|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Number of provinces||1|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Mainz is among the most difficult of the Holy Roman Empire's member states, as it is an OPM. However, you have a number of unique advantages as Mainz that will give you an edge over your foes in the coming centuries, and with perseverance and cunning, the tiny, backward archbishpric of Mainz can become a mighty empire. While you cannot become Emperor yourself, you may find that the politics of tiptoeing around the emperor, and learning when you've become strong enough to challenge his authority, is an exciting game in itself.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Mainz is in the Holy Roman Empire. This means two things. First, obviously, you're a member of the Holy Roman Empire, which means countries will think twice about attacking you without casus belli, and you get Imperial Integrity, which will give you excellent bonuses, including a technology cost benefit that will offset your narrowmindedness.
- Mainz is an elector of the Holy Roman Empire. This is a huge benefit for you in many ways. Perhaps the most obviously, you get to cast a vote for Emperor, which means you can strategically try to get smaller or more distant powers to become Emperor. You yourself can't become Emperor for some time (more on that later), but cunning play will put states like Brandenburg, Bohemia, and Milan—all distant—in power for decades. An important but often overlooked benefit of being an elector is that you can gain reputation with a country by endorsing them for emperor. By switching your vote to a new nation (you can do this once every two months), you lose 25 reputation with your old candidate, but gain 25 with your new candidate. This basically means that if you need a short term boost with anyone, for instance, before asking for military access, you need only switch your allegiance, provided they are eligible. It is possible to lose this position. If you ever come to border an elector, you must make sure you maintain higher than 0 reputation with either that elector, or the emperor (ideally, the emperor). If both fall below zero, you risk loss of elector status.
- Your country is very well positioned in the empire. You are surrounded by nations small enough to be willing to ally you (starting out, you'll only be able to ally nations with up to 3-4 provinces), as well as nations small enough to be able to tackle in a fight. You are also buffered on all sides by various dissonant princes, who will shield you from foes (other than the emperor, of course).
- Mainz holds the titles of Primas Germaniae and Legatus Natus (you'll receive events for them a few months after starting). These provide minor bonuses, but they are definitely worth holding onto. Primas Germaniae (the title of most important bishopric in the German lands) will be lost if you fall below -10 prestige, while Legatus Natus (the Born Legate to the Catholics of Germany) will be lost if you fall below -10 prestige AND have less than +100 relations with the Papal State, OR you have less than 0 relations with the Papal State. Naturally, these titles can only be held by a theocracy, and will be lost if you convert to an Absolute Monarchy. They are nice bonuses, but not worth staying a Theocracy for. Hold onto them until you convert.
- You're in the Latin tech group, which is the best. Unfortunately, so are all your neighbors.
- You're Catholic, and small enough to change if you want to, though it may not be recommended (more later).
- You're a Theocracy, which means you can use your rulers as generals without worries. One of the few upsides of being a theocracy is that there is no fear of lost legitimacy, bad personal unions, regencies or risky successions. Send your bishops to war!
- Mainz is a core of only Mainz, which means you don't risk immediate reconquest. You also don't neighbor large Dukes or Princes, so conquest is also unlikely.
- Sliders. While your Innovation is surprisingly good for a Theocracy, that's just about the only good news there is. Your Aristocracy might come in handy, due to all the diplomats and cavalry you will be using, so it passes as decent. The rest are a mess. You are highly mercantilistic, which will keep you out of trade for a long time, which is crucial for a small state like yours. Your Land vs. Naval slider is -1, which is a step in the right direction, but you won't see cores on sea provinces for centuries. Your Serfdom slider is awful, and it is holding back your research and morale, while your stability is nothing you'll need to worry about for a long time. Your Decentralization is just as grim: you have no need to be so decentralized with a single province, especially because you won't be annexing neighbors: you'll be vassalizing them (more on this later).
- Your small size means you will probably never control the Curia until after it is useless.
- You're a theocracy, which means you're stuck without royal marriages, elections, or any means to escape this status for a long time. You don't get a change of government until Government 27 -- Absolute Monarchy, which is probably the best monarchy. This also means you cannot become Holy Roman Emperor, and you'll have to deal with playing around the Emperor for a few centuries. This can add quite a bit of excitement compared to the dull self-assurance of playing the Emperor himself!
- As an OPM, you risk annihilation until you gain a fourth province. You'll need to plan your wars and CTA responses carefully.
Your first priority when starting the game, before making any other choices, should be to decide who to request alliances with. Getting the right allies early can make or break a game. Try to get non-elector 3 province minors that are close to you. Brabrant and Hesse are excellent examples of this, and Wurzburg, your neighbor to the east, is another good choice. Make sure you do this before unpausing so that you get to send requests before the AI does... if a country gets three allies, it won't accept other requests, and German states accept alliances quickly.
Before you unpause, you should decide your first slider move. You have three good choices: centralization, free subjects, or free trade. You are many decades from getting your trade slider to a position where you can trade effectively, even with Shrewd Commerce Practice, so starting the process with your first slider move might ease the pain somewhat, but if you plan to play more aggressively, you should favor centralization or free subjects so you can see the immediate results. If you choose centralization, build an army before you move the slider: since you're small, you'll only get a small rebellion, and you should have no problem taking them down. Once you get a National Idea, don't be afraid to change it: 3 stability is nothing for a country like you. Don't bother sending traders at first: they're a waste of money for you, since everyone has better compete chance than you.
At this point, you can settle in temporarily. Handle standard administrative affairs, and wait for casus belli. Mainz is not at risk for conquest or reconquest, but it is likely you'll get an insult or border friction early. If you can't get anything, you can try making a war on an OPM neighbor without casus belli—especially if you don't have allies near Bohemia. If you get the choice, pick a war with a country that has provinces that are cored by nations other than itself. This will be key in cascading wars to your benefit. Utilize your allies and meager military to beat a neighbor OPM, and vassalize it—don't annex. You'll be spending the next century or two vassalizing neighbors instead of annexing them: you don't risk rebellion, you can gain electors (who still won't vote for you until you convert to a monarchy), and you won't get unlawful imperial territory or formal requests. Once you force a vassalization, remember to always ally the country the next month. Ideally, if you were able to vassalize a nation with foreign cores, they will get a reconquest war declared on them. This happens a lot with the nations in your area, and since almost all of these wars (save Burgundy) will be between small nations, you can make new vassals out of the aggressors, feeding the cycle. Continue this process for the next 200 years: you'll find you can get plenty of casus bellis, or wars declared upon you. If an ally calls you to arms against Burgundy or any other threatening nation, you'll have to leave them to die until you gain enough vassals to beat large nations into submission. Figuring out when you can take on a nation like Burgundy, or even the Emperor, will always be a challenge. A key issue to look out for is the fact that the Empire will grow huge in games like this. The AI will never accept an invitation to the HRE from the player, but often will from the AI Emperor. This means that the Imperial territory will frequently spread into western Europe, Italy, and DEEP into France (especially if France gets split up into minors, which will jump at the chance to join), as you will not be emperor for centuries. This should be encouraged: it means all the more land you gain when you reform the Empire.
Spies are also an option, if you can get any of them (usually through the occasional event, or if you can manage to swing your slider to Plutocracy). You have many Rheinlander neighbors, and a well-placed Patriot revolt could result in their annexation: just remember that you might benefit more from releasing the new land as a vassal.
During the reformation, it might be wise to stay Catholic. The Emperor will take authority hits each time a prince converts, but you won't be able to become Emperor until half a century later: 1600 at the earliest. Once you become a monarchy at this point, send gifts and raise your reputation to Enforce Religious Unity for quick boosts of authority all around to the Protestants (many of which will ideally be your vassals by this point), which will be enough to let you rush through a number of imperial reforms incredibly quickly, even unifying the Empire almost immediately in many cases. Don't give in to the temptation of revoking the privilege of non-appeal until you have high reputation (~200) with large nations like Bohemia, though: it is important to keep as much land Imperial as possible for your final unification. Remember, even large nations will swear loyalty if they like you enough: size is not an issue!
You have the following threats to look out for: The Palatinate (dangerous early on, even with allies, but can be taken down once you have some vassals), Burgundy (will be your most dangerous and aggressive foe in the region, especially when they become Emperor), The Hansa (they can become dangerously strong in the northern regions, and a thorn in your side, especially when trade becomes important later on).
Notably absent from the threat list are France, Bohemia, and Austria. Though they are traditionally dangerous foes, they will find it hard to pierce deep enough through all the various OPMs to get to you unless they are the Emperor (which confers free military access). Encourage Austria and Bohemia to become emperor: they are far less threatening than Burgundy, which will use its period as Emperor to annex many German OPMs.