The USA in the American Dream scenario is a fun country to play. There are only 47 years in the scenario, but you start at a nice high tech level, and don't have many hard spending decisions to make. It can be a challenge to beat the British. Once you've mastered that, you can play a relaxing peaceful colonization and trade game.
You can also use the USA for a game of heavy warfare, but that would be another guide.
Economy and Diplomacy
Contrary to normal games, do not move any DP slider yet -- you want the maximum stability for placing merchants. As soon as you get your monopoly in Manhattan, then you should go one click more Offensive or drop Innovative by 1.
Don't forget to adjust your religious tolerance sliders. High tolerance for reformed and Catholic, middling for Protestant. Zero for Orthodox and Islam.
Most early income should go to researching Land tech 41, which will give a nice +0.5 morale boost. After that, there is nothing pressing to get: you should mint or buy stability. Buying a shipyard for the extra colonist should be an early goal, although not pressing.
If you are willing to use slimy tactics, build galleys or transports to hold your unfortified ports. Do not build any troops; you will get plenty for free via the Continental Army event (winter 1773-1774). Do make sure to leave enough money to send your first 7 merchants to Manhattan. (Getting the monopoly there will more than double your income; later merchants can be sent using minted income.) You can deny Britain some income by imposing a trade embargo on her. (You can also use your own merchants to knock hers out of the Manhattan CoT. The ban is much better, though, because you'll get much better return on investment from using your early game merchants to secure easy monopolies, plus the CoT will disappear later if there are other traders in it, plus you'll get tolls. Remember that all the income, that british traders generate of your provinces will counted as your income. It is thus a good idea get a good share of their trading posts in Canada.)
In any case, do build one transport, which you will use to explore the world. You must do this to find all the CoTs; you cannot send merchants to unknown CoTs. With naval tech 18+, you automatically discover any province adjacent to any sea zone you enter with any ship. Initially your explorer transport should discover Greenland, then Nueltin, then Iceland. Then it should discover the African coast (including Benin). Your second diplomat should be used to get military access with France; now you can make port in the Indian Ocean. This should allow it to discover the rest of the African coast, plus the area around Arabia (including Isfahan), and India, then on to the East (Jakarta, Guongzhou).
Later diplomacy should go more or less as follows: get military access with Spain. Then get it with the Netherlands, and then get a trade agreement (if they do not already have one). Getting MA with relations above 150 appears to be automatic or nearly automatic. Lower priority diplomatic actions to make: trade embargo on England; get royal marriages with your trading partners, to keep up relations; getting MA from Portugal, which is not automatic.
Throughout the entire early game, the most important thing for you to do is sending merchants. Inflate as much as necessary (in the first years, loans are the better alternative compared to minting, because your income will raise a lot, thanks to trading), but make sure to send every merchant you get. Concentrate on getting monopolies, especially in less-trafficked colonial CoTs. After you have exhausted easy monopolies, use empty slot technique, but keep the merchants going. Your goal is 5 merchants in all CoTs, with monopolies in uncompetitive colonial CoTs and any others where you can hold it. With trading income at about 3000d/year, having a monopoly is worth about 60d/year above the extra trade you get in that CoT and the increased trade taxes. With your costs of 25d per merchant sent, it is therefore worthwhile to send to a CoT with an empty slot to get a monopoly so long as you can hold that monopoly for 5 months.
Carefully separate out the good leaders (being those with combat bonuses), and put them in charge of three main stacks. The leaders are:
- von Steuben (4/3/3/0)
- Wayne (5/2/3/0)
- Lee (3/2/3/0)
Other leaders should be stacked with Washington (6/2/2/0), who is mediocre, but at least has a good maneuver and will prevent any worse leader from taking charge. Also, this will teleport newly appearing leaders (who tend to be good) into other armies. As you get better leaders, put them in charge of your fighting armies, with lesser leaders subordinate to them (if rank allows), or lumped with each other in support armies.
Leave Washington and a few thousand men in Connecticut. They will not generally have to fight, because the enemy does not seem to prioritize it. Von Steuben's stack should head to Shenandoah. Lee and the cavalry should go to Chesapeake, with the idea of fighting in Powhatan. Wayne should stand in Manhattan/Catskill, attempting to fight defending battles in mountains against British units crossing the river, thus gaining very advantageous DRMs.
Once you've won the first battle in Powhatan, use your first diplomat to DoW the Iroquois. They have no forts, so you easily kill their few armies and take over their lands. You are doing this to:
- eventually take ownership of their nice half-complete colonies
- get a vassal to increase your manpower and support levels.
Also, access to the Iroquois provinces allows you to maneuver better. You now have a safe haven (except in winter), to take and retake Onondaga. You also can march on Erie without crossing a river. Don't make peace immediately; your armies are well below support levels. Wait until the large Continental army appears, and save up a diplomat for that.
When winter of 1773 comes, sit tight in your own lands. Let the Shawnee and British take punishing winter attrition.
There is one important scripted event to be aware of for the opening of the American Dream scenario: The Creation of the Continental Army. Assuming you are at war, it happens in one of the 150 days starting October 1, 1773 and ending Feb 28, 1774. You should pick choice (a), which gives you:
- Quality +2 (this, along with your first DP slider move, gets Quality 9 for the powerful +1 fire bonus)
- 25000 infantry, 10000 cavalry, and 50 artillery
- a few other minor effects (-1 stabhit, +1 Offensive)
After the Continental Army event happens, check your land support limits. If you have fought intelligently in 1773, you won't have lost many men, and you will be considerably over support. This is the time to make peace with the Iroquois, taking both colonies, any money you can get, and vassalizing them. Getting a vassal will dramatically increase your support limits. If you are more than a few thousand above support, disband cavalry to get back down near it. (Losses from fighting will get you there soon enough.)
The goal for 1774 should be to knock out Shawnee. Again, you are not looking to end this war soon. Rather, the goals are:
- to get warscore to use against Britain
- to remove armies (old, and newly built) that otherwise pest around your rear
- to open up the West to your access with tiny armies
Especially with von Steuben in command, and the +1 fire from Offensive 9, you can assault the Shawnee forts and usually win. Wait for the thaw, of course, before the offensive, and try not to attack any large stack defending in mountains, or across the river.
With the continental army at maximum support levels, you can now better take the fight to the enemy. Also, you should get land 41 about this time, which gives a nice +0.5 boost to your morale, bring you to parity with the British. You should now be able to intercept British armies as they cross a river for a bonus, directing retreats using tiny armies to send them back across the river, for ping-pong multiple-battle warscore feasts.
Britain will occasionally bring troops over from Britain, but over time you will see the total numbers decline as they attrit (especially in winter), and/or you kill them.
Your goal in this period is to knock down the total British forces, in particular to clear the South. Britain can build only in the two cities (Mobile and Biloxi), and they have no walls. So once you've killed the Brits out, you can easily control the area with only a 1000-man infantry army (in Mobile), and some tiny armies.
With the South captured, you can prepare for the end of the war. The goal for the first war is to grab as many good provinces as you can, while keeping badboy as low as possible. But be aware that this is an aggressive war, so you can only take colonies, TPs, and cores without costing extra badboy. So you should be choosy. I suggest the following war aims:
- Cities: Mobile and Biloxi
- Colonies: Seminole, Bermuda, Shawingan, maybe the three colonies in Acadia
- TPs: Talahassee, perhaps Yazoo. Also, consider any which have no natives
- any of the three British sugar islands, if you can get them
To get full warscore value in this war, you'll have to let Britain offer the peace. The idea here is fairly simple: capture any British possession that you want, relying on the huge disproportion in battle warscore to force them to give you all of it. In addition, capture:
- any and all provinces of Britain's allies (it cannot offer them, so no worries on that score)
- Britain's valuable sugar islands (worth 2BB, and they generally won't offer them, so take them even if you don't really want them)
Again, do not capture any city if you don't want to pay 2BB for it. In particular, there are several Catholic cities in Canada that are unfortified that you don't want. Also, don't take Ticonderoga -- it's a reasonably valuable city, but you will get a core on it when you win the Revolution, and should take it in the second war.
One more thing: you must either burn or capture all British TPs that are core provinces for you. Otherwise, Britain will offer them to you preferentially, at a cost of 4 warscore, which is way too much. (At 2 warscore each, you can still take them all plus the stuff you want.)
Once you have occupied the stuff above (or most of it), start paying attention to the British peace offers. If they make a good offer, take it.
Pause for Development
Once you get to peace with Britain, let your war exhaustion die down, then DoW and flatten one of the Indian tribes. Your plan is a long war: you're doing this mainly for the extra diplomat, but also milking them is nice.
Start inflating; you've got nothing better to spend on than officials. Promote tax collectors in all cities, then governors, and finally chief judges. Do not build forts: they are a waste of money. Do build a galley to hold each port city (if you're slimy like me).
Send one colonist to each newly-grabbed colony, until you succeed (this is to convert their religion and culture). Then do the normal thing, completing cities and building them out.
At the same time, work on getting 5 merchants everywhere. So long as you keep your BB very low, it seems the chance of being embargoed are very small. However, Spain and Russia seem to eventually ban you even with low BB. So they are nice to get agreements with. Even if you intend to war on Spain, it's nice to get the agreement set up early so that they don't embargo you during your wars.
Once you get MA with France, Spain and the Netherlands, you can "peacefully" supplant them in many of their possessions by provoking native revolts. Particularly choice targets are:
- Matagorda (sugar)
- Tampico (sugar)/Saltillo (gold)
- Nicaragua (coffee)
- Tocuvu (sugar)/Yatumal(gold)
- Curucao (sugar)
- Surinam (sugar)/Guyana (gold)
- Maroni (sugar)
Further afield are these:
- Sacramento (wine)
- Monterey (gold)
Second War with Britain
Five years after you make peace with Britain, go back for a second round. This one will be fought much the same as the first, except that you can be fully prepared this time.
Your primary goal for peace in this war is getting military access from England. This facilitates your later wars; it also allows you to "peacefully" provoke natives to gradually replace the British trading post network with America TPs and colonies. Do not take MA or annex or vassalize the Shawnee; this leaves the English alliance intact, so that you can DoW the Shawnee to DoW England by proxy.
War with Portugal may be a good idea, depending on their allies. They are weak, with many colonies (in Brazil) and TPs in many areas that would be worth a grab. So, don't get a TA with them.
One event of note is the Louisiana Purchase, which happens in 1800 (94% of the time). For 1000d, you get all French holdings in North America from the Great Lakes to the Rio Grande, which is a real bargain if the French have developed even their initial few colonies. But why stop there? You should burn the trading post at Illinois, at the least, to invite in the French. (Might also burn the other bordering TPs, although in these cases they are on valuable furs, so it is not as obviously a good idea. I'd also suggest using MA from Spain to tweak natives to kill off its Texas holdings: Matagorda, Rio Grande, Concho, and Pecos all come with the Purchase if France owns them.
It's also definitely worthwhile to have at least one war with Spain, which you plan to win large. Your goal here will be to take gold provinces, and those with high-value goods. The problem is getting into the war; with MA you cannot just DoW. Be aware, that as a non-european nation, attacked countries won't invite their allies in a war against you. So can't just declare war at The Knights (who will normally be in the spanish alliance) and hope for Spain to join. They won't. Your only chance to get in wars with them, using your MA, is to join an alliance, that is at war with them.(Be sure to plant ships in advance in their unfortified ports, and armies elsewhere, to make a very short and profitable war.)