Alright, I'm having some issues with playing as Hungary and Russia, and I'm not entirely sure how to remedy this situation. My experiences with these two factions fall in stark contrast to the successes I've managed to have as Portugal, the Sultanate of Iconium and the Milanese. That said here is where things stand.
I've modded the game slightly to begin at 1071 AD and to end at 1526 AD, I also changed the years/turns ratio from 2/1 to 1.25/1. I've been, thus far, playing all my campaigns on Hard/Hard difficulty.
In the case of Hungary I'm finding it downright impossible to defend my borders, typically I'll get attacked within 10-15 turns by both the Byzantines and the Venetians, and I don't mean a half stack wandering around Zagreb, I mean 2-3 full stacks sieging Sofia and Zagreb with no chance of me being able to defend myself. Typically as Hungary I'll expand to occupy Zagreb, Sofia, Bucharest, Iasi and Kiev in the early going, this expansion into rebel territory is not that difficult, but money is hard to come by and the most troops I can muster form less than one full 20-unit army.
Typically I arrange marriage alliances with the HRE and Poland early on, and those countries haven't, in general, bothered me much. So I'm left to wonder just how I'm supposed to survive here. I have few sources of income, little time to develop my regions, and no capacity to field the mega armies that are sent my way almost immediately. What exactly might I try to do to make things a little easier?
On the Russian Front my chief obstacle is the Polish state which quickly engages in hostilities with me. The problems are essentially the same as with Hungary though I'm faced with only one aggressive foe. Poland can also outproduce me and fields large armies which invariably get sent towards Vilnius and eventually to Riga and Novgorod. As before I have little income, no time to develop, and taking Smolensk, Ryzan and Helsinki really doesn't give me enough cash to deal with the Polish menace. The difficulties I have in Eastern Europe make me appreciate all the more the super-richness of Milan and northern Italy.
Anyway, what kind of strategies should I be employing here? Marriage alliances seem useful but as always come to an end when the AI decides to attack me at random, at least it buys me some time to prepare for an attack. I know with Milan the Turks and Portugal overrunning your direct competitors quickly can mean the difference between loosing badly and surviving to the 13th century. The fall of Spain, the humbling of Venice and the demolition of Byzantium in Asia Minor are all key conduits to ensuring early stability. For Hungary and Russia however I can't determine what my best course of action is, especially with the Hungarians as they face imminent war on two fronts against superior opponents.
Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, but you guys get the point, I like the challenge but I haven't been able to round out a strategy yet, what do you guys think would be the best plan of defense? Thanks in advance for the help, cheers!