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The various dynasties of China ruled over the most populous empire in history, spanning a
vast amount of territory and, although occasionally interrupted, the concept of a Chinese
empire remained intact and reigned for the better part of two millennia. This was due not to
legendary martial prowess, but rather to good governance. The concept of meritocracy,
later embodied by and expanded upon in the philosophy of Confucianism, led to skillful
administration that enabled one of the largest, richest, and long-lasting empires ever created.
A key principle of Confucianism was that any person, of any status, could achieve great
things through a constant journey of learning and self-improvement.

These concepts apply just as much to Europa Universalis IV as they do to managing a

government. When considering that any goal you could conceive of is possible to
accomplish, as evidenced by The Three Mountains achievement and others, if you approach
the game with the mentality that you too can accomplish these goals by learning, it will
become inevitable that you do. I implore you to never think that the conditions of the game
are unfair, unbalanced, or that luck is responsible for success or failure. Even when luck
plays a role, it is almost always the case that if you had played perfectly optimally you
would have been in a position to weather bad luck. If you accept full responsibility for
every failure, and spend your efforts not on blaming elements out of your control but
instead learning what you could have done better, you will succeed.

My goal with this book is to provide you not only with a fundamental education in
administration, but also the understanding needed to continue improving on your own
beyond what is taught in it. By applying the same way of thinking taught in this book to
other aspects of the game, you will be able to improve at them as well.

The Paradox community has colloquial terms for two approaches to gameplay that I use
more concise terminology to refer to. “Playing tall” is to play with fewer provinces that are
more economically developed, and is referred to in this book as administration. “Playing
wide” or “blobbing” is to take as many provinces as possible without regard to the value of
each one, and is referred to in this book as expansion. In brief, if you have 500
development spread over 20 provinces, you are administrating, while if you have 1000
development spread over 100 provinces, you are expanding.

Without further ado, I present to you the Art of Administration.

I. Resources
The essence of efficient administration is the usage of resources to acquire more resources.
Resources are the means by which all other goals are accomplished, so to fully understand
the usage and acquirement of resources is to also inherently understand how to accomplish
any goal. Before we can begin exploring productive usage of resources, however, we must
first establish a fundamental understanding of the resources themselves.

Monarch Power
Power is the primary method by which you exert influence over the nation you rule, and it
is necessary for administration, expansion, and the advancement of technology and ideas.
As it is a measure of your own influence, your power does not scale with the size of your
nation, unlike material resources that can be hoarded to your heart’s content. If you wish
for your nation to prosper, it is vital to obtain as much power as possible.

A ruler is naturally the most significant source of their own power. As the ruler of a
monarchy, you should place a high priority on expanding your dynasty’s prestige, giving
you the leeway to disinherit incapable heirs. If you are only an heir yourself, and the nation
is being driven to ruin by an incompetent monarch, you should pressure them to abdicate or
to redeem themselves by giving their life in battle. If you are living within a republic, you
should seek to be elected while young and then secure re-election for life by strengthening
the government and improving the republican tradition of your country at every available

Your court is almost as important to expanding your influence as your own abilities, as
capable advisors will provide guidance in their many fields of expertise that a single person
could not master, but maintaining an experienced court comes at a cost. You should seek
opportunities to employ advisors who will work for a discount, either through chance
encounters or by granting influence to estates that will cover part of their expenses

The final method of increasing your influence is to lead your nation to glory by asserting its
position on the geopolitical stage. By carefully selecting your rivals, insulting and
humilating them, and damaging their trade by embargoing and privateering it, you will
project your power internationally and consequentially have more influence domestically as
In addition to increasing your own influence, it is just as imperative to persuade those with
power to accept your rule more easily. Co-operation with development or coring efforts are
the two most desirable traits for a nation to have, for administrating or expanding
respectively, and tolerance of new technology and ideas among the people is also highly

When your personal influence alone is not enough, gold will sway others to your will.
During times of peace, gold should be invested into your court and infrastructure projects.
During times of tension, gold can act as the language of diplomacy for securing agreements.
During times of war, gold will fund an army of those prepared to die for it. Due to its
versatility, the procurement of gold is second in importance only to the accumulation of
your own power.

Wealthy organizations can provide you with loans, but keep in mind that they are seeking
to make a profit off of you. Unless you are in danger of being overthrown by a foreign
power or revolution, taking on debt should be avoided unless you are certain that you
yourself will be the one to profit from doing so, for example by financing a short war to
seize another ruler’s assets that are more valuable than the loans taken to do so. By
pursuing certain national or religious ideas and policies, you can potentially negotiate loans
with very low interest, which are much easier to profit from.

Currency can be debased as an alternative to taking loans, and is suitable if your nation is
technologically advanced, stable, and has an uncorrupt bureacracy. The negative impact of
debasement is lower the larger and more bureacratic your nation is, so an autonomous
empire will benefit from doing so more than a centralised duchy.

When minting large quantities of new coinage with gold procured from mines, the value of
existing currency in circulation will decrease. To prevent this devaluation from becoming
excessive, it is worthwhile to enlist the help of advisors who specialise in inflation and to
focus national research on economics if minting is central to the economy.

Mastering bargaining will allow you to get much more mileage out of your treasury. In
particular, negotiating reduced prices with advisors and soldiers will reduce expenses
considerably, and if you are an administrative leader you will benefit greatly from making
deals for cheaper constructions as well.
Provinces and their development are the foundation of a nation, and provide the constant
source of income for most resources at your disposal. One level of tax development will
provide one ducat of yearly income, while each level of production development will
provide 0.2 goods produced; therefore, five levels of production development will generate
a yearly production income equal to value the trade good being produced, as well as
contributing that value to the local trade. For example, if you own land producing Silk
valued at 4 ducats, with five production development it will generate 4 ducats per annum
for you and 4 ducats per annum of trade value, which would ultimately result in 6 ducats
per annum for you if you control 50% of the trade in that node. As such, tax development
value is constant, but production development value depends heavily on trade goods and
trade power: one point of tax development in grain-producing land will still provide one
ducat per annum, while one point of production development in grain-producing land will
provide only 0.4 ducats per annum of production value and 0.4 in trade value, much of
which will not end up in your treasury unless you control 100% of the trade in the node.
Aside from tax and production, development also provides trade power, manpower, sailors,
and allows you to more easily support a larger army and navy.

There are many factors that affect the value of your land. Construction projects, national
research into improved bureacracy, and new technology will increase the effiency at which
taxes are collected, production is completed, and trade is conducted. Increases to raw goods
produced, not to be confused with production efficiency, are rare and highly desirable,
increasing the value of both production and trade. On the other hand, people of cultures and
religions that are not accepted within your society will not contribute as much, and in areas
with high autonomy much of the land’s resources will be taken by the local powers in the

Trade is concentrated into key cities, estuaries, and sound tolls. A center of trade provides
as much trade power as 50 development, and with a dedicated marketplace built becomes
equivalent to 75 development, meaning centers of trade are absolutely integral to
controlling the flow of trade. There are also a few regions throughout the world famous for
their productivity, such as the Schwaz silver mine in Tirol and the Falun copper mine in
Dalaskogen, that produce a disproportionately large amount of goods for their development.
We may distinguish two types of land: prime land and fallow land. Prime land is, put
simply, productive land, populated by people with tolerated cultures and religions. Fallow
land is land that does not provide its full value to the sovereign, whether due to being
granted autonomy from the state, or to cultural and religious friction, and which is prone to
the populace revolting. It is possible to turn fallow land into prime through assimilation of
its people, but to do so requires an investment of resources that may well be better used on
existing prime land.

Further, there are two more designations; vital territory and strategic territory. Vital
territory encompasses land that has disproportionately high economic potential – land
where silver or gold can be mined, land that is suitable for trade, land that has unnaturally
high production, or land that is already considered core to the nation. Strategic territory
refers to land that has military or political value independent of any economic value, such
as fortified mountainous terrain.
II. Administration
Administrating involves the development of land, the construction of infrastructure, the
proclamation of edicts, the control of estates, and the assimilation of the populace. With
careful management of these aspects of state, and the proper allocation of resources to them,
the national economy will be substantially stronger for it.

The developing of the land one owns is integral to the success of the economy founded
upon it. Research into economic ideas, embracement of Renaissance philosophy, the
prosperity facilitated by times of peace and stability, the loyalty of the merchant class, and
regional decrees encouraging support for development efforts will contribute greatly to the
growth of the nation. The development of the capital, key trading hubs, fertile land, and
provinces that produce cloth or cotton is ideal. Development projects should be done in
large bursts when the cost will be cheapest due to the confluence of as many of these
factors as are attainable, rather than as soon as resources become available. Development
should be limited only to prime land, lest autonomous communities reap the benefit of the
sovereign’s expense for themselves without contributing to the nation.

Development is best concentrated on creating one large city at a time; although developing
an existing city requires more resources than developing a small town, individually larger
cities get more value out of infrastructure than many small villages and towns, which each
require their own infrastructure and get smaller benefits in return. Urban provinces are also
quicker to embrace new institutions than dispersed rural communities.

Land should be specialised to accommodate local conditions for the greatest productivity,
with the categories of specialisation being taxation, trade, production, and recruitment.
Grain-producing land with a grand cathedral under the influence of the clergy is suited for
the development of the tax bureacracy, whereas an emphasis on production is more
appropriate for provinces mining precious metals. Commodities produced, development
focus, local infrastructure, and the influence of estates are all entertwined in the
specialisation of a region.

The most important of these factors is the land itself and the estate it is under the purview
of, the latter often also being determined by the former, and these will dictate the
development and construction priorities. Any province producing dyes, silk, or that serves
as a trade hub should be granted to merchants and focused on both trade and production.
Those producing tobacco, incense, or fur are secondary candidates for merchant privileges
in the absence of sufficient trade centers, and should be focused on trade, although not
necessarily production.

Areas producing gold are the highest priority for production, and should not be given to
merchants, or any estate. If lacking any of the goods mentioned thus far, or if they are
already extensively developed, the most valuable trade goods the nation does have should
be specialised for production, but not granted to merchants. If one is close to becoming a
production leader or establishing a trade monopoly of a certain good, which should be
tracked under strategic goods in the ledger, it warrants production prioritisation even if the
good itself is not of high value.

Areas that produce gemstones should have a focus on both taxation and production, while
cocoa-producing regions should have a focus on production and manpower. For all other
goods, there is no inherent inclination towards a specialisation, so the specialisation of such
provinces can be decided according to the estate they are assigned to, existing infrastructure,
or what is most necessary. Land under the influence of the clergy or dhimmi should have a
taxation focus, while land belonging to nobles, Cossacks, or tribes should have a
recruitment focus.

Churches should be built to support the clergy in provinces where taxation is a focus, but
cathedrals should only be built when attempting to convert a major city of a foreign religion,
as the extravagent expense is not economically efficient. Marketplaces, trade depots, and
stock exchanges must be built in all trade hubs. Workshops, counting houses, and
manufactories should be built in land with a production focus. Barracks, training fields,
regimental camps, and conscriptions centers are to be constructed in areas where manpower
is the development focus. Courthouses and townhalls should be built in large cities if the
local population is determined to maintain its autonomy.

Facilitating trade is the highest priority, so trade infrastructure should be constructed first,
and beyond that, economic infrastructure should be prioritised where it will provide the
greatest economic return, which is typically in the largest cities.

Shipyards are best constructed in strategically relevant ports where fleets will be stationed,
and otherwise in any coastal provinces under direct control of the sovereign or merchants.
When sailors are needed, docks should be built in centers of trade and fisheries.
Castles are essential for maintaining prosperity throughout the realm, and as economy
permits should be constructed to cover the entire nation, or at mimimum the borders if the
economy is too meagre. Maintaining a network of defenses does require a notable upkeep,
however the economic prosperity of citizens who are protected from the ravages of war will
compensate for this expense. The most important castles are those at natural chokepoints,
especially with favourable terrain, and these should be reinforced, but castles that serve
primarily to prevent devastation throughout the countryside do not need to be upgraded.
Keeping fortresses maintained at peace will contribute to military tradition.

When a new institution is spreading throughout the world, one should focus on advancing
its spread throughout their nation, prioritising it over advancing technology. There are
unique situational conditions that help foster the growth of each institution, but in the event
that they cannot be met, an institution can be embraced by focusing all development efforts
on a single city. Optimally, an entirely new city dedicated to the institution should be
created out of centrally-located fertile rural land. In some cases, it will be easier to develop
an institution in an existing city, but the economy will benefit more from a new city. If an
existing city is developed, the capital, a center of trade, or a city that produces a valuable
trade good are best.

Feudalism is easiest to obtain by conquering feudal neighbors, but should be developed if

they are not nearby. The Renaissance will quickly spread throughout Italy and areas in the
immediate proximity, and should be developed outside of the region. Colonialist thought
may appear in a nation that has began a quest for the new world while researching
exploration ideas, and has discovered it, and will also spread quickly through those who
have a colonial nation established in the Americas, but non-colonial nations should develop
it. The Printing Press will spread very quickly through reformed Christians, but those
following any other faith should develop it independently.

Global trade, manufactories, and the enlightenment will spread quickly throughout trade
centers and provinces with manufactories and universities, respectively, so there is no need
to develop these. Being the center of any of these movements is beneficial; global trade will
appear in the most valuable trade node, which can be created with extensive production
focuses, manufactories, and by diverting trade from other nodes. The seeds of the industrial
revolution will appear in a highly developed capital state with manufactories, so building
manufactories in every province around the capital is worthwhile even if the provinces
aren’t focused on production. Similarly, enlightenment philosophy will be created in a
capital state with universities, so constructing universities in every capital province will
increase the chances of being the one to create it.

When advanced technology is not immediately needed, institutions should be given time to
spread throughout the nation before being embraced. Delaying the embracement of an
institution until the moment before researching technology will also delay the spread of it
from your nation to neighbors.

A sovereign’s ability to enact decrees grants great control over the usefulness of the local
population. Development edicts should be put into effect before any development project,
and trade should be protected in all trade hubs. During war, any fortresses under siege
should have their defenses bolsered, and conscription should be enacted in all areas without
other obligations decreed, as well as when recovering from war. Religious unity should be
enforced to assimilate other religions more quickly, and centralisation should be enforced
when locals refuse to yield authority otherwise. Applying feudal law to an area to prevent
rebellions will save the lives of many, but imposing absolutism is unnecessary if fortresses
are being used proactively, and is a poor alternative to doing so.

At times it may be necessary to assimilate new people into a nation. All cultures that are
directly related to your own culture can be considered already assimilated, as they can be
fully integrated without any extraneous expense to the nation by forming an empire, and
accordingly resources should not be spent converting or accepting such cultures.

When conquering individual vital territories, such as trade hubs along a major trade route,
they should be assimilated to the primary culture prior to development, unless conquering
several that share a culture, in which case it will be better to accept the culture as citizens.
Cultures should only be accepted sparingly, but once they are accepted, all land of that
culture becomes desirable provided it is also of the correct religion. When converting
provinces, it is generally easier to spread an adjacent accepted culture rather than your
primary culture.

Tolerated heretics and heathens need not be converted, but otherwise should be assimilated
as quickly as possible through some combination of increasing stability, enforcement of
religious unity, the granting of the area to loyal clergy, the hiring of an inquisitor, and the
construction of a cathedral. If conversion will take less than two years and overextension is
not an immediate concern, conversion may be done before coring to reduce unrest.
III. Estates of the Realm
The estates of the realm are a powerful force that can greatly contribute to a sovereign’s
power while simultaneously improving the economy, but also seek influence for themselves
and will siphon income if they are not handled carefully.

There are three estates present in almost all nations; the clergy, the merchant guilds, and the
nobility. There are two other estates present in some: the dhimmi, who are non-Muslim
subjects of an Islamic ruler, and the cossacks, present among Christian nations in eastern
Europe. Finally, nomadic hordes answer to only one estate, tribes.

Estates can be granted local authority over provinces, which will give them some autonomy,
but this level of autonomy only applies to certain aspects, dependent upon the estate, and if
provinces are specialised correctly the authority of the estates will in fact boost the income
the sovereign receives. Furthermore, estates can be assigned to provinces that are already
highly autonomous to effectively reign in that autonomy.

Both the loyalty and the level of influence of estates must be precisely managed to maintain
a maximally beneficial relationship. Loyalty can be divided into three simple categories:
disloyal, neutral, and loyal. Naturally, more loyalty is best; neutral estates provide some use,
but loyal ones are especially beneficial on both a local and national scale.

Influence is much more complicated, and can be divided into eight levels of influence: none,
trivial, low, average, moderate, high, great, and excessive 1 . More influence results in
greater impacts, both positive and negative. Every estate should be be given average
influence at minimum, and high influence is ideal. Great influence can yield benefits for
you, but also comes with great risk as such estates are liable to become hungry for even
more power, and should be reigned in when possible. Excessive influence must be curtailed
at all costs before the estate leverages their influence to attempt to overthrow you.

When requesting favours from estates, it is best to do so when they are on the upper
threshold between neutrality and loyalty, as there is no impact whether they are on the
upper or lower threshold of neutrality. Upsetting them when they are solidly neutral or
loyal will result in facing the impact of a disloyal estate or losing the benefits of their
loyalty, respectively. Between the six estates, there are many different favours available,
but the most important by far are direct support from the clergy, merchants, and nobility,
which increase your own power.

These influence levels refer to 0, 1-19, 20-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+ influence respectively.
The Clergy estate is the easiest to maintain the loyalty of, being won over by simple
donations, and is also one the most variable estates, as many of the benefits are naturally
tied to the faith they follow. With the exception of the Copts, the clergy of Christian
denominations are the most powerful, and their support should be sought in both power and
religion. Clergy offer two discounted administrative advisors in exchange for granting them
more influence, which should be taken advantage of to the fullest extent. On a local level,
loyal clergy not only provide financial benefits through the collection of tithes, but lower
unrest and assist in missionary work, helping greatly to prevent rebellions in newly
acquired territory.

The Merchant Guilds, despite being composed of commoners, are nonetheless the greatest
asset to a sovereign, tremendously improving the economy, as well as contributing to
development. Maintaining the loyalty of the bourgeoisie should be prioritised over any
other estate, and they especially should not be angered. For this reason, favours should be
asked only of them most sparingly. The merchants offer a discounted financial advisor that
can be relied on when inflation must be managed, or as an alternative to granting the Clergy
too much influence when a discounted advisor is needed.

The Nobility provide the least value to the nation passively, and their loyalty is worth the
least so long as they do not revolt against you, but they nonetheless augment your court by
providing generals and a diplomatic advisor, which is a great supplement to the three
administrative advisors offered by the prior two estates.

Where most nations run into costly religious friction when expanding into heathen lands,
Islamic nations gain due to their tolerant inclusion in society as Dhimmi. Heathens
accordingly need not be converted at all, and in return for proper treatment will grant you
reduced technology costs and pay exceptionally high taxes. Their tax burden should be
lowered regularly to earn loyalty, and it’s worth keeping in mind that recruiting an
inquisitor from the Clergy will upset them. Centers of trade should still be assimilated and
granted to Merchants rather than Dhimmi, however.

The Cossacks are another powerful estate, that should be granted full control of steppes and
concessions made for their loyalty in return for their military support. The Cossacks will
fight alongside your army, providing elite cavalry units and augmenting your own cavalry.

The Tribal factions vying for influence among steppe nomads fill a similar role, but should
be granted the bare minimum of land needed to satisfy them. Although they are the most
selfish of all estates, they are nonetheless vital to sustaining a horde’s war effort, supplying
much-needed men and horses for the cause.
Merchant republics and revolutionary republics each have unique aspects of society vying
for control, rather than the usual estates found in other governments. Their influence is tied
to various factors of the state of the nation rather than having land assigned to them, as well
as elections, but they can be curtailed and supported through direct use of your own

In merchant republics, the guilds should be be the dominant factor of society, as they
substantially increase economic output. During times of war, the aristocrats can temporarily
be given power to support the war effort, but it should be returned to the guilds afterwards.
As with estates, it is important to prevent one faction from having excessive influence, lest
they attempt to overthrow you.

In revolutionary republics, Girondists in power will help to spread the revolution

throughout the region, or perhaps the entire world, while Imperials will support you in the
consolidation of power to become emperor of the revolution.

In constitutional governments, the nobility are granted further rights, replacing their
independent estate with a parliamentary system under which they have more authority. This
is an exceptionally beneficial arrangement, as they can be bribed to pass laws on your
behalf, enabling you to get the most out of your citizens with the reinforced legitimacy of a
supposedly separate legal instrument. Provinces represented by parliament will also have
higher economic productivity, however this should be kept in check as a larger parliament
is more expensive to bribe.
IV. Commerce
Trade is the most lucrative source of income, and therefore it is of the utmost importance
for a sovereign to both understand trade and to make the control of trade a central point in
foreign policy, as well as supporting it domestically through proper administration. Trade
can be understood to flow “downstream”, so that the end nodes of London, Genoa, and
Venice are furthest downstream and each node that provides trade to them is upstream.

Trade Power
The center of all trade is trade power. If all nations in a specific node have a combined total
of 500 trade power, and you are collecting in that node with 250 trade power yourself, 50%
of the trade node’s value will be multiplied by your trade efficiency and then added to your
treasury each month.

The primary source of trade power is provincial trade power, which is provided by
development and especially from centers of trade. One very important aspect of provincial
trade power is that it not only provides its full value to the local node, but that it also gives
20% of its value as trade power in each node upstream from it via propagation. Therefore, a
nation with 100 provincial trade power in the Venice node will also gain 20 trade power in
each of the upstream nodes of Alexandria, Ragusa, and Wien. This 20 propagated trade
power is not considered provincial, so it will not propagate further.

This is absolutely crucial because it means that a nation that has control of every province
in a trade node may still have a large portion of its trade pulled downstream by other
nations. For this reason, end nodes are the most desirable nodes since control of every
province grants 100% of the trade power in them. Conversely, control of every province in
a node such as Alexandria may grant only 30% or 40% of the power in the node, due to the
powerful nodes of Venice, Genoa, and Constantinople all pulling trade toward forward.

It is possible to create a virtual end node by controlling every province in the nodes
downstream from a given node. This is best done with nodes that have only a single node
directly downstream, such as Bengal, where fully controlling Ceylon will prevent trade
from being siphoned forward from Bengal. To use Alexandria as an example again, it is not
feasible to make into a virtual end node as one would have to control all of Genoa, Venice,
and Constantinople.
Aside from provincial trade power, caravans and light ships provide secondary sources of
trade power. Caravan power is provided by merchants steering to or from an inland trade
node, or by a merchant collecting in an inland trade node that is the home trade node of the
nation, equal to one-third of a nation’s development, capped at 50 power for 150
development before modifiers. Thus, inland nodes are preferable targets for merchants
when all other factors are equal, due to the large bonus of trade power they grant.

Light ships provide a flat amount of trade power based on the type of light ship, ranging
from 2 per ship for Barques (available at diplomatic technology 2) to 5 per ship for Great
Frigates (available at diplomatic technology 26). Light ships are flexible in that their trade
power can be relocated to any coastal node as needed, or used for privateering.

There are several modifiers to trade, including trade power modifiers (further divided into
domestic, abroad, and global modifiers), trade efficiency, trade steering, and caravan power.
Trade power modifiers naturally affect your trade power – a 20% trade power modifier will
increase 100 trade power to 120 power, giving you a larger share of the node’s value for
both collection and transfer of trade value. Your home node and trade nodes in which you
have the largest share of provincial trade power are considered domestic, and all others are
considered abroad. Most national trade power modifiers are global and affect both. Notably,
overextension impacts trade power abroad only, with -100% trade power abroad for 100%

Trade efficiency modifies only the value collected from a node. With +20% trade
efficiency, a nation collecting with 50% of the trade power in a node that has 30 ducats of
value will collect 18 ducats rather than 15 ducats. These extra ducats are generated out of
nothing and will result in more trade income being collected than the actual trade value of a
node. Trade steering modifies the nation’s trade power in the node for calculation of where
trade is steered, so that 100 trade power with +20% trade power will be equivalent to 120
unmodified trade power.

Caravan power modifiers increase the amount of trade power generated by merchants
steering to or from inland nodes; for example a 150 development merchant republic with
Plutocratic and Trade ideas would have a +88% modifier to its base 50 caravan power,
resulting in each inland merchant providing 94 trade power.
The placement of merchants is an important aspect to maximising trade. Merchants provide
a variety of modifiers, as well as enabling collection and steering. A merchant collecting in
your home node will provide +10% trade efficiency (and, if it is inland, caravan power),
and every merchant steering, regardless of where it is placed or steering to, will provide
+10% trade power to your home node. A merchant collecting outside of your home node
will still provide +10% trade efficiency, however it will reduce your final trade power (after
other modifiers) in that node by half, and steering merchants will no longer provide a +10%
bonus to trade power.

The ideal usage of merchants is to place them where the nation has or can generate trade
power through propagation and caravans to steer towards your home node. Placing
merchants to steer in nodes with no little or no trade power will not provide a large benefit,
but idle merchants being assigned to steer in irrelevant nodes can at least provide +10%
trade power to your home node if not collecting in another node.

Collecting outside of your home node is worthwhile when you do not have an unbroken
chain of nodes with a large percentage of control to transfer the value of the node to your
home node, or when it is impossible altogether, such as when controlling both Genoa and
Venice. The first merchant set to collect outside of your home node will prevent all steering
merchants from contributing the +10% trade power modifier to your home node, but there
are no further penalties to having more merchants past the first collect, meaning that
collecting at any coastal node will be more effective than transferring if you cannot transfer
and collect at least 50% of the value being transferred.

As a concrete example, if your home node is Venice and you are collecting in Genoa, and
you have less than 50% control of Venice, transferring from Alexandria to Venice will be
less useful than collecting at Alexandria, as more than half of the transferred value would
be lost, and no benefit to trade power would be provided in your home node. This applies to
chains of nodes; if you have 60% control of Venice and 60% control of Alexandria,
forwarding from Alexandria to Venice will be more profitable than collecting in Alexandria,
but forwarding from Aleppo to Alexandria would be less profitable than collecting in
Aleppo, as 40% of the value will be lost when transferring to Alexandria and then 40% of
the remaining value will be further lost when transferring to Venice. Transferring from
inland nodes may still be more worthwhile than collecting, due to the caravan power bonus,
and the decision to collect must be taken more carefully when not already collecting outside
of home, due to the loss of trade power.
Merchants also serve a diplomatic purpose, with the use of trade policies. Establishing
communities is a powerful tool to reduce aggressive expansion more quickly and to
improve relations faster to prevent a coalition from forming, to complete a relations mission
more quickly, to secure a vital alliance before a war, to help prevent a personal union or
alliance from being lost due to negative relations, and so on. If none of these are necessary,
hostile trading can be used to prepare large spy networks before a war for increased siege
ability, and improved inland routes can be used during war for even more faster sieges.
Islamic nations can also propagate their religion throughout large areas of Africa and Asia.
Keep in mind that collecting in a non-home-node reduces trade power in that node, and will
prevent you from reaching the 50% trade power needed to use improved inland routes and
Islamic religious centers.
V. Expansion
To conquer land from another requires less of your direct influence than administrating
your own land, but where you save effort by relying on generals and soldiers you invoke
other costs. War is an expensive endeavour; it will empty your treasury, leave families
without men, devastate towns, exhaust the people, cause unrest, and overextend the
bureacracy. It carries great risk, and in the end may lead to your own downfall.

For war to be profitable, one must understand these evils of war and seek to diminish them.
To declare war that is already won before it has begun, to avoid prolonged battles of
attrition, to end it quickly and decisively. However, even then, war may not be profitable,
for what one gains from the war is of equal importance to what one loses.

Vital territory is worth difficult conflict even if the land is fallow, but most fallow land is
not worth any bloodshed, and this applies doubly if it will be granted status as an
autonomous territory, excepting certain circumstances. For example, nomadic tribes live for
constant warfare, and make use of fallow land not by incoporating it into the state but by
taking the full extent of its resources for themselves, razing what’s left to the ground, and
moving on. Another consideration is that enforcing vassalization on a weaker nation with a
brief war will increase your own strength, without overly committing your influence to
directly ruling it as you would if you annexed it. Although these exceptions exist, if you
cannot fathom a specific reason for why you are conquering fallow land, it is likely that
doing so is more detrimental to your people than beneficial.

However, some territory may never be profitable, but still serve a purpose. For the most
ambituous ruler, all the world could be considered strategic territory not because it is useful
to the empire but simply because the ruler desires to have it. Such ambition should be
carefully tamed by first prioritising vital territory and prime land in the building of a
functional nation, prior to finally conquering the rest of the desired land only after an
economic heartland and highly efficient administrative bureacracy is in place to
accommodate it.

The diligent usage of spies will contribute to the making of war profitable. When
opportunity permits, claims should be forged on all bordering territories ahead of war, and a
network firmly established to sabotage the enemy’s defenses, lessening the time and lives
spent on costly sieges.
One must take care not to anger all of their neighbors, lest they find themselves isolated in
war against them simultaneously. Diplomats should be sent to curry favour with those who
may object to the annexation of land and alliances should be forged with regional powers to
deter others from forming coalitions. Strategic use of the truces granted by treaties will
prevent even those who are outraged from banding together against you.

Diplomatic expansion through the integration of willing smaller states who seek the
protection of your realm, through dynastic unions, or through the mere threat of war is
greatly preferrable to invasion, as these methods avoid the expenditure of waging war. This
is especially true within the Holy Roman Empire, where special care must be taken as
conquest will antagonise not only other members but also the Emperor. However, if one is
able to form an alliance with the Emperor this danger can be somewhat mitigated.

Rulers who are not content with administrating for the benefit of the people, but who would
rather create an enormous empire solely for the sake of their ego, should prepare to do to
during the Age of Absolutism. Administrative efficiency achieved through technology and
absolutism will speed conquest practically exponentially rather than linearly. To quickly
secure an iron grip, revoke autonomy, suppress rebels, and strengthen the government. To
cement power further, incite the aristocracy into rebellion through disaster. Once these
steps are taken, and they must be taken with the highest priority if you are to expand
relentlessly, then an empire can truly be built, supported furthermore with propaganda that
best motivates the population to war: imperialism, nationalism, and revolution.
VI. Military
The effective organisation of the army and navy is critical to the waging of war.

The default army composition in the early stages of a campaign should consist of 16,000
infantry and 4,000 cavalry, increasing the amount of infantry as combat width expands and
increasing the amount of cavalry as flanking range grows, both of which occur as
technology progresses. Nations with especially capable cavalry and a strong economy can
use cavalry up to 10-15% below the cavalry ratio, maintaining a careful margin to avoid
insufficient support once infantry begin taking casualties.

Once artillery is available, between 1,000 and 5,000 artillery should be included in each
army, depending on the strength of economy, to increase the speed of sieges. However,
early artillery is too cost-inefficient for widespread combat usage. After chambered demi-
cannons are researched, artillery support should be expanded to fill the combat width of
each army as economy permits, and as better cannons are researched this becomes an
increasingly larger priority.

A typical late field army should thus have 30,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 40,000
artillery, divided into two corps to avoid attrition outside of combat, and ideally will have
an auxillary unit of additional infantry nearby to reinforce the frontline for major,
prolonged battles.

A professional army is preferable to a mercenary army, and when possible the military
should be composed entirely of regulars, and who are drilled as much as the economy can
bear during peacetime. Professionalism should be prioritised in all events. Through the
construction of barracks, the widespread enactment of conscription edicts, the usage of
supply depots for long sieges, and the slackening of recruitment standards, a large regular
military can be maintained even through costly warfare.

However, if needed, field armies can replace their frontlines of infantry and cavalry with
mercenaries. When doing so, if the army is highly professional, the existing frontline of one
army can be disbanded to reinforce other armies with their manpower, replacing the
disbanded frontline with mercenaries, and repeating as needed if it proves impossible to
sustain each individual army with national manpower. Recruiting mercenaries reduces
professionalism, but reinforcing them does not, so they should be used carefully to avoid
full armies being captured.
It is very important to understand all factors of warfare in order to win battles; it is far more
than a game of numbers. Army composition, discipline and morale, training and leadership,
and superior usage of terrain will all enable a numerically-outnumbered force to soundly
defeat a much larger one. An oft-overlooked factor is that 20,000 infantry in 40 half-
strength regiments will be outperformed by 20,000 infantry in 20 full-strength regiments,
which can be avoided by shift-consolidation.

Each fleet should be built around one type of combat ship, according to where it will
operate. The Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, and the seas of China and Japan are suited for
galleys, and all others for heavy ships. A galley navy should aim to have at least 27 galleys,
and a heavy fleet at least nine heavy ships, in order to fill naval engagement width. When
commanded by or fighting a navy with an admiral, this should be increased by three galleys
or one heavy ship per level of admiral maneuver skill. Keep in mind that a galley navy is
superior to a heavy ship navy in in-land seas; heavy ship navies are not a catch-all even if
the economy supports them. Small navies should maintain at minimum enough transports
for half of an army, while large navies should maintain enough to transport a full combat-
width army. Light ships should then fill out the remainder of the navy once sufficient
combat and transport fleets are established.
VII. Feudalism
Subjugation is a useful method to gain more economic value out of fallow land than would
be achieved by directly annexing it. Unlike other ways of improving your nation’s strength
and economy, subjects don’t require much, if any, investment of resources, allowing you to
save those resources for acquiring or improving prime land. Vassalage is therefore the ideal
solution when presented with opportunities to easily acquire land in low-cost wars that
would otherwise not be worthwhile to the overlord. The best nations to subjugate are those
with large amounts of core territory to reclaim, and otherwise those with desirable traits
such as military proficiency.

Subjects have their own prime and fallow land, and should follow the same principles of
efficient expansion that one would follow for their own nation. By expanding the holdings
of subjects within their accepted cultures, religions, and along relevant trade nodes, the
subject will have a vastly superior economy to one that is not expanded in this fashion, and
fewer rebellions. Subjects should be encouraged to fabricate claims on their neighbors by
establishing your diplomatic attitude towards them as hostile, and marking their bordering
provinces as being of vital interest, as taking claimed provinces for your subjects will avoid
the cost of unjustified demands.

Keeping subjects loyal is imperative to getting the most out of them. It is dangerous to let
discontent fester for even a short period, for doing so may lead to your rivals supporting the
independence of the subject, making it much more difficult to rein in, often requiring a war
against that rival. Loyalty should be maintained with the smallest investment of resources
possible. With a small opportunity cost of a diplomat, maintaining a fully positive
diplomatic relationship is the cheapest way to build loyalty, alongside a royal marriage for
monarchies of the same religion. As a great power, influencing subjects costs only gold and
builds trust, the only way to do so with subjects. Taking provinces for yourself in peace
deals and then granting them as a gift to subjects will reduce liberty desire compared to
treaties that directly annex land to the subject, but this may cost diplomatic power for
unjustified demands in some situations, and can only be done when at peace. Staying up to
date with diplomatic technology and cultivating a strong diplomatic reputation will both
contribute to loyalty, as well as expanding your military, all of which have other purposes
beyond increasing loyalty. There are also specific ways to interact with each type of subject.

As a last resort, any amount of loyalty can be bribed with development, which is the most
expensive but also the quickest and strongest method of satisfying a subject. The expense is
much more tolerable if the subject will be annexed relatively soon and the cities being
developed will be made into states, ideally with accepted culture and religion. One’s own
cost of development will be applied to developing a subject’s city, so anything that eases
development will essentially make loyalty cheaper to purchase. Accordingly, universities
should be built in the important cities of subjects if you intend to earn their loyalty in this

Vassals provide several benefits to the overlord, including tax income, trade income, and
military support. The most important of these benefits is trade, as trade is the most lucrative
of all sources of income, and an overlord can divert all of its vassals’ trade even when the
subject is disloyal. This enables one to potentially control entire trade nodes with minimal
resource investment. Tax income is more situational, as it depends upon your own
government and ideas, as well as requiring the vassal to be loyal. Vassal tax starts at 10%
of their income, meaning that a single additive modifier such as that from Iqta government
can increase vassal tax income threefold.

For monarchies, vassal liberty desire can be reduced in the long term by placing your
dynsty upon their throne, although this will temporarily anger them, and so should be done
when the vassal is already loyal but is anticipated to become disloyal in the future. There
are two subtypes of vassal that are more loyal; marches and client states.

Marches should only be designated if you do not intend to annex the vassal, and can not
extract significant tax from it, but greatly reduce liberty desire and increase their military
capabilities. Marches should be kept below one-fourth of your own size, and should have
officers sent to manage their military, in order to maintain both their loyalty and military
capability. Nations that are suited for combat or that are difficult to core are the best
candidates for marches.

Client states are similar to vassals once created, and can also be made into marches to
ensure further loyalty, but have a few key differences. Client states are more flexible
because they can be made anywhere, with an appropriate culture group and religion as
necessary for the land you’ll be granting them, while vassalage requires an existing nation
to become a puppet. However, vassals can have cores to reclaim, and tend to have a
stronger, more well-defined national ideology, and in such cases should be utilised instead
of making a new client state. Client states can be created with your dynasty already ruling
for further loyalty, and can also be forced to accept provinces even when it would
overextend the client’s government.
Personal Unions
Christian nations are capable of forming unions with others, with a completely different
dynamic to vassalage. Unlike vassals, unions do not provide any direct income through
taxation or trade, only military support. However, they have the advantage of being
obtained through diplomacy. Where only the smallest of nations will peacefully accept
vassalization, even the greatest of powers can fall into union under another.

The key to forming personal unions lies in the spread of your dynasty. When a foreign king
dies heirless, the throne will be taken by the dynasty of the marriage partner who is most
developed, accounting for autonomy, and including vassals. In approximately one-fourth of
cases, this will directly result in a personal union, but in three-fourths of cases it will only
result in someone from your dynasty taking the throne.

If one of your kin on a foreign throne dies heirless you will take the throne for yourself,
provided that your nation is more developed than theirs, again accounting for autonomy and
vassals. This, however, is a game of chance, as you rely entirely on said kin not producing
an heir. If you are capable of defeating them in war, and are more prestigious than them,
you can avoid the gamble of an heir being spawned by claiming their throne and going to
war for it. This is usually a preferable option to waiting for your kin to die heirless, unless
they are already over 60 and likely to die of old age, or unless the nation is too small to be
worth fighting a war over. Note that if you are allied or otherwise will have a truce with the
nation you’re claiming the throne of, if an heir is born before you declare war for the throne
you will lose your claim to it. If an heir is born after you declare war, your claim to the
throne remains valid. You can also claim a throne if a consort of your dynasty is ruling as
regent, even if the heir is not of your dynasty, if the heir has a weak claim to the throne.

If there is an eligible contestant to a peaceful personal union, a succession war may break
out when the senior partner assumes the throne of the junior partner. Eligible contestants
include anyone who is married to the junior partner, anyone who is of the same dynasty as
either the senior or junior partner, and rivals of either. The senior partner will be the
defendant in the war, supported by their allies and the junior partner, while the aggressor
will only be supported by allies that are willing to join an offensive war for favors or land.
If you are sufficiently powerful to win such wars as the aggressor, you can position yourself
as a contestant by establishing a rivalry when you see a throne at risk of falling under a
union. Of all eligible contestants, the one with the greatest military will become the

Since one can only maintain so many diplomatic relationships, it is important to arrange
marriages where they will count. One of the most important things to look out for is
whether the marriage you’re arranging will be outclassed by one of the nation’s other
marriage partners, whether in size or in military power for peaceful spread or contesting
unions respectively. A small size difference can be overcome with a development project or
by reducing autonomy, if the potential marriage is important enough.

A nation that is at war, or that has a junior partner itself, cannot become the junior partner
of a union. You may use this fact to avoid your nation falling into foreign hands if you do
not have a heir yourself. If the junior partner of a union has a negative opinion of the senior
partner when the monarch dies, they will become independent, which is a risk to keep in
mind when fighting a war for the union. A pretender being established on the throne of the
junior partner through rebellion will also end the union.

Upon the death or abdication of the ruler, it is possible for the junior partner to be inherited
and permanently joined to the senior partner without requiring diplomatic annexation,
unlike other subjects. The likelihood of this happening is dependent on the senior partner’s
diplomatic reputation and the junior partner’s size.

Colonial Nations
Colonial governments function substantially differently from other subjects. They provide
some trade power, but pay tariffs instead of taxes, and will also send treasure fleets of gold
and silver home. The liberty desire of a colonial government is strongly tied to tariffs, and
will also increase with mercantilism, so the more loyal the colony is the more income you
can derive from it. Colonial governments managing at least ten provinces will supplement
the home government with a larger army and fleet, global trade power, and merchants.

Colonial governments will expand their colonies if they have the income to do so, and if the
money can be spared they should be subsidised during their early development to
encourage this. Colonial governments may also declare wars of their own, unlike other
subjects, and although strong relationships should be maintained with all subjects for
loyalty, this applies especially so to colonies, so that you may enforce peace to protect your
colony if it begins losing in wars with other colonies.

Trade Companies
Trade companies answer directly to your government, rather than being managed by a
colonial governor, but have several characteristics that make them ideal for expansion
compared to direct ownership of land. Trade companies effectively ignore state limits,
unaccepted cultures, and untolerated religions, negating practically all downsides to
expanding, while requiring only half the resources to core as stated provinces. Trade
companies don’t provide tax or manpower, but tax is a pittance compared to the lucrative
production and value of goods found in the regions that trade companies operate in, and
trade companies still contribute to the overall size of the army and navy. One should
promote investments in any sizable trade company unless the trade company already has a
complete monopoly.

Tributaries are subjects in only the loosest sense, but provide a source of prestige and
power for the nation they provide tribute to, and at no cost. Any nation that is willing to
become a tribute voluntarily should be made into one, provided they are not prime land for
expansion into. Fighting wars to make tributaries is less useful, unless you are the Emperor
of China.

Tributary relationships tend to be mutually beneficial, so if you rule a small nation seeking
protection from the Empire of China is valuable both to ease expansion within the system
of tributaries and to afford protection from those outside of it; tributary status can even
grant relative impunity from coalitions.
VIII. Colonization
The largest benefit to colonization is the creation of trade income, and trade routes play an
essential role in deciding whether to colonize and where to do so. If your nation is unable to
pull in a substantial portion of the trade from its colonies, it is likely not worthwhile to

Other important factors in colonization are the development of the land, the potential
commodities produced, and whether you will directly govern the land or whether it will be
assigned to a colonial governor or trade company. The East Indies are the most valuable
region in the world due to their high level of development, valuable trade goods, and the
ability to place them under the purview of trade companies. However, it will typically
require significant effort to establish a long trade route to the East Indies due to their
position in the world.

In the New World, the Caribbean is the most valuable region, with flexible trade routes that
can be taken advantage of from anywhere in Western Europe. Eastern America and Brazil
are prime producers of cotton, tobacco and gems, gold respectively, and with higher
development than other regions, but their trade routes are more limited. Mexico, a prime
producer of cocoa and gold, is also a highly valuable region, unique in that it largely
involves conquest rather than colonization, but it requires control of the Caribbean to bring
the trade to Europe. Even without complete control, however, it will still provide large
treasure fleets loaded with precious metals.

The Ivory Coast, South Africa, and Zanzibar are important regions for controlling the flow
of trade, and are absolutely vital if colonizing the East Indies from a western European
trade region, but most of the land is not especially valuable otherwise.

Western America, especially Alaska, is largely barren but can potentially send copious
amounts of gold through the Pacific to Asia. The other regions not mentioned by name
generally have no outstanding features and should only be colonized to the extent needed to
form a large colonial government of ten provinces, or when nothing else is left to colonize.

Early colonization should be focused on important natural harbours, the most highly
developed land near them, and establishing ten province colonial governments for the
support they provide. Establishing new colonial governments is a more efficient use of
early colonization resources than continuing to develop existing ones extensively.
Of the potential policies to enact when colonizing, trading with natives is generally the
most valuable when colonizing extensively in Africa, in the East Indies, or otherwise
directly governing the provinces being colonized, and should be supplemented with Clergy
assimilation. Assimilating natives will result in higher productivity in colonies, which is
especially valuable considering the prominence of premium trade goods in colonial regions.
If most or all of the land being colonized will be managed by colonial governors, repression
of natives can be pursued instead to accelerate colonial growth.

Settler growth should be encouraged to the fullest extent possible by colonizing adjacent
land, granting New World charters to Burghers, by enacting policies to increase settler
growth and settler chance, and through religion where possible; Catholics especially should
try to establish small colonial nations in desired regions as quickly as possible, while
maintaining a positive relationship with the Papal State, to secure the Treaty of Tordesillas
for each region.

If colonization is a substantial focus, both Exploration and Expansion should be taken

within the first three idea groups. Economically powerful nations can further accelerate
colonization by simultaneously building one or two more colonies than they have colonists
for, which is a costly but effective way to gain control of regions in a colonial race.

When exploring inland in the new world, conquistadors should lead a small army of around
5,000 and be given the mission to search for the Seven Cities, which will periodically
provide benefits beyond exploration.

Note that only from Iberia or Western Africa can South America be reached before
diplomatic technology 7. Colonizers outside of this region will need diplomatic tech 7 to
reach Canada from northwestern Europe or Alaska from the Kuril islands.
IX. Government
There are many different forms of government with strengths and weaknesses suited to a
variety of situations. It is important to use the right government for the right situation to
properly exploit their advantages and mitigate the weaknesses.

The most common form of government is monarchy. The variations of monarchy are
numerous, but as a whole monarchies are an exceptionally good form of government due to
the ability to abdicate or disinherit rulers, the potential for personal unions, and eligibility to
become Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The most basic forms of monarchy are despotic monarchy and feudal monarchy. Despotic
monarchy is suited for expansion by virtue of reducing the expense of unjustified demands
and increasing maximum absolutism. Feudal monarchies provide the greatest benefit with
vassals, as vassals are taxed at nearly four times the base rate. For administrative rulers that
are not utilising vassals, the aptly-named admnistrative monarchy provides an alternative to
feudal monarchy to increase economic output.

In later years, constitutional monarchy becomes the best option for administrative rulers,
with parliament providing an improved economic output and flexible benefits that can be
used to adapt to the needs of a situation. However, it is ill-suited for expansionist rulers due
to the large decrease in absolutism. They will instead benefit from enlightened despotism,
further increasing absolutism from a despotic monarchy and allowing further cultural
integration to improve the economy of a multicultural empire.

Noble republics occur when the nobility seize power. Although the monarch ostensibly
remains in control, the nobility will demand significant concessions, effectively crippling
the nation’s economy.

The Prussian government is a heavily military-oriented monarchy, commonly described as

an army with a state. With a massive increase to the military power of rulers, an army with
this government excels at warfare, having surplus power to not only keep on the cutting
edge of military technology, ideas, and policies but also to raise generals, force marches,
breach fortresses, build supply depots, and promote militarization. Militarization rewards
the accumulation of army tradition through the maintenance of fortresses and ideas that
increase yearly army tradition, and will last longer if Prussia is ruled administratively rather
than expanding. The populace of a state is uniquely prepared for war and will suffer much
less from war exhaustion, further supporting the military nature of the state.

Islamic Governments
There are several monarchy variants unique to Islamic nations; for several of them, a
change in religion also entails a change in government.

The Iqta government is the Islamic equivalent to feudal monarchies, and reaps even greater
benefits from vassalage. Under the Iqta taxation policies, expanding and maintaining large
vassals becomes incredibly fruitful, and depending upon the taxation policy, the cost of
coring will be reduced or subjects under an Iqta will have less desire for liberty, both
powerful options.

Feudal theocracy is a religiously-oriented form of monarchy that is ideal for widespread

conversion. The government also has the ability to substantially reduce monarch power
costs with temporary bonuses for -20% development cost and widespread claims on
neighbors, at the cost of a small initial investment of monarch power. Because the -20%
development cost only applies to the capital state, it is worthwhile to move the capital
before committing to developing a new area. When moving the capital, it will require
between 20 and 45 new development for monarch power to be saved by doing so, so a large
development project should be planned in advance.

The Ottoman government is available to the Ottoman Empire or a Turkish sultanate that
replaces them. Unique among monarchies, the best of several heirs can be chosen to
succeed each padishah, largely avoiding the possibility of leadership falling into the hands
of an incompetent ruler. Elite units of Janissaries can be recruited from heathen provinces
in states, which encourages expansion into and tolerance of other religions. These powerful
infantry receive less damage and drill twice as fast as normal infantry. Heavy reliance on
Janissaries can result in disaster, but this can be averted by maintaining stability.

The Ottoman government can also assign local governors, Pashas, to states. Pashas
substantially reduce state maintenance, minimising the cost of edicts, and can help prevent
rebellions. States on the far edges of the realm will benefit the most from this. However,
before assigning a Pasha to a state, any planned construction should be started beforehand,
and regiments should not be recruited from these states unless absolutely necessary.
The Mamluk sultanate greatly increases the administrative power available to a ruler, and is
culture-oriented. Electing rulers from the dominant culture will result in low legitimacy, but
provide substantial monetary income and manpower reinforcements from the people of that
culture. Cultural conversion can be used to increase the level of influence a culture has for
this purpose. When needed, a foreign leader can be chosen to succeed, providing full
legitimacy and increase army tradition.

East Asian Governments

The Celestial Empire is perhaps the most well-rounded government of all, excelling for
both administration and expansion, with strong economic, military, and naval benefits, and
with the potential for increased administrative power for the Emperor. Maintaining the
Mandate of Heaven is key, as well as promoting meritocracy; reforms and decrees should
only be enacted when they are at their maximum. Stability and skilled advisors should be
prioritised highly, and tributaries or vassalage established with all neighboring nations.

The Japanese Shogunate is unique in that it can maintain any number of vassals without
straining diplomatic relations, and that the vassals do not consider one another when
evaluating their relative strength to the shogun. However, these vassals can declare war on
one another without the shogun being capable of intervening. To prevent this, subjects
should be isolated, with the shogun taking land between them.

Japanese daimyo can not only declare war on other daimyo, but also form alliances and
coalitions. To expand more rapidly without coalitions forming, take only claimed provinces
with the Sengoku casus balli. Once Kyoto is taken, a daimyo will become the shogun.

Steppe Nomads
Steppe Nomad governments are a radically different type of monarchy that exist for the
sole purpose of constantly expanding. This is encouraged by the tribal conquest casus belli
and the ability to raze cities. Due to constant expansion, you will rapidly expand beyond
your state limit into conquering fallow land; all of which should be razed to the ground.
Only provinces that will be made into states, typically prime land or areas with a province
that produces gold, should be spared. Razing not only provides you with large amounts of
power and ducats, but also reduces the cost of coring and overextension, and so should be
done before any coring of fallow land has begun. As further incentive to continue
expanding, horde unity is steadily lost when at peace, and is restored only by looting and
Steppe nomads are very powerful in combat, and function substantially different from other
armies. With powerful cavalry bonuses and high cavalry-ratios, it is possible to support a
full army of cavalry, which should be utilised by replacing infantry with cavalry as the
economy permits. Infantry units should not be disbanded when full, since manpower is
crucial to a nation at constant war, but should instead be slowly consolidated after each
battle to avoid spending manpower on reinforcing them until they are phased out. Small
amounts of infantry can also be used for occupying territory while the cavalry engage in

Although hordes have many combat advantages, the most important are the increase in unit
movement speed, which enables you to maneuver for battles in favourable terrain, and a
substantial increase to damage on flat terrain with an equally substantial penalty on uneven
terrain. It is preferable to fight enemies on neutral steppe terrain than to defend even in
mountains, unless they are also nomads with the same conditions. Ensuring engagements
on favourable terrain is key, and sieges in uneven terrain should be avoided if at all possible,
unless you have an overwhelming advantage.

Because steppe nomads should be at war almost constantly, careful management of

resources is critical. In particular, attrition must be minimised as much as reasonably
possible and the tribe estate needs to be utilised to the fullest extent: it provides substantial
manpower replenishment and free reinforcement cavalry periodically, as well as increasing
manpower recovery speed and reducing cavalry cost, which are vitally needed for
sustaining war efforts. Preserving units is also important due to the cheaper cost of
reinforcing relative to recruiting new units for hordes.

One important trait to note is that if an underage heir would become khan, a succession
crisis will occur instead. For this reason, khanates should be somewhat more conservative
with disinheriting heirs to avoid this.

Steppe nomads can reform into more typical monarchy variants, but this should only be
done if no longer expanding rapidly, as the steppe nomad government is the best
government type for doing so. Eastern nomads can effectively reform the government by
seizing the Mandate of Heaven, which is a much more powerful option than reforming into
a typical monarchy and bypasses the steep stability impact of reformation.

Republics differ from monarchies in that they provide a more consistent source of power
and have slightly more tolerance for unaccepted cultures. Although there is no stability loss
when a ruler leaves office, it is more costly to raise stability when it is lost. The government
should be strengthened liberally to support re-electing leaders and, when possible, to
maintain over 80 republican tradition, avoiding events that cause instability. Republics are
not well suited for expansionists, due to low absolutism.

Most forms of republic are largely interchangeable, but republics with longer election
cycles are worse than those with short cycles, as election cycles determine how quickly a
new leader will improve.

Dutch republics stand out as both the only form of republic that can arrange royal marriages
and the only republic that can determine how skilled leaders are before electing them.
Dutch republics cannot re-elect rulers, but can instead elect leaders for life. A balance
should be struck between Statists and Orangists to enable shifting between them as the
situation calls for.

Merchant Republics
In the same way that steppe nomads are a fundamentally different type of monarchy that
emphasise expansion to an extreme, merchant republics are a fundamentally different type
of republic that emphasise administration to an extreme. Owning more than twenty
provinces in states will result in republican tradition being lost, which will cost substantial
power as re-election becomes unfeasible, or end the republic altogether.

This weakness is offset by the many advantages the merchant republic government
provides. Of these, the greatest benefit is a bonus to goods produced in all provinces of a
trade node equal to half of the merchant republic’s trade share – with 100% control of the
Venice node as a merchant republic, all provinces in it would have +50% goods produced.
This is the largest possible individual bonus to goods produced obtainable, and due to the
synergy with trade bonuses, makes the government form extremely lucrative.

Trade leagues provide a means to diplomatically increase trade influence without conquest.
The cost of a trade league, a diplomatic relation slot, remains static whether it has one
member or several, but the benefit of a trade league scales with the number of members, so
a trade league is most worthwhile when many members can be recruited, ideally ten or
more, including trade cities. This is also important because a larger nation may declare war
on an isolated trade league member, leaving the merchant league leader unable to call its
own allies into the war; in which case having many league members to defend is important
to conserve resources or deter the war from being declared to begin with. Note that trade
leagues will be disbanded when prestige is too low, which is especially relevant to keep in
mind when converting to another religion or accepting rebel demands.

Trade cities are a means to both increase trade power and national security. By creating a
trade city in every available trade node, the merchant republic will be substantially more
resilient to invasion, as each city can contribute 6,000 to 10,000 soldiers for defensive wars,
which can be vital in the early years of a campaign or when facing a coalition. Centers of
trade should be controlled by the merchant republic when within the 20-province limit, but
can otherwise be granted to a trade city. If the republic controls all of the centers of trade in
a region, the trade city should instead be made from the most developed province. When
possible, trade cities should be made in areas where they will not border hostile nations to
decrease the chance of war being declared upon them, to avoid the potential for them to be
annexed in a separate peace while defending the league, and to avoid the trade city
annexing provinces for themselves in a war and leaving the trade league.

Because merchant republics are limited to twenty stated provinces, generally only vital
territory should be directly taken, to get the most out of those twenty provinces. Naturally,
centers of trade are by far the most important. Trade posts should be built in the most
valuable centers of trade in each region, as a central trade hub is superior to several smaller
ones. To achieve complete control of a trade node, vassals can be used to divert trade power
from the low-value provinces without requiring direct annexation.

Merchant republics can make use of more than twenty provinces with trade companies.
Provinces in trade companies have minimal autonomy without being stated, and even
increase trade power substantially, leading to a very synergistic source of production and
trade income alongside merchant republic benefits, as well as providing a source of low-
autonomy provinces for increased force limit that may otherwise be found lacking.

Russian Governments
Russian cultures have a variant of monarchies and merchant republics; principalities and
veche republics respectively. These are limited to duchies and can not become kingdoms,
but have unique government functions. Chief among them is the ability to raise elite
Streltsy units, which periodically provides a large wave of reinforcements capable of
turning a war around with increased damage. A Russian duchy that forms Russia becomes a
Tsardom – an empire that can rapidly colonize the cold frontier, gaining control of Siberia
without requiring Exploration or Expansion ideas.
Tribal Governments
Tribal despotism is an ideal government for expansion, almost alone in providing a
reduction to coring cost. Tribal monarchies and tribal democracies have no particularly
distinguishing traits, but both can become tribal despots, either through directly switching
or through re-election with low republican tradition. The primary drawback to tribal
despotism, a decrease in diplomatic relations, is diminished and then overcome quickly as
the nation becomes a kingdom and then empire. Tribal federations are likewise oriented for
warfare, earning benefits through winning battles and occupying provinces.

Beginning in the Age of Enlightenment, large nations in Europe can agitate for a revolution
by becoming unstable. Low prestige, high war exhaustion, debt, and absolutism will make
revolution ferment faster. Breaking a truce is the easiest way to cause instability and
exhaustion. Once the revolution has begun, any rebels taking the capital will proclaim the
revolution a success, even if the rebels are not directly tied to the revolution. The fastest
way to achieve this is to anger one of the estates into disloyalty, and revoke provinces from
their control closest to your capital, as well as opening your forts to them. As the revolution
succeeds, everything should be seized from the estates, who will lose all influence in the
new revolutionary republic.

A population frenzied into a successful revolution is the greatest asset a ruler could have, as
an enormously stronger military can be created out of a willing population. Spreading the
revolution provides the best casus belli for expansion, and the people will stomach constant
war without exhaustion when fighting for the cause.
X. Religion
As with government, religion plays a fundamental role in determining the strengths and
weaknesses of a nation and understanding how to make the most of these factors will
greatly impact chances of success. Widespread religions provide more potential land to
expand into without tolerance issues, and easier potential to secure alliances. Less common
religions provide more opportunity to use the Holy War casus belli granted by Religious
ideas. For religions that have a Defender of the Faith, it provides a variety of powerful
benefits, but widespread religions will have more competition for the title and may
frequently be called upon to defend brothers and sisters of the faith, while other religions
may be able to maintain it for the entire campaign without ever having to defend another
nation for it.

Christian denominations are the most widespread and have the greatest capability for
proselytism, with the potential for both the largest number of and the most effective
missionaries, as well as having the ability to secure personal unions and become Defender
of the Faith.

Roman Catholicism is the most widespread denomination of all, and is heavily centered
around the Papal State. By gaining influence with the Pope, a variety of powerful favours
can be sought, offering adaptability. Chief among them is the increase of stability, saving
valuable administrative power, especially for republics or in other circumstances in which a
nation might find it prohibitively expensive to increase stability.

Cardinals, randomly assigned to a highly developed province at the beginning of each year,
provide the primary source of influence and should be obtained through events or in
conquest whenever possible. Supplementing the continuous influence of cardinals are the
Clergy estate, ideas, and the Defender of the Faith title. Converting provinces of other
faiths will also increase influence, making Catholicism suited for Religious ideas.

Relations with the Papal State play a large role in how quickly influence is gained, so as
positive a relationship as possible should be sought. A devout Catholic should strongly
consider forming an alliance with the Papal State, granting military access, and, if they are
a great power, influencing them as well. Naturally, expansion into Papal territory or
violating the Treaty of Tordesillas are to be avoided; if they must be done, it is typically
better to reform, as the main advantage to Catholicism lies in Papal influence.
The Treaty of Tordesillas provides a rare religious incentive for settler growth, but care
must be taken for expanding into another Catholic's colonial region will not only inhibit the
growth of colonies there but also ruin your relationship with the Papal State.

Influence can also be invested into attempting to become the controller of the Curia, which
offers powerful benefits, but this is unreliable. As investment has rapidly diminishing
returns, one should only invest five influence at most. If control of the Curia is obtained,
the most should be made out of the diplomatic options available. Excommunication and
crusades are valuable tools for supporting expansion, alongside reduced aggressive

Protestantism is a versatile denomination that most any nation can make use of, but is most
suitable for administrative rulers that are colonizing, as the second of only two religions
that provide increased colonial growth, and with access to cheaper development.

The main advantage of Reformed Christianity lies in the tolerance of heretics, making
expansion into all other Christian denominations much more worthwhile, with no need to
convert them. It also provides resilience to one’s own provinces being converted by centers
of reformation. It naturally pairs with Humanist ideas.

Orthodox provides relatively small benefits at first, but as patriarch authority accumulates it
becomes progressively stronger, eventually providing some of the most powerful bonuses
among religions. Of all religions, Orthodox incentivises conversion of other religions the
strongest, being nigh-incompatible with humanist ideas, and of the Christian denominations
also attains the strongest conversion capability. Support should be enlisted from the Clergy
at every opportunity to build authority, and authority should normally be prioritised in
events. Development should be focused in areas where it will help to consecrate

Coptic is a poor choice for administration, but the strongest for large-scale expansion with
reduced coring cost. Early expansion should be oriented towards obtaining Holy Sites for
the nationwide increase in power for doing so.

Orthodox and Coptic can each obtain one more missionary than other Christian
denominations. Catholic nations have one less permanent missionary, but can temporarily
gain two by embracing the counter-reformation, bringing it on par with Orthodox and
Coptic for 150 years.
Islam is nearly as widespread as Christianity, and has similar proselytising potential as well.
Despite this, conversion should largely be limited to other denominations of Islam. Islamic
denominations are largely similar short of their rivalry with one another; of them, Ibadi has
the strongest passive bonus, being the only religious denomination that can readily increase
goods produced.

Both piety and impiety provide powerful benefits, and one is rewarded for staying
committed to one or the other. When making decisions, it is normally better to pick the
option that will keep you closer to one of the ends, even if it involves a penalty or small
loss of resources. The bonuses are powerful enough that being closer to the center is a
notable loss.

Of the two, Legalism is stronger for a number of reasons. One of the bonuses of Mysticism
is increased missionary strength, but Mysticism is gained when declaring war on nations
with the same denomination and lost when declaring wars on those of any other religion,
greatly inhibiting the effectiveness of its bonus. Furthermore, Islam synergises more with
tolerance of religion than conversion thanks to the Dhimmi estate, reducing the value of
missionary strength to begin with. There are also several beneficial decisions that can be
taken upon a new ruler ascending to the throne that increase Legalism, making it easier to
maintain than Mysticism.

If you already have full Legalism (or Mysticism) and will gain more through a pending
event or declaration of war, you should use the piety to enforce religious adherance. If you
don’t have any corruption to remove, simply debase currency before doing so.

Schools of law provide flexible bonuses, and the nations you choose to vassalise or form
alliances with should take into account their school to ensure access to each bonus as you
need them. The strongest bonuses in most cases are the development cost reduction of
Maliki and the combat bonuses of Jafari and Zaidi. Ismaili is the most powerful option for
republics, with the significant increase to republican tradition.

Hinduism is a somewhat flexible religion, but its primary advantage lies in expansionism
with reduced coring cost and aggressive expansion. Monarchies benefit from events that
increase power, while republics will have increased flexibility.

Sikhism largely serves as a pathway to conversion, enabling Hindu nations to convert to

Islam and vice versa.
Confucianism, like Islam, is suited for tolerance of other religions rather than conversion,
and is thus well suited for expansion into fallow land. Rather than granting heathen
communities autonomy as an estate of the realm, however, Confucianism harmoniously
accepts them into the greater society for the mutual benefit of the nation and the community.
Harmonization with Shinto, Mahayana, and Theravada are most desirable. When following
Confucianism, expansion should be focused on one religion at a time, incorporationg it into
the nation’s administration before conquering land of another religion, to avoid religious
strife from building up faster than it can be harmonized. The harmonization process should
only be started when the nation as a whole is already harmonious, lest it become too
discordant. Maintaining a fully stable society is key to Confucianism.

Shinto is well-suited for administration due to reduced development, idea, and construction
cost. The isolation level should be kept between Adaptive and Selective Integration.
Isolationism can be useful for expansionists, giving potential to reduce culture conversion
cost by 85% and an extra missionary. Although the variety of bonuses available are all
powerful, Shinto is very unflexible in choosing those bonuses.

The Buddhist denominations of Theravada, Vajrayana, and Mahayana are largely

interchangeable. Buddhism greatly rewards maintaining neutral karma, which in turn means
it rewards administration rather than expansion.

The religions indigenous to the Americas are very powerful, but each requires a completely
unique approach. One factor common to all of them is that upon reforming the religion the
nation receives technology and institutions from Europeans, so military technology should
be advanced only as much as necessary to conquer other American nations, and other
technology should not be advanced at all, instead utilising monarch power for development.

Both Inti and Mayan nations should conquer all of their neighbors at a brisk pace. For Inti,
once all neighbors are conquered and armies are free to deal with rebels, autonomy can be
lowered to further accelerate the accumulation of authority. For Mayans, once twenty
provinces are obtained, forts should be demolished in provinces prior to releasing them for
reforms. The most important reform for both Inti and Mayan nations is to reform the

Nahuatl should be at near-constant war, but with the goal of vassalising rather than
annexing. The most important reform is to open up sumptuary restrictions.
XI. Ideology
There is a critical dichotomy between idea groups for administrating and expanding. One of
the largest strengths of administration is that it only requires Economic ideas for full
efficiency, leaving the other seven idea groups free to improve the nation as you see fit.
Expansion requires at least two idea groups, and large-scale expansion requires four full
idea groups dedicated solely to making expansion worthwhile.

The most important idea group, which should always be taken within the first three idea
groups whether expanding or administrating, is Administrative ideas and Economic ideas.
Despite the name, Administrative ideas are crucial for expansion but not for administrating,
while Economic ideas are central to administrating. The primary reason for this is that
reduced coring cost and reduced development cost are the two best modifiers in the game
for expanding and administrative respectively.

Because expansion into fallow land invokes rebellions and is economically inefficient
compared to prime land, a second idea group is required to mitigate these factors; either
Humanist or Religious ideas. Humanist enables the passive tolerance of fallow land, while
Religious ideas are more suitable for conversion of it. Religious typically involves more
resources invested but improves the land more long-term, and is also a strong consideration
for expansion due to enabling the Holy War casus belli, which hugely reduces the cost of
expansion by removing the diplomatic power cost of unjustified demands for taking
unclaimed provinces in peace deals.

Large-scale expansion, especially expansion aiming for world conquest, requires two more
idea groups to be performed efficiently: Influence ideas and Diplomatic ideas. Influence
ideas substantially reduce the cost of annexing subjects by -45% with the Influence-
Administrative Vassal Integration Act, effectively an alternative form of reduced coring
cost, while Diplomatic ideas reduce the warscore cost of taking provinces by 20%,
drastically increasing the speed of expansion when stacked with other additive modifiers to
reduce province warscore cost. Both groups also increase vassal integration speed through
improved diplomatic reputation and mitigate aggressive expansion.

These idea groups are all generally powerful, and in some cases are even worth taking
when administrating, so the requirement of taking the four of them for expansion does not
necessarily handicap the nation. It does, however, make specialisation to the nation’s
specific strengths more difficult, and relegates military ideas to low priority, adversely
affecting army quality.
Administrative Idea Groups
Administrative ideas are ideal for expansion due not only to reduced coring cost and the
reduced subject annexation cost policy with Influence, but also for the increased number of
states, providing an economic boost to nations expanding past the state limit, and bonuses
to mercenary availability and cost, especially relevant to expanding nations that typically
rely on mercenaries to substitute for manpower in fighting constant wars. Administrative
ideas are rarely worthwhile for administrative nations.

Economic ideas are ideal for administration because of the direct reduction to development
cost and build cost, which expanding nations will not utilise fully due to investing many of
the resources that would go into development and building into expanding instead. One of
the biggest advantages of having economic ideas rather than administrative ideas are the
numerous policies with military idea groups to increase army strength, which
administrative ideas completely lack.

Humanist ideas support expansion by reducing the penalties of fallow land, decreasing the
number of rebellions, and mitigating aggressive expansion. The strength of Humanist ideas
lies in minimising the number of resources invested in the aftermath of expansion. It is
most beneficial with nations that can reach +3 tolerance of heretics or heathens, due to
being Islamic with access to Dhimmi, or tolerant national ideas.

Religious ideas conversely support expansion by converting fallow land rather than
mitigating the penalties. With substantial bonuses to both religious and cultural conversion,
a Religious nation can ultimately be more productive and resistant to rebellion in the long
run than a Humanist nation, but will require investment of resources into conversion and
rebellion suppression to achieve this. Religious ideas will also save a substantial amount of
diplomatic power through the Holy War casus belli. Another advantage of Religious ideas
is in its policies with military idea groups, an area where Humanist is found lacking, much
like Administrative ideas, and should be taken into account if one is concerned about
relative army strength.

Economic ideas should be considered mutually exclusive with Administrative ideas, and
Religious ideas mutually exclusive with Humanist ideas, as each rewards opposite
approaches to resource investment. Idea groups reward and empower specialisation, and a
nation that takes idea groups to achieve opposite goals will find itself worse off than one
that specialised.
The Innovative idea group is perhaps the least specialised idea group, providing a wide
variety of benefits, but is most notable for simultaneously supplementing the military and
the amount of monarch power available. By decreasing the cost of technology and
potentially ideas as well and reducing the cost of advisors, the nation will spend less and
gain more monarch power, while the reduction to monthly war exhaustion, increase in
military leader cap, and powerful policies support the non-combat side of warfare. In
particular, the Innovative-Offensive policy provides the largest bonus to sieging forts
available, while the Innovative-Defensive and Innovative-Quantity policies help when
defending. The Innovative-Quality policy directly increases combat ability, rounding out its
versatile capabilities. One important factor in choosing Innovative ideas is whether the
nation is Islamic, as Islamic nations with Innovative ideas gain access to a decision to
reduce idea cost by 5%.

Expansion ideas are typically best used to supplement Exploration ideas when heavily
specialising in colonization, but can also be taken in place of Exploration ideas for local
colonization with a focus on trade. In particular, it is very well suited for nations in
Southeast Asia, a rich trade region with relatively few provinces that need to be colonized.

Diplomatic Idea Groups

Exploration ideas are naturally the most important for colonization, as one might expect,
and nations that are interested in extensive colonization should prioritise it above all other
idea groups, even Administrative or Economic.

Diplomatic and Influence ideas share a notable amount of overlap with increased
diplomatic reputation, relations, and means of mitigating aggressive expansion, meaning
that both are highly suitable for a variety of diplomatic situations, but each also has specific
strengths. Diplomatic ideas excel in Christendom due to the ability to break royal marriages
without a penalty to stability, making it the ideal group for pursuing personal unions
without being locked into too many diplomatic relations from marriages. The extra
diplomat is also highly relevant in the region for managing relations with the numerous
nations of the Holy Roman Empire. Influence ideas are meanwhile well-suited for vassals,
increasing their contribution to the overlord and reducing the costs of taking unjustified
land for them. The policies available to each further reinforce these specialisations. Despite
the overlap, or perhaps because of it, a nation that is interested in taking one of these two
groups will often want the other as well.
Trade ideas serve one purpose and one purpose alone: the accumulation of money. They
provide an even larger boost to the economy than Economic ideas, although the strength of
Economic ideas lies in its development cost reduction and military policies. Trade ideas are
important to colonizing nations that wish to establish a long trade route, but can be used by
any nation that wants to establish firm control of trade. Unlike Economic ideas, which
provide a passive boost to economy, Trade ideas will normally require explicit effort
towards establishing control of trade to reap the benefits of the idea group. Trade has many
policies to further increase trade income, but the Trade-Religious and Trade-Quantity
policies stand out among them as the premium boosts to income with increased goods

Maritime ideas support establishing naval superiority, but where Naval ideas are centrally
focused on combat dominance, Maritime ideas have a more utilitarian approach. Most
importantly, Maritime increases naval force limit and sailors, expanding the potential size
of transport and trade fleets, and increases blockade efficiency, increase the non-combat
influence the navy has in primarily land-based wars. This enables the nation to more
effectively leverage their navy in a useful way outside of direct combat.

Espionage’s primary use is in establishing spy networks, which offer a large variety of
potential benefits. Largest among them is the potential to save monarch power by
fabricating claims and studying technology. Faster spy network construction also enables
maps to be stolen more effectively, conserving prestige that would otherwise need to be
spent to buy maps in the absence of Exploration ides, and will also contribute to siege
ability. However, Espionage is undoubtedly the worst idea group available, as these
benefits are relatively trivial compared to other idea groups.

Military Idea Groups

Military idea groups can be divided into three types: core, utility, and naval. The core
military ideas are the four idea groups that exist solely to improve your military capability –
Quantity, Quality, Offensive, and Defensive. The utility military ideas are the two idea
groups that provide relatively small benefits to your land army, but have other benefits for
the nation. The final type of military ideas are Naval ideas, which of course does not benefit
the army at all but rather the navy.

Quantity ideas are by far the strongest military idea group, as a 50% increase to force limit
can effectively be considered a 50% increase in combat ability; an army of 300,000 is
capable of defeating an army of 200,000 with any of the other military idea groups.
However, there are several caveats to this that prevent Quantity from always being the first-
picked military idea group. The most important is that a 50% larger army requires a much
larger economy to support, so the idea group is not as great for small nations that haven’t
had a chance to establish their economy yet. Due to combat width and attrition, the power
of a larger army has somewhat diminishing returns, but this can be offset by dividing
armies and using them to reinforce as a battle continues on. Conversely, while bonuses to
army quality only benefit army quality, the 50% increase in force limit not only increases
combat capability but also has substantial utility. A larger army will enable more fortresses
to be sieged simultaneously, and impacts how other nations view you, making alliances
easier to secure, subjects more loyal, coalitions less likely to form, and wars less likely to
be declared against you. Larger armies are also more suited for fighting rebels, which scale
with most of your nation’s combat bonuses but not with the size of your army.

Of the four core military idea groups, Quantity also provides the strongest utility with
policies, granting access to reduced development cost with the Quantity-Economic policy
and increased goods produced with the Quantity-Trade policy, while still having policies
that increase military capability as well.

Offensive, Defensive, and Quality form the rest of the core four military doctrines, with all
three of these groups directly increasing army quality. Each has its own nuances that make
it more suitable than others for specific situations.

Defensive ideas provide the largest bonus fastest, with the combat bonuses of the idea
group being frontloaded into the first three ideas, including a decisive +15% morale. This is
the ideal group to take in the early stages of a campaign where military power is crucial to
survival. This is further supplemented by the reduced maintenance and attrition ideas,
helpfully lessening the burden of a war economy when strong economies have not yet been
established. However, the power of the idea group falls off somewhat later in the game,
especially due to the complete absence of policies that increase military capability, unlike
the other core military idea groups. Another consideration for this idea group is the
defensive bonuses it provides – Great Britain is less likely to gain any advantage from
increased attrition for enemies and defensive forts than Russia, for example.

Offensive ideas ultimately provide a stronger military that Defensive ideas in the long run,
but increase the economic burden rather than decrease it due to the 20% increase in force
limit, and are lacking in utility other than siege ability. This is the default, well-rounded
group for increasing your military power.
Quality ideas fill a unique niche in increasing the power of both the army and the navy, and
also have the strongest combat policies, being capable of providing the most powerful
individual units with the Quality-Economic, Quality-Religious, and Quality-Innovative
policies, as well as the navy with the Quality-Maritime policy.

Aristocratic ideas provide a diverse array of utility, but lack any cohesive focus or
specialisation. As cavalry combat ability is the only direct combat bonus, the extent of the
nation’s cavalry usage is an important factor in determining whether the ideas are
worthwhile to take. With the Aristocratic-Espionage policy, the idea group can effectively
be used to specialise in cavalry combat ability. Aside from that, the only niche of
Aristocratic ideas is to gain non-military benefits while spending military power.

The Plutocratic group is a more focused set of utility ideas and policies, largely centered
around trade, yet still increases the power of the military. It is most well-suited for
merchant republics, but is viable for any republic with a surplus of military power that does
not need a stronger military. It is also of interest for expansionists due to the Plutocratic-
Influence policy to reduce subject integration cost.

Naval ideas only serve one purpose, but they serve it well. When absolute naval supremacy
is the goal, no other idea group can compete. Naval and Maritime complement each other
fantastically for naval specialisation, and the Naval-Maritime policy further ensures
dominance of the navy. The Naval-Economic policy stands out as a policy with great
economic utility to an otherwise singular-focus group.
XII. Leading a Campaign
Thus far, I have covered at length individual aspects of governance. To guide a nation to
success will require consideration of how to tie all of these elements together in the unique
context of your nation’s geographical and political position, national strengths, and other

Once you come into power in a nation, the first course of action is to survey the domestic
situation. Take stock of the economy; the greatest variables for income will be in
production and trade, while the greatest variables in expenses will be your military and
defenses. An income of ten ducats is typical for a mid-sized economy in 1444, while larger
nations may have a monthly revenue of twenty ducats.

Determine what trade nodes you have influence in, and how best to assign merchants. If
you control centers of trade, consider granting them to merchant guilds and proclaiming an
edict to protect trade. Take note of valuable commodities, especially gold, that can be
developed later. Assess the situation of estates, and ensure that they have enough influence
to contribute to the economy by granting them land if necessary. A general should normally
be recruited from the nobility if there’s any possibility of war. Requesting power from
estates can help to jump-start your rule. Ensure that the nation is stable; if a significant
portion of your holdings are populated by a foreign culture, they should be accepted, and
provinces of an untolerated religion should be converted.

If the expenditure can be afforded, hire advisors to assist you. The advisors to hire will
depend on your objectives; a nation that will be going to war immediately will benefit most
from military advisors, especially commandants and army reformers, while one that wants
to secure a critical alliance may prefer a statesman, and one working on religious
conversion will want an inquisitor. Advisors can also help shore up weaknesses in power
generation to ensure not falling behind in one type of technology.

Keep expenses in check by reducing the pay for the army, suspending maintenance of forts,
and mothballing most of the fleet, unless an immediate war is anticipated. Trade ships are
the only ships that need to be active at peacetime, except in the Mediterranean, where
rampant piracy necessitates having warships protect trade. Wealthy nations can consider
drilling the army from the start, but in the starting years it is important to be establishing
the foundations of the economy as quickly as possible, so only drill if you will still be able
to afford construction while doing so.
Once the domestic situation is understood, one can begin to evaluate the geopolitical
position and diplomatic relationships. Diplomacy is a means to an end to achieve goals, so
goals must be determined first before diplomacy can begin. Common goals include
reclaiming core territory, securing centers of trade in important trade nodes and gold mines,
acquiring prime land, and completing missions or age objectives. Once you have
determined your goals, you can begin building diplomatic relations with nations that can
help to achieve them, for example rivals of your targets or strong regional powers, as well
as establishing spy networks and territorial claims in potential targets.

Simply having goals does not entail going to war at the earliest opportunity. Goals are often
a mid-to-long-term means for strengthening your nation, but using your resources for
administrative purposes while at peace is more efficient than spending them in a costly war.
One should wait for opportunities to achieve goals where the war will be quick and
decisively won at minimal cost, building power in the meantime. In the early years of a
campaign, this will often be when a military technology advantage has been obtained, when
a powerful ally is willing to assist you, or when a target’s allies will not help them due to
ongoing wars.

Rivalries should be considered carefully. Power projection is important, so rivals should

typically be chosen by the time you declare war on a potential rival nation, but picking
rivals too soon can lead to diplomatic complications in which you may be left unable to
secure a vital alliance, or conversely in which your rivals may form an alliance they
otherwise would not have.

If you have subjects, ensure they are loyal to you and consider whether to integrate them
when they will accept diplomatic annexation. Subjects with prime land are the typical
candidates for annexation, while those with land that would be fallow for you will normally
be made into marches.

Once all of these factors have been accounted for, the campaign can begin in ernest. The
first fifty years are normally the slowest as you work to establish an economic base through
development and construction. The list of priorities for your power is to maintain positive
stability, to fully core prime land or vital territory if you’ve managed to take any, to
advance in ideas, to advance in technology, and finally to develop. If you need to develop
an institution, it takes priority over technology. Your potential income in the early 1500s
will vary greatly depending upon your nation’s starting position and how well you’ve
managed to do, but forty to fifty ducats is a reasonable expectation.
As the Age of Reformation develops, you should gradually be gaining power faster and
faster. Power begets power; the more powerful you are, the easier it becomes to acquire
more power, as a stronger economy supports more skilled advisors and faster construction,
making the economy yet stronger. As this happens, you should be outpacing the growth of
other nations, opening more opportunities to achieve goals in painless wars, which will
open up even more opportunities as you grow stronger.

The most important aspect of ensuring that your economy snowballs is patience.
Snowballing is practically inevitable if nothing goes wrong. If you waste resources on
dragged-out wars instead of waiting for good opportunities, you can derail your economy,
but as long as you are continously improving it slowly but steadily this will not happen.
However, even if something has gone wrong, you will still typically be able to achieve this
if you maintain discipline and don’t let it spiral out of control by panicking and throwing
more resources away. A snowball that starts later will be weaker than one that starts earlier,
but there is plenty of time yet for it to acquire power.

By the Age of Absolutism, a monthly income of hundreds of ducats is typical, with most
initial goals, such as acquiring prime land and centers of trade, having being accomplished.
This point serves as a junction, where one will continue solidifying their economic position
through large-scale industrialisation of prime land with manufactories, workshops,
regimental camps, and universities, or begin accumulating power in the form of absolutism
and then start expanding extremely rapidly. Whichever path you intend to choose, the
supporting idea groups for it should have begun to come into place during the Age of

In the Age of Revolutions, if there are any goals you feel you are not on pace to achieve,
you should begin a revolution, which will make practically anything within your grasp.
Once the revolution has begun, even the strongest enemies should pale in comparison to
your nation.
XIII. Mindset
It is common, when something goes wrong, for people to deflect blame to anything but
themselves. Common excuses include luck or that something about the situation was unfair,
and another type of excuse invokes “talent” or lack thereof as a reason to not even begin
trying. However, failure should be openly embraced. The people who are perceived as
talented get where they are by making mistake after mistake, in fact making every single
mistake that it is possible to make. Failure feels terrible and it is not comfortable to dwell
on, but by doing so, you can learn from failure to not repeat it in the future. Once you have
failed in every way possible, and spent time reflecting on how to avoid each and every one
of those failures, is when you begin to achieve mastery.

Therefore, every time something goes wrong, ignore any instinct to blame any element that
was out of your control and instead ask yourself if there was anything you could have done
better. If there was any element about what went wrong that you did not understand, you
should seek out information until you do understand what went wrong and what you can do
to change that situation. There are many resources available that will help with this process,
but if you are unable to find one, there are two further ways to facilitate learning. The first
is to start a non-Ironman campaign and use the debug console to test the situation
repeatedly and examine the results to try and discern what causes certain outcomes, and the
second is to interact with the community; to ask questions or to watch more experienced
players to see how they handle situations similar to what you struggled with.

I encourage players to play on Ironman without re-loading the game whenever something
goes wrong, even if it’s something catastrophic. Having a virtual “undo” button to erase
your mistakes without facing the consequences for them eliminates the incentive to learn
how to avoid them. Even if what happened was truly out of your control, learning how to
adapt to bad luck will lead to growth in and of itself; anybody can succeed without effort if
they managed to consistently roll only the best luck, but without effort you will not learn.

Along a similar line of thought, one should not rely on exploits if they want to improve.
Exploits have a place in pushing the game beyond its limits, to accomplish feats that would
otherwise not be possible, but if you are not careful they can become a crutch for
accomplishing what other players can already accomplish without exploits by simply
I see many people measure their progress by how many hours they’ve played, but this is not
an adequate measure at all. If one plays simply for the sake of playing, without putting in
the effort to face their mistakes and constantly challenge themselves to learn more and
more, they will only learn at a fraction of the pace as the player who does constantly
challenge themselves. There is a stark difference between time spent playing and time spent

Keep in mind that I have written in this book with regards to gameplay is not absolute. This
book is intended to give you a baseline resource to learn from, not to fully detail every
nuance and exception. Further, there are some elements of strategy that I am certain some
very good players will disagree with; in fact it would be quite impossible to find two good
players who agreed on every aspect. What I have written are the strategies that I have
followed for my own success. If you think something I have written sounds wrong,
experiment for yourself to determine what works for you.

And, finally, all that I have written applies only to people seeking to improve. If you simply
enjoy using exploits for the sake of the absurdity, or if you do not wish to put in effort and
would instead rather relax and reload saves or use the console during your campaigns, by
all means I encourage you to enjoy the game in the way you wish. The advice I have
offered here is for those who want to become better and accomplish greater things through
hard work.