Part 4: The Decision and Preparations
So as you can see, you have tons of options here and ideally you want to do all of them, but for a beginner it can be rather daunting on which direction to go, so the order it’s done is very important.. Option #1 (Thessaly) or #2 (Illyrians) is rather difficult to pull off first if you don’t secure the Lower Macedonia areas as you’ll find yourself spread out way to thin, and constantly get annoyed by the amount of invasions and defenses you’ll have to do. Option #3 (Western Odrysian Kingdom and Chalcidian League), sounds very intriguing to do, because it starts opening up the passage way towards Amphipolis, and the wealth of Mt. Pangeus, but again if you don’t secure your other borders first (Athens in the South-West of Lower Macedonia, and the Paeonians to the North-West) you’ll get annoyed by the amount raids/invasions they will try to pull off towards your kingdom. So that basically leaves us with 2 options to do first and that’s either Option #4 (Paeonian’s Tribe) or Option #5 (Athens). Either one you pick is a good starting choice because you will secure one border that would lower the frequency of invasions from that side. However, option #4, of completely securing the Eastern approaches into Upper Macadeonia and the South-West approach into Lower Macedonia by taking on the Paeonian Tribe, is way more alluring then kicking Athens out for now. Most importantly because of the wealth of mines Stobi and Stropsko have (About 8 total), which can help out tremendously in stocking up more units for defense and even campaigning. So the ideal choice to me is option #4 first, then Option #5, then a mix of Option #1 and #3, (which I’ll explain later), then Option #2, and finally back to Option #1 again.
However, before I undertake Option #4, I do a couple of things first. Keep at least 2 Phalangite units and 2 scout Calvary at Home, to protect against Athens incursions. Then park a Phalangite unit and scout cavalry in Edomene (North of Pella on your side of the river) to counter any raids from Amphaxis or Sintike. Have at least 1-2 Phalangite and 3-4 Scout Calvary in Upper Macedonia and most importantly, have about 1-2 Phalangite units and a few scout calvary near Olooson (ideally parked in Elimea) to protect against Thesslian or Tyrants of Pherae incursions (who control Larissa). As per alpha 5, diplomacy pricing has been changed dramatically that it’s actually very useful, and you should have no hostility, and more intimidation then the Thessalian League itself, that you should be able to get a truce very cheaply. This way, all you would have to deal with are the Tyrants instead, which is not so bad. The beginning can be a rough, as you will find yourself spread a bit thin, and sometimes the units from Upper Macedonia or even your home lands may need to help each other out, since you may not be able to afford all that from the beginning. The units are close by so that this is possible. Always remember, if you feel like there’s too many units, immediately park that unit inside the city (You should always build walls in almost all your cities btw, especially your native ones), and let them siege it out; till you gather enough troops to counter that invasion. It may also help to get Tymphia (West of Elimea) which is another native Macedonia city to secure the western borders of the cities of Elimea and Eordae. Keep in mind; if you do that, then you’ll have to deal with the Epirus units that come down from the Pindus Mountains or some minor Illyrian incursions from Pelion (however, I usually never notice them send more than just Peltast units most of the time from that city) Epirus will most of the time bring just Peltast units towards you, so as long you have 3-4 Scout Cav stationed in Tymphia, you can deal with any raids they throw at you from that direction. Eventually, as you start Option #4, you should have enough money to get a truce with Epirus, so that you won’t have to worry about those raids for quite some time. Also, while I do suggest the truces, don’t ally with anyone yet, especially the Thessalian League, as what would happen (as least as of Alpha 5 which that can be subject to change), is all their territories will become yours, and then you’ll open a whole another can of worms on where the Tyrants and even the Phocians, and perhaps even the Acarnanian League which is the faction South-West of Metropolis can now being to attack you from different directions which is something you do not want to deal with this early in the scenario. Now, it’s time to begin option #4 and our very first campaign.