I just started a new campaign in Empire Total War as the United Provinces, today known as the Netherlands. I'm playing this campaign on Very Hard campaign difficulty and Hard Battle difficulty. As France and Spain is more or less guaranteed to declare war on me, my short term goals will be to get a naval superiority, gain as many trade routes as possible, get an alliance with Prussia and apart from France and Spain maintain the peace in Europe. My own set rules are Flanders and Rhineland are the only European Provinces I'm allowed to capture and Rhineland only if Westphalia declares war on me, which I must avoid at all costs. Instead I shall take the pirate strongholds in the Caribbean and the French and Spanish territories there as well, I shall also Gain a foothold in India, possibly by the port in Bengal, alternatively I will help the Mughals to maintain a Status Quo in India so the Marathi forces doesn't roflpwn the Mughals, a unified India is just way too powerful to compete with.