|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Despotic Monarchy|
|Center of Trade||None|
For Bali be prepared for a long and arduous journey through the sea. I've played a complete game using Bali, and have found it to be fun yet sometimes a struggle. You can enjoy lots of exploration, but at the same time go into enemy territory without travelling far. You may choose to try and spread Hinduism, colonize new land, or simply live peacefully and hold your ground.
For someone who wants a more interesting challenge, Bali is certainly the nation to look at. While not as impossible as other small nations, it still isn't a walk in the park from the beginning. You find yourself in a unique position on the board, as the most southeastern Capital in play from the start. Add in the fact that there are a variety of nations around you in either direction, and you can clearly have a good time playing as Bali.
- Unique starting location, puts you away from most major civilizations, allowing you some personal space.
- Chinese Tech Group allows you to have some level of strength, although not as advanced as European nations.
- Lots of undiscovered area for you to explore.
- Good proximity to several CoTs.
- Hinduism helps promote tax income.
- You start with just one province.
- Surrounded immediately by unhappy Islamic/Buddhist nations.
- Most of the areas nearby have fairly rabid natives.
- Your culture is not well spread at all and you don't absorb others well.
Playing Bali may seem difficult, but is fairly manageable. The key is working the "Micronesia" area. You begin in Bali-Lombok, a small island in the midst of other similar islands. You are basically northwest of Australia, South of "China", and therefore in the middle of lots of little islands.
The Early Years
From the outset, you will find Brunei, Aceh, and Malacca in the vicinity. These are going to be your unfriendly neighbours. Aceh and Malacca are to the northwest, and Malacca has a CoT you will find yourself using. Brunei has a large 5 province island right above you. Unfortunately, they hate you. This can prove to be a real pain early on. However there isn't much they can do, they don't have large armies to start with and all you need is a few regiments on your province should things escalate. Likely you can slip into Brunei, which has no Forts, and snag a province and ask for white peace.
To start with, begin focusing your funding into government. You need to get a national idea slot to get the Quest for the New World. Even though you might not be heading to America (yet) you need to claim local islands quickly. Build a Navy with 4 cogs, and fill em with soldiers. You'll need them to whack most of the local natives. Some islands have well over 4k natives, so keep this in mind. If you can change your sliders, do so towards centralization and naval. Both add colonists, and the latter makes getting there much easier.
So start by getting into Sumbawa, and the other nearby islands. These should already be plainly visible. What is nice is they colonize quite rapidly since your capital is right next door! Progress eastward, and work your way toward Kiribati Islands and Solomon's. After that, head south to Fiji and Australia area. This will take some time.
Likely, The aforementioned Islam Trio of Brunei Aceh and Malacca will be after your rear end. Now that you have some land, use that manpower to your advantage. Take the tips of Aceh and Malacca as needed. These are fairly simple to take care of. The thing to watch is that you don't have anycolonies out there, because those can be instantly seized by enemy military. Generally I found Aceh and Brunei would try and use their navies, but Malacca didn't as much. If you can take two provinces in each of the 3, you can probably negotiate them to Cede one. Opt for the tip of Aceh (Lampung) and Malacca (Johor), and the southernmost Brunei Province.
If you really want to put the kabosh on these guys, seek assistance. Vijayanagar is a fellow Hindu buddy. And he is quite strong. Champa is also a nice one to buddy up to as you already start with good relations. I am impressed by Champa, as he always finds a way to snag some provinces. Very sneaky he is. Continuing on the general eastern path, you'll want to hopefully colonize all the way east to Tahiti. Doing so will put you in a position to sneak into the new world. Generally this area has much more open space since Europe comes from the east.
Ideally, you'll want to punish the trio from earlier and beat them to a pulp. Work on annexing them completely. Once you do, start converting to Hinduism. I always convert only when I have military there because a failed conversion usually means a couple thousand rebels. A nifty tip: Aceh and Malacca have a "Narrow Strait." This caught me by surprise. Look between the Aceh Island and the Malacca Peninsula, there's a thin strip of water. Your troops can cross that strip at will. As can theirs. I found this the hard way when 8000 Aceh soldiers waltzed into my area. However you can keep boats in the Straits of Johor to keep this from happening as I would later discover.
I found myself in the early- 1500s owning all of Aceh, Malacca, and Brunei. At that point, I had made it to Tahiti but hadn't colonized Australia. I had ignored a lot of the local provinces. However it's good to get at least a few of these to make sure you don't lose presence. All of them would be ideal, as it keeps sneak attacks out. However I was excited and wanted to go east. It's important to get a path, because long naval rides spell disaster. You should get the Solomon Islands, Fiji or Wairoa, and Tahiti.
Now that you are established across the ocean, you have a couple options. You can head to the new world, which is a fun endeavour. Or you can turn your attention westward and give the mainland a shot. If you want to, at the very least you should have Military Access through Champa. I recommend doing both of these things simultaneously. I broke the two goals apart though.
This is a daunting task at first. There's the local Buddhist nations to take out first. Wiping them out is a solid option. Do whatever you can here, and it will set you up with a good base for future attacks. One thing to do is befriend Ming. I can't stress this enough. If you get close to their borders your rear will be in fear. Bribes work, as do some random events. I worked hard on this and now we are allies and we crush everything we see. However even if you never side with them in battle, just don't piss them off. Having the help of Vijayanagar is very useful as he can really open up a can on some guys. One other issue is having a Casus Belli on these Buddhist nations. Personally I chose to use my second idea slot for Deus Vult which allows you to not need a Casus Belli for other religion nations.
You can either double war a nation, in order to have them cede some provinces and leave the capital for war #2, or you can have them cede provinces and vassalize whatever is left. I prefer the first method personally. It's such a pain to have your Vassal of one province declare war on an ally. After taking out the Buddhism areas, and converting them of course, take a look around. Every game differs, but I found the area to the northwest to be owned by Delhi and Tibet. Tibet is a tricky one, because getting there involves either killing Delhi, or Pegu, or getting access through Ming. Access through Ming is the safest, but takes time.
Your mark should be Bengala. Getting this province is a good halfway point. Now all that stands between you and the Timurid Empire is Delhi. Delhi is a monster to bring down. If you have a national idea slot to spare, you should consider the one that gives you a larger army force limit. Recruiting Vijayanagar is a solid option to taking out Delhi. I have taken them out, it took 5 wars on my end, and in the process the Timurids, Ming, and Vijayanagar attacked them too. It was a ton of work but well worth it. The land prospects are incredible. The nice thing is once you get Bengala, you have a good wall. Basically Delhi can only come in one way, but you can work outwards easily. If you do decide to take out Delhi, Go for Lucknow, Bihar (for the CoT), or the coastline. Vijayanagar tends to go up through the middle.
Taking Delhi can take a long time. I was at the 1700 mark when I finally cleansed the earth of them. About 120 years of work. Which is literally 3rd of the game. But it was worth it. After taking them, my income monthly was about 15 ducats and I was pouring money into research, had an army of over 50k, and had personal property from Tahiti to Kashmir.
Something to be mindful of, Ming tends to have problems with rebels. They will just waltz through the land claiming area. And if you happen to be close, they'll slip in. Make sure your border territory is protected. Put level 2 Forts on the area if you can. By this time, you'll find yourself pretty well satisfied with your land. I now moved my Capital inland to Bengala. The reason is, you take a tax hit for not having a land path to the capital, and obviously there is no land path to Bali-Lombok.
The New World
Not only will you want to expand to the mainland, but you will want to get a piece of the American cookie. Or maybe the mainland isn't for you, if so, small islands and the Americas offer more excitement, as well as an opportunity to kick some European butt without actually visiting Europe.
If you have a base at Tahiti, this will be where you want to start. Alternatively, you can start at Hawaii. This gives you a good reach to California. You'll only need 2 cogs to make the journey to the New world. You'll likely lose them too. This is an unfortunate aspect of things. The current owners of South America, the Inca, do not particularly like you. Likewise, Central America isn't very friendly either. You will find Panama is generally open, and some of the area of modern day Chile is available. Most west coast areas are pretty easy to get at, except for Mexico. This is a nice thing because most of the east is being scoped by Europe, and so you can lay low and pickup some valuable land. These areas produce some goods that you don't readily have in the islands.
If coming from Hawaii, head northeast. I recommend viewing the Save Game load screen to see the land in full. Some call it cheating, I call it planning. Get an idea of what water to take, because too much time means dead boats. The first time through takes longer though, you can make it easier after charting the Terra Incognita. Taking Tahiti, you can go fairly straight east if you would like. Maybe a touch north. This will land you right on the center line of South America. There is open area to take here. Most of these areas have fewer than 2k Natives, making for easy colonization. Colonists do however take a while to get there. You should be able to get Africa first.
The main problem, is that of the foreign Relations. The Incas are fairly stacked for battle. You really cant try and head over there to conquer unless you came with 15000 men. However, the downside is taking empty space takes time and likely your boats wont make it back to Tahiti/Hawaii. The other issue is none of the nations there like you enough to let you have access to their ports. So the likelihood is you'll be stuck losing a few boats. Hence why I said only take two. Once you get an area or two claimed, they wont bother you however. I found them to be fairly neutral and while they wouldn't cooperate, they wouldn't instigate either.
The new world is partially yours! Congrats. If you want to be aggressive, wait until you have a Core and then start raising units. You will never be able to get the big Europeans to cede these areas once they have them, so taking out the "Pagan" nations is the best bet. Plus there isn't as big a penalty for killing them off.
If you don't want to take on the jumbo Mainland area near Bali, but you want some more island regions, which are very useful, here are a few to consider. Ceylon is a small Buddhist island of 2 provinces. It's just off the tip of Vijayanagar's land. Of course this adds the pain of having to either double war or vassalize. The Maldives is an easy one province one to scoop up. Just west of Ceylon, it gives you another point to rest troops and navy. Taiwan is another fine one to get. It gives you a vantage point to get to the East Asians. Likewise, Ryukyu is similar and is another good one to grab if it hasn't been already.
Obstacles to your Victory
- One of the biggest frustrations to a Bali game is early one when the Aceh/Brunei/Malacca gang beats on you right from the start. Ally with some powerful Hindu's and vanquish them!
- When you have a lot of islands, Pirates can become a frustration. And the AI tends to devote spies to this very purpose. I usually kept 1 medium size navy of 4-7 ships floating in the east islands, around the Kiribati's. That gives them close proximity to Rabaul, Australia, and Tahiti even. Keep others inland near Bali-Lombok, and still others near the Straits of Johor.
- Bad Reputation. Annexing nations makes you look like bad and since you have lots of small nations nearby, you tend to annex a lot of them. Generally speaking you'll find yourself near Portugal, Castille, or England since they try and colonize islands next to yours. This is a terrible combination. If your rep gets to the point where you are listed as "Despicable Scum" you will become the worlds punching bag. Some ways to offset this involve using spies to "Fabricate Claims" before annexing. Annexing a spot with a Core that you have drops the hit to your Rep. Also, check the advisor list, if you find a 4-6 star guy that helps your rep, take him if you need to.
So hopefully this gives you an idea of how to turn one province into dozens, and how to turn one small nation into one mighty one. It's truly quite possible. Bali isn't as bad as it seems, and it's much much better than the American "natives" or African nations. It's even better than small 1-3 province nations. If you want a fun and challenging experience, check out Bali.