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The French form one of the more powerful factions around in Europe. With a slew of heavy cavalry, ranged cavalry, infantry skirmishers, grenadiers, artillery and even mechanised units and ships, the French army is one of the most diversified among all European nations., but suffer from a somewhat deficient economy.
One of the main benefits of France is that France has a lower cost in creating citizens, so be it surviving the early game or the quick repopulation of captured cities, the French player can do this at little or no cost. The French player however will discover that his economy will be a tough field to master, having only the ability to obtain a higher population count at lower the cost — against the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany or the Netherlands, the French player will find it difficult to maintain an economy; against the Chinese, he suffers again from having a slower albeit cheaper population growth rate. However, the French have one useful benefit - the ability to build salons. Salons generate more happiness because unlike taverns and speakeasys, their ability to generate happiness isn't based on what sort of resources you possess, but the number of patches of wine, tobacco, and peacocks you control. This means that you would be able to enjoy a greater degree of stability in your nation than others, as you will be able to utilise more merchants to gather the resources you need to keep your people happy. A happier population may make all the difference in the thick of a war, as your tax gathering and attrition fields will achieve greater efficiency than others, without having to sacrifice your capability to generate metal and knowledge.
On the field, the French specialise in one special area, and that is the taking of cities. Since they assimilate cities faster than any other faction, the French player will thus find it most expedient perhaps to use his superior forces and artillery advantage to take cities. This is only made easier with the French command of artillery on land and having a navy most suited for shore bombardment, from the Galiote à Bombe to the Gloire-class screw battleship . So while factions are only capable of knocking down towers using galleys, even fortresses are not safe from the French. At land, the cannon of the French are without compare as regards to deployment speed and movement speed. With the Imperial Era, these guns have a production time bonus, making them fairly easy to proliferate, but that is not all. French units are also known for their speed bonus, while the melee cavalry also have an attack bonus. In the Mechanisation Era, the heavy cavalry line is replaced with the FT-17, a tank unit which while not as strong as any other tank, functions as a combination of a tank and a tankette. It may have poor armour like the Mk IV Liberty and poor attack like the A7V, but it has excellent speed and build cost, making it fairly useful for massing and taking out heavier foes.
Thus as in history, one of the greatest themes of French strategy will be to avoid economic encirclement, by keeping your opponent's economy on the wrong foot at all times. Use artillery to take down your opponent's cities, and your fast-moving army to harass citizens, soft targets and ultimately enemy units themselves, with the assistance of your ranged cavalry. Diplomacy cannot be neglected, however, as the French as with the Austrians are heavily dependent on resource imports. Make alliances with key partners with a border or trade advantage such as the Netherlands (for its ability to source rare resources) or the Portuguese, Spanish and Ottomans (who enjoy border push advantages) so that you can have access to peacocks, wine and tobacco to keep your people happy.