Adal is a sultanate in East Africa, in present-day Somalia and Ethiopia. Historically it existed from approximately 1415 to 1555 (wikipedia).
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Despotic Monarchy|
|Center of Trade||None|
- Only two neighbors to start, Ethiopia and Swahili. Both are stronger than Adal but not by much.
- All starting provinces are Somali culture group. There is one additional Somali province owned by Ethiopia and numerous related culture (African) provinces.
- All starting provinces are Sunni. There are additional Sunni provinces in Swahili and Ethiopia adjacent.
- All starting provinces are dirt-poor (1 or 2 tax).
- Adal is in the African tech group (0.2 research modifier, very slow tech gain).
- No colonists available at start.
- One infantry unit to start, no cavalry is available at the start.
- There are no forts anywhere at the start, and you lack the technology to build them.
- Almost all the nearby territory is Terra Incognita. You can see your two neighbors, a couple sea areas and one uncolonized province... that's it.
You start with all tech at level 1, and each tech level takes around 140 years, so basically you're not going to get any technology at all until you westernize. This means no forts, no national ideas, no trade and no cavalry.
Ethiopia is a natural first target. It is Orthodox and thus can be DoW'ed without a stability hit. The best province in Ethiopia is Kefa, with its gold production. Don't get too greedy in peace settlements—since you can't build forts, if you take more provinces than your troops can garrison, you can wind up in an endless cycle of revolts that instantly take ungarrisoned provinces, adding 10 years of nationalism and causing more revolts in the future. Furthermore, since you don't have any cavalry, if you get a revolt in an ungarrisoned province, the revolters can often outrun your forces and wreak havoc in several more provinces before your forces can catch them. It's probably better to take Ethiopia apart in at least four wars, taking only two or three provinces plus their treasury each time. Then you can garrison the provinces and convert them if needed, dropping revolt risk before the next war.
Be sure to take the +missionary religious decisions, Establish Sheikh ul-Islam Office and Denouncement of Sect Practises before you start moving toward innovative on your sliders. You'll need the extra missionaries to convert conquests and reduce long-term revolt risk. Taking both available +missionary religious decisions will give +1 missionaries per year, exactly enough to offset a fully innovative slider setting. Converting the pagan provinces is particularly helpful, as they will become Somali culture as well.
Expansion and map spread
Discovery spread will reveal the The Mamluks and Yemen fairly quickly. Ally with them if possible, and go to any length to avoid warfare with the Sunni nations to your north. They start with land tech 4 and access to cavalry, which will make short work of your tech 1 infantry. Swahili, on the other hand, shares your African tech group and makes a good second target after you've digested Ethiopia thoroughly. Because of your small manpower, poverty, lack of forts and lack of cavalry, a very slow expansion makes sense. It takes 30+ years to take and digest a nation in this manner, eliminating all revolt risk before moving on, so you'll be playing on fast speed a lot in this phase. If you get more provinces than you can garrison, consider selling them back to an AI. In a test game, a province newly revolted to Adal from Swahili was sold back to them for 1420 ducats, then later retaken via conquest.
Eventually you'll wind up fighting with a nation that stretches into the terra incognita (Mutapa or an expanded Swahili, probably). Note that while at war, any unit can explore the terra incognita your enemy owns. Smash their army in the area you know, then explore the rest of the country before making peace. Check the ledger to see if there's a nasty surprise waiting for you behind the white veil. Even if the ledger shows your enemy is crushed, send large forces exploring, as there may be rebels.
You'll need a few cogs to finish off Swahili, as they own Zanzibar, a small island that starts as terra incognita. In version 3.1, no naval construction button shows up on the province screen at naval tech one, but your force list says you can build cogs. The only way you can access them is the right click construction menu in one of your coastal cores. If Zanzibar remains terra incognita, you'll have to explore it while at war with Swahili. Either send one sacrificial unit to find out what's there, or a force big enough to be confident of crushing whatever you find.
Centre of trade
Taking or building a coastal center of trade should be one priority. This will give you +0.1 colonists per year, and the ability to slowly expand toward the Europeans. If you conquer an inland center of trade, destroy it and rebuild on the coast so it will earn colonists for you.
In order to westernize your sliders need to be -3 Innovative, -2 Centralized and you need a Latin tech neighbor and an admin 6 or better ruler. Since you can't get the Quest for the New World national idea until you westernize and improve research speed, you're pretty much going to have to wait until discovery spread uncovers the Latin provinces or the Latin powers come to you. This will be faster on the 'very hard' difficulty setting (the AI will have more money and colonize faster). Also you may wish to set discovery spread to 25 years for a game with Adal.
Slider moves toward centralization require preparation in a fortless environment. Try spreading your forces out in 1-2 regiment detachments covering most of your provinces, including all the ones that have any revolt risk. If you get a revolt event due to the slider move, the rebels won't be able to instantly take over the province and plague it with ten years of nationalism. Once the revolts pop, rush neighboring infantry in to help put them down. When dealing with a revolt, you need to protect not only the province that revolts, but also the adjacent ones. This is because when the enemy breaks and runs to a nearby province, unless you happen to have a high-maneuver general, your pursuing force will arrive at the same time as the enemy, which means they take over the province and gift it with nationalism or a tax revolt or something equally unpleasant.
As the world is revealed by map spread, ask everyone you can for military access. Check to see if you can trace a route outside terra incognita to any European nation's provinces. It may be possible to send an expeditionary force out to take a province from a weak country far from your homelands and adjacent to a European, thus enabling westernization sooner. In a test game, Castille had reduced Mali to two provinces, and a very small force took one of them, providing a province adjacent to Castille to allow westernization.
Keep an eye out for very weak neighbors to the north. To be competitive militarily, you will need cavalry. The only way to access cavalry (even after westernization) is to conquer territory that is considered core by someone who can build cavalry (anyone who started in any tech group other than African or New World works fine). Then you can build their cavalry units in the newly conquered provinces.
After you westernize fully (three rounds) your technological progress will be very fast at first, due to the huge neighbour bonuses. You can go several different directions at this point. There will probably be many uncolonized provinces nearby, so take Quest for the New World and Colonial Ventures national ideas and become a colonial power if you wish. If you want to get your economy in order, consider rushing to production tech 9 so you can build workshops. These have a huge impact, doubling taxes in many of your poor provinces. If you wish to try for world conquest, focus on military national ideas and hunt for weak nations with good manpower to conquer. You'll need to own foreign cored provinces to build decent units throughout the game. If you want to become a trading power, grab the National Trade Policy and Shrewd Commerce Practice national ideas. Rushing to government tech 19 to become an Administrative Republic will also kick-start your trade. You'll face a problem in foreign trade, as most of the owners of the best CoTs (usually Lubeck, Venezia, etc.) will have -200 relations and not allow you trading access. You can solve this in the conventional way, via a campaign of bribes, or try an unconventional approach. If you declare war on the owner of a closed CoT, they will usually declare an embargo, denying you trading access. Once the war ends, usually due to white peace brought about by the lack of fighting, after a year or two they will normally allow access to eliminate the embargo penalty. Voila, you have access to the CoT without the expensive bribery campaign.