes on for a long time. While this will hurt your provinces in the long run, most players would rather damage a few provinces to win a war than lose the war and lose the provinces as well.
A final word on the Scorched Earth Trap - Burn Moskova at your own risk. As your capital and most populous province, it would be damaged the worst by being scorched, and if your Capital falls to the enemy, their Warscore may rise to the point where they can offer peace that your people will beg you to accept. Refusing such 'generous' peaces causes you to lose stability, and a loss of stability on your part is deadly in a protracted war, and Muscovy wants to come away from this war with a win. Defend Moskova at all costs.
Burning the East
This strategy can be combined with the Scorched Earth Trap to gradually turn the war in your favour. It helps to have the Horde's armies tied up in the West in your scorched borders, as they will generally pull forces from all over their empire to make a mad dash for your capital. If Muscovy has seized Novgorod's Eastern provinces and colonized Berenov, it is in a position to launch attacks from Berenov and Viatka into the Golden Horde's eastern frontiers.
Build a large number of small armies - one to two battalions at most - and send them into the Golden Horde's Eastern territories. Some of these lands will be Terra Incognita for you; fear not, because while at war with an enemy who has territory that is unknown to you, you can still march forces into that Terra Incognita to explore and conquer it. It will take just as long as if you had a Conquistador leading the army to discover the province, but once you have arrived, you can put the territory under siege immediately. Forge into the enemy's territory and put as many of their cities under siege as possible. Just let the sieges run their course, and once the provinces are occupied, push on deeper into their territory until you reach their borders with the nations to the south. Of particular interest to Muscovy's future colonial expansion are the Golden Horde's furthest territories in the east - Surgut, Koda, and Tara. If Muscovy can take and hold these territories and demand them in a peace settlement from the Golden Horde, it opens the Siberian Frontier and dozens of uncolonized provinces for Muscovy to claim while denying the Golden Horde access to the same.
As your armies take the East, start pushing steadily westward, mapping the Golden Horde's eastern provinces along the way. Generally speaking, it is unlikely that the Golden Horde will spare troops to defend these provinces while it is making its big push for Moskova, but in the event that they have a force to spare, it will probably try to clean up your little armies one by one. If Muscovy can spare a reasonably sized force to watch the backs of its little besieging forces, now would be the time to send them in to rout or at least delay the Horde's forces until your armies can finish their sieges and withdraw.
Incidentally, if the Golden Horde sends small forces to try sieges in your territories in a similar fashion, a quick sweep by a moderately sized cavalry army can usually send them packing without much trouble, adding a few small victories to keep your warscore from going too far into negative territory.
Turning the Tide
If Muskovy has been patient, conserved its forces, and let the Golden Horde exhaust itself in siege after failed siege of Russian lands, the time will be ripe for the Rus to turn the tide. Watch for Rebels regularly popping up within the Golden Horde's territory, forcing the Golden Horde to put an increasing amount of effort into controlling rebellions within their own country. If Muscovy is particularly lucky, their Khan will have met an untimely demise somewhere along the line during the war and a succession crisis will have erupted within the Golden Horde's territories, forcing the Golden Horde to fight large, well - organized Pretender rebels. These forces are not your friends either, but hopefully the Golden Horde will expend the rest of its troops fighting off the rebels and be unable to make any further progress into your territory. Frequent offers of White Peace is another good indicator that the Horde is exhausted and wants out of the war. This could be done in two to five years if you are particularly successful in weakening and wiping out their forces through attrition, or it could take up to a decade or two at a stretch, but either way, Muscovy has to remain fighting fit to be able to pursue the war to its final conclusion.
To begin the process of conquering the Golden Horde's territory, start by retaking any provinces they have occupied in your territory, and then cautiously move forces into their border regions. They will not have burned their borders, because the thought that Muscovy could actually invade their lands has probably never crossed their Khan's mind. Still, keep the armies moderately sized to ward off attacks and attrition alike. If the Golden Horde can still muster enough troops to defeat your armies, withdraw into Muscovy and try to entice them into attacking you in the Scorched Zone, trying to trap and destroy their armies before proceeding with the invasion.
Once they have nothing left to oppose you with, moving into their territory should be a relatively straightforward conquest. Muscovy may have to expend some effort putting down rebellions in the occupied territories, and you may have to knock out a few Rebel armies just to take over their sieges of your enemies' lands. Conquer your way through their territory and try to raise your warscore as high as possible before concluding a peace with them. Be sure to check that they will accept a peace before you send it - you may have a large warscore but they will still not sign a treaty - this probably means they still think they have the forces to win. One way to almost guarantee that they will be willing to talk truce is to capture their Capital. Even if they still have forces out there, the loss of their capital will probably entice them to consider surrender.
When it is time to sit down at the peace table, remember that your reputation has had some time to cool off, so you can afford to demand quite a bit without being in danger of going over your reputation limit. This author advises that Muscovy demand that the Golden Horde concede their territories in the Northeast of the Golden Horde's empire, for the aforementioned reasons of opening Siberia to colonization. If Muscovy is successful in its conquest of its attacker, then you should be able to get three to five provinces from the Golden Horde. This concession of territory is a direct transfer of power from their empire to yours. You do not want the Golden Horde to offer you cash payments (they likely will have spent all their coin raising forces to fight you anyway) or to release any small nations they have absorbed within their borders. You want to destroy the Golden Horde and strengthen your country at the same time, and direct concession of territory is the best way to do that. The more territory Muscovy can take in the peace treaty, the better for Muscovy's future wars with the Tartars.
The Inter - War Years
Make no mistake - the Tartars will be back, furious that a small, weak nation like Muscovy somehow managed to defeat them last time. They will respect the Truce for exactly as long as it lasts, and will likely declare war on you again the day after it expires, and now they have casus belli since Muscovy seized territory from them last time. Hopefully, Muscovy has recovered and strengthened its position.
Keeping your new territories docile is not going to be a walk in the park either. Because these territories share neither culture nor religion with your other provinces, they are likely to be more than slightly rebellious. Consider sending missionaries to convert these provinces to the Orthodox faith. Once those missionaries succeed the province will be significantly less likely to revolt against you. Therefore, keep a fast moving force of Cavalry dedicated to fighting rebels in the new territories.
When the Tartars attack again, repeat the same tactics that defeated them last time - the fools seldom learn from their mistakes, though you might be surprised by a full - court press by the Tartars to retake their lost Eastern provinces. Fortunately for Russia, burning the East works as well as burning the West, and splitting the Tartars' forces between two fronts will hasten their exhaustion and defeat.
At each successive peace negotiation, remember to make them cede the cores you took in the last war. This will not rid Muscovy of the Golden Horde's casus belli against her as Muscovy grabs more territory with each war, but reducing the number of those core claims reduces the likelihood that a large scale Tartar revolt could restore all of the Golden Horde's territories to them. Removing their core from a province will also end end nationalism, thus completely pacifying the population of a province that was previously converted to Orthodoxy.
The End of the Golden Horde
Completely annihilating the Golden Horde will require as many as ten wars of conquest, which could take the better part of a century. After losing two or three wars that they declared on you, the Golden Horde will likely stop attacking you, sensing perhaps that the balance of power has shifted in your direction.
Now is the time for Muscovy to press the advantage, but you will still need to mind your casus belli to keep your reputation under control. Remember that the Golden Horde is a very warlike power, so a Warning will probably net you the casus belli you desire when they attack a weaker country than you. The Golden Horde also likes to Guarantee the Independence of the smaller Muslim states, like Kazakh and Nogai. Muscovy could also attack one of these countries, again making sure to have or fake a casus belli against the country guaranteed by the Golden Horde. This can also isolate the Golden Horde from its allies like the Ottoman Empire.
If Muscovy is successful in forming Russia before the Golden Horde has been completely destroyed, Russia will gain cores on some of the Golden Horde's territory. This is another advantage to demanding the Horde concede its Eastern territories first, as forming Russia would not gain cores on those territories. If the Golden Horde still holds anything south of Indakhar and north of Sarai, Russia will have all the casus belli it needs to keep attacking the Golden Horde directly until the Golden Horde is utterly destroyed. This is why it is perhaps best for Muscovy to demand the Golden Horde's far eastern provinces in the first three or four wars, trying to eliminate that strip of land that points towards Siberia and leave the Golden Horde in a roughly triangular shape, then take and demand the Horde cede the coast of the Black Sea. The 'core' of the Golden Horde's territory, the lands between Indakhar and Sarai, will become cores of Russia once Muscovy transforms itself into Russia, but those other territories will not. If you have been careful to leave the Golden Horde in possession of the heart of their territory, Muscovy will no longer have to work to obtain casus belli against the Golden Horde.
What to do with the weakened Horde at the end of their last war is up to the Player. Some players may prefer to reduce the Horde to a province or two and then force them into a humiliating vassalization (though because they are not Christian, annexing them diplomatically would be impossible), but it is also possible and perhaps desirable to remove their threat permanently. The Rus would probably settle for nothing less than the complete annihilation of the Golden Horde.
Optional Strategy: The Plight of Georgia
Directly south of the Golden Horde's capital of Sarai is the small but plucky nation of Georgia, an Orthodox kingdom distantly related to the Rus. The Georgians are surrounded on all sides by Muslim nations, and one of their provinces contains a Gold mine that its neighbors covet. Georgia knows it needs strong allies to survive, and an Alliance with Muscovy will seem to them like a chance at salvation.
Consider carefully before accepting their offer. The Georgians will be constantly attacked by Muslim nations wanting their territory, including the Timuruds, the Ottoman Empire, and the Golden Horde, and you are on the opposite side of the Golden Horde and without any means of reaching them by sea. An alliance with you might deter the AI from attacking them, but as noted above, the Golden Horde has no fear of you or any other Christian nation, and Muscovy can turn this to its advantage.
If the Golden Horde attacks Georgia and Muscovy answers the call to arms, Muscovy can actually begin the war by invading the Golden Horde's lands while the Horde invades Georgia. The Georgians might hold out for a year or two, but in the end the Golden Horde and its allies will almost certainly crush them and force them to cede a large amount of territory. The longer the Georgians hold out, the more territory Muscovy can seize from the Horde while the Golden Horde's armies are sieging Georgian territories. Georgia can use the Liberum Veto decision described below to scare up some additional troops, but even that will not do anything more than delay their inevitable defeat.
If Muscovy is successful in invading the Golden Horde's land while the Horde is crushing Georgia, Muscovy may be able to demand a few provinces and end the war with a quick win. This must be a quick victory, though the Golden Horde may try to frustrate this strategy by diverting some of their armies to fight Muscovy. Still, even if forced to withdraw, the Golden Horde will likely start by sieging its own occupied lands before attacking Muscovy proper, giving Muscovy time to rearm and attempt a more conventional war of attrition, with the occupied territory giving Muscovy a head start in ramping up the Golden Horde's War Exhaustion.
Unfortunately, it may not be the Horde that seals Georgia's fate, and Georgia most certainly will not go along with Muscovy's wars of conquest on Novgorod and the smaller principalities. The constant wars to keep Georgia safe may not be worth Muscovy's time and effort either. It may seem callous, but Muscovy might find it more prudent to abandon the Georgians to their fate and liberate them from their Muslim oppressors after the Golden Horde has been destroyed once and for all.
The Liberum Veto
- Main article: Liberum veto
IF a war is not going according to plan and Muscovy is in desperate need of reinforcements, the option to institute the decision Liberum Veto may become available.
The Liberum Veto pushes your sliders two steps towards Aristocracy and one step towards Decentralization in exchange for 10 new battalions of infantry and 5 of cavalry. Given that Muscovy starts with full Aristocracy, the former shift is meaningless unless the player has been pushing towards Plutocracy, but Decentralization will probably not be to your advantage.
There is no guarantee that these magical reinforcements will be enough to turn the situation around, but in desperate straits, this decision can be a lifesaver.
The Fall of Lithuania
If Muscovy is fortunate, Lithuania will be restrained by its Personal Union with Poland long enough for Muscovy to Subjugate Novgorod and win a few wars with the Tartars that will net Muscovy ten or twenty new provinces. As Muscovy's strength waxes, Lithuania will seem less intimidating than it seemed earlier in the century. It is more than likely that Muscovy will have gotten an event that gives it a core on Lithuania's territory (usually in relation to Lithuania's attempt to convert its Orthodox territories to Catholicism) or received a mission to Liberate Smolensk or Chernigov, promising a core on completion of the mission. Gaining a core on Smolensk or Chernigov will speed up Russian Unification considerably, so it may be worth it to pick a fight with Lithuania while you are under a truce with the Golden Horde and once Novgorod is no longer a threat. Once Poland and Lithuania are no longer joined at the hip with a Personal Union and Muscovy's armies are the same size or larger than Lithuania's forces, the time may be right to attack Lithuania and cut the strongest European power on your borders down to size.
The Lithuanian Threat
The Lithuanians will not make themselves an easy target. As soon as they are free of the Polish Union, they will try to secure alliances with other powers that will protect them, such as Sweden, which may be free of its union with Denmark by now. They may also have augmented their strength by seizing a few provinces from Riga and the Teutonic Order. If Muscovy has maintained a strong alliance with the Teutons, it can expect that at some point it will have to defend them from the Poles and Lithuanians' territorial ambitions, which may put Muscovy in a position of fighting a two front war with either Novgorod or the Golden Horde. This nightmare scenario should be avoided at all costs, even if it means letting the Lithuanians and the Poles carve up the Teutonic Order among themselves. As long as Muscovy is gaining more territory and power from its wars with the Tartars, the time will come when a war with Lithuania is possible with a strong chance of success.
If Muscovy is not lucky, the Lithuanians will get free of their Personal Union earlier in the 15th Century, when Muscovy is still fighting against Novgorod and before the Tartar threat is sufficiently contained. Muscovy could be a tempting target for the Lithuanians, particularly if Muscovy is involved in a ruinous war with the Golden Horde or Novgorod at the time, and they may attack without warning.
Guard against this possibility by keeping a weather eye on the Lithuanians. If their Personal Union with Poland ends before you are ready to fight them, shower them with gifts and tie them down with a Royal Marriage. Muscovy may not get a full alliance with the Lithuanians, but it would behoove the Czar to make it as painful as possible for the Lithuanians to betray Muscovy, because unlike the Tartars, stability penalties are something that the Lithuanians do have to consider before they grab for Muscovy's lands.
If Muscovy is feeling particularly brave, it is possible to attack Lithuania while it is still under the Personal Union with Poland. This guarantees that Muscovy will have to fight both Poland and Lithuania, but if Poland and Lithuania are exhausted after a long war with either the German states or the Teutonic Order, the timing might just be in Muscovy's favor. Fighting the Lithuanians while they are under Poland's rule does guarantee that Muscovy will not be fighting on two fronts against Lithuania and its allies, but it does mean that the armies of Poland and Lithuania will both need to be defeated to win.
Breaking the Lithuanians
Defeating Lithuania is a fairly straightforward operation. Like the Tartars, the Lithuanians will punch their way into your territory with all the force they can muster, but they tend to concentrate their forces in one or two massive armies and leave the rest of their territory lightly defended. Thwart this strategy by sending in a multi - pronged attack and put several of their provinces under siege at once. Their border with you is long and their forces cannot defend all of it all the time. Cut into their territory and occupy their provinces, pushing towards Lithuania's capital in Vilna, in the Northwest of Lithuania, just a few provinces in from their former border with Novgorod, which by now should be firmly in Muscovy's possession.
At the peace table, negotiate for either Smolensk or Chernigov, whichever was in your mission to save, but if you have multiple provinces with cores in their territory, try to leave at least one in Lithuania's possession, as hook to give you a Casus Belli to come back for more Lithuanian territory in the future. Breaking Lithuania completely should require only three or four wars, and every war after the first should be considerably easier than the last. Like the Tartars, the decision of whether to keep Lithuania as a vassal or wipe them off the map is a personal one, but absorbing Lithuania completely precludes any chance that they will not join you willingly when you demand diplomatic annexation later.
Dealing with Lithuania's Allies
If Lithuania remains under the Personal Union with Poland during your attack, it is likely that Poland will be the Alliance Leader for their side, forcing you to defeat both Poland and Lithuania to secure a peace. The strength of Poland depends on how successful they have been at conquering small states like Mazovia or the outlying territories of the Holy Roman Empire, and how much of the Teutonic Order they have or have not conquered. If Poland is still relatively close to its initial territories they will likely be the weaker half of the alliance, and being on the far side of Lithuania from you, their armies have a long way to retreat to resupply. Defeat their forces and send them packing, ambushing them along the way back to Poland if possible. They will not have the same manpower pool as Lithuania, but they will not go down without a fight.
If Lithuania is free to choose its own allies, it will generally choose to ally itself with powers close to it in size and strength, such as Sweden or Hungary, the latter of which being advantageous because a strong Hungary keeps Poland contained. Hungary, lacking military access or a direct border with you, would not be as much of a concern. Let them off with a white peace and they will generally leave Muscovy alone as it tries to conquer Lithuania, but if they can connect their lands to Muscovy somehow or get enough of a navy together to land an invasion, they may be more of a nuisance to be dealt with.
Sweden is a different matter. Though a somewhat softer military power in the medieval era and often prone to following Denmark's lead, it can and will attempt naval invasions on your coastline, or march troops into the territories you have conquered from Novgorod. Fortunately, Muscovy can push right back, and with a stronger concentration in land power than the Swedes have, Muscovy should have little trouble pushing the Swedes all the way out of Finland. Though there is a passage from Finland to Stockholm, expect the Swedes to block it with ships to prevent your passage, necessitating a long march up to the point where Finland joins the Scandinavian peninsula and down to Stockholm, taking territory all along the way. The good news is that the Swedes do not value their territory in Finland as highly, and a successful war against Sweden could see them concede the whole thing to Muscovy. Alternatively, Muscovy can make Sweden release Finland as a sovereign state, but the Finns will probably betray you on your next aggressive war, and may eventually turn on you, necessitating their conquest. If you truly wish to grant Finland its freedom, make the Swedes concede all of it to you and release it as a Vassal. It will get Kexholm in addition to all the territory you took from Sweden, though, so be warned if you want to keep all of Novgorod's lands for yourself.
If Muscovy has followed all the missions it has gotten so far, around 1500 it should be in a position to declare itself Russia. This national decision requires that you hold and have a core in Moskova, control and have a core in Novgorod, and then have either Tver or Yaroslavl and have a core in the province (you should have gained both in the wars with the Russian Principalities), have either Chernigov or Smolensk and have a Core in the province you hold (Gained in the wars with Lithuania), and have either Vladimir or Nijni - Novgorod and have a core in each (Muscovy started with both). This decision can only be made while Muscovy is at peace. As a result of this decision, your country will change to Russia, you will gain two steps of Centralization, a merchant, an increase in the base tax of a random province, a fair amount of prestige, and most importantly, cores on close to forty different provinces, some of which may still be in the possession of the Golden Horde, thus giving you the excuse to finish the conquest. Following the establishment of Russia, a new suite of national decisions will open that will enable you to establish the Russian Patriarchate and thus lower your maximum War Exhaustion, Westernize into the Latin Technology Group, and Move the Capital to St. Petersburg, transforming the province of Neva into a new, westward facing capital that all Russia can be proud of.
Congratulations on your accomplishment. You have taken a relatively minor Russian principality and built it into a mighty nation that all the world will one day come to fear. What you do from here is up to you, but you now approach Europe from a position of strength that they will be hard - pressed to match.
Be prepared for a real tough start. You start with only five provinces, which are rather poor, and lousy 60 Ducats. Even worse, one of your provinces is not connected to your capital. There are three minor states directly in your vicinity: Tver, Qasim Khanate and Yaroslavl, of which Qasim is your vassal. The only good news about this is that Qasim will help you out from time to time and you can easily ally yourself with Yaroslavl and Tver. Bad news is that Qasim plays rather aggressive later on and grabs provinces from your enemies while you are distracted with the major battles.
I also presume that you want to Form Russian Nation someday when you start playing with Muscovy. Bad news again: The provinces you need are either Yaroslav or Tver and Chernigov or Smolensk - and these two are occupied by Lithuania at the beginning of the game. You also need Novgorod, and that is the capital province of the Novgorod Merchant Republic to the north.
You are squeezed between some major powers and your small neighbours. To the west, there is Lithuania, one major enemy. They hold some of your core provinces, so you have a CB on them. Bad thing is they are allied with Poland, and that means if you go to war with them the Polish armies will also swarm you unless you manage to make a separate peace with them.
To the north, there is the Merchant’s Republic of Novgorod. You have very good relations with them, their culture is Russian, you can ally easily with them and they behave friendly towards you unless you annoy them. Bad thing is, they have Novgorod as their capital province, and you need that for the Russian unification. So there is no way that you can avoid a confrontation with them sooner or later.
To the south, Qasim, your vassal, acts as some kind of buffer against the Golden Horde and Crimea who are dangerous in the beginning of the game. It can be annoying that Qasim gets attacked whenever you have a war with these guys in the south. Any occupied territory of your vassal lowers your war score and decreases the chance for a good peace negotiation. Do not think that Qasim is a wall against the Hordes; they are rather an additional front you have to care about.
To the east, your worst enemies in the opening years wait to jump on you: Kasan, Nogai, and behind them Timurid and Sibir. Right after you start, Kasan will attack you. As they are allied with Crimea, you will most likely be attacked from both sides. And you start with only 3,000 men.
Your first steps
It might take a few tries until you find the right first steps to survive this tough first six months. I started the game four or five times and every time Kasan and Crimea attacked me after three or four months. There was only one case in which Crimea didn’t join Kasan, and unfortunately I couldn’t seize this occasion because the war with Kasan went so badly.
- Make allies with whoever is possible around you: Tver, Yaroslavl, Novgorod. Give them military access and offer them trade alliances. You will most likely not succeed in forming military alliances right away, but after a short time. Do NOT make marriages with them.
- Use your money to build at least three cavalry units.
- Take a loan. You don’t have a chance to survive if you don’t. Buy at least 11,000 men of infantry mercenaries. You don’t have the time to build them.
- Move an army of 12,000 men to the east and repel the first Kasan attack. Kasan moves in with a first 1,000 men detachment that you can instantly erase with your force. Move another 5,000 men to your southernmost province and move into Crimea’s northernmost province, hold it, repel the first Crimea attack and move south into Voronesh. By that you keep Qasim from occupying these provinces (they don’t have a fort), and you keep Crimea from attacking Qasim or your territory. By the time you have occupied Voronesh and repelled Crimea’s reinforcements, you might be able to form a separate peace with them, maybe even with getting one province or some ducats from them as tribute.
- Move into Kasan (Simbirsk) simultaneously. Now comes the tricky part: Kasan is starting to throw large armies (7.000-9.000 men) at you. You can either repel them just by holding Simbirsk, or split up your armies, try to get two or more provinces and then quickly make peace at very good terms before Kasan can conquer them back. You are most likely not able to have a years long war going on right at this time, so be happy if Kasan gives you Simbirsk and make peace with them.
After the war – general strategy
Now, after approximately one year, you can breathe a little. It might be wise to disband around 4,000-5,000 of the mercenaries. Ok, they would come in handy in your next adventures, but you have taken a loan, therefore your income should be very low and you will fall into the financial trap if you don’t get out of the deficits soon.
As you start the game with a rather low stability, leave them as they are for now. You also need all tax income you can get, so a lower stability might hurt you badly this early in the game.
Good news - you get excellent advisors right at the beginning of the game. Take one for Land technology, one for Stability and one for Government. If a good Production advisor is available, fire the Stability guy and hire this one.
Move Trade and Naval to Zero and freeze them there. The reason why I wouldn’t invest any money into trade is that Muscovy is simply not a trading nation. Your goal is to expand the Russian empire and defend yourself, and therefore you need to make many wars. You can’t avoid getting a low reputation after some decades, and at least then your merchants are screwed anyway. Also it’s too costly in the beginning of the game.
I picked Military Drill right away as first idea to have that extra cutting edge. If you plan to expand even more aggressively and faster than I did, choose Deus Vult – almost no one except your friends has the same religion than you have around you. However, that gives you lot of BB early in the game, and you don’t want the entire world hate you and declare war on you every five years early in the game, believe me.
Quest for the New World: You will need this unless you only want to conquer Europe and forget about the rest. I wouldn’t pick it as first idea though, as you might not be able to use it properly at that time. Remember, you don’t have a port early in the game, thus don’t have a fleet, and you are blocked to the unexplored east by Kasan, Sibir etc. for the first decades.
Besides Military drill, Bureaucracy makes sense as it gives you extra income which you desperately need, and it makes the unification much faster. National Banks might also be a good idea to decrease inflation (from which you might suffer faster than you think). Scientific Revolution is also a good thing.
Your army is the core of your game with Muscovy and you should give absolute focus on it. Always invest a big chunk of your money in Land technology, look out for a Land technology advisor if you don’t have one, and don’t forget to convert your troops into the best units once you got to a new Land technology level.
Rely heavily on cavalry, build up a huge cavalry army. The reason for that: You will have a vast empire with widely spread borders, and you will fight in huge provinces – therefore you need a fast force to move around. It takes units almost a year from Moscow to go to your eastern provinces after you defeated Kasan, Sibir and the likes! Also, already Stradioti cavalry can tear any huge Timurid army into pieces early in the game. With the next step, Spahi cavalry, you are almost unbeatable throughout the eastern hemisphere as long as you are not outnumbered 2:1 or your morale is low.
In the beginning, most probably only nations that are also Christian Orthodox will like you. That gives you very few possibilities. Allying yourself with one of the major powers in Europe that does not fish in your starting grounds (like France, Burgundy, Austria) might come in handy, but to get your relation with them to a point where they don’t decline would cost you too much. So, my advice is to ally with the Russian minors, Novgorod and maybe Georgia for now.
Lithuania in the west was unusually weak in my game. They had constant trouble with revolts, and their ally Poland was eaten up by Austria and Hungary early in the game, leaving them with only four provinces. So, Lithuania never declared war on me and Poland did once, with the result that I grabbed half of Lithuania’s provinces. You need a war with Lithuania in the first decades to be able to grab Smolensk from them, which you need for the Russian unification. Be ready and seize the opportunity when it comes!
The Teutonic Order might declare war on you from time to time, but is usually not a threat as they can’t raise a huge army. As long as you don’t have any access to their homeland, beat their armies and try to get a white peace or even press some ducats out of them after they lost some battles.
Kasan, Nogai, Sibir and Timurid to the east are more trouble in the early game (until 1500 or so). They have huge manpower and after your initial war with Kasan might declare war on you every five years. Hold them off your borders and grab one or two provinces each time. If you feel strong and are not distracted elsewhere, you can destroy one of them in each war, Kasan first, then the Golden Horde, then Nogai, then Sibir etc.
Timurid is unfortunately extremely stubborn with peace making. They know that they are HUGE and that you are not able to tear them apart until, let’s say 1520 or so. So the best you can get from them even with holding two or three provinces is white peace. And you even have to wait until they offer it, they won’t accept your offer.
I had eradicated Kasan and the Golden Horde from the map by 1500 and reduced Nogai to three provinces (Nogai is weak and accepts tribute payments after two or three lost battles). Same with Crimea, who become weaker and weaker, being squeezed between Lithuania, Hungary, Poland and the Ottomans. Also they are fighting numerous wars with Genua. To grab the Crimean and Genuese Black Sea provinces early might be a good idea for a sea access and a faster opportunity to build a fleet.
Try to keep your stability high, use the opportunity to grab provinces when someone declares war on you rather than declaring war yourself. You need a high stability for two reasons: Distances in your vast Russian empire are huge, so suppressing revolts becomes annoying once you’ve gotten bigger and bigger. It’s not fun at all to be at war with Nogai and Timurid and then have 12,000 men revolt in Moscow…. And you need the extra tax income. Some of your provinces are rich, many others not, as you just conquered them and most of them do not share your religion.
Yaroslavl, Tver, Quasim and Novgorod should be your friends in the first few decades. After you have grown and repelled the worst attacks, you must start to think about them as you need their provinces for the Russian unification.
Now there might be players who are lucky and patient with diplo-annexation – I’m not. First thing I did was breaking all ties with Tver, wore my relationship down and declared war on them. Be sure to break any tie you have with them to avoid an even bigger stability hit. Hopefully you did not do marriages with them, because breaking up that gives you a stability hit. If you are really mean you also break all ties with Yaroslavl except the military partnership. If you then declare war on Tver and Yaroslavl doesn’t join you, you have a CB on them!
War with these dwarves should be easy. But Novgorod is a tough one. They are widespread along your northern border, they are wealthy, and they might already have an army of 8,000-10,000 men, which combined can hurt you if you are not prepared. They are also allied with the one province minor Pskov – good thing, you can grab them when you are at war with Novgorod. Just be sure to siege them right from the start and make peace (annexation) with them before you end your war with Novgorod.
You can wear your relations with Novgorod down and wait and hope that they will declare war on you. But most likely they won’t, and if, then only when you are at war with Timurid, Nogai, etc. and are really distracted. If you want to attack them, you more or less have no choice than to accept the -3 stability loss – remember, you need Novgorod for the Russian unification!
You might not be able to reduce them to their capital in the first step. Move in small troops into their vast eastern provinces and siege them, concentrate your main army to their cores in the west. It took me three wars to eradicate Novgorod. After the first, you own some of their core provinces, and next time they should be so stupid to declare war on you themselves.
After that, you have your “core” together and can now play freely as you wish. The game still is a challenge then. You might still not have beaten up Timurid in the east, as most of their territory is Terra Incognita for you. To the south, you soon are at touch with Qara Koyunlu, the Mamluks and the Ottomans. Try to ally with Georgia, but stomp them occasionally if you don’t need them anymore.
You can explore the vast east and colonize all these cold northern territories of Siberia; you can, after annexation of Crimea, wait until you can build a fleet and colonize other parts of the world; you can move south and beat the Persians, Mamluks and later on the Ottomans; and of course you can do what real Russia never managed to achieve: control Europe entirely – I leave it up to you.
Muscovy is in a great position to form Russia as it did in real life. While it involves difficult wars with the Golden Horde and Novgorod, high manpower will help against the latter's good economy, while faster techs (because of a higher technology group and the Horde's tribal government) will beat the former on the long run. Basically, it is in a balanced position compared to its opponents. After Russian lands are conquered, it is easy to snowball into Eastern and Central Europe, and eventually fight the HRE, to move toward Scandinavia, or to control the Black Sea. However, the road to greatness includes Westernization, a difficult process.
Because of the vast territory that will be gained from Novgorod and the Golden Horde while forming Russia, it can be very difficult to protect every single province on a large border, so to have a chance to lift sieges in time, and, in case of defeat, to gain more time to reconstruct while the enemy suffers attrition, it is better to go with Defensive: after all, didn’t Russian generals throughout history use the vast Russian plains as their own natural army? At some point, Innovative -3 will be needed for the Westernization decision, but going further will make it even more difficult to convert provinces into Orthodoxy, only found in Greece outside of Russia. Moscow starts with Quantity orientation, and should continue that way to get to unbelievably high manpower reserves, enough to last for years of difficult fighting while the opponent simply can't build up his forces. Aristocracy is already at maximum, which will help building more of the very strong Eastern cavalry. Centralization starts in an acceptable position, but will need to be at -2 to Westernize. As with Brandenburg, Serfdom is a real problem, and it will be an early priority to move for Free Subjects. Obviously, there is no interest in going Naval, as a Baltic navy is mostly useless, and a Black Sea fleet is only marginally more useful for Russia, so full Land should be sought. Mercantilism is not a priority, but keeping it in the negative will help with spies and in Novgorod and Astrakhan, while Free Trade is not very useful as BB will be high.