|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Number of provinces||1|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Alsace is one of the hardest countries to play in the Holy Roman Empire. One, you're a theocracy, and you'll be a theocracy for a long while. Two, you have only one province. Three, France can and will go to your doorstep and try to annex you. But on the bright side, your capital province isn't too shabby; wine, a nice high tax and manpower.
But no fear, it is possible to "win" with Alsace, but doing so will take a long time and might be painful.
First Hundred Years (1399 - 1500)
The situation you start in is bleak. I recommend not taking any advisors, as they cost money, and in the beginning you can't afford to lose money. The first thing you should do is to declare war on Baden, your green neighbor. It may seem crazy (HRE Bohemia and the fact that Baden has double the provinces of you), but, if you can do it right, you can get Breisgau, vassalize Baden, get some cash from them and not get screwed over by Bohemia. Just hope that Bohemia will send its armies to fight Burgundy (who always seem to declare war on Hainaut) and their king will die thus losing their military bonuses. That would be the optimal start. After the 10-year grace period, diplo-annex Baden. (Here hiring a short-term Ambassador advisor to improve diplomatic skill is worth the money). Try to ally with strong countries; Castille, Bohemia (if they are still going strong), Venice (if they start romping over Italy) and even Denmark (as the case in my game, they spread into northern Germany) in hopes to ward off French incursions.
You've now become the power in southwestern Germany. Now, now can start to guarantee nearby states (Hesse, Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Palatinate, Trier, etc.) and hope you can vassalize and steal their provinces. Also, during this time, focus on your trade. Most of your research should go into trade, government and land. Trading will be your major source of income for much of the game. Good early National Ideas could be National Bank, Shrewd Commerce Practice and National Trade Policy. It also wouldn't hurt if you built a CoT in Elsass, as it will increase manpower, tax and merchants.
You should be moving your sliders to:
- Centralization (inflation reduction, tax and trade benefits)
- Free subjects (cheaper techs)
- Free trade (to help your merchants)
- Land (army morale, shocking lack of a navy)
- For the Plutocracy/Aristocracy slider, I imagine you can move either way, Pluto for merchants and spies, Aristo for better generals and cheaper cavalry.
- Move toward Innovative after you converted most of your provinces to Reformed.
- As for Off/Def, I keep my slider at one or two notches def the entire game. Later on, when forts get expensive (Levels 4, 5, 6) you can get them for free!
By the end of the first hundred years, you should have anywhere between 4 - 7 provinces across southern Germany.
The Next Hundred Years (1500 - 1600)
This period is the tipping point for Alsace. Once you're up to around 7 provinces, Germany will start falling into your hands. By 1600 you should be on the high road to German unification. Early during this block, the Reformation should occur. Hopefully, one of your neighbors becomes Reformed. Then the religion will spread into your empire, convert. The production and tax benefits you get with Lutheranism outweighs any benefit the Catholics give. Since you are a Theocracy, your missionaries will have an easier time spreading the faith around. This is also a good time to start gobbling up some single province minors (e.g. Ansbach, Mainz, etc.).
Another problem will probably arise, the rise of powerful Catholic countries that will destroy you. Try to get military access both ways to minimize the threat of them invading you (-6 stability hit just from those alone). Some countries to look out for:
- France (duh)
- Venice (if they unify Italy)
- Denmark (esp. if they inherit Norway and/or Sweden and start going into northern Germany)
- Bohemia / Austria (one tends to kill the other and get very powerful later on)
Becoming a World Power (1600 - 1700)
During this period is one of the most riskiest moves that Alsace has to make; switching from Theocracy to a monarchy. For a theocracy there is one way out; to wait until Gov Tech 27 to go into an Absolute Monarchy. This move will cost you a whopping 10 stability points. So make sure you aren't doing this with somebody breathing own your neck. From there you can go into a Despotic Monarchy (yes, I said a Despotic Monarchy) and then go into an Administrative Monarchy. Both of these will cost only one stability point each. (See Forms of Government for more governments you can switch into from there.)
Your next focus is to start shooting down the bigger countries. First off, you should start gobbling up the Baltic coast states to gain sea access. Then, attack Denmark and get control of Jutland and thus essentially neutralizing them. Then go into Italy, get the nice valuable provinces there. From here you can easily do German Unification.
Dealing with France
You biggest threat is from France, and in IN, France has been supercharged and is likely to expand into the Low Countries, Italy and Spain.
How to defeat France in a War: (note: this may not work depending on situation. This is also very idealistic...)
- Unleash your spies. Sow discontent to get some rebel armies to distract their armies. Then infiltrate administration to lift fog-o-war.
- Declare war. In a perfect world, you would have Spain (or Castille or Aragon) as an ally. This makes it much easier as it will create a two front war that France has to fight. And from what I can tell, the AI are terrible at fighting multiple enemies. Hopefully, you are a tech level or two above France, so you can fight their Mauricians with your Gustavians. I work with three or four 20k stacks of ground and mounted troops.In the beginning, locate the closest stacks of death and fight it, and continue chasing it into the ground. Then use 10k stacks of ground troops to charge their forts. Usually, Spain will back out of the war after a year or two. But if you killed half of their army, you can kill the other half. Then just use your cavalry to wipe up the new regiments (this will seriously drive up their war weariness -> longer recruit times).
- Sign peace. What you in this peace is to release some Dutch or Italian or even some French minor states (to make them lose as much provinces as possible). Depending on your difficulty level, some funny things can happen to France. Once, after I beat them, their country imploded; zealots, nationalists and other rebel armies galore (Salzburg ended up controlling a third of France... (Defender of the Faith...))! But neutralizing France could take another war.
End of the game (1700 - 1815)
You are now the largest and strongest country on mainland Europe. Feel free to start imperializing or colonizing (but the latter will take longer as you need a core on a port to start colonizing). Get India, Java, or China for fun. Annihilate the Turks. Unleash the Revolution. The choice is yours...