|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||None|
Savoy is a minor Northern Italian duchy with 3 provinces: the rich and coveted Savoy, a capital in Torino, and the port of Nice. As the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont, it ended up uniting Italy in the 1860s: its ruler probably will want to repeat this feat, but within the game's timeline.
West is the unstoppable France, East, the house of Visconti rules on Milan, the rising Italian power in 1399, and south is controlled by a prime medieval naval power, Genoa. Savoy must expand its territory in the Mediterranean to be able to fight its powerful neighbours, and the AI is poor at doing so. It is not surprising to that it has a slight to heavy tendency to be annexed by France early on. To avoid this fate, building at least a small galley fleet and a decent transport fleet will be necessary within a short time frame, and thereafter, a more impressive land power, financed by rising to a trading power.
- Manpower rich provinces with valuable resources.
- Small, but still reasonable starting army as a basis for early wars.
- Access to a port.
- No meaningful starting fleet.
- Nigh-impossible to gain contiguous territory in the near future.
- One of the less obvious countries for Italian unification.
- Small starting treasury and income.
Savoy starts with a 2000 man strong infantry force. For now, building a large land force is useless, because they cannot be used for any useful purpose without a fleet, and right now, this "fleet" would be easily defeated by that of Urbino. Money is short, very much so, which means building a carrack means waiting about 5 years for the money. Milan starts with 3 galleys, which must be destroyed. The starting target will be 4 galleys, more if Milan builds others, and maybe a few more cogs if needed. Only then will troops be needed. And yes, that means 3-4 times your naval force limits to start with, but since when is naval maintenance a real concern anyway?
To build those ships, the very small census tax will not be sufficient: a healthy amount of minting and trading will be necessary. But as mere survival is a very, very high priority with Savoy, all out trading, as possible with Merchant Republics or small, but safely positioned minors is not a possibility right now. And survival depends on more provinces in order to annex Lombardy some day. To give some help, maintenance must be cut as low as thought safe, and major, unwanted wars avoided at all cost, at least until a few galleys have been built.
At the beginning, Savoy cannot really bully any weaker nation by itself. Sardinia is nearby and weak, but Aragon, the foremost power in the Western Mediterranean, has a core and a mission on it. Modena is in a Personal Union with Ferrara, and belongs to the HRE, just as its major partner. Urbino is often guaranteed by half of Italy, and actually has a fleet, but is still a possible target. The Papal States and Sicily's navy will be out of reach for decades at this rhythm. Cyprus is always guaranteed by France. Other weak targets are mostly dirt poor, wrong culture provinces, out of the range of your navy, and coveted by stronger opponents. An alliance is necessary.
Genoa is a strong partner for the conquest of overseas possessions, like Romagna, or even Constantinople. Milan also is a good prospect, because it would be helpful in a war against Genoa by attacking Liguria while Savoyard troops Corsica, possibly after the Repbublic has lost its Crimean colonies. However, they are not long term relationships, and those “friends” are needed only to allow the reaching of precise goals. They ‘‘are’’ Savoy’s main rivals, after all. Venice could be a more durable relationship, but it has a tendency to overpower Milan when the latter loses a few provinces, and often remains a naval power for most of the game, so it doesn't need anybody's help at being bothering some day in the future. If all fails, less powerful naval powers should still be available, like the Pope, Sicily or even Aquilea, which starts with a carrack and a few galleys, and is not the most popular ally of other nations. Once this is done, a target must be chosen. Romagna from the Papal States is a good option, however, access to it will be difficult, and a link to Torino will be difficult to create, as it only has access to the Adriatic. Other opponents can be available, depending on diplomatic networks being formed. With Romagna, it is also possible to annex Tuscany, a target with twice the base tax
With the addition of a strong province, the duchy’s position is much more comfortable. Monthly income is better, even though non-cores do not help much the census tax. A navy is more needed than is already was, but force limits are higher, though not by much, as the new territory is not connected. If Romagna and Firenze, or any other significant provinces, are controlled by the duchy, and with a military, both on the sea and on the battlefield, it is probably now possible to face the nation which is possibly the strongest in the area at game start: Milan.
War with Milan
The war should go swiftly: the Milanese army should be split between Lombardy and Tuscany, so each group can be defeated piecemeal. After victory is achieved, the most important provinces to ask for are Parma, Siena and Pisa, as they offer the possibility for Milan to build a (new) navy. Because Milan has a tendency not to be liked, it is possible that Venice will attack during the truce, which would ease annexion.
After Milan is defeated, the road to the unification of Italy is open, and from there, hegemony in the Mediterranean should be possible. All that is needed is a larger fleet. More money should be available for trade, too.
Savoy is very similar to Milan, and in many respects their strategy will overlap. Geographically, Savoy is a bit off-centered, but westward expansion, through military or diplomacy, is its only viable option. It would be nice if it could count on France for support, but it's quite unlikely. Conversely, thanks also to its decent prestige, its probable that some allegiances will be offered from Italy. Take the usual collection: Milan, Modena, Mantua, Urbino and, if they happen to be willing, the Papal States and Genoa. That done, you should start building an army worth of that name to pursue your goals. In the meanwhile, use your diplomats to give warnings and guarantees along the peninsula. Getting a chance to fight one of the other iItalian neighbours seem unlikely at first, but someone will do the first step, usually Genoa or Tuscany. Also, unloyal allies are quite welcome, especially Urbino and the Pope. Keep fighting gaining provinces, vassalising and/or annexing, depending on your game style and your badboy rating.
- Provence = France, so leave it be.
- Avignon is a lvl. 3 fort belonging to the Papal State, so make sure you have military access through France/Provence and some spare time; there you'll also find a Tax Assessor for your own gain.