|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Number of provinces||2|
|Center of Trade||None|
Byzantium (: Byzantine Empire) is a small state in 1399, with only two provinces and the Ottomans on its doorstep. Now a mere remnant of Rome's former glory, it has been reduced to struggling for survival as new powers arise around it.
- 1 Divine Wind
- 2 Heir to the Throne
- 3 In Nomine
Early Game Walkthrough
The Byzantines just got a lot harder. Your starting position is just as bad as in Heir To The Throne, and the Ottomans have gotten a much better position. That's not the problem though since the Ottomans are disinclined to eat you up unless you are really asking for it. No, the problem is the fact that expansion is super hard due to the fact that all the normal avenues of expansion are crawling with cascading alliances which are pretty much unbeatable.
So you have to be opportunistic and always be on the lookout for potential expansion points. Some are listed below (on Normal/Normal):
- The Turkish minors (Karaman, Candar, Adana, Dulkadir) are the best options at the start of the game. They have small armies, smaller navies, and rarely have allies aside from each other and landlocked Arabian countries that can't reach you.
- Naples usually invades Epirus at the beginning. If you declare war on Epirus immediately after they do, you can get to Epirus first and win the siege.
- Venice may get hammered, and so always check for targets in the form of independent Naxos/Albania/Corfu/Crete/Athens. Remember that if you simultaneously attack a vassal and its master in separate wars, you can annex the vassal immediately without having to negotiate with the master.
- Knights sometimes ally with Wallachia so provoking Wallachia into a war might yield territorial benefits.
- Cyprus is usually only guaranteed by France. If France's navy gets destroyed by England, you can swoop in and peace out once you've taken Cyprus.
- Trebizond is usually alone except for an alliance with Georgia, which tends to get dogpiled by the hordes. Be careful, though, as taking it will give you a border with the Timurids, who you should concede defeat to or pay tribute to.
- While you certainly shouldn't pick a fight with any of the majors, once you've gotten six or eight provinces, it's not the end of the world if one joins an enemy alliance. Most are too distant and (aside from England) lacking in naval power to do you much harm.
- In 5.0, the Timurids will usually fall apart quickly. In 5.1, they're much more dangerous and will sometimes completely wipe out the Ottomans. Problem is, then they'll be bordering you. Immediately buy them off; it's impossible to beat them early on.
Addendum: commonly-seen foreign powers in the Aegean region whose strength you can usually ignore with a large enough fleet (like 10+ carracks) - Milan, Naples, Aquileia, Provence, Sicily, Savoy, Papal State, Italian minors. Getting an ally helps tremendously in the early Aegean theater - Sicily is probably the best fit with its lack of Aegean ambition, proximity and naval capabilities.
Dealing with the Turkish Threat
There are three basic approaches to beating the Ottomans:
- If you're lucky, their armies will get wiped out by hordes or crusaders and you can attack directly, even early on. This is still dangerous unless you have at least ~10k soldiers, as you need to have enough to defeat new armies as they are built, as well as any small armies Bosnia or Serbia may throw at you.
- Success at conquering all of the Turkish minors in addition to Trebizond, Epirus, and Venice's Greek holdings, will give you around 14 provinces, nearly as many as the Ottomans. This makes it possible to beat them in a straight fight, although you will still need some strategy and luck. Get the Military Drill idea and plan your attack so that you immediately attack and crush their largest army. With it gone, you should have more total troops and can focus on beating smaller reinforcing armies.
- Another potential strategy is to blockade the straits, trapping the Ottoman armies in Asia while you take control of Europe. This is a less viable strategy than in the past, since you will need to support a navy larger than the Ottoman one with only a few provinces, which will require both time and a lot of minting. Waiting to get Grand Navy may be helpful.
If a 1399 start is too difficult, try starting in 1405. You have 5 provinces, the Ottomans are smaller and dealing with a rebel outbreak, and Anatolia is fragmented. If you choose this strategy, you may still want to annex several Turkish minors before taking on the Ottomans, as
Dealing with Mamluk invasions
It's difficult to write a guide for the next part because it gets a bit random after that. Mamluks will probably replace the OE as your greatest enemy. In the event that happens, here is a method that can be used to defeat them. The main point here is to get Mamluks war exhaustion high enough to cause them to collapse.
Mamluks will invade landward in force and stopping them with your meagre armies is probably too big a task. Let them have the Asian part of your Empire, scorched, that will drive up their WE a little bit. Try and destroy the Mamlukian navy, which is not as large as the Ottomans and so should be quite easy.
But to actually get a decent peace out of this you'd probably have to mount something dramatic - like, say, the actual invasion of Egypt itself. Most of the Mamluk army should be in your territory by now (you can check through the War Panel) and so Egypt will not be terribly well defended. Get an army over to Egypt and take Alexandria and Cairo, and maybe you can force one or two armies to withdraw. The more important thing is that they get quite a bit of war exhaustion from this. Conduct similar raids along the Levantine Coast; ignore Anatolia for the moment because you want Mamlukes to stay and die of attrition there.
Check constantly for the enemy's war exhaustion - as long as it's going up you're good, doesn't matter if the Mamluks retake forts or defeat some of your small armies. Eventually there will come a point where you will see rebellions of not insignificant proportions (and maybe nurture a couple of them yourself). The evidently demoralized Mamluks should not pose too much of a difficulty by this point. Just for historical interest the Byzantines actually did a variation of this strategy once, during the 602-628 Byzantine-Sassanid War, in which Heraclius ignored the bulk of the Sassanid Persian force and marched straight into the Persian heartland: by that bold stroke he managed to save the Empire from total destruction.
Heir to the Throne
If you are playing HTTT, reckless expansion will bring you to ruin. The majority of the Latin-Greek minors are within Venice's sphere of influence, and/or have treaties with it. Therefore, you should pick your targets carefully. If you have a province with an Ottoman core on it, use it to produce Ottoman-type units: their early Azabs and Musselems are superior to units of the neighbouring countries, with the exception of the Mameluke cavalry. Alternately, you can just crush the Ottomans completely (see below).
More Detailed Early Game Walkthrough
So you want to restore the Byzantine Empire to glory eh? Byzantium starts off with 2 unconnected provinces in Constantinople and in Southern Greece, a middling emperor, no trade CoT in Thrace, and a fleet that is not as good as the Ottomans. Short term prospects do not look terribly bright.
You could try and make it brighter by minting a bit of money. Use the extra cash to build galleys/carracks, also store some up for future spy use. Of course this means that you should try to go for slider arrangements that give you more spies. Later on, once you have recovered your immediate territories, you should start thinking about Westernization.
The 1399 start may look bleak but you do have a "friend" and his name is Timur. Unless you are tremendously unlucky Timur will beat the Ottoman troops and start taking forts in Anatolia. Ottoman war exhaustion will go through the roof and this is spy time for you. Support revolts in areas that will spawn Greek patriots/Orthodox Zealots - this usually means Greece proper, Bulgarian revolts tend to create Bulgaria instead. Support these revolts by declaring war and blocking off the straits with your navy. If you do it right revolts will cascade into something the Ottomans are no longer able to contain and you can just sit back and watch provinces defect to you. Who knows, maybe the revolters will enter other countries' territories and take them for you as well.
Sooner or later this will give you a good enough economic base to raise a half-decent army and start moving over to Asia Minor. Beat the Ottomans there and the Byzantine Empire will be partially restored. Of course now you face the same problem as the Ottomans did: non-core provinces with religions inimical to you. Convert them while also fending off the Holy Wars that are bound to come to you. If you want to reunite Greece under your banner it is recommended that you try and build up a stronger carrack-fleet since that's what you need to fight against Italians. Or you could just use spies instead to generate revolts, which generally is much less risky. Try to keep Hungary and Poland on your side while keeping a close eye on the Golden Horde.
Usually you will meet up with the Golden Horde on one of two boundaries, or even both. One is the Moldavia region, the other is the Georgia region. Once you have a boundary with the Golden Horde/friends of the Golden Horde they will invade you with massive stacks. Scorch and destroy while trying to whittle down your list of enemies (which will be many, including Golden Horde, Persia or the Mamluks at any one time) through concessions of defeat or minor tribute. Smaller ones like Candar or Karaman you can annex directly. Repeat this a couple of times and you should then have an Empire that is decently sized.
If you want a much stronger starting position in HTTT, start in 1405 rather than in 1399. You have two more provinces, the Ottomans have five fewer, your navy is more powerful than the Ottomans', the Ottomans have no allies, and the Ottomans are in the middle of a civil war. Declare war before unpausing so the Ottomans cannot find any allies and then siege the provinces of Anatolia to your east using your initial forces while building reinforcement cavalry. After you've taken the Ottoman provinces in Anatolia, you can merge and send your forces back across the Bosporus to destroy both sides of the civil war (they have probably been too busy fighting each other to bother you). And so, in your first war, after only a few years, you reduce the OE to a one-province minor and are in a strong position to further develop your empire.
Crushing the Ottomans with a 1399 start
This is a daunting task, but it can be done, and put you in a very advantageous position early on. It is possible to whittle the Ottomans down to a single province with just one war against them.
Before You Unpause
- Declare war on Candar with reconquest casus belli (the two province minor due east from Constantinople). They have no allies and if you do this now, no one will help them.
- Raise a mercenary Eastern Knight in Constantinople.
- Move your fleet to the Sea of Marmara.
- Convert your ruler to a general. He's not great, but still better than nothing.
- Put your ruler in charge of your 1000/2000/0 army.
- Recruit statesmen for your advisors.
- Do what you want with the sliders, I usually start moving toward free trade.
- Set your budget to restore stability, once it's complete, invest in government technology.
After you unpause the Game
Pay attention to the Ottomans at all times. Once you see they are at war with Karaman, declare war on Karaman also with reconquest casus belli. This will likely trigger a war with Timurids, but they will be busy fighting the Ottomans. You will probably still be fighting one of the other wars you're going to start, and conquest will have to wait. Nearly every time, the Ottomans cut Karaman down to a one province minor and vassalize them. You will still be at war with the vassal, but not the Ottomans. Annex Karaman at the earliest opportunity after they are reduced to one province. Once you have annexed them, seek a white peace with the Timurids quickly. Invade Candar and defeat their army. You will likely need that mercenary knight to speed this up. Occupy both of Kastamon's provinces, then demand Sinope as tribute.
War with Trebizond
Once you have Sinope in your clutches, observe Trebizond. If they are at war with Candar (and they usually are...), give them military access if they do not already have troops in Kastamon. Wait for them to annex Candar (this would be a good time to check on Karaman and annex them), then declare war on Trebizond. This will likely trigger a war with Georgia and possibly Wallachia. Crush the Trebizond forces and reoccupy Kastamon, and take Trebizon. Demand Kastamon as tribute and vassalize Trebizond (We can always cancel their vassalage after we deal with the Ottomans and reclaim the province, but for now, they'll be one more thorn in the Ottoman's side.) If there are any other minor countries other than Georgia at war with you, vassalize them, then go after Georgia. As for Georgia...
If you're not a gambler, vassalize Georgia outright. If you are a gambler, seek a white peace with Georgia. Georgia frequently has legitimacy problems early on and you can marry in around 1408 (after your truce expires), claim their throne, declare war, force a union, bribe your relations back up, and form an alliance. Doing this, it is possible to fully inherit their provinces and gain cores by 1425. Whichever route you take, disband the mercenary knights after this war.
From at least one country besides Trebizond, demand a province and take the infamy hit. Alania from Georgia can be good since it produces a lot of gold, but it is difficult to defend from rebels since it starts without a fortress and is quite remote. Taking Oltenia from Wallachia is a pretty safe bet. It produces wool, and the manpower for this province is nothing special, but it is easy to get to and has a fortress. Whichever you choose, this province will allow you to meet the six province requirement for the [Liberum Veto] decision. You might not need Liberum Veto any time soon, but you never know. If either Wallachia or Moldovia are still free after you have made peace with Georgia, find an excuse to declare war and vassalize them if you can get away without fighting Poland or Lithuania.
- The year should be about 1409, and you should now be the leader of a block of small Eastern Orthodox nations. Also, you should be getting your first national idea.
- Pick Military Drill for the idea.
- Form alliances with all of your subject nations.
- Move your fleet minus the cogs to Morea and try to get military access from someone with a safe harbor fairly far away, if all else fails, try Novgorod.
- Raise your army to about 13,000 strong, with at least 5,000 cavalry included and put the entire force in Constantinople.
- Raise your military budget to full.
- Move your budget slider to dump money into the treasury, we'll need it in a minute.
- Wait for your manpower and morale to fill and then...
Invading the Ottomans
Whether the Ottomans are at war with anyone or not, declare war on them with the reconquest casus belli. This actually goes more smoothly if they are not at war with anyone. If they are at peace, most of their forces will be in Edirne, and snoozing. You'll catch them completely by surprise and annihilate nearly their entire force in Greece within two or three months. Trebizond and Georgia will slow down any enemies from the south/east. Squash Bosnia and Serbia's armies and begin to lay siege to Ottoman-Greek provinces. Check to see if anyone else declared war on the Ottomans. Venice likes to sneak in and try to claim provinces after you do all the work. If anyone else has declared war against the Ottomans, recruit a few mercenaries and send them to lay siege to the rest of the provinces in Greece.
Move all of your armies back to Constantinople. Remember that remote safe harbor I told you to get? Send the galleys there now. The Ottoman fleet will pursue, and your army can cross into modern turkey without naval interference. Destroy any hostile armies and lay siege to the provinces. Once all provinces have been occupied sue for peace. You should be able to get all of their Greek provinces except Edirne, take these, and in addition, take all of the coastal provinces that are your cores from modern Turkey. You won't be able to get every province so just worry about the coastal cores for now. This usually leaves them with Edirne, Anatolia, Konya, Adana, Angora, and Sivas.
Once the Ottomans accept your peace offer, it's time for some parting gifts, Greek style. Fund patriot revolts in as many provinces as you can. Especially Edirne. Also, try to get Adana to revolt if they have it. It's one not of your cores, but it will still join you. Because you just crushed the Ottomans they will have at most 1000 soldiers to deal with the rebels and will be completely overrun and surrender to the rebels, leaving them with a single province.
What you do from here is up to you. Retaking the rest of Greece should be one of your first goals. Once this is done, it can be fun to try re-uniting the church and completely wiping out Catholicism and later the Protestants.
There are two good times to start as the Byzantines. Starting in 1399 puts the Ottoman Empire at war with the Timurid Empire, which can lead to an Ottoman collapse at best, or at least give you a chance to slip in and grab a few valuable provinces. Starting in 1403 gives you Salonica back, as it historically returned to the Byzantines at that point. Also Aydin will have declared its independence, giving you a shot at taking Smyrna.
Expand opportunistically and aggressively right off the bat. Achaea, Naxos, The Knights, Cyprus, Trebizond (if the Ottomans beat the Timurids and Trebizon has no border to the Timurids any more) and Aydin (if you start in 1403) all make good, easy targets from the start. You should give concerned thought to declaring war on one or more of them as part of your pre-unpausing strategy, along with picking advisors and setting government slidebars and research. For these early wars you usually build up a small army ~5k, and 3-4 additional cogs to ship them around.
As a side remark, there seems to be a hidden event, that all of Venice's Greek provinces (Korfu, Athens and Crete) defect to you, when Athens is held by patriotic/nationalistic rebels (those which have your flag next to the rebel flag if you hover the mouse over them) for some months. One potential enemy before taking on the Ottomans is Candar. They only have one province to cede, but any improvement to force limits is good.
There are many possible targets all over the Mediterranean: look for ally-less countries, such as Tunisia, Tripoli, Georgia, Trebizond, Ragusa, Montenegro, Bosnia, Corfu, Crete, as well as others, such as Irish Minors, Riga, and HRE minors. You won't want to annex these countries but you can vassalize+demand ducats. If your annual income is 20 ducats, and you demand 150 in a peace settlement, you can stop minting for years, recruit troops for conquest, and otherwise propel yourself forward. Having numerous vassals also gives you things to release if the OE DoW's you (much better than giving up your own provinces).
War with the Ottomans
Either way, an Ottoman DoW on you is inevitable at some point down the line. If the Timurids beat up the Ottomans you might just hop on the train and backstab them. As always, look out for a vassal of the Ottomans to declare war on, to not activate their potential allies (it is unpleasant to put up with Bosnia and Serbia). You may be successful sending a ~2-3k army towards Bulgarian lands and then an equally strong one (with much cavalry) to Anatolia. You have to be fast and keep building armies so that you can get reinforced during your campaign, another key feature is to act fast in occupying lands and not to waste soldiers on assaults. Then if you're lucky you manage to get the Ottomans to cede territory. There is one thing that you still should be on the look out for, if the Ottomans make peace with their enemies, your chance to invade goes down fast.
The Ottomans are in a weak position in 1399, with the Timurids invading them and the Balkan provinces full of Greek patriotism. A good strategy is to take over their Balkan provinces while keeping them from crossing Sea of Marmara for as long as possible. The Byzantine navy will not stand up to the Turks for very long. Remember that Greek patriot rebels will defect to you, so make use of them. It's especially good if they cause the Turks to collapse. Funding patriots in the inevitable war against Ottomans is also useful when you lack the manpower yourself, just have a big enough navy to block their access to Greece so that they have hard time to prevent those Greek provinces joining you.
If you are unlucky the Ottomans will use Timurs early death to their advantage, getting a good peace from the Timurids. In this case you have to put up with all of their army in best shape. Liberum veto may help you win such a war anyway. For this avail it might be advisable to turn on war taxes in your early wars to purposely drive up war exhaustion so you can enact the decision as early as possible. This huge army will cost you an insane fortune. So if you see things going well for the Ottomans, mint to 100% when ever you have full stability. Still, during the war you may easily be forced to take all 5 possible loans come very close to state bankruptcy. If you can track the Ottomans to Korfu or Naxos and block the strait in the right moment, you may be able to dispose of their army quite easily. As your fleet will probably be weaker than the one of the Ottomans you will have to use careful timing to trap their army just the day they try to flee.
It might be advisable to always build as many cogs as your navy limit allows. If you reach around 10-12 cogs you can beat the Ottoman fleet in most cases, carefully outmaneuvering them. If you can control the Sea of Marmara you can relieve yourself of the pressure from your much to huge army. Your units should have taken a beating anyway, so it might be the best way to fuse all your infantry, reducing them probably to roughly 1/3 of the divisions but keeping all the men. It may be useful to keep at least 10 cavalry regimens though. Count the ships the Ottomans have in provinces bordering the strait of Marmara and leave 25% more ships in the strait. You can use the rest of your fleet chasing small transport fleets and reconquering lost islands.
You might have to hold the line at the Bosporus for some time before the Turks offer you two provinces to leave them alone. You will mostly not get to 40% war score so take whatever land they offer (but don't sell your victory for ducats). Before the ink has dried on the peace treaty you can declare war on another vassal of the Ottomans'. This time with higher troop limit only slightly lower than your actual army size and more income the war will feel like a day off. From this point usurping the Ottoman lands in a constant war will be surprisingly easy and quick. You may have almost all your cores by 1420.
With the Turks dealt with, they are probably collapsing and won't be difficult to deal with for the rest of the game. Recapturing Greece will probably be your next priority. Chances are it will be either be Italian or allied/guaranteed by Italians. Of course, Italian states have a very powerful navy, so either build up your own or make sure your land provinces can be linked by land.
Recovering your cores
The Byzantine Empire is stronger than it looks, which is admittedly not saying much. They start with a bunch of unredeemed cores all over Greece and Anatolia. They *are* an Empire, which gives some nice bonuses as well. Although the unredeemed cores play merry hell with your Prestige at the start, it makes it very easy to expand opportunistically, by giving you a Casus Belli on any neighbour that slips up.
Watch Venice, Hungary and the Ottomans for any signs of weakness and pounce if you see them. Even taking Kaffa from the Genoese can help if the opportunity presents itself. If Crete, Corfu, Albania or Bulgaria break off because of rebellions, jump on them right off the bat if you manage to keep your cores on them (these disappear sometimes when nationalists form new countries for some odd reason.) The Italians enjoy guaranteeing the one-province Latin countries in the area, although they sometimes neglect to guarantee Cyprus. If the Burgundians have guaranteed Cyprus (they seem to do that a lot), take a second to have a good laugh at their inability to reach you, then DoW and annex.
The Ottomans collapsing is not likely, but you can help it along by sponsoring rebellions in Greece, especially Edirne. An easy way to gain more spies is to go for a bit of mercantilism at the start. If you can safely block the Ottomans out of the Balkans, you can expect Albania and the Bulgarians to declare independence, and the rest to flip to you. Wait for the Ottomans to be at at war, and if you see successful rebellions in the Balkans that are holding onto provinces, that's your cue to push it over the edge with patriot rebels.
Once you get within a couple provinces off the Ottomans, you can fight them if they DoW, or you might be able to take them on yourself. They won't always afford you the opportunity though. Take loans, hire mercenaries, and if all else fails remember you're still only a 2 or 3 province nation after all. You will need to get lucky to survive, even if that luck is only the Ottomans not attacking before you're halfway ready.
When you have beaten the Ottomans and recovered your cores it is only a matter a two easy wars to take Judea and Mecca, giving you 2 Prestige/year and 1 missionary/year. So this is a track of expansion that definitely pays off quickly. Also Alexandria is interesting for the cot so it might be a good idea to completely annex the Mamluks.
The rest of the nearby Muslim world is not really worth a lot. If the Timurids and the Golden Horde do not collapse, they will pose a threat. Georgia may be a suitable buffer against the Golden Horde, but the Timurids are annoying if they don't collapse. The most annoying part about the Timurids is that most of their land is terra incognita. You best try to use the Jalayirids as a buffer state to not get involved in wars with the Timurids.
The Counter Crusade
One idea for the further game is to make sure Venice, the Pope and the Franks never forget about the fourth crusade, where they looted Constantinople, initiating the collapse of Byzantium in the following centuries. For this campaign you aim at a conquest of Venice, Rome and maybe beat up some German states and France along the way.
Before you can seriously expand to Europe, it is reasonable to take the Unam Sanctam national idea. This gives you free casus belli against all Catholics, thus you can freely declare wars after having disposed of the Orthodox Balkan states. In Europe a sensible first target is the strip of 4 gold provinces in Aquilea and southern Austria. With these provinces your income will get a huge boost. The next natural target is Italy for the universities and of course Rome, giving you another 1 prestige/year and 0.5 missionaries/year.
However some difficulties may come your way. Hungary will usually profit from an Ottoman collapse and will need to be dealt with, but Austria, Bohemia or Poland will occasionally ally with you out of mutual interest (the enemy of their enemy...) Westernization should be one of your goals, so Centralize and Innovate accordingly.
If you have established your presence in Italy the world is your playground. You can attack almost anybody without loss of stability, your economy is unmatched, your military power exceeds that of anyone else. If you find pleasure in it, you can go and sweep France, Spain and Britain from the map and conquer the world or become the Holy Roman Emperor or both of those.
Restoration of the Roman Empire
For this scenario, have a look at a map of the Roman empire on the peak of its power. Your aim is to conquer all these provinces. As an additional bonus you may try to join the HRE with all provinces that were historically part of the empire, leave the HRE with all provinces that historically were not part of the empire and then became the only member, elector and permanent Caesar of the Empire. This campaign includes beating all European super powers so it may well take all the game to accomplish it. However, usually things start going your way easily once you have beaten France.
Punish the Pretender
If you want to show the patriarch of Moscow how you think about pretenders and to settle once and for all, who stands for the Orthodox church, your target is Moscow. This campaign is quite hard most of the time, if you have not yet taken larger parts of Europe. You will have to put up with quite potent enemies, namely Hungary, Poland, Lithuania or the Golden Horde in order to get to Muscovy. Then again Muscovy shares your religion so declarations of war cost stability. It may still be a good idea to take Unam Sanctam and invade through Europe, as fighting the Horde takes ages as their land is mostly terra incognita.
Taking the Sinai (as well as Diamentia or Gaza to connect it with the Mediterranean) opens the possibility of building a navy there, taking Quest For The New World and pulling an Alexander the Great redux in India, or reopening the old Roman trade links with East Africa. You can also try driving across North Africa to Morocco if you feel like trying your hand in the Americas.
- Keep an eye on the ledger, especially the page with information on naval forces. Ottomans often wage war with Venice and get their whole navy destroyed. It's possible to use this to control the Sea of Marmara and lock Ottoman troops in either side of gulf, thus allowing you to occupy all the provinces on the other side. This will cause huge war exhaustion to Ottomans and once they reach maximum WE and go bankrupt, you can destroy their doomstack with much smaller force.
- Before unpausing the game, you can safely declare war on Trebizon and Candar (1399 start). This allows you to gain 3 extra starting provinces.
- Remember to use the Ottoman cavalry and infantry. It is much better than the oriental units Byzantine gets by default.
- Use the missions to gain extra rewards from your conquers. There's 3 flavor conquest missions; 'Asia-Minor', 'Eastern Balkans' and 'Greece'. These will allow you to keep your prestige positive in the beginning of the game.