Holy Roman Empire Details (M2TW Faction)
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Information herein is based on players individual experiences and may not be independently verifiable. In the event of a disagreement please discuss on the talk page.
The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) or "Heiliges Römisches Reich" in German is a very deceiving name, as it isn't "holy", isn't "Roman" and definitely isn't an "empire". Instead it was a collection of fiefdoms and small kingdoms loosely grouped together under an elected emperor. Despite this lack of unity, the HRE was one of the major powers of the medieval period. Since the "founder" (for want of a better word) of the empire, none other then the legendary knight and leader Charlemagne, was crowned on Christmas day 800AD by pope Leo III, there is some argument that the word "holy" can appear in the empires name, at least during its early history.
In game, the HRE appears as a unified force, beginning with most of modern day Germany and Austria under its control and a few rebel provinces surrounding this. Beyond that, there are many factions, meaning that the HRE can quickly find itself bordering half the European factions. This presents unique challenges for the HRE, as no other faction can be said to border so many different possible enemies from so early on. Therefore, some measure of diplomacy will have to be used to ensure the empire doesn't face war on more fronts than it can manage, or to avoid angering the pope as all its neighbours tend to be Catholic. That said, thanks to its size, it can afford vast armies, effectively ensuring its victory if its able to concentrate its forces on a single enemy, especially late game.
The HRE shares all of its early units with other factions, but they are no less effective for that. Later on in the game, it can recruit, in approximate order of availability, Teutonic knights (being the only faction this order is available to), Imperial Knights (mace wielding knights), Zwei-Handers (fearsome two-handed swordsmen), Forlorn Hope (an elite unit for exploiting breaches during sieges), Reiters (cavalry armed with pistols and spears) and the infamously powerful Gothic Knights. In addition to this, both Serpentine and Basilisk guns are available, meaning that the empire's late game army is indeed one to be feared and respected.
Due to its curse of being surrounded, generally disliked by the pope which is historically realistic, and lacking in specialist early game units, the HRE can quickly be eliminated if not controlled by a human player, and even then, great care must be taken to not overextend one's forces or anger too many factions at once.
If the empire can exploit wars in Europe to its advantage (attacking factions the pope dislikes who don't have any powerful allies), then it will surely be victorious and able to unite Europe under its rule, if it is unable to do this, then it will be resigned to a footnote in the players (virtual) history book.
Quickly move into Florence, as this will limit Milan's growth. Also, Moving into Hamburg would be a good idea because it will cut off the Danes from continental Europe. With this done, the next few turns you should advance into Prague, Metz, Bern, Magdeburg, Stettin, and if they still are rebel cities, Dijon and Zagreb. This will limit Milan, Poland, Venice and France's growth. I would also advise taking Denmark now, because it's army probably has not gotten to Stockholm yet. Corsica should also be conquered, because it could still be rebel. The Low Countries you should leave alone for now, until you have a powerful army.
With a considerable standing point in Europe, you now should make war on the other factions. First, you should steamroll into Antwerp and Bruges, which with a big military is now possible. You should also try to buy Caen from the English, just give them tribute of 3000 for 7 turns. I now it sounds like a lot, but you will not go bankrupt. By now The Pope has probably called a Crusade on Jerusalem, and if it has not been taken by Egypt, I would do it. I tell you later why you should not take it if it is in Egypt's possession. If you have Jerusalem, you are free to expand into Acre, Damascus, Antioch and Aleppo. Now back in Europe, now is the time to wipe Milan of the face of the planet. Send a stack into Genoa, sack it and enjoy 8000 florins. Next sack Milan and take another 8000 florins. If you do this quickly, the pope will not be too mad at you. Next you should attack Paris. this will give you another 8000 florins and isolate Rheims. Now, you should (if you have Caen) conquer Angers, Rennes, and Bordeaux this will cripple France's navy and get you fair amount of money. With Rheims surrounded, now would be a good time to take it. Now you probably have been excommunicated, no big deal though, as the pope will die in a couple of turns. Now is a good time to attack Rome, since you have been excommunicated. I would exterminate it because they WILL revolt against you. Quickly move into southern france, and, voila the whole country is in your possession. Next you should invade Sicily and North Africa. Sicily should fall in 5 turns. Now, the Pope is dead, you have been reconciled, and your empire is larger then Charlemagne's. now you should try to win the Papal States trust back by ending your wars against fellow Christians and focus on the Moors and Rebels.
With a firm block of Western and Northern Europe, its time to conquer the Moors, amke sure to bring 5-10 priests as well, because you can get your priest's piety raised so they can become Cardinals. Also, invade Scandanavia, nothing is keeping you from doing so. With that done, the Moors should be crumbling now, and North Africa should be in your hands you now can begin a two pronged attack on Iberia, be wary as this is probably the hardest campaigning yet. Settle in for 10 turns (if your lucky) and excommunication, but your conversions in Africa will likely place a German Pope on the Papal Throne soon. Now, The Mongols have attacked. Fortify your Crusader States and Prepare for a deadly war. Make alliances, if you can, with Poland, Hungary, Egypt, and The Byzantines or the Turks. This will put up a barrier around yourself when Jerusalem falls. Now with Hispania in your control, attack Arguin and Timbuktu. and send merchants, because you can make easy money of those places now, attack Venice, Ragusa, and Iraklion. This will completely destroy Venice. If you want you can attack Britain now as what's going to stop you? Now with all these settlements, you have likely won the game. You can claim to be the New Western Roman Emperor, and the only Christian Power in the West.
If your not satisfied with being Western Roman Emperor, you can go for the Entire World! It is now likely the Late-1200s to Mid-1300s, and the Mongols have taken control of the Holy Land or Russia. Now is the time of non-warring in your area. You should build up your treasury, your guilds, make cathedrals, and create culture. Eventually after sending expeditions against the Mongols they will be defeated in 20 turns, but now an even more grimacing beast has emerged. The Timuruds, who arrive in one stack. If you manage to defeat them You can break every alliance you have and make war. Now you can probably sail to America. first conquer Brazil, The Caribbean and Florida, as you can use this as a base against the Aztecs. Now Poland, Hungary Russia, The Byzantines, Egypt and The Turks have likely fallen prey to your armies. With Armies in the Americas, the Aztecs should fall after a while. Congratulations, You are now the Lord of Europe, Africa, and America! I wonder what Asia is like...
Massive standing armies at the beginning and sizeable town garrisons, ability to field quite tough units, especially zweihanders and tough cavalry. A well established foothold in Italy with easy access to the Pope to either support or destroy him. Has access to the Teutonic Knights with the construction of their chapter house and fulfillment of certain requirements.
Surrounded on all sides by potential enemies. Very prone to multi front wars. Good tech in the late period but not as good as their serious rivals, Milan and France. Mostly landlocked provinces, means less trading income until you can secure some coastal cities. Of particular concern are Denmark and Poland. These two factions usually become very powerful and present a serious challenge to the Emperor's rule.
The HRE will have a hard time trying to keep it's empire in one piece. The many enemies that surround you will most likely hit you when you least expect and hard. If the HRE can consolidate it's forces and protect it's borders from foreign expansion then the Emperor will have a mighty empire, equaled by none, with the ability to crush and absorb the smaller empires quickly. The Emperor will need to make use of the devastating gothic and zweihander units to ensure the empire's sovereignty and security. The Pope can be a powerful ally, used to stage counter attacks on factions that have attracted the Popes negative attention. The Pope could also be your worst enemy, calling a crusade on your nation for all of Christendom to strike you down. The Emperor must be careful in how he deals with his holiness, the power he wields over the catholic world is not to be trifled with, his requests should be honoured and relations kept above good. It is important for a leader to strike out in one direction with the backing of the empire. It would only hurt your empire to try and expand in all directions. The Holy Roman Empire has some advantage however, it should not need to worry about any Islam faction encroaching on the empire's lands, for they are far away in the blasted deserts and their arms do not reach across the sea.