Content of the article: "How I Finally Beat Empire With The Dutch On Very Hard"
Been trying to do this for years. Finally had time. Maybe restarted the campaign two or three times.
The hardest thing about being the Dutch is that your income really depends on trade. If your home port is attacked or blocked, you're immediately bankrupt.
The second hardest thing is that no matter who is doing well in Europe, they almost always will all want to invade the Netherlands at some point. Years ago when first trying the Dutch, I'd have turn after turn of just fighting people off the walls of my fort in the Netherlands. Using firelock townspeople against line infantry. It wasn't very fun.
Other than that, the Dutch campaign is really fun because of the naval emphasis in the trade theatres, and also island hopping and expanding in the Caribbean. I'd like to say the Ceylon part is cool because you can invade India immediately, but it's not so easy.
Playing as the Dutch, I always wanted to play it the "Dutch" way. I didn't want to take over France and Spain. I didn't want to just steamroll into a bunch of territories. I wanted to develop my colonies, have a couple front lines, and develop trade and my navies. It's hard to do.
When I finally won, here's what I did:
- Break the alliance with Austria (in another game I actually marched immediately to Prussia, seized brandenburg, and gave it to Austria. this doesn't work out)
- Forgo technology on the basis that "once I conquer India I can have so many school" (didn't work out that way). Use gentlemen to steal tech (works great). What you really need are square formation and bayonets, then canister shot. The rest isn't as important.
- Do try to monopolize the trade theatres. It's worth the money to buy the Fluyts and forgo other expenditures.
- Bring my fleets to the Netherlands to defend it.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: be proactive on the battlefield. There's a huge advantage in forcing Spain, for example, to come to you and defeating them on the walls of your fort. However, with square formation you can make short work of their large early army of mostly cavalry. They also are mostly militia, and canister shot can take care of that.
- Be proactive against the French armies in Flanders. France will come too, and have much tougher armies than Spain, but they'll be divided at first so attack them before they consolidate. It's tough, but make a better outcome than if you wait to fight on the walls of your fort. Especially earlier on before France builds up bigger armies.
- Seize Alsace-Lorraine. I then gifted it to my ally Westphalia. I now don't have to defend it, but France can't use it to keep attacking Flanders. Allying with Hannover and Westphalia helps a lot because they will attack you if they build large armies and aren't at war with their other neighbors.
- Here's the lynchpin of why I won this campaign, and I'm not super proud of it, but it worked. I had enough of an army (my trade wealth let me afford to replenish them quickly) to quickly move on Paris from Flanders after the Alsace-Lorraine maneuver. After taking Paris, I gifted France to Great Britain. Then, I stuck around to defend it for a couple turns. From this point on, I was never threatened from the West again.
- Kick Sweden out of Germany. For some reason Sweden invades Germany in this mode. In other play throughs they controlled all of West Germany, and became a big problem. I thought it was great that they were a buffer against Poland and Prussia (Poland is a huge problem for some reason), however, Sweden just becomes unmanageably annoying. So, once I had the strength I had to kick Sweden out of Hannover and I gave the region to maybe Prussia. Later, I returned Denmark to Denmark (living out on Iceland). This contained Sweden well. With this done, Prussia, Poland and Austria weirdly balance each other out. I say weirdly because I get a Prussia that's stuck in Bavaria and sometimes conquers Vienna. Austria ends up with Brandenburg etc. Either way, my East is secure.
- Conquer New Andalusia early. It's a good province. It's annoying to defend from Spain, but it can be done. Honestly, I was super annoyed with the game because I built a fort in the woods and Spain simply besieged it with one troop, marched another past, then ended the siege. They simply just went past my fort. What's the point of a fort then? Dumb.
- Fluyts v. Galleons. A Fluyt can beat a galleon 1v1. You have to sail downwind and use chain shot to take out its sails. I always had a Fluyt lying around and if Spain ever tried to sail a galleon by itself I'd jump on it. If you stick around until the ship fully surrenders, you can capture it. I ended up with a fleet of a half dozen galleons this way.
- In Very Hard, twice I've seen Maratha Confederacy show up to attack me outside of India by around 1715. Here, they attacked Curacao. I was not prepared. However, their fleet was garbage so I sunk it and that trapped their army on Curacao. Once the Spanish armies invading New Andalusia were stopped, I could build an army to take curacao.
- Invading India is hard. I think it might be easier when the Mughals are more powerful, if you do it earlier on. Sadly, I waited because I didn't want to get warmonger penalties (don't know if it mattered). The Mughals were defeated so the Maratha were pretty powerful. I learned that you need two full armies at a minimum to invade Carnatica. There's a fort next to the town, so that helps.
- The next 50 years were spent conquering India. It was a slog. I just kept producing armies as fast as possible in Ceylon, aiming to have 2-3 full size armies in Carnatica. When I could spare troops, I took the neglected Calcutta, which slowly became a base to eventually go for Hindustan and come South to support things in central India. The priority at the time was to simply hold the region. Mysore gets involved early on and is a pain. Once you have about four armies you can take it, then there will be an army to spare to take Goa. After this point I had to just hold back the Marathan waves. I won't lie, I fought probably 5-10 one hour long sieges where I won having 5 units with fewer than 30 men in them. Canister shot, grenediers, good geometry, dealing with the enemy sometimes being smart enough not to get shredded. Often I'd see kill counts where the enemy had 5x the number of dead. The advantage of Goa is that is took resources from defending Hyderabad, which my armies in Carnatica, once replenished, could take. That was the "dam breaking", changing the dynamic which had lasted many turns.
- I sailed an army to Ahmedabad and held it, building up a second army there. Now I could take poorly defended provinces with small armies just to disrupt the Maratha budget. Sometimes I was able to actually hold these. Rebels taking them over was fine, so I relied on that a lot. I eventually had replenished armies in Goa and Hyderabad who could take Bjapur. Great. Now the Maratha were oddly concentrated in a worthless Northern province, but my army in Ahmedabad wasn't big enough to take them out. I sent a small army North and took Kashmir, by which time a second army from Hindustan took Lahore. Now my big armies finally could take the remaining Marathan stronghold. It was just cleanup after that.
- The Maratha often tried to sail armies to Ceylon, but what's hilarious is that I had a single galleon captured from Spain in the East Indies which I used to sink their fleets again and again. This process gained me a lot of spare Sloops and Brigs, so I used these to blockade all of the Marathan ports. Towards the end, Maratha was finally producing fourth and fifth rates, and it was getting tough to contain their navy easily. So, I hid my navy in Ceylon and ignored the naval front as I was getting close to conquering the entire faction, which would instantly erase all their boats.
- During the very long India campaign, I found myself deciding to conquer the Americas. Spain was very persistent, so the army I created to defend New Andalusia was used to march North. Hispaniola was an easy target for my Maratha-in-curacao busting army. Mexico wasn't well defended so I conquered that from Hispaniola. There were many large Spanish armies in the Yucatan marching South, but Mexico is good at troop production so I was able to meet these armies from both sides and that was that. I waited a long time to expand in the Americas, but Spain more or less gave me no choice.
- In Europe, Great Britain and Spain would fight over Paris. GB had taken Alsace-Lorraine and Bavaria and was fighting Prussia as Austria's ally. No one was attacking Flanders or the Netherlands at all. Beyond the occasional Swedish fleet, no one was attacking trade up there. It was glorious.
- New York. One of the toughest and weirdest things about the Dutch campaign is the requirement to own New York. It's controlled by GB, who is your only consistent ally, and a very important one at that. Beating the Dutch campaign on Hard once, I traded half of India to GB for New York. I never have chosen to fight them for it. Yet in this campaign something miraculous happened. The French had invaded and conquered New York. Then, as my bored European army marched through British France to conquer France's last European holdout in Savoy, I found out that this actually kills France as a faction. France's American territories became the Iroquois, rebels, the Quebecois and New York alone became the United States. Well, the United States was not at war with Britain, so GB did not get to take New York back from the French. I sailed my Curacao army (which would later take Mexico) up to New York, declared war on the poor Yanks, and restored New Amsterdam to its proper glory.
- Before the last 20 years of the game were through, I'd hit all the victory conditions. Still, I consolidated India, dealt with a very actually annoying Pueblo nations problem, then maxed out my trading spots and technologies. My budget was now 10,000+ gold, then 20k, 40k. So, I began upgrading everything. 10,000 gold trading ports on tiny Caribbean islands and so forth. I was late to get the steam engine, but was already rich, so upgrading dozens of factories (I controlled a lot of land) in just a couple of turns was amazing and made me stupid rich.
- The Ottomans, controlling land from Jerusalem to Kabul, declared war on me. They sunk an entire trading fleet and lost me a trading spot (some neutral minor faction was waiting in the wings to seize it as they do. I marched two and a half armies up through Persia. I allowed the lands to fall to rebels, creating the Afghanistan and Persia factions, who quickly accepted peace with me – especially after the very expensive state gifts I gave them.
- The Mamelukes were around here, in Baghdad and Cairo, so I gave them Palestine and Syria. Persia stupidly fell to Russia even though I gave them a ton of gold.
- Austria bizarrely offered me Libya, which I kept in order to have a naval base in the Med. I marched my Indian armies here. They also gave me military access for some reason. Maybe it was a hint. Well, took two large armies that were very bored in Rhineland, and marched them through Austria to Serbia.
- Oh, yeah I took Rhineland. Poland was at war with me since the beginning of the game, but was always contained. As Prussia declined thanks to Britain invading Hannover and brandenburg (Britain also took over all of Italy, though Spain – now a regional power controlling maybe Morrocco and that's it – kept reliably sending armies into France to cause problems), Poland stepped in. Weirdly, though the Swedish Empire was beaten back by Russia, Sweden controlled the province of Poland itself for almost 50 years. Poland-Lithuania controlled the lands East of this, but swept around to take Silesia. Silesia was constantly changing hands between Poland, Austria and Prussia. And Britain was now involved. Weird. Well, Poland slipped through to Rhineland and took it. Not acceptable. I had to take it to keep them out, and the weird situation meant I didn't want to give it away to anyone else. Plus, I had no trouble holding it now.
- So, my armies arrived in Serbia and beat back the Ottomans. I gave the provinces to Austria, which was now this giant blob of Southeastern Europe. Greece, the faction, had emerged. So I gave them Istanbul. But then stupid Austria destroyed them. In the end, the Ottomans controlled only Anatolia and Sparta. I think we made peace, but I can't remember and it wouldn't matter.
- I marched my Libyan armies to Tunis, which was controlled by Spain and lo and behold they had been marching large armies through Venice-controlled Algiers to fight me in Libya. I gave Libya to the Maltese, then took Sardinia from the Spanish along with Tunis and gave them to Genoa, who was now sadly isolated to Corsica.
- At Sardinia I encountered a very large fleet of galleons that I recall had given me a lot of trouble for almost 100 years. So, I sailed in my dozen first and second rates and finally sunk the bastards. I sailed my Indian armies home to the Netherlands and had a "disbanding ceremony" to honor their triumphs. I think the general was the same who first invaded Carnatica, so he must have been 70.
- Of course, at some point I took Cuba. No big deal. Mostly annoying because the army was needed to fight annoying Peublo people. At some point I also plopped a very powerful army including my quota of Swiss Infantry in New York. Just in case.
- 1799 came and I won. I played 15 more years just to fully upgrade everything and so forth. Bought all the "honor" units for the Dutch to defend Amsterdam from no one.
- I raised taxes to I guess medium for one turn and my income was 100,000+. That's the screenshot.
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