|Orientation||Jack of All Trades, Military/Religious Expansion|
|Enemies||Ottoman Empire; Anyone else who borders your realm|
|Allies||Trebizond in Vanilla, Morea in AGCEEP|
The Early Game: 1419-1550
The Wars of Reconquest
The First Ottoman War
The Byzantine Empire of 1419 is an oxymoron, by that I mean it isn't an empire. It controls only the provinces of Thrace and Morea (In the AGCEEP, Morea is a vassal, making Byzantium a one-province minor), and has barely an army to speak of. However, a skilled player can bring this great nation back from the brink and back on to the world stage very quickly, if said player takes advantage of the early game situation as much as possible. In order to resurrect this empire at death's door, we must strike a quick, decisive, and most importantly early blow to the Turkish scourge, the Ottoman Empire. Let us evaluate the situation.
You have twenty units, all in Thrace (where else?). The Ottoman Empire, on the other hand, has sixty units. The difference is, however, that forty of these units are in Anatolia, the remaining twenty in Europe. Macedonia to be precise. Use every ducat you have and create a mostly, if not entirely, Cavalry army. Try to avoid taking a loan, but do so if you must. Because of your situation, I say it's best not to worry about inflation, and set your treasury slider to half-way, or even maximum.
Before you declare war on the Ottomans, and after you've drained your treasury to create that army I was talking about, split your navy. Move half to the Bosporus, and half to the Aegean. This will prevent the huge two-thirds of the Ottomans' army from reinforcing the puny one-third. Not only that, but you should have exponentially more cavalry than that puny force in Macedonia. Since Maceonia is a plains province, and having more cavalry offers a huge bonus, the ensuing battle should be easy.
As the years go by, make sure to keep reinforcing your army, and try your best to maintain naval superiority in the Aegean and Bosporus. With the Ottomans' European holdings isolated, the pickings are easy. Take all European provinces and wait it out for a bit. Usually the Ottomans will offer peace, and the terms are very good. Sometimes, (though don't count on this) they will offer you ALL European holdings. Dobrudja, Rumelia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, everything. But if they don't, they will almost always offer you two provinces.
But let the buyer beware! If they do not offer Macedonia, DO NOT accept the offer. Why is this? Because Macedonia has so much manpower and a great tax value. It is imperative that you conquer Macedonia in the first war. Try to get more, but don't be too greedy if they keep turning you down. Try to get Rumelia as well, for it isolates Bulgaria for the next war. (Yes, there will be more wars. The fighting won't stop until all your enemies have been laid low.)
The Second Ottoman War
In the five years of the truce, you will find that the Ottomans are still relatively the same strength, usually a little weaker because they've lost so many European possessions. But, you are stronger, and have more manpower, a greater income, etc. Hopefully you didn't take out a loan, but if you did, make sure you pay that off. Units set? Finances in order? Good. Now, time for OW2 (Ottoman War 2).
Use, for the most part, the same strategy. The European holdings are isolated, there should only be one or two. Finish them off, blocking the Bosporus and Aegean the whole time. (Your navy is still going strong, right?) Now we begin to deviate from the original plans followed in the first war and the first phase of this war. It's time for what I lovingly call, Phase II.
What is Phase II? It's an entirely new strategy from what you have been using previously (Phase I). That is, cutting-off Europe from Anatolia and hoping for the best. Now you want to lure the Ottomans from their perch (Turkey). How will you do that? First, move about 80% of your army to Bulgaria, and the rest to Thrace. Then, take your navy from the Aegean, and use it to reinforce your position in the Bosporus. We have set the trap, and because the AI is idiotic, it will most certainly take the bait.
The Ottomans almost 100% of the time will send just about all their army to Macedonia, thinking they're about to turn the tide. Silly Ottomans, Europe is for Byzantines! At the exact moment they land in Macedonia, take half your navy and put it back in the Aegean. You have cut off a massive chunk from the Turkish horde! Now, take your army, (positioned in Bulgaria and Thrace) and launch a two-pronged attack. You most certainly will have a cavalry advantage, but the outcome of the battle is by no means a forgone conclusion. It may take you one or two tries. Either way, the outcome is the same: A lot of dead Turks.
No time to admire your acheivements, it's time to bring the war to the Ottomans' home front! With a signifigant portion of their army gone, you can now land in Smyrna. I wouldn't try Anatolia just yet, but if you're daring give it a shot. (But don't blame this guide if it goes wrong!). Before you do this, however, rebuild your army.
With a powerful and rebuilt army, wait in Macedonia. When the Ottomans have a small (or even better, non-existant) garrison in Smyrna, that is the time to strike! Land in Smyrna, and begin the siege. Do not be discouraged should you fail the first time. Keep trying. When Smyrna falls, the real fun begins. On to Bursa (Anatolia), the capital of your enemy.
With your army rebuilt, I'd say that the siege of Bursa is the last major siege you will ever have to undertake against the Ottomans, at least for this war. When Anatolia is yours, the Ottomans shall give you just about anything, even some much-needed ducats. I would suggest grabbing whatever you can, but you must receive Smyrna, to make the final war (or two) with the Turks alot easier (no more channel-assault coordinating. Hooray!).
I shall not bother to publish a guide for the last few Ottoman Wars because it is basic warfare. After you have annexed them, you can now turn to other threats.
The First Venetian War
(Space reserved for orignal author)
War with Venice
Your first objective is to reclaim Ionian Islands and Crete : Crete is the key to control the easter Mediterrenean sea and to invade Egypt later on.
First, you need an alliance with Hungary; you need Venice to use its military polential on as many fronts as possible. Make sure that you have an access to Venitian possessions in the Balkans, too. Build a garnison on the frontier in a mountainous region (Ragusa is a good example), to stop any future attack while you are busy elsewhere during the first months of the war. Next, build some troops (~10) in Macedonia. Put ~20 units on your boats and place them next to Crete. Make sure that there is no Venitian fleet in the area, because you don't stand a chance against them on the sea.
As always, the best moment to attack your opponent is when they have been at war for several months (or better, years) : their military potential and the finances are not as high as it should, and the country has war exaustion.
Declare war on Venice and drag along Hungary. Make your troops land in Crete, and then make your fleet immediately fall back in a friendly port (Morea). Simultanously, attack the Ionian islands from Macedonia.
If you are playing before 1453, you should still have some great leaders and these battles should be easy. When you have won, position 15 troops in Crete to repel any attack there. Use the rest of your army to attack the Balkan coast. Let the war continue till Venice agree to give you at the very last Crete and Ionian islands, but you can negotiate for more if you think you can manage it rebellion-wise.
Retaking Egypt from the Mameluks
Most of the time the Mameluks keep 60 troops in Cairo, so trying another D-Day from Crete can be perillous if they are not engaged in a war on another front at the moment.
While you were busy retaking Egypt, the Ak Koyunlu have probably make your job easier unifying Asia Minor. Now that the fruit is ripe all you have to do is steal it from their hungry hands.
Byzantium in AGCEEP (v 1.37)
AGCEEP is a user-made modification, and was/is not created/endorsed/supported by Paradox or its wonderful programmers. That said, I don't think they have a problem with it either, or they would have shut us down and hunted us all down like dogs years ago. AGCEEP is designed to provide extra events, extra countries, and overall, a more complicated/enriching EUII experience. AGCEEP Byzantium features many dozens of new events designed to "simulate" a Byzantine Empire that manages to overthrow the Ottoman Turks and begins to retake its former core provinces. As such, I think it is the roXXorZ!! :D
I've been playing EUII for about 3-4 years now, and I'd estimate that nearly half of all the campaigns I've played have been as the Byzantines. I took to EEP and later AGCEEP like a fish to water, and find it hard to play as any other country for too long, as my beloved Byzantines are never able to survive on their own. Needless to say, I consider myself quite skilled at restoring the Byzantine Empire quickly, cheaply, and almost easily in SP. Granted, SP is "easy mode" compared to MP, but if you're reading this, you're most likely a beginner or an intermediate player looking for tips on helping a very special one-province minor to withstand the assault of one of the most powerful early countries in the game. You might also be looking forward to learning how to get revenge on all of the treacherous neighbors who have been stabbing you in the back for centuries, and restoring a once glorious Empire at their expense. Well, look no further! I can help you. Read on.
This is very, VERY important for any AGCEEP Byzantium game. Make absolutely, positively sure that you have the "Fantasy Events" turned on in the Options window on the Main Menu. If these events are not on, you'll miss out on 200 years of Imperial Restoration events. Even I forget to turn these on from time to time, and nothing frustrates me more than that.
Getting Started - The Aegean and Bulgaria
(NOTE: Some of my tactics differ from the advice given above, but not terribly greatly. I have a more cautious passive-aggressive approach to the first war, but whatever gets you there is just fine. The only really important differences in Vanilla and AGCEEP are that in the latter, the Turks start with a slightly smaller army, and Smyrna instead starts off under the control of Ghazi.)
I believe that a country like Byzantium, with limited manpower and a lot of plains provinces to fight in, should only build cavalry armies during the first few decades of the game. I also recommend that a Byzantine player focus their DP settings first on going heavily Land, to reduce their army costs. Since Byzantium also starts with a high Aristocracy setting, is unlikely to go heavily naval, and will have to expand to survive, keeping Aristocracy at full will be very beneficial. In addition to helping to keep Badboy down (though the DIP Rating bonus), it will greatly reduce the cost of cavalry. With Land and Aristocracy set at max and with a greater focus on Quantity than Quality, cavalry costs could easily be as low at 6 or 7 ducats per 1000. This cavalry focus is central to my tactics, as it assumes that the player would control only one or two small, but potentially very potent armies at the start, and that they will do all in their power to force battle in plains (or desert) provinces. This is a relatively new tactic for me, and I have had success with more balance armies in the past, but I believe that all-cavalry armies are much better overall for an early Byzantine player.
I, for one, have managed to use this tactic to quickly and easily defeat the Ottomans and Venetians and capture all initial cores without having to mint a dime (0% inflation in 1453, without any deflation events), which I never have managed to do before, so I highly recommend it.
Before the War
The first thing you should do (after pausing the game, obviously) is to go into the DP Settings window and bump the Land slider to the right. At this stage in the game, morale is at its most important, so an extra .1 to your morale could actually make a difference. After that, reduce all military maintenance to 50% to conserve your meagre treasury, and build as much cavalry as you can without exceeding your support limit; disband any infantry that would put you over that limit (infantry are almost useless at this point in the game, and you can't afford the over-the-limit support costs). Don't worry too much about your research right now; until you take a couple of provinces, you won't be earning enough money to make any real difference. If you're worried about initial survival (and there's nothing wrong with that), just place it at full minting. If you feel a little more confident and want to think more long-term, put it all into either Land or Infrastructure, putting no more than 25% into minting to keep inflation modest.
Check to make sure that you are a Ottoman vassal. This is actually a good thing, as you will not have to bribe them to keep them off of your back during the first few years, so you should be safe for the moment. Still, pray that they attack Serbia and Hungary soon, just to make sure they'll be too busy to interfere with your plans
Smyrna will be one of the most valuable provinces throughout your entire game, and as it's owned by a weak Ghazi state, you should make it your first target. Once your cavalry army is built and land maintenance raised to full, bring your fleet out of port to guard the straights (Ghazi has just one ship, but that's still enough to block a million-man army); there's no need to raise naval maintenance. Declare war on them and move your entire army into Smyrna. Given your large cavalry component, you should win, but if you don't, your navy will guard your path of retreat while preventing Ghazi (and maybe their ally Karaman) from following you. Once Smyrna is taken, you can try to lure the Turks into the safe plains province, or you can just start hammering away at Antalya. The mountains will be difficult terrain for your cavalry, but there might not be any other way to press the attack.
Whatever happens in the war, make sure of three things: 1. You win Smyrna; 2. Ghazi becomes your vassal (they'll give you a little manpower for your support limit); and 3. That you don't take out a single loan. You shouldn't need any money, especially if you choose option_c (Execute Him) in the Ottoman Pretender Event that should fire in the summer of 1421. If your army gets trashed, you should consider restarting the game; you can't afford any setbacks at this point in the game.
Make sure that you have an ALL-cavalry army, only slighly above the support limit (land and naval mainenance at 100%), and a few extra galleys, then make sure the Ottomans are at war with either Serbia/Hungary, Venice, or maybe even Trebizond/Georgia. Taking on the Ottomans single-handedly is still far too risky and far too costly, so wait until their army is at least somewhat depleted. You'll be outnumbered almost from the start, so choose your battlefields. Use your fleet to block the straights, and concentrate your early war on Europe, where the bulk of the Ottoman army likely is. The key provinces for this first phase of the most important war in the Byzantine campaign are Bulgaria and Macedonia. Once you declare war, any Ottoman armies in Serbia will be immediately recalled to the Aegean, and they'll have to go through either Macedonia or Bulgaria to get there. Macedonia is an excellent spot to trap their army, as the plains are good for your all-cavalry army, and Bulgaria is decent too, as you'll get the mountain defense bonus. Make sure that you win these first battles; save and reload if you must.
Destruction of the Ottoman armies in Europe is the most important thing in this war, but watch out for Wallachia, Albania, and Bosnia. They all have large armies and will almost certainly join the Ottomans in their war against you. It's hard to give advice on how to defeat them, as their army size could be anything from 5K to 30K, and they might either rush you from the start or hold back and merely wait for an opening. You'll have to figure out your own way around them, though I can tell you that Albania is likely to send their army into Macedonia and that Wallachia's plains province (across a river, sadly) makes it an OK place to attack if you feel safe enough. I would advise you not to annex any of them. Annexing Bosnia would hurt your reputation and your relations with Hungary and Venice, and annexing Wallachia and Albania would hurt your reputation and would be better left for later. Just get them out of the war.
While this is going on, the Ottoman armies in Anatolia most likely took Smyrna from you (check your army support costs), but that's OK, since they won't be able to advance any further, unless they knocked your fleet out of either the Sea of Marmara or the Aegean, in which case you're in big trouble. Break off any sieges and try to destroy their forces in Macedonia or Thrace, before closing the straights again. Once you've destroyed the Ottoman armies in Europe and taken a couple of provinces, Venice and the Order of St. John are very likely to have declared war against the Ottomans, and their fleets should guarantee your control over the straights.
Now, unless your economy is in dire straights (2 loans, for example), you really should ignore any peace offers and continue the war. Your cavalry armies have one last job to do, and they are perfect for it: liberate Smyrna and capture Anatolia. You have the option of crossing the Marmara straights into either Anatolia or Smyrna, so cross whichever one is safer and avoid the rivercrossing penalty when you launch your final assault. With luck (and maybe even a little help from the Latins or Trebizond/Georgia) you can rout the final Ottoman army and lay siege to Smyrna and Anatolia. When both provinces fall, the Ottomans will start offering you at least three province for peace. As long as you can get Macedonia, Rumelia, and Bulgaria (not yet a core, but still very valuable for the next war), you should accept the peace. Only if your economy and army is still healthy, and only if Angora is poorly defended should you consider attacking the final Ottoman province and thus ripping them to shreds. It feels great if you can do this, but it's not necessary. The Turks will be back, and having lost Dobrudja and Kosovo won't really make them any weaker.
The Second Ottoman War and Aftermath
Firstoff, repay any loans you can, even if you have to mint at full. These will add up and put a serious strain on your still-limited finances. After that, rebuild your all-cavalry army, and prepare for the Second Ottoman War. DO NOT attack anyone else during this time. I repeat, the Turks are not dead. Their army will recover at a frightening (and AI-assisted) speed, and if you drop your guard, they and their allies could easily take you out. Stay on friendly terms with Venice, Hungary, Athens, and Karaman.
Depending on how well you recover from the first war, the second war could be started by either you or the Ottomans. However it starts, it has to end with you taking the rest of their European holdings (core or no core), and again sparing Bosnia and Wallachia. You can annex Albania if you want, but only if they aren't Catholic; you still don't want to kill relations with the Latins. Block the straights again and focus on Europe first. Albania should possess the only navy among your enemies, so don't worry too much about naval maintenance or the building of new galleys. Unless the Ottomans somehow got their hands on Konya, I would advise against taking Angora - it's just too much of a pain pre-1453.
Around 1436, you should receive the Council of Florence event. It's very important that you stay Orthodox, or you'll miss out on the Byzantine Renaissance events (you'd have to modify the events to allow for a Catholic Renaissance, which in many ways would make the game a lot easier). Sadly, by doing this, you'll also be killing your relations with the Catholic world, and you'll be making Hungary and Venice mortal enemies. Now that relations don't matter anymore, go ahead and take Hellas. Try to diploannex Morea before 1453, but forceannex if you must. You have to own Thrace, Smyrna, Macedonia, Hellas, and Morea on July 1, 1453 to trigger the Renaissance.
Congratulations, you've brought the Roman Empire out from the brink of destruction, and now they have a chance to survive. Until the Ottoman Empire is annexed, they will remain a major threat to you, and following them, you'll have to deal with Venice, then Hungary, then the Mameluks, then Austria, then maybe Russia too....It goes on like this. Byzantium is never an easy country to play, as you'll forever be surrounded by countries that hate you. Try to keep your Badboy at 50% or less of the max allowed, and avoid two-front wars, and you should be fine. Counter superior armies and navies with superior numbers, and forget about ever getting near Latin tech levels until maybe the late 18th century. You're an Empire. As long as you're large, you're successful.
(I'll try to add a bit to this later, including tips on winning an early war with Venice, as well as overrunning Anatolia after 1453.)