Big Blue Blob
- is France.
The year is before 1500.
The player’s country:
To get the achievement, the player has to own 100 core provinces in Europe as France before 1500. Note that Europe refers to the one of Europa Universalis Region mapmode; therefore, Anatolia is considered as being part of Europe (basically, whatever has Turkish as its culture is in Europe).
France starts with 27 provinces; the player needs to conquer and core another 73 provinces in 56 years. The provinces must be cored before 1500. An average of 1.5 province per year until the last coring process is started in late 1496 (it take 3 years to core a province if it's the wrong religion and culture). France's initial ruler and heir have an ADM stat of 4, which means that, with a +1 advisor and ADM focus, they can produce 10 ADM per month, or 120 per year. This means the average development will need to be about 8 development. Of course, this doesn't take into account the five cores owned by England, claims that will fabricated everywhere nor the Burgundian Inheritance but frankly, neither should the player. They must assume they will be working against the clock, because it most certainly will be like that. So try and conserve admin points in events and try to afford a +2 or even +3 admin advisor to be able to get the admin points needed to core all provinces.
This achievement is quite hard, because of the very limited time and because it may require several restarts, since there are events that will not depend on the player's decisions. Due to the high development value of Western Europe provinces, it is imperative to open different expansion fronts in less developed regions, such as Scandinavia and the Balkans, not only because Western Europe will generate a bizarre amount of Aggressive Expansion, but because there simply won't be enough administrative monarch points.
The southern road
The game will be a lot easier with Castile friendly and if Castile selects England as a rival, so restarts might be necessary. The player can also ally Aragon to waste their manpower instead of France's, but must bear in mind that Aragon will be ditched relatively soon. It can be good to ally them to stop Burgundy and England from doing so too.
Being controller of Curia is great and easy as France, as due to their size they have a lot of cardinals. Improve relations with the Pope and send a diplomat to improve relation as soon as the diplomats return from their first mission, send the other diplomat to revoke guarantee on Scotland.
Declare war on England soon after and be careful to enlist at least Castile's help. If Burgundy joins England, it may be necessary to restart. If Portugal is only allied with England and France's allies (Castile and possibly Aragon), set them as a co-belligerent. AI England loves to land in Spain; stackwipe them. Complete missions that give claims whenever possible. Also start fabricating claims on Aragon's poorest provinces (pretty much the three bordering France, but Baleares, Malta and the ones in Sardinia are great too).
For the peace deal, take some provinces from Portugal (preferably 3-4) and all English provinces in France as fast as possible. Congratulations, this was the easiest part of the achievement.
Now the player will need an opening for the Balkans. The Anjou Claims to the Kingdom of Naples event gives claims in all of Naples to France, which means the Aragon alliance can be ditched once France gets two completed claims and the third one rolling. If they somehow ally and call Burgundy to war, there will be blood, the best is to try and avoid any war with Burgundy since the provinces are too costly to core. If things go dreary, take at least Salento from Naples, but don't think twice about taking their <11 dev provinces too if there's the chance.
Alternatively, the player can go for Provence first. The Pope tends to rival them, so the papal controller tends to excommunicate Provence. The vassal annexation can be started right before declaring war too, so as to not waste time.
At this point, try to ally Venice/ Poland/ Hungary (especially Poland if it has its PU on Lithuania). If France is the current papal controller, declare a crusade on the Ottomans and attack them. Normally the Ottomans are not that strong at this point (they have +5% discipline but no Ghazi yet) and with France's allies the war should be easy. Take as many low-dev provinces as possible, and try to make a bridgehead into the Black Sea to take Crimean provinces in the second war. Getting a border with Wallachia is great too, and maybe even forcing Ottomans to release some Balkan states if possible.
During the truce, destroy the Balkans' minor states, and attack Hungary if possible. During this time France can also finish Provence, Aragon, Naples or attack Burgundy (careful, indeed the Burgundian Inheritance is nice but Burgundy is quite strong and may not be worth to start a long war for) or the Pope.
During the second war against Ottomans, France should try and get a bridgehead to the low developed land of the hordes. If Ottomans didn't finish the Turkish minor states yet, the player can go for them separately too.
The northern road
This road starts in the British Isles and ends in Muscovy. A passable start is to diplovassalize East Frisia (the only non-HRE nation in the German region), annex them, fabricate on Holstein/ Denmark and use that to get provinces in Scandinavia, but that would take a very long time. The quicker alternative is to no-CB an Irish minor and vassalize them. From there, the player can use their claims on the other Irish minors and get one of the provinces to themselves, so that it can be cored and increase France's coring range. Use the Irish minors to drag Scotland in the war and take their provinces, or fully annex them already. From here, the player can fabricate on Orkney (an island owned by Norway) and then take at least one of Norway's continental provinces.
Do note that, just like with Aragon+Burgundy, France may have to face a Denmark+England alliance. Or worse, a Kalmar Union+England alliance. It probably wouldn't even be worth the effort in this case.
Even quicker alternative is to seize some English provinces on the island in the first war with them. To achieve this, the player needs to ally Scotland at the beginning of the campaign, ask for military access, and send all their troops to Scottish territory by the transports. Player should attack England and call their continental allies into war. Beating their enemies on the island shouldn't be to hard, and there are some poor provinces to seize as well. Then, the player can either fabricate claims on Scotland or Irish minor allied with them, or diplovassalize Scotland and use their likely CB for conquering Kalmar Union provinces.
After this, the road's easy. Simply fabricate on Novgorod and eat whatever remains of them after the surefire first (or second (or even third already)) Muscovy war of conquest. Remember, prioritize <11 dev provinces, if France needed rich ones they'd be attacking the HRE instead.
With any luck, Muscovy might fall to Lithuania/ Commonwealth/hordes. If the player senses their weakness, ally Lithuania/Poland and attack them. Give whatever border provinces Lithuania wants, France only wants the poor ones anyway. It might be interesting to ally Sweden if they got their independence too, but keep in mind that they won't necessarily be the usual Viking space marines the player would see in most games (this run stops at 1500!). Usually its better to conquer the low developed Swedish provinces instead.
The eastern road
A possible expansion route is into the Caucasus and then the steppe lands as soon as the first month. The target is Trebizond, as they usually fabricate claims on all their neighbours. They tend to ally Theodoro, so no-CB the latter, occupy both provinces and then demand Trebizond becomes a vassal of France. Use one of their claims in their neighbours (avoiding Ottomans and Qara Qoyunlu for now) and take the province for France instead; preferably, a province in Caucasus already, but one from Aq Qoyunlu might be enough for now (but then the player will have to wait to annex Trebizond). Once a core in the region is secured, go wild; attack every minor nation here for their European provinces (pay attention not to take an Asian one instead; use the Region mapmode to double-check).
Once France has control of the Caucasus, there will still be the Hordes to face. Crimea will be allied to Ottomans so don't even bother without a coordinated two-front attack. Nogai and Golden Horde will be difficult to face as they start with better units, so pray to the gods they kill each other (or get killed by their neighbours) and feast on their carcass. If the player can get to Kazan or Ryazan, take a couple of their provinces when they inevitably get destroyed by Muscovy.
- If the player needs 1.5 provinces per year, then their five-year wars must result into at least 7 provinces and the necessary ADM points for them. Conquests must take that into account.
- It takes 36 months to core a province. Fabricating claims also reduce the coring time; cores will be finished in 33 months. If the provinces are in the nation's cultural group, the time will be cut in half. This is essential to know if the player's at 1496 already and things are looking desperate. If Burgundy still has French provinces the inheritance is usually worth 5 provinces.
- As obvious as it may be, it's better to focus on small nations than bigger ones. They have smaller armies and navies and get tired of war quicker, so the player may net a great amount of provinces in a few years. Depending on the situation, France may not even need to face the Ottomans.
- Diplomatic technologies are quite useless and the player cannot waste ADM monarch points, but France of course needs military technologies.
- On the other hand, administrative technologies are absolutely a must at level 5, in order to unlock national ideas. The player should choose carefully between administrative (for reduced coring cost, which would neglect administrative power spend on idea itself, and cheaper mercenaries) and influence, which would help annexing vassals, providing -25% diplomatic annexation cost, due to the first national idea of France, and speed due to increased diplomatic reputation. Unlocking second French national idea – Elan!, which would greatly help in ongoing conquest.
- Without advancing in diplomatic technology, there should be enough diplomatic points to reduce war exhaustion, pay for unclaimed provinces, and exceed the number of diplomatic relations.
- The post-1500 economy doesn't matter if the player is interested only in this achievement: they can freely take loans, mercenaries and change advisers with impunity. The only concern should be avoiding bankruptcy!
- Don't hesitate to ignore an ally's call for war, except maybe for Poland against Muscovy: the achievement will be much easier if Muscovy is weak and doesn't extend into Golden Horde's and Crimea's territories.
- Always choose a short term boost during events.
- Don't neglect the fleet. With the help of Venice, France can rule the Mediterranean sea, which will allow blockades which increase warscore and reduce the length of the sieges, making wars shorter. Same thing for the Baltic and Northern Sea.
- Absolutely prioritize seizing low value provinces.
- Check the Region mapmode: be careful not to waste time and peace deals seizing provinces in Asia.
- Increase power projection, as the bonus is not negligible. If above 50, it could bring up to nearly 600 admin power.
- Always send diplomats to either improve relation or fabricate claims.
- Be flexible in plans and seize opportunities.
- Not making states can reduce core-creation cost by −50%.
- Pay attention to corruption: it will cost your country large sums of money to reduce it. So don't let it grow too high.
- Annex vassals carefully; it will take a long time to annex a lager vassal (such as Novgorod).
The name of the achievement refers to the nickname in Europa Universalis' jargon of France, due to its high tendency to grow to immense size.