Domestic policy sliders strategy

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This article is accurate for the latest versions of EU3, Napoleon’s Ambition, In Nomine, Heir to the Throne and Divine Wind.

Domestic policy sliders are, with National Ideas and governments, one of the ways a country can be finely tuned and customized to increase its internal efficiency. This article is about strategies to use them in the best possible way.

General strategy

Centralization/Decentralization: This choice is easy. Decentralization gives large penalties for a minor bonus, and centralization give large bonuses for a minor penalty. The only disadvantage with this slider change is that there is 67% of a rebellion, and if no rebellion occurs, it’s a loss in stability: no positive event can occur. Early on, it can be difficult to move this slider without putting one's country in danger, and for smaller minors, it is not a realistic option as a "before unpausing" move. Also, it is the most restricted slider by government limits. If possible, -5 should be sought, otherwise, this slider should be at the government restriction limit, possibly even below it if there is not expected revolt risk problem.

Aristocracy/Plutocracy: The main bonus from aristocracy is the cheaper cavalry. This was a very impressive boost in In Nomine, but less so since Heir to the Throne and Divine Wind, because cavalry is not as important, especially later on. +3 diplomats is not a major improvement, but those don't hurt. Basically, a war-oriented nation should go for aristocracy, while a trading power should go (unsurprisingly) for plutocracy. If spies are useful for you, and free trade is already chosen, plutocracy is another way to get more without wasting a National Idea.

Serfdom/Free subjects: Free subjects is usually the best way to go, because of the much faster techs and morale boost. Large countries like Ming could use the lower stability costs, but then again, large countries also need faster techs. Unless the situation or the strategy is unusual, Free Subjects +5 is best. Unlike Centralization, it has the regular 2 negative event and 1 positive event ratio, but it is also less serious.

Innovative/Narrowminded: Narrowminded is a good option for colonizers, while Innovative is better for going through the tech tree; it is also useful for going through the reformation, or conquering wrong-religion provinces. In most situations, an extreme position is suboptimal: full Innovative means very few missionaries with all possible decisions, and none otherwise; full Narrowminded means very slow technological advancement. With some Holy city modifiers, or with the Divine Supremacy National Idea, however, going fully innovative can be more accessible. High Innovative is necessary for Westernization.

Mercantilism/Free Trade: This slider is easy to understand: if trading abroad is the main priority, Free Trade is best; if owning several rich CoTs is an objective, or if infamy is expected to stay high, Mercantilism is superior. Also, for countries with Aristocracy, Mercantilism offers spies, which can be useful if spies are needed, because otherwise, it is necessary to use a National Idea. This slider should change with the new trade system in Divine Wind. Whichever is chosen, this slider should be maxed out, as there is little benefit for a position of compromise.

Offensive/Defensive: Offensive nations are amazing on the battlefield, while Defensive nations excel at the slow pace of siege warfare. To seek a Hearts of Iron-like experience, with large sweeping movements through enemy territory, intending to rapidly destroy his field army, Offensive is the best. If a slower, more methodical pace is sought, where wars are won by the sieges on the other, or by the one with the lowest war exhaustion after years of war, Defensive is the better option. An Offensive position will help keep wars short and victories decisive, while Defensive will make the best of slight advantages, and can bankrupt an opponent or push them to hyperinflation, if your economy stays in good shape. It is more a matter of playing style than of pure efficiency in many cases. However, there is one nasty event for high Offensiveness that leads to a fort being destroyed and one with the opposite effect for Defensiveness, which can tip the balance one way or the other. It can be good to keep a slight imbalance between the two instead of a maximum slider position in several circumstances.

Land/Naval: A pure land power (like Burgundy or Austria) will want full or nearly full Land, while a colonial power (like Portugal or Great Britain) will want nearly full Naval. It is between those two extremes that the situation is less clear, and when domination on land needs domination at sea, a compromise must be taken. Land will severely decrease military maintenance, which is the primary budget drain for most countries, but having an up-to-date navy means building a completely new fleet every few decades early on, and at 50 ducats for every big ship, it can be difficult. Press Gangs could lessen the need for high Naval, but then again, a nation needing Press Gangs will probably also want high Naval. Also, Naval increases Tariffs, which is very important for a colonial empire. So for every country expecting a mix of land and sea battles, such as an England involved on the continent, Venice, the Ottomans (especially with the Dardanelles to protect), Ming and Japan against each other, or any other, a position around +3 or -3 is probably a good compromise, on whichever side is thought best.

Quality/Quantity: A country needing good, well-drilled professional troops will want Quality; one expecting its poorly trained swarms to overwhelm a surprised opponent will want Quantity. The best advantage of Quality is the Discipline bonus, while Quantity’s best attributes are +25% manpower and cheap infantry. When is each the best? A country with a high income but low manpower will particularly benefit from better effectiveness of each unit on the line (Quality), while a large country with enormous reserves won't be as concerned with its own casualties, especially during long, manpower-draining wars (Quantity). Also, high Quality obtains more output from each unit, which means it is easier to stay within the force limits. As with Offensive/Defensive, a Quality orientation is better for short wars where the manpower reserve is kept almost full, or when the objective is that wars should be thus, and Quantity will help slowly grind an opponent to oblivion, while maintaining steady manpower reserves. Apart from the nation’s internal situation, the nearby threats must also be taken into account: while Sweden is fairly large and could use Quantity against Denmark (especially with the expectable losses from crossing the Straits), it would rather seek a quick ending against Russia, and while Milan would need Quality against France, its main opponents early on are other Italian minors, ripe to be eaten. Generally speaking, the smaller the country, the higher the need for Quality (to avoid manpower losses and get more out of force limits), and the bigger the country, the higher the need for Quantity (to have an oversized manpower limit). However, it can be more effective for a small country to have full Quality than it is for a similarly large one to have full Quantity.


  • For trade: Plutocracy, Free trade
  • For colonization: Narrowminded, Naval
  • For conquest: Land, Aristocracy, Mercantilism
  • At war
    • Winning on the battle field: Offensive, Quality
    • Winning the war of attrition Defensive, Quantity

A few important slider-related modifiers

Nation specific decisions

Some general decisions

Only those with effect on slider strategy.

  • Most unification decisions give -2 Centralization.
  • Tenures Abolition Act: Requires Centralization -2 and Serfdom -2, and moves 2 toward Free Subjects, 1 toward Innovative.
  • Westernization: Requires at least Centralization -2 and Innovative -3, moves Innovative by -1 (Modernizing the military also needs increasingly low Centralization, and gives +2 Decentralization)
  • Declare Statute of Monopolies: Requires Free Trade between +1 and +5, moves Free Trade by +1: if its effect itself is wanted, it is necessary to wait before pushing it to +5.

Triggered modifiers

Important events

Members of large event series are not included, only the starting event is. Only events affecting strategy heavily are included.