This information was tested using EU2 1.08 & 1.09, on very hard and aggressive AI. Its applicability may vary if you have an earlier, or later, version, or are using different difficulty settings.
- 1 Opening Moves (1419-1421)
- 2 Things to do with Murâd II (1421 - 1451)
- 3 Things to do with Meh.med II Fâtih (8,9,8) (1451 - 1481)
- 4 Things to do with Bâyezîd II
- 5 Things to do with Suleman (8,9,9) (1520-1566)
- 6 Some Events to Exploit
Opening Moves (1419-1421)
Your monarch is decent, but that doesn't really matter for the first few years. Turn on political mode and look at all the cores... in EU2, for any country: every core is a war. You've got a zillion. It's war, war war!!
Don't forget to set your:
- religious tolerance: high for Orthodox and Sunni, zero for Shiite, zero to low for Catholic.
- tech: 100% into infrastructure, to get infra 1 ASAP for tax collectors
- DP sliders: I recommend +1 aristocracy for the extra diplomats
- army and navy maintenance sliders to 50%
Now, onto affairs military. OE starts with far more armies than it can afford to support. So your first priority is deciding how to get rid of extra armies. The answer is to disband some, after expending them freely to win some early wars. Disband your 8 cannons (cannon are only useful early for seiges, but you need at least 10 of them). In addition I usually disband 10000 infantry, since you don't need that many for my standard start. This doesn't get down to support levels, but it does make support a lot cheaper.
You have one diplomat at the start, so you can only DoW one country.
Opening 1: Operations in Turkey
The "standard" start for the Ottomans is to attack Byzantium. The goal here to annex Byzantium as fast as possible, to free up military forces for elsewhere but also to add territory quickly to raise your support limits.
On Jan 1, you'll want to scrap much of your infantry. After you annex Byzantium, your army support limit will rise from 26000 to 36000. So, I suggest scrapping infantry to lower your total armies down to about 38000. (The 2000 extra is room to take casualties in the few battles with Byzantium; after you have killed all their armies you should scrap down to exactly 36000.)
Byzantium has two provinces: you have military access through the Duchy of Athens, so you can get at Morea with your army in Macedonia. Send 6000 infantry; no more are needed (even 5000 will do if you micromanage their moves to avoid month-end attrition; see monthly movement for more explanation). Send 10 galleys down to blockade Morea; leave back your transports to serve as resupply ships. The other men on the western shore of the Aegean should move to Bulgaria, to leave Macedonia open for the enemy to retreat to.
The two armies on the east of the Aegean should join in Smyrna and wait for the Byzantine army to attack across the straits, which it seems to do without fail. With cavalry in plains you can (and will) get the cavalry bonus for having more than twice his. That combined with the defending-from-shore advantage makes for a slaughter. (You should put your army maintenance at 50% - still a slaughter.)
When the month turns, move to attack Thrace, being careful to leave tiny armies in Bulgaria and Rumelia to direct retreats elsewhere. You'll eliminate the 1000 men left at Thrace easily. The army being built may not be completely killed; it will retreat to Macedonia and you can kill it there using cavalry pursuit. Now move in your siege force, and send your remaining galleys to blockade.
If Byzantium sends out its galleys and a sea battle starts, just flee -- you don't want combat because ships can get killed, and you will be owning those galleys when you annex. However, keep trying to move your blockade galleys back in. Even if the enemy is in the water there, sometimes fleets don't meet. The lost battles won't hurt you because you will be getting 100% warscore.
Once you have control of all provinces of Byzantium (which should happen first) there's a decision. I suggest going with "immediate Constantinople", in which you break truce and re-attack Byzantium immediately.
There are two things you should do to prepare for immediate Constantinople, while you are still sieging. First, reset the siege day on Constantinople to be the first of a month. This gives Byzantium a full month to offer you peace. Second, make sure that the siege on Athens finishes first. Morea is only worth 11% warscore; it and a few battles won't be enough warscore for Byzantium to offer you peace. You want to make sure they have a diplomat ready to go for when you get 100%.
Now, assuming you've done as above, the day after you take Constantinople, Byzantium will offer you peace, giving you Morea and all their cash. Pause the game. Accept the peace deal, and immediately redeclare war. (You'll take a huge stability hit; don't worry). Move/cancel your army on Thrace to recommence the siege. Because there was no month end between capturing the city and redeclaring war, it will still be in its sieged-down state. Because there was not even one day of peace, the enemy cannot recruit new forces.
The force annexation costs 3 BB, which is costly. But it raises your support limit to 36000 men. Also, you capture the Roman fleet, which is nice. And it gets you the "City of Man's Desires" event, which gets free culture and religion conversions, and gets back 2 stability. It also makes possible the event which gives you your CoT in Thrace. I think it's worth it. There's also a +3 stability event that comes in 1425, so don't bother working up your stability early in the game.
The downside of the "immediate Constantinople" strategy is the BB hit: 1 for the declaration of war, 3 for the annex. Plus you spend some time at very low stability. The other strategy would be to just wait. You can't make war on Byzantium for five years, but you can certainly be busy elsewhere. You can hope that some other neighbor will finish them off. You then make war on that neighbor. Or, when the five years is up, you can DoW and get an ally to annex them.
Other Turkey Operations
When you DoW Byzantium, Trabizond may actually help its ally (I've never seen it in 1.08 or 1.09 but you never know); if so, crush them too. Do not annex them, though; it costs too much BB for a province you can't use fully for a while. Just take their fortress, then let them make you peace offers until they offer at least 300d, which is the maximum you'll get. When they do, spend a diplomat to make them a counteroffer: vassalize them and take the money they have. One of their neighbors will probably end up taking them over; at which point you can take the province from the neighbor BB free.
Use your second diplomat to get a royal marriage with Ak Koyunlu. (This seems to be helpful to get them to join your alliance; see below.) You'll be using them as an annexation ally. Your third and fourth diplomats will come shortly. After you've saved up 2 diplomats, use one to declare a second war, with Dulkakir. Ak Ks will dishonor their alliance; then you should immediately invite them into alliance. So long as you have a reasonably strong army in Angora, Dulkakir won't invade. Instead the Ak Ks will invade them, which will eventually succeed, then they'll annex. (You may have to try a couple times to get Ak Ks to join you.)
If you get your first leader (Murad II, in May of 1421) before the AkKs complete the siege in Dulkakir, you may want to move him over there to steal the siege. Then you take all their money in a separate peace. AkKs will then siege (again) in their separate war, and annex.
Sometime in the first year or so, Karaman usually allies with Teke. Wait for this. (You could DoW them both individually, but that would require 2 BB; if they ally it just costs one 1 BB.) Once they become allies, and assuming you've got your alliance with AkK started, your next DoW should be Karaman. Invite AkKs, who will join. Karaman has three provinces; you can easily crush it and take Konya and Adona. You should siege all provinces after killing the army, but do not complete the siege on Antalya (Teke).
By this point you should be well into the sieges of six provinces: Athens, Thrace, Konya, Adona, and Taurus, and Teke. If you haven't lost them in combat, you should now disband infantry armies, down to what you can support. Supporting extra armies is much too costly to do without good reason. Alternatively you might start a fourth war; but this is relatively costly for not much result.
In your other war, your goals are (a) Karaman's two provinces, (b) to make money, and (c) to get Ak Ks to annex Teke and Karaman when you're done with them. I suggest doing this as follows. As stated above, do not complete the siege in Antalya. Do complete the other sieges, as quickly as possible. Ak Ks will be a problem, moving around their big army and causing you attrition. No help for that, although you can move away all but 1200 men when they are coming and still control the siege. Anyway, once you have 100% on Karaman, don't do anything yet. With only one enemy province left, the AkK stack will march to Antalya. You want to hand over the siege to them, to complete. (To hand over a siege, just move away any leader you may have there, as well as all armies except a cover force, which you move/cancel.) As soon as AkKs complete the siege, start watching Antalya like a hawk. You're waiting for them to annex. When they do, immediately make a separate peace with Karaman, taking Konya, Adana, and all their money. Now you're at peace, and can drop war exhaustion and build up your armies (if they need it) to attack Mameluks. Meanwhile, the AkK stack is trapped on Antalya, and should move on to Taurus and siege, eventually annexing Karaman.
Opening 2: Early Mameluks
You're going to do the Mameluks pretty early anyway, no matter what. They've got lots of ideal provinces, which they'd only mess up over time (by converting them to Shi'ite). And your huge initial armies are somewhat wasted on patsies like Byzantium and Teke. So why not go for Mameluks now?
Move your fleet to the Aegean Sea. You'll want to take all the cavalry (25000), and 15000 of the infantry. Load up and send them to
Once you have eliminated all of the Mameluk armies and covered all of their provinces, you should disband infantry to get down to your support level. Now settle in to wait out sieges. This will take some time, since you can't siege everything at once. Initially just cover the ports, since they are harder to siege unless blockaded. Set up a blockade and siege on one port, Alexandria, which is the easiest to siege. Send fleets back to Thrace to "resupply" the blockade. (If you regard this as cheap/cheating, then just don't blockade until you get Alexandria.) Once you take Alexandria, you can use it to resupply your blockading fleet on Delta, then Samaria, then Lebanon.
Once you get to 100% warscore, or near it, start paying attention to the Mameluk peace offers. If he offers 9 provinces, take the deal - you won't get any better offer than that.
During the sieges, get your alliance with Ak Koyunlu going. Then do your wars in Turkey (first Dulkakir to connect up with AkK, then Karaman/Teke, and Byzantium). Note that in this variant you'll probably want to have the AkKs annex Byzantium for you.
Your first few diplomats are needed to declare wars and RM/ally with Ak Koyunlu. After that, though, you should be getting more diplomats than you need. Use them to swap maps with Sunni nations. In general, a nation will swap maps with you if you offer at least one place they don't know, and have relations of +100 or higher. There are a few "paranoid" countries that won't swap, though, even with +125 relations; if you fail even once at that level, don't try again.
As early as possible, you'll want to get maps to the colonies in southern India that always get destroyed early in the game. Swap with the Khazaks, then Delhi. You can get maps to China and Japan from Malacca. You can get maps to Songhai from Morocco, and then swap Songhai for maps to Ivoria. There's no hurry on any of these except India. Swap with Songhai last, so that you do not let anyone else know where the pagan countries are.
After you get maps, use your extra diplomats to get military access with all Sunni countries, except the few you'll be targeting very soon. AIs never cancel MA, so, it's there if you need it. You can't DoW a nation you've got MA from, but if they DoW you (or an ally, or an ally DoWs them), you can still use it. Once you beef up your economy and get a huge army, you can get MA with most small countries if relations are not worse than maybe -50. Eventually you should be able to get access with most Sunni, Pagan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian countries. The main exceptions I find are Timurids and China.
Once you have MA everywhere, you can also get RMs with most Sunni countries if you want, and even with non-Sunni countries out toward China. Generally I don't think there's much to be said for this, pro or con. On the pro side, it allows you to watch what the AIs are doing better. On the con, there's a small chance you'll get in a war with one of these countries such that you'd take the stab hit for breaking the marriage.
Put all of your research into getting to level one in production. You will get there pretty soon. Then, buy all of the tax collectors. You absolutely must have these in order to get reasonable amounts of disposable income. Build them in all provinces except those that are both non-culture and non-Sunni (and which you should mostly try not to take in the first place). Build out from most productive provinces (the left number on their city-view shield), to the least.
Your immediate problem with the OE is not military power, but badboy. There's a lot of little Turkish minors and other nations sitting on your prime real estate. It's all core, so, it's badboy-free for you to take it, other than the 1 BB for initiating a war (fairly cheap and hard to avoid), and the BB from annexation. At 3 or 6 BB per force annexation, you don't want to do it unless the payoff is huge (such getting Constantinople). I don't think force annexation is ever warranted except for that.
So how do you deal with single-province minors? Well, there's three main options:
- vassalize them, ally, then later diploannex
- wait - let them be attacked/annexed by a computer player, then you attack the computer player
- get an AI ally, then get in a war and let the AI annex - then later make war on, or diploannex the ally
Option (1) is tolerable, but you don't want to plan on doing too many diploannexations because it costs 2 BB/province (1 to DoW, 1 BB/province for diploannexation). There are two other downsides to diplomatic means. One is the money cost: you need 190 relations to offer vassalization, and to try to annex. Bribing up even a small country will take a fair amount of money. The other is time: annexation takes at minimum 10 years.
Option (2) is out of your control, but for countries with a lot of covetous neighbors, it will eventually happen. It's a not a good way to deal with most Turkish minors, though, because they don't have cores on each other. However, in the Balkans no small country will last long.
Option (3) is the best option, generally. Ally with Teke or Ak Konuylu, or both. Make sure your ally can get to your wars. Then get in wars that go like this:
- 1. war declared - kill enemy armies, cover all provinces, and start sieges.
- 2. if enemy is single-province minor:
- (a) if ally sends his stack to help, move off leaders (if necessary) and let ally control siege until it ends. Ally will eventually take the province, then force-annex. Alternatively, if the enemy has much money you can control the siege yourself, making a separate peace for all the cash the enemy has, then let your ally siege.
- (b) if ally isn't helping yet, they will eventually. Siege the place down to about -3, then move off all but a cover force. The enemy can't do anything (it's covered). When your ally gets around to sending in its stack, goto (a).
- 3. if enemy is small but not one-province, lay siege, making sure you control all sieges (use leaders for this as necessary to steal sieges from ally). Once you get 100% warscore:
- (a) just go for vanilla peace, usually letting the enemy propose it so as to grab every last ducat.
- (b) if you can knock the enemy down to single-province status in the peace, consider making a separate peace. The idea is to hope your ally can then retake the capital, and annex, thus saving you a war. There is a risk: once you make peace, you can no longer control the war. Your ally might do something stupid. And you have to make sure your ally can still access the enemy capital, which means, either he is currently on it, it's next to where his army is, or you need to still be at war.
- It's best, if you're going to try this, to leave off seiging the enemy capital until the last, so that it is the last province taken. That way, your ally's troops will naturally be there, sieging. Then when you make the separate peace, they'll be right there. (Although even this is no guarantee they'll stay.) Also if you make peace in the same month you take the capital, your ally may take over the siege in its advanced state and thus end it very quickly.
- 4. if enemy is major: try to at least cover all his turf ASAP. Then select the provinces you will want in the peace (possibly, none), and make sure you control those sieges. Select other provinces you want to give to an ally, and hand off those sieges as in 2a or 2b. Make peace for your alliance - don't let your allies continue the fight with any country of more than one province; it's too risky.
Another Variant: Greater Mameluks
Here's another thing you can try for a variant game. Instead of eliminating the Mameluks early on, try to grow them to a huge size, since you can inherit them. Inherited provinces cost you 1/4 BB. Mameluks have 13 cores shared with you; inheriting them thus costs 3.25 BB that you would save by taking militarily. But if you can get Mameluks to take, say, 11 other provinces that are not core for you, inheriting them costs you 6 BB - less than 2 per. In theory, you could use Mameluks to take over most of the Arabian peninsula, most of Timurids/Persia, North Africa, and some of the Golden Horde areas, perhaps 40 extra provinces, and inherit all of it for just 10 BB. (The time I tried this, I managed to get Mameluks up to 30 provinces by 1510.)
You'll want two wars against them early. In the first one, you should carefully choose the cores you want. Take Alexandria, Delta, Syria, Nile, Samarra, Judea, and maybe Lebanon. You leave them low-value provinces (Cyrenaica, Quattara, Sinai), especially Cyranaica (the one bordering to the west (hoping for a defensive war)), and wrong-religion provinces (Aleppo, Cataract, maybe Lebanon) for them to convert. Then you wait 5 years, and DoW again. This time, you just want to force-convert them (and loot/take money, of course). But you should also now take away their remaining provinces which are your cores, except maybe Aleppo. (Let them try to convert it via event.)
Next, bribe them up to -50 or so, and ally with them. Now you should instigate wars in the Sunni world, using Mameluks to take everything that's not core for you. They will build up large BB, and that's just fine. Ideally you want outside nations DoWing them, so you don't have to DoW and invite (costing BB) to get wars underway.
The Timurids/Kaliphate are a good target, due to all their unfortified provinces. The AI can actually do OK against that. Don't go after Nubia, but if war does break out there, help them take Nubia over. You can release Nubia as a vassal after you inherit. (You want Nubia to convert to Sunni, which it will do after 1500, getting two free conversions, before you take them over.)
When you inherit Mameluks, you should probably free Persia right off, and Nubia if it has been absorbed.
Things to do with Murâd II (1421 - 1451)
Monarch: Murâd II (6,7,7) (1421 - 1451)
Leaders: Murâd II (3,3,4,1) (1421 - 1451)
Early on, with any nation, you want to grab as many same-religion provinces as possible. This is especially true for state-cultured provinces. And it is both easy and cheap (in BB) if the provinces are core provinces.
Now consider the Ottomans. They are Sunni, and have Arabic culture (along with Turkish, Greek, and Slavonic). Turn on political mode, and click the missionary. Examine all your core provinces (the ones with a little shield on them - most start off owned by someone else). A lot of them are wrong religion - many Catholic ones (also wrong-culture) in Europe that you'll not take for some time. And a lot of Orthodox provinces, most of which are state-culture (these will be taken fairly early, but they are still not the ideal because of the conversion costs). Now look at just the Sunni provinces. Some are Turkish/Sunni. A few are Sunni but wrong-culture. The majority, however, are Arabic/Sunni: and they are all controlled by the Mameluks.
Cut the Mameluks down to size. They have core provinces that are Arab and Sunni, that is, perfect for you without having to convert. You will do conversions, of course, but you want to wait for that, because (a) the chance is better later with your best sultans, and the price lower, and (b) you have little spare cash now anyway.
The first war should be Mameluks. Build cavalry until your army is as large as you can maintain without penalty. Wait a bit for the WE to go down to zero. Load the army into boats, and position them offshore of Alexandria and Judea.
Then DoW, and unload from your boats into as many provinces as possible (synchronized looting is in order here). Your goal is 100% warscore, so, don't worry about running from battles. Definitely invite Ak Koyunlu to the war - not only will the Mameluks focus on trying to attack them, but their armies will siege, and you can be sure to steal every siege with Murâd II. Cavalry rocks in almost all of the Mameluks domain, and Murâd II is a kickass leader. Use him with a cavalry stack - he's almost unbeatable in plains or desert except at horrible odds. But don't accept horrible odds; use him only with good numbers to keep your losses to a minimum. And again note that you don't even have to fight much. Just cover the enemy while he sends his army up to Nuyssabin. Try to cover the provinces in reverse order of their distance from Syria, since the enemy's armies will generally move that way.
You'll want two wars with Mameluks. In the first, get 100% warscore and let the Mameluks propose the peace; you should get eight provinces. In the second war, they'll be small enough for you to pull the separate-peace-let-ally-annex trick. So, do it.
It is possible to leave Mameluks in the game. You will annex them easily via event after January 1510, by controlling Egypt. But why wait? 1510 is practically forever in the life of the thriving young Ottomans. On the other hand, by leaving them in the game, if they do manage to take anything at all outside of your core, then it's a win for you in BB terms. If you do leave them around, the only way they'll ever manage to expand is if you help them. So you'll have to bribe them up and ally. It will help a lot to make them same-religion as you, by force-converting them in the second war. If you do this, do NOT take Cyrenaica - it's not worth 2 BB; also, if you're lucky, Tunisia will DoW or vice-versa, and you can help Mameluks crush them.
After the first war with Mameluks, you've got five years in which you want Ak Koyunlu around. So use them for other wars of annexation of minors. If you are lucky, Candar will have conquered Trabazond (or vice versa), but if not, just pay the 2 BB for the two wars, ending with Ak Koyunlu annexing both nations.
Another nation to take out is Qara Koyunlu. In their case, don't take Tabriz unless they manage to convert it. They'll be killed soon enough by the Timurids or one of their allies.
Note that with all this annexing going on, you'll be building up a massive BB - on Ak Koyunlu, of course. This may draw attacks on them by outsiders, particularly Golden Horde but sometimes Georgia or others. Use your discretion, but note that you will want to diplomatically annex Golden Horde in the longer run. (Meaning you want them force vassalized.) Also, you'll want to grab Astrakhan even in an offensive war - CoTs are easily worth double any average province. Plus you've got long term plans to expand into Siberia (don't you?).
Georgia should just be vassalized if starts a war, and left alone otherwise. It's core, but it's also wrong-culture and wrong-religion, and poor. Save it for (much) later.
At some point probably no later than 1430, you'll want to turn on Ak Koyunlu. (So, earlier do not get military access with them.) It's worth waiting a bit for this, if they are converting in Nuyssaybin and/or Daghestistan. Note that you can don't have to wait for the conversion to end before attacking; just don't finish a siege on a city with a conversion underway until it finishes one way or the other (and have your siege army prepared to kill rebels).
End your alliance. (You can always do this if you are peace, and you've got a CB on your ally, as you will with Ak Ks.) Start a new alliance (under your leadership!) with a neighbor that is not on your cores. Good choices include: Hedjaz, Golden Horde, Nogai (if you've got Astrakhan and it is a neighbor), Tunisia. Which ally to get depends on which direction you want to go; in general the AI spends a lot of time walking from its capital to a war, and then back after fighting a battle or doing a siege. So if the ally is distant, it can't do as much.
Now DoW Ak Koyunlu, and take them out. Save the capital for last with the standard use-ally-to-annex trick. Now you've CB on the helper ally. DoW them and force-vassalize, taking Kurdistan, so there's no more CB between you. Now you've got a neatly vassalized friend to work as your BB-magnet for the next 10-30 years.
Growing via Defections
Towards the end of Murad II's reign, there are two good opportunities to expand via province defections: the collapse events of the Golden Horde and the Timurids. Defections cost no BB, and also avoid the period of nationalism, so they are a great way to grow.
The Golden Horde's problems start in October 1447: +10 RR for 10 years, plus revolts in Kazan, Tambow, Crimea, Azow, and Astrakhan (if they still own them). Exploiting this event is tricky because you want defections, not large new countries. It is therefore important to know which of their starting provinces can defect. Some provinces have no nations at all that can revolt. Others have one or more nations which, if they don't exist, they can revolt as. Otherwise they can also defect.
Here's the list of provinces that the Golden Horde might have:
Province Religion;Culture Min Nation(s) Core 446;Kazan sunni;mongol Kazan 447;Tambow orthodox;russian Kazan,Ryazan 448;Ryazan orthodox;russian Ryazan(capital) 449;Vorones orthodox;russian Ryazan 451;Bogutjar orthodox;russian 452;Saratow orthodox;russian Ryazan 453;Ufa orthodox;russian 454;Samara orthodox;russian 455;Uralsk sunni;altai 456;Orenburg sunni;altai Astrakhan 457;Astrakhan sunni;mongol Astrakhan(capital) 458;Volgograd orthodox;russian 459;Lugansk orthodox;russian Crimea 460;Donetsk orthodox;ruthenian Crimea 461;Poltava orthodox;ruthenian Ukraine 462;Krementjug orthodox;ruthenian Ukraine Crimea 463;Crimea sunni;mongol Crimea(capital) 464;Kaffa orthodox;greek Crimea 465;Kerch orthodox;greek Crimea 466;Azow sunni;mongol Crimea 467;Kalmuk buddhism;mongol Crimea 468;Kouban sunni;mongol Crimea
What you hope to get out of this will vary, depending on your game. If the Golden Horde has been lucky with conversions, you may be able to get a Sunni state to revolt which has a culture you don't have - Ruthenian or Russian. If so, this is the priority. Get the state to revolt, then bring it in to your alliance to protect it.
At minimum, you'll want to try to receive the defection of Uralsk, Orenburg, and Samara. If you've taken Astrakhan (which you should have) then these all border.
The major Timurid problems start in Oct 1450; +8 RR (until 1500!) and some revolts. But Persia cannot exist until 1480. What this means is: 30 years in which any isolated Persian province that rebels is almost guaranteed to defect. Defecting provinces are BB-free. You want them.
So, arrange a war with the Timurids, preferably starting a few years before 1450 (to take advantage of the revolts of the Oct event). Invade. Take the three colonies (Lut/Meched/Kerman), as colonies are always BB free. Also take Hormouz. This cuts their empire in two. Then take as much stuff as necessary to get to peace, being mindful of the danger of government collapse (which you do not want -- this is a good reason to do this before 1450). Getting other stuff is easy enough, since there are not a lot of walls in Persia. Get your peace and then wait while the western provinces revolt and defect, either to you or whoever else borders them. If you've already taken Basrah, Iraq, Kirkuk, and Azerbaijan, there will be no other neighbor to defect to, except the Khazaks bordering Elbruz. Using this technique it is possible to take up to 10 provinces for 3 BB (1 for the DoW, 2 for Hormouz).
Send one colonist to each of the Persian/Shi'ite colonies, and it will turn Turkish and Sunni. Neat, eh?
Once you've got at least one Persian Shi'ite province, you can create rebels there by dropping Shi'ite tolerance to zero. Rebels in Persia will stay in Persia, unless they control all neighboring Persian provinces. Thus it may be possible to channel rebels towards your neighbors, especially if you don't build walls.
End of the Opening
Now let's assess where you should be. You should now be in control of most of your Sunni core, with the possible exception of Kurdistan. Additionally you'll hold a fair number of wrong-religion state-cultured provinces. You may have a few "bad" provinces - notably Nuyssaybin (and Armenia too, ignoring that it has gold and is thus desirable anyway).
You should have relatively low BB, perhaps as low as 7, but perhaps up to 12 or so. Your manpower is on the order of 80 or so.
One big problem you'll notice at this point. In your early game, you had CBs on the places you wanted to expand into (Byzantium, minor Turkish nations and Mameluks). Thus the wars were reasonably cheap in terms of BB and stability. But now, to expand east and southwest, you no longer have CBs. Starting wars will be much more expensive: with no CB, a DoW costs 4 BB and 3 stability! That's too much!
One solution to this problem is simple: ease off on warfare. Instead, use diplomacy to expand your realm. If you get any Sunni nation to +190 relations and in your alliance, you can diplovassalize it. Once vassalized for 10 years, you can annex it for 1 BB/province, although it will knock down your centralization (1.08; in 1.09 no cent loss!).
One way to get in wars with a chosen nation is to attack one of its allies, that you do have a CB on, hoping the real target doesn't dishonor the alliance. Check their relations with each other diplomatically - if the relationship of the target is lower with the ally than with you, they'll tend to dishonor. You can send insults to make sure their relationship with you is bad. Of course, the problem with this is it still requires a CB.
So you need to get CBs to operate. How do you get a CB on a nation? Well, there's several ways.
- it holds one of your cores - early on, this is where pretty much all of your CBs will come from. Later, generally you'll be holding your cores, but it may be possible to arrange a core-province defection (see below).
- warnings - when you use the diplomatic option to "warn" a neighbor, if they DoW in the next five years, you get a CB. You can also use the "guarantee" option on small nations that you hope your enemies will pick on.
- random events - some random events give CBs on random neighbors. If you're lucky, you'll get a neighbor that you want to attack. Use it!
- defender of the faith - this is quite expensive, costs you considerably on tech, and you lose it if you lose a war. But it gives you a CB on any nation at war with one of your faith. DotF also gives a small morale bonus (nice, but no big deal).
- against annexers - when countries annex other countries, their "worst
enemies" receive a CB for a year. Occasionally you'll get one of these, though usually they're not useful.
- against a faithless ally - you get a CB for a year on any ally of yours if it dishonors the alliance by not DoWing to support you. Similarly you get a CB if one of your war coalition makes a separate peace. There are
two exploits of this.
The main one exploits this additional fact: AIs never DoW nations they don't know about. So, invite nation(s) that you want to attack into your alliance, or, join theirs. Then DoW a pagan nation - no BB cost for DoWing pagans since your capital is in Europe. (The west Africans are good for this since they are findable just by free map-swapping, which is easy to do early). Allies dishonor - viola, CBs! Make sure to keep extra diplomats on hand to immediately reform your alliance with any allies that you do want as allies. (And be careful with this, because AIs can join wars with nations they don't know about, and in doing so they get diplomatic knowledge.) After three years go by, you get a white peace with the pagans. Everyone's happy!
The second way to exploit is to set up a situation where an ally of yours will make a separate peace. AIs tend to do this if they are winning a war, but they do it consistently when they have the possibility to annex single-province nations. So, if you're in a war against a single-province nation, let your ally take the province. It will then annex it, making a separate peace to do so. Then you have to ban your ally (you've got CB, so you can do that).
Once you've successfully got a CB on a nation and removed it from your alliance, you may want to wait for a while to DoW, hoping that it joins or starts an alliance. Then you've got a whole passel of people to attack!
- province defection - when rebels hold a province long enough, it will
usually either declare independence (sometimes taking other provinces with it), or else, it will defect to a neighbor. (Provinces which have no neighbors and can't go independent will just sit there rebel-held forever.) You may be able to use both outcomes.
When rebels pop up on one of your provinces, before automatically wiping them out, consider if there are neighbors that you want to attack. If so, check provinces.txt to see if the province will go independent: if so, consider letting it to do. (If it takes too much with it, you probably won't - crush the rebels.) If it's core, the hope is your neighbor will attack it and annex, thus giving you CB (for holding a core, and/or annexing).
If the province can't go independent, then consider letting it defect. This gives you a CB on the country it goes to. If you want to attack all of its neighboring countries, great. Let it go then attack whichever one it chooses (that's random).
Note that you can induce rebels by manipulating religious sliders to minimize tolerance. This is too costly to do for your state religion (Sunni), but if a province happens to be a minority religion it is quite affordable. Garrison any other provinces of that religion, crank tolerance down to zero, and wait for the rebellions. This is a good way to get a CB on the Timurids/Kaliphate, once you take over some of Persia.
You can also produce rebels by trying and failing to convert a province. If it works, great, else the rebels will appear, siege, and (four years later) defect, giving you a CB.
Things to do with Meh.med II Fâtih (8,9,8) (1451 - 1481)
Leaders: Meh.med II (5,6,4,2) 1451-1481 Gedik Ahmed (3,4,3,1) 1460-1482
Check out that admin rating - 8! This guy is a great converter, and he comes just after you should have expanded nicely and should have a number of wrong-religion places. So, use him. Inflate if necessary to get the money, but try to convert all of your wrong-religion provinces which are (a) same-culture, and (b) connected via land to your capital. You might also do islands, if you have any as yet, since they'll never be connected. (I don't recommend taking them, but they may defect to you.)
At this stage in the game, you'll probably have quite a few Orthodox provinces, and just one or two Catholic and Shi'ite provinces. For religious tolerance reasons, try to convert all your same-culture Catholic and Shi'ite provinces preferentially. (In 1.08&1.09 you can tolerate very high RR in a few provinces - just garrison them. This is especially true of plains before tech 9, because a garrison cavalry army will always beat rebels there.) Try not to have too many non-culture and non-sunni provinces at once, relative to your income. You want to be converting them, not paying to increase their stability. When you've gotten the empire mostly religiously uniform - start a new war (for core provinces), or diploannex.
On alliances, by this time you should be close to getting most of your core other than the marginal wrong-culture-wrong-religion parts (i.e. Bulgaria), and maybe some of the right-culture-wrong-religion parts (which are marginal due to the cost of conversion). So, you'll want to switch your alliances.
Drop the ally you've been using to take provinces for you, and get a minor ally that you can use to take offensive BB. This ally must have several features. First, it must have a land connection to the main part of your empire. Algiers, for instance, is a good second ally, but since it can't walk to your wars there is no guarantee it will make it. Second, the ally should be mostly (or completely) outside of your core. You will be planning to diploannex it, not conquer it, so every core province it holds is an extra BB. Third, try not to pick as an ally a nation bordering too much of Europe, since this will drag you into unnecessary wars. Golden Horde, for example, might otherwise be a good ally. But it gets attacked a lot.
You want to grow this ally, diplovassalize it at some point, and then keep growing it, finally diploannexing it. Use it to take all non-core provinces in your wars, with you taking only especially valuable provinces (distant ports, gold provinces, COT provinces).
Good candidates include: Hedjaz, Persia, and even Mameluks (suitably converted to Sunni and bribed up).
Hedjaz will get you into wars with Aden (crush them and let Hedjaz take everything), and then, who'll be there to take the BB for aggressive wars against Oman. Note that if Hedjaz has been eliminated in your game, you can still take Arabia from whoever has it, then release them. This costs the 2 BB for the province, but it does get them vassalized immediately.
On Oman, you'll usually need at least two wars. In the first, you must sack Mascate to get the maps to Zanzibar, and if you don't have a port yet, you simply won't get 100% warscore. So make peace for what you can get. It is a lot easier to deal with Oman with the ability to blockade. Try to get Nile or Basrah (and build a fleet of 10 galleys painfully one-by-one there) first. If you're going for a 100% win, get military access in Zanj first. This will allow you to use several armies to attack in waves, and give you ports to remove attrition on your galley fleet.
You'll get Algiers as a vassal via event (1520) as well. So you should help them expand westward, or eastward if it means removing Tunisia.
A fun thing to do is eliminate Austria in multiple wars. Then convert their capital (Austria) to release them as a Sunni nation (preferably before 1476). They'll typically inherit Burgundy (1476), Bohemia (1526) and Hungary (1540), and start converting Europe for you. You should ally with them at least for a while so they are not crushed by the other European powers. Also you want to help them take those nice German provinces to turn into Sunni Germans. Watch their BB go sky-high!
Similarly, you can have some fun by taking out Portugal and/or Spain relatively early, then converting and releasing them. If you want to try this, get an alliance with Granada (to generate wars, and to take provinces). Granada can then take out Spain (with your help, of course). You'll want to take Andalusia (if the CoT is there), and Toledo (gold) for yourself. You may also try taking Valencia, converting it, and releasing Spain. Imagine a new world full of nice vassal Sunni colonies!
Things to do with Bâyezîd II
Monarchs: Bâyezîd II (6,8,6) (1481-1512) and Selîm I Yavuz (7,8,5) (1512-1520)
There is an event that happens just after 1481 that will allow you either to pump up Bâyezîd II's diplo rating, or his admin rating, to the maximum for two years. Generally I suggest admin, since his diplo is near maximum anyway. Otherwise go with diplomacy. In either case, you should save up in preparation, money (for conversions or bribes), and missionaries/diplomats.
After the early event, these guys are similar enough that they'll just seem like one 40 year reign. Both would be great monarchs for most nations, but for you they are relatively weak. You want to use their reign to expand military, saving expensive conversions for the later super monarchs. Their diplomacy is good, but not great.
Persia can be a fine ally with some work. If you've earlier carved up the Timurids, good. After 1480, you can create Persia as follows.
(1) choose a province for the capital, and let it revolt. Only three will do: Tabriz, Tabaristan, or Ishafan.
(2) province revolts, forms Persia, DoWs you. Note that Persia is forced by revolt.txt to be Shi'ite; thus there is no point in trying to convert the capital before letting it revolt.
(3) make peace, giving it all Persian/Shi'ite provinces you can. This drops 1 BB per. Use the BB expanding in some other direction. You have a choice here, to either hold on to Ishafan (CoT!) and Sunni provinces (and thus make diplomacy harder since Persia will have CB on you forever), or not. I suggest holding onto them, since keeping relations high is not that expensive.
(4) wait 5 years
(5) DoW Persia (they're Shi'ite, so you've got CB). (Alternately, just let them DoW you; they will eventually.) Force-convert them, take all money, and get MA too.
(6) Now bribe them up and ally, and RM.
(7) In 1524, Ismail dies, and a weak monarch takes over. Diplovassalize now.
(8) AI tends to convert provinces slowly, perhaps one per 20 years. Persia has 16 cores, including two that start Sunni plus the three colonies which you should "convert" via colonization. Thus in about 200 years they should be done, and you can annex them. Meanwhile, you don't have to deal with wrong-culture Shiites.
A second way to play it is steps (1)-(5) as normal, then just leave them as an enemy. They'll attack you every so often, and you can stomp them and take money and any provinces they've managed to convert.
In the west, there's an inheritance event that you can exploit.
In Spain, ordinarily Castile becomes Spain in 1477. In 1493, they purge the Moors (converting Southern Spain back to Catholic); you generally don't want that. So you'll need to attack them before then, taking at least one of Murcia or Andalusia (the event trigger requires Spain to own both). I'd suggest Murcia; then in 1500 Spain gets the CoT and shipyard in Andulusia. It's now a big old target: attack!
In 1516, Spain inherits the lands of Aragon (or Castile, if Aragon formed Spain). You can exploit this for a inherito-annex. Well in advance, DoW Aragon and take it over, then wait for the inheritance. You take over the place without paying BB for it.
You may be able to get the Almorads to revolt in a useful way. They can revolt in provinces 443 442 440 439 438 437, and also in northern Africa. Another option is to move into Spain before taking over all of North Africa; you can then free the Almorads and ally with them using any province in Southern Spain. They'll be helpful in generating wars and in taking over the place without extra BB.
On the Timurids, it's usually easy to vassalize them earlier. If you do that, in 1504 they turn into the Moghuls, including getting Babur, who will be very hard to diploannex. So you either want to absorb them before that, or let them go. The Mughuls can be a handy one-vassal border against the further east if you want; that can be helpful while initiating your badboy war for world conquest.
Things to do with Suleman (8,9,9) (1520-1566)
Rock and roll. A super-monarch, so use him well. His reign should see you setting up your early world conquest (if that's your goal), and maybe starting it. If you have other goals, well, this is the guy to get things done, be they administrative, diplomatic, or military.
You'll get the conquistador Özdemir in 1538; he lasts until 1561 if you don't lose him stupidly in combat. He should first explore the area north of Sibir, then get another 1000 cavalry, and tackle the Siberian corridor. Don't tangle with any natives if you do trigger them; just run away. Siberian winters kill men fast, about 30% per winter. So no matter how many men you bring, they'll only last about 5 winters. You'll have to bring him back for more cavalry once he gets about 2/3 of the way across the Siberian corridor. Give him a decent amount on the second run, which you should commence just as the spring melt starts. Use these guys to kill off the more aggressive natives in the places you'll eventually want. Kill your way across Siberia until winter comes or until your stack is reduced to military ineffectiveness, then explore the rest of Siberia and the far eastern territories.
After this, he can be sent into Africa to help explore there, or he can be used to help start colonies in Siberia.
You can lock up Siberia for your colonization by military means on the west end, and by settlement in from the sea on the east end. Otherwise China may eventually start settling there. However they are unlikely to block you until much later, so, don't worry about it too much.
Militarily you can do nicely in this era by living off the Spanish and Portuguese. First, you'll need their maps. This means taking their capitals, which is not hard to do once your economy is booming, but it does take a prepared effort. Ally Algiers will help. Waiting a bit after 1492 should allow Chris Columbus to discover enough of the new world for you to work with.
Once you've got maps from the Spanish, you'll want to attack and convert in America. You'll want, at minimum, the Aztec gold provinces. Once you get them converted, get the others, then head into South America for the Incas.
Back in Europe, convert all orthodox provinces preferentially. This allows you to be intolerant of Orthodoxy, meaning, tolerant to Catholicism and/or Protestantism. Try not to have too many non-culture and non-sunni provinces at once, relative to your income. You want to be converting them, not paying to increase their stability. (Notable exceptions are really rich provinces: CoTs and gold will easily pay for themselves regardless of their religion.) When you've gotten the empire mostly religiously uniform - start a new war (or go for a diploannex). Diploannexing is good any time since there is no stability hit.
Morocco has maps of Songhai, and Songhai has maps of its region. (You should have these as early as 1440 or so; it's quite easy before you become a badboy.) West Africa is half Sunni, and half pagan. Since you're a European nation, there's no BB for declaring war on, nor for annexing, pagan nations. So go to it, and then convert them. Once you hit land 9, you'll be far enough ahead of the Africans to be able to operate there without help. Ally with one of the pagan nations, and help it take over Songhai and/or Mali, so that you can take it all for no BB cost. Africa should be all Sunni and mostly Turkish when you're through with it. Be sure to work on your land connection through North Africa, though. It means half-price conversions, and a 4% bonus to your chance to convert pagans. It also means the manpower of the region will add to your own, meaning, you can maintain monstrous armies. You'll get Al Dzajair vassalized by event in 1520, so, you should plan to diploannex them in 1530 at latest. This is often a good time to commence WC.
Russia may be formed Sunni with some effort. Basically Russia is formed any time after 1520 by any of the Russian minors if it manages to own Moscow plus two of the five minor Russian cities. So, grab Moscow (to prevent others forming Russia) and a land connection to it, probably via Golden Horde territories. Then work on converting Russia's five revolt.txt cores: Moscow (270), Vladimir (271), Nizhgorod (272), Tver (278), Vologda (268). Conversion chances in Russia will not be good, something like 30% for Suleman, and it will be expensive. However, if you own all five of the protocores, the chance to get at least one in the first try is about 84%. If it takes a second round, well, so be it. Starting in 1531, you can create Russia from whichever province you manage to convert. However this can be tricky. Just releasing Russia as a vassal will be hard to do, because of capital placement. The capital will always be Moscow if you own it. But what if you got one of the other conversions? Well, then you'll have to arrange to lose Moscow, as well as all other Russian minimum provinces with higher tax levels (and if tied, lower province numbers) than your preferred province, in a war. (Do NOT let them revolt, unless it's before 1531.) If you lose them to one of the Russia minors, be careful to pause for the peace, immediately releasing Russia before the minor can form Russia.
Some Events to Exploit
1510: the "Kalipha" event. If you control Cairo past 1510, you will inherit all of the Mameluk territory, and gain the Hedjaz as a vassal (assuming it's not already someone else's vassal). Generally, you should have conquered this area long ago, so the event is meaningless. But you can use it in several ways.
- Release Mameluks in 1510 (3 provinces). Then DoW (-4 stability, ouch!), and reannex. Net BB dropped is -1.25. Probably not worthwhile unless at low stability to begin with.
- If you have a revolt in the proper timeframe (1500-) in Delta, let it go. Move troops to Alexandria to kill the rebels once the siege completes, but otherwise do nothing. When Delta revolts, it forms Mameluks. Since you (still) control Egypt, the event will be triggered within 30 days. You increase BB by 0.25, which is bad. But it does vassalize Hedjaz. Note that revolts in Alexandria and/or Egypt will eventually move on into Delta if you let the rebels keep moving.
- if a revolt happens in Egypt, let it go, and let Mameluks revolt. Vassalize them in the first war immediately after you take Egypt (to avoid the event triggering). Then use them for a while as an annexation and conquest proxy. Then DoW them and take over. Note that you should not do this trick if you need the land connection to Africa.
Note that there is an event-driven revolt sometime from 1520-1522 in all three Mameluk core provinces, if you own them. This is guaranteed to happen, so, you can just wait for it. Garrison Alexandria and Egypt, and kill those rebels ASAP.
1515: the "Inheritance of Hungary" event. If you capture Magyar, Pest, and Maros, then you will inherit those three, plus Croatia and Banat. Transylvania and Ruthenia become Siebengraden and all the rest go to Austria. This is more an event to avoid than to get, since you can get all of these provinces for 0 BB (+1 for DoW; they are all cores). If you do attack Hungary, you'll have to be satisfied with 99% warscore. Or, try to save one of these three for last. When you capture the last one, going to 100% warscore, then you should instantly make a semi-favorable peace, so that the event is not triggered.
1520: 94% chance, will get Al-Dzajair as a vassal. Should ally with them in the mid to late 1400s, and help them take over all of northwest Africa.
1553: an event which gives +3 diplomacy for 2 years if you choose a. Be prepared.
1578: an event which gives +3 diplomacy for 2 years (choice c). Be prepared.
1615: the "Decentralizing Effect of the Provincial System" event. Option C has a -6 stabhit, but it keeps you in the Orthodox techgroup, and it's got very powerful good effects: +2 Cent, -2 Aris, -2 Serfdom, and gain 6 increments in province tax.
1630 (Lithuania events): Well before 1630, take over one of Lithuania's minimum provinces, then convert it. (In 1567 Poland inherits Lithuania.) Now you can release a Sunni Lithuania. Ally with it, and start it on a rampage in its area. It will get 7 conversions for free in 1630.
1640: an event giving (A/D/M +2/+3/+2), for 10 years.
1690, 1740: two more events like the 1615 one, except that in these you don't get demoted to Muslim techgroup for A and B (so they may be reasonable choices). C is still the best choice, though, assuming that you can afford the huge stabhit and you can use the slider moves.