Provence is a 3-province minor in southern France, very well suited for an Economic strategy and colonization strategy; however, in the Grand Campaign, with relatively low relations with France at the start, and with its 3 provinces being French cores, it can be very hard to avoid a war with France and not lose straight from the beginning. Players may need to start several games with Provence before getting a decent beginning with some chance of survival.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||3|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||Cosmopolitaine|
At the start of the Grand Campaign, you are the minor partner in a Personal Union with Naples. If you start a little bit later than the Grand Campaign, on November the 1st, this Personal Union has been dissolved, allowing you to forge an alliance from the start with Burgundy, Castille and Savoy, making your survival against France much easier. But assuming you play the Grand Campaign, you don't have this luxury until you broke free from Naples.
Unfortunately, Naples generally declares war early on against Epirus, and France takes the opportunity to declare war on you most of the time. Being no match for it, you are quickly occupied, and the AI is too eager to cede Provence to France in a peace deal. This is were you want to restart your game (Again !) until this common scenario does not happen, as a landlocked Provence loses all its advantages.
No matter if this nightmare start will happen or not, here are the very first things to do as Provence anyway:
- Send your 3 merchants to Lübeck or Liguria straight away
- Move your policy sliders towards free trade (you want to send your merchants first because one of the negative effect of this move is to lose 3 merchants)
- Hire your advisor(s)
Whilst a little undesirable, you may decide to sell your two landlocked provinces to France right at the beginning. This option confers two massive benefits. the first is that it vastly reduces the chances of an early war with France, which is something Provence should make every effort to avoid. The second benefit is that France is very wealthy and willing to buy these two provinces at very high prices, but be sure to leave a bit of time between the two sales, so as to maximize prices. Now, with Provence reasonably safe from France, your focus should shift to trade, in order to mint the funds needed for early and swift colonial expansion.
Keep your stability at 3 at all time (I.e. stop investing in anything but stability if you go under 3), this is very important for your merchants. Then invest in the Trade and Government technology. As soon as you can have your first National Idea, choose National Bank, and mint as much as you can without inflation (a Master of Mint as an advisor will help a lot). Some players prefer to not take National Bank, taking a trade related national idea instead or waiting to take Quest for the New World as a first idea, and rely on Masters of the Mind for the majority of the game. You want to be able to send as many merchants as possible to become very wealthy. Also, switch immediately to invest in Trade only, to maximize your merchants' income, and to be the first to reach Trade level 7 and the Quest for the New World National Idea.
Diplomacy wise, you may survive the French onslaught if France is busy otherwise, and if the Emperor actually helps you. When that happens, try to get out of the Personal Union as quickly as possible and forge alliances with powerful French neighbors such as Burgundy. If you get embroiled in wars, you may have to mint a lot, so watch your inflation.
If you survive until this point (you may have to lose Anjou and/or Maine in the process), start a colonization strategy. You want to grab all the islands which will help you reach America first: Azores, Madeira, Canarias, Cap Verde. You may have to compete with Portugal later on, but if only the two of you can reach the Caribbeans, you are well placed to become a colonial giant. Grab the best provinces first, and you should keep on top of the world's best revenues.
From there, the game is very open. Being part of the HRE, you can decide to get interested in its politics (mission about having an elector voting for you are very common). You may want to humble France once and for all and take advantage of all these rich Cosmopolitaine culture provinces that you can tolerate. You can stick to colonization only and move your capital to the New World later on. The possibilities are multiple and you can play with every features of the game.