|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Celestial Empire|
|Center of Trade||Nanjing|
|Other accepted cultures||Cantonese|
Ming has some very obvious, but also a number of rather hidden advantages and disadvantages. You are a super power to begin with but due to your bad technology group, this advantage declines quickly and you have to prepare for a stony road. But like the sun rising in the east seems far from its zenith, Ming can ascend to unexpected glory.
- 1 Divine Wind
- 2 Heir To The Throne
- 3 Pre-Heir To The Throne
- 4 In Nomine
- 5 Vanilla
- 6 After Action Reports
The overall goals of Ming do not change with DW. Ming is big, but is very limited in the early game in terms of what it can do with its wealth and military. As always, Ming should prioritize Westernization. What DW adds is the faction system, which is largely a mechanism that reduces your available options by 2/3 depending on which faction is currently dominant. Playing Ming requires a great deal of waiting for the right leaders/factions/sliders to be in place before Westernization can happen, and then balancing factions afterwards to minimize the impact of individual factions.
Introduced in the 5.1 Changes
- Celestial Empire is permanent until westernization or the form Chinese nation decision.
- Eunuchs must be the dominate faction to recruit a conquistador or explorer.
The faction system is poorly documented in the game. You access your factions via a small round gold icon on the bottom right panel of your UI. The gold icon usually sits on top of the panel (where the HRE icon would go if you were in the HRE). There are 3 factions in the game. Each faction allows you to do certain things and bans you from doing the rest:
- Eunuchs - Send merchants. Send missionaries. Send colonists. Create explorers and conquistadors. Reduce land forcelimits by 60%.
- Temple - Declare war. Reduce both land and naval forcelimits by 60%.
- Bureaucrats - Create buildings. Reduce naval forcelimits by 60%.
Hovering over the faction "score" in the circle shows you the current total value for each faction and what is contributing to it. Hovering over the small up or down arrow at the right of each faction circle shows you how quickly this faction is growing or shrinking.
Three things contribute to each faction's strength:
- Domestic policy slider values
- Leader attributes
First, the domestic slider values. Each faction has 2 uniquely linked sliders. Moving each slider one step changes the faction contribution by .25:
- Eunuchs: Land/Naval (-1.25 to +1.25) and Mercantilism/Free Trade (-1.25 to +1.25)
- Temple: Quality/Quantity (-1.25 to +1.25) and Innovative/Narrowminded (-1.25 to +1.25)
- Bureaucrats: Aristocracy/Plutocracy (+1.25 to -1.25) and Serfdom/Free Subjects (+1.25 to -1.25)
Second, the leader attributes. Each of the leader's ratings contributes to one of the factions, with a strength of rating/2. So if a leader has 8 for Administration, that leader contributes 4.00 to the Bureaucrat faction.
- Administration: Rating/2 goes to Bureaucrat faction
- Diplomacy: Rating/2 goes to Eunuch faction
- Military: Rating/2 goes to Temple faction
What this means is that your leader's ratings contribute a great deal to the faction balance. Unfortunately, you don't have much choice over your leaders until you switch to Noble Republic. Thus, much of Ming's early game is modifying sliders to balance factions and shifting to Noble Republic once you are at Government technology Level 10. Once this is done, it becomes much easier to juggle factions using Faction Events and elected leaders.
The Stage at 1399
When you begin the game, the Eunuchs are the dominant faction, but your sliders and leader will very quickly make the Bureaucrats dominant. And given the current faction balance (in addition to your king and his heir), the Bureaucrats will remain dominant for about the next 100 years as you set the stage for Westernization. You are also currently at war with two Horde nations—the Oirat Horde and the Mongol Khanate. Both should be minor threats that you can easily take care of. Even you only briefly have Eunuchs, you want to send all your available merchants to Nanjing immediately. You won't have the opportunity to send merchants for another 100 years or more.
You are at Technology Level 3 for everything. After getting your Stability up, you should go for Government Technology 4 to get a new idea. You do eventually need Church Attendance Duty for the Stability bonus (for Westernization), but for now, Patron of the Arts is better because of the Architectural Development event, which gives +2 Innovative with a MTTH of 30 years. While Land/Naval Ideas may be helpful later on, Ming doesn't need help with this early on with the limited wars it becomes engaged with.
The Hordes will be a constant annoyance. You can't take over their lands once the Eunuchs go out of power (since you have to send colonists to take over Horde provinces), so Manchu usually takes them over. But the upside is that you have a way of getting 5 prestige from each defeat concession from both Horde factions.
Wars and Expansion in Early Game
Of course, you would crush any of your neighbours if you were allowed to declare war on them. Sadly, Ming is stuck in Bureaucrats faction in early game so cannot declare wars. And Ming is so strong that no nation (apart from the Hordes) will declare war on you. But you are allowed to go to war if called to arms by another nation. So in the early game, it is good to make alliances with the smaller southeast Asia nations and hope that they call you to arms when attacked by the larger nations. This is the only way of gaining territory in the early game.
Early Game Goals
In the early game, Ming should put several things in place:
- Prepare for Westernization.
- Balance Factions.
- Build Temples everywhere.
- Build up Economy.
- Focus on Government and Trade Research.
- Shift to Noble Republic.
Westernization requires you to have a correct neighbour, have Stability of 3, leader with an administration skill of at least 6, Centralization of -2 or less, and Innovative of -3 or less. The first 3 are things we will worry about later on. But we are many slider moves away from the requirements. In general, Ming should work on Centralization before Innovation because Ming will be leveraging some of the Architectural Development events to help move to Innovative.
The problem though is that you also have to use slider moves to balance your factions. Currently, there is too much contribution to Bureaucrats, and too little to the Eunuchs. To balance this out, it is best to slowly move from Serfdom to Free Subjects (weakens Bureaucrats) and to shift Land to Naval (strengthens Eunuchs). Given that you have so much control over your own market and a single concentrated high-wealth COT in Nanjing, it makes more sense to stay Mercantilist. The goal isn't necessarily to perfectly balance the factions. Rather, you want to make it possible to easily swap factions by electing leaders once you have Noble Republic.
You want to balance your slider moves for these two goals in the early game. You want to create temples in as many provinces as possible. You will need as much as you can get later on when you Westernize, so start building them now. For economy, do the usual things of creating buildings in high-value provinces. With Patron of the Arts, the Prospering Times event will pop quite often for you. This allows you to pay 500 ducats for either one Fine Arts Academy or one University. It might helps to have one Fine Arts Academy to keep cultural tradition high, but you should mainly choose Universities to help with research.
In terms of research, you should focus on Government and Trade. In the early game, no nation can threaten you, so there's no point focusing on Land/Naval early on. You want to gun for Quest for the New World—Trade 7 for your second National Idea. And in terms of government, you want to shift to Noble Republic as soon as possible (Govt 10). This allows you to have much more control over the faction balance.
You have to Westernize in stages: Chinese > Muslim > Oriental > Latin. This means 3 separate Westernization events with one final Modernize Military decision at the very end. So 4 events altogether which give you a -5 or -6 stability hit. Since you will need a high administration leader for each decision, it will often feel like waiting for stars to align.
The biggest requirement problem for Westernization is the Western neighbour. While you only need a Muslim neighbour for the first jump, it takes too long for a Muslim nation to move 25 techs ahead of you. It will also be many years before Europeans reach Asia. And you don't have the colony range to make a colony near a European power. One alternative strategy is to use Quest for the New World to find Europe and then sell a non-productive coastal province to the technology-leading nation for 0 ducats. Even at 0 ducats, European nations are "unlikely" to purchase it, so you will have to try many times before it happens. But this allows you to use that same neighbour to go through the full chain of Westernization.
Of course, to do this, you'll need Quest for the New World. You'll also need the Eunuchs in power (possible after you shift to Noble Republic) briefly to create Explorers. You should only keep Eunuchs around for one election, and then elect an administrative leader to prepare for Westernization—you need a leader with at least 6 in administration.
The biggest problem that Ming faces in Westernizing is Stability. When you Westernize, you take a -5 Stability hit, which makes you lose Mandate of Heaven (incurring a stability penalty) and you also gain the Western Influences modifier (which also increases your stability cost). So you want to prepare for that as much as possible because you want to regain Mandate of Heaven as quickly as possible. Here's what you can do to prepare:
- Build the Forbidden City in Nanjing (-20% stability costs)
- Build Temples in as many provinces as possible
- Build up economy to help pay for Stability costs
- Hire an Artist advisor.
The second, and linked, problem is Revolt Risk. Losing Mandate of Heaven and Stability at the same time wreaks havoc if you are not prepared for it. You can do the following to reduce this problem:
- Hire a High Judge before making the Westernization decision
- Build Courthouses in high risk provinces.
- Make sure you are at 0 War Exhaustion before Westernization
- Place armies in strategic locations across your country before Westernization, making sure each army is capable to taking on a rebel army of 6-8k
- When the event pops, resist Western Influences (-2% revolt risk).
This is the last step in Westernization. This doesn't require a Western neighbour, but it does require a leader with 7 in administration (rather than the 6 for the Westernizations). To modernize to Latin army troops also requires a fully Centralized government (-5 on sliders). You also must not have the Resisting Western Influences modifier. This is an event driven modifier you receive every 10 years once you begin Westernization. You want to have the modifier throughout the 3 Westernizations, but as soon as you are ready for Military Modernization, take the other route. This modifier has a 10 year cycle, so keep track of it.
The decision also brings on a -6 stability hit. This will cause lots of revolts across the country, but is offset by the much improved troops you now have access to. If you manage stability and revolt risk as before, you will notice that you're able to crush rebel groups much easier now with your Latin-group troops.
Once Ming westernizes, nothing in Asia can stop it. Now you have a large manpower, an advanced army, and a strong economy. It is at this point that you should start investing in military National Ideas in preparation for potential problems with Europeans.
Heir To The Throne
Traditional accounts of Chinese history tend to put the decline of the Chinese civilization as starting somewhere during the mid-Ming Dynasty. Well, now you can kind of change that...
The Empire of the Great Ming in 1399 is undoubtedly the greatest country in the world, a country that even Timur only dared to contemplate invading after he had destroyed all others before him. Get used to big when playing Ming - big income, big armies, big navy, big country, even down to the big rebel force now occupying Beijing. Big enemies too, if you think about all the horde powers just waiting beyond that terra incognita...
But not all is as it seems. Ming is falling behind in Technology and is rapidly stagnating into complacency. This is a bad idea for a country that is famed for wealth throughout the Old World, from Japan to the Islamic world to Europeans. Ming had better get its act together if it is to avoid ignominious defeat...
- Massive income
- No real enemies (yet)
- Got some conquest missions against Dai Viet, Manchu, Mongol Horde
- Far, far away from really warlike powers e.g. Golden Horde, Castille, France...
- Lots of unclaimed land nearby
- Chinese technology
- Tax penalty
- Lots of heathen Buddhists
- Massive stability costs
- Poor colonist, missionary regeneration
If you really are feeling bookish you can read a history of the Ming Dynasty. Basically anything the Ming Dynasty did historically, you have to avoid. You can start by defeating the rebellion of Zhu Di (funnily enough, historically the same person as your heir, Yongle - he was the uncle of the Jianwen Emperor). Won't take long if you throw your armies at his army enough times.
Your primary and overriding objective at all times is to achieve Westernization and to leave your rubbish techgroup behind. Your secondary objective is to eliminate Japan (after you Westernize so as to avoid increasing stability costs). The latter ensures regional dominance, the former global hegemony.
You want to move towards the Islamic countries to progress into the Muslim techgroup. This can be done easily by attacking the Oirat Horde and taking everything that stands between you and Chagatai. Now it's a waiting game until you Islamicize. As Ming try not to just needlessly take land because that increases your interval time and also your stability. Take provinces for a purpose e.g. they are your cores or they frustrate the actions of a certain island archipelago to the northeast of you. Colonization is a good way to pass the time, obviously you want to start with Taiwan. First idea should be Divine Supremacy though because you'll need to convert many territories. That, or save your idea for when you get to Trade level 7.
With regards to Japan you'll need to convert your galley-fleet to a carrack-fleet if you want to deal with them. Take Ryukyu to deny Japan their prey. Guarantee Korea and Manchu for the same reason. It is not necessary to invade Japan proper - just contain it and prevent it from expanding. If you want to invade it remember to reserve some space for the Unam Sanctam national idea - you'll need it later anyway. Golden Horde may attack if you colonize up to their area or they annex Chagatai. Try and keep as narrow a border with them as possible as they will inevitably attack you. Scorch them, then throw numbers at them.
Research focus should be on Government and on Trade. Once you get to Trade 7, get Quest for the New World, pump out Carracks, and discover Europe. This can be done by a couple of military access requests at strategic points in India and Africa. If you are really going for a Chinese ego boost you can even get military access from Norway and discover the New World before the Europeans. Don't try going via the Pacific because you'll die and you've few enough colonists as it stands. But anyway, the main point of your expedition actually is to thoroughly map out Africa, cause that's where you're going to eventually be in border contact with a European power and proceed to the next step of Westernization.
To prepare for your colonization of Africa it is recommended to invade Mutapa/Kongo. Wait for it to core, then start colonizing the Cape. Look at where European countries are going, usually they remain in the Mali area which means you will need to establish a colony in West Africa to come into contact with them. Hopefully you can find some nice country to border with like Portugal as opposed to some rampant antisocial kid like Castille. Use diplomacy liberally to ensure they love you - 100+ relations gives them a stab hit when declaring war on you.
Slowly and painfully move up the Technology ladder, patiently living with the stability hits and random revolts, ensuring that under no circumstances should you lose your precious border with the West. This might take much longer than it looks on paper because Chinese Emperors are rarely brilliant in EUIII. For this reason alone I recommend Administrative Republic as soon as humanely possible. You should be colonizing mucho now. My direction of colonization is mainly geared towards Siberia, just to ensure that I have as short a border with Russia (or any power in that location) as possible. Forays into the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand become increasingly important as you seek to deny Westerners colonies in your hemisphere.
You can decide for yourself if you want to convert your army over to the Western model. Chinese troops will still lose a one-on-one fight with Westerners even if both countries are on equal military levels and high-level Chinese troops are still only as good as Maurician infantry. But prepare for serious disturbances when you decide to go through with the final modernization. Which, hopefully, will not be so bad if you did well in the civics sphere and created a unified, cored, "harmonious" society.
Seriously, once you Westernize you should really need very little guidance. Just stay within infamy limits (or even a little bit beyond them) and you will be fine. Locals are too weak and Europeans are too far away to deal with you. I would suggest clearing out your own backyard before you move to further fare, however. Even though they are very far away from your homeland, I suggest trying to stay out of European politics and trying to minimize your borders with Europeans to the point where you only have one or two European countries bordering you. Going to war with Europeans tends to be costly, stressful, and most of all, non-profitable. At any cost avoid a border with Great Britain, France, and Castille as they are rather aggressive. You can't compete with Great Britain's massive and advanced navy. France's army, while likely smaller than yours, will be a big menace since most wars with them tend to be fought on their soil, meaning they will have constant reinforcements. Castille is probably the worst of them, because although they tend to be more fixated on land in the New World, they also like to declare war on anyone that isn't Catholic (you, for example).
Pre-Heir To The Throne
This section will give a short account of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Strong economy with good revenue
- Aside from Japan, no major dominant foes in reach of you
- Lots of unoccupied territories around you that are ripe for colonization
- A huge armada of ships to begin with
- High forcelimits
- Densely populated territories
- Lots of terra incognita to the West give you a temporary buffer against stronger countries
- An maneuver 6 explorer (Zheng He) if you start in 1405
- You have a very valuable centre of trade
- You usually get good advisors from the start
- You are an administrative monarchy, giving you 10% to production revenues
- As you are in Chinese Technology group (+150% research cost), and since you have so many territories, research will be painfully slow
- Extremely difficult to recover from stability hits due to slow research
- No colonists; your annual number of colonists will start out in the negative () or at a measly 0.1 per year ()
- There doesn't seem to be a "China" event trigger, so you remain Ming for the duration of the game
- Your neighbors practice a large number of different religions which makes revolt an issue when you take them over
- Trade is difficult
- Tax revenue is hard to come by with Confucianism's 50% penalty, especially in conquered territories (There is an exploit described below to remedy this fact)
It is recommendable to recruit as many stability advisors as possible, as stability is extremely expensive. If you start in 1399 you will deal with a huge revolt (almost 60k!) in the beginning, which means you will only recover stability for the first two years. One point of stability will take between one and two years, this time increasing rapidly if you expand. In the religious decisions it is recommendable to take the additional missionaries (thus condemn neo-confucianism) if you ever plan to get rid of Confucianism. You have 3 provinces without forts, so you might want to fortify them. It may be necessary to build up some inflation to keep the financial situation under control.
Possible routes of expansion
AI Ming usually expands towards the northwest and as could be expected, that is the worst you can do. Land there has very low tax and worthless production goods (wool). In fact it pays off to expand in almost any direction apart from said northwest:
- Siberia in the north has valuable goods, mostly metal and fur.
- Japan to the east is quite rich but hard to come by due to their enormous fleet.
- India to the southwest is interesting for rich provinces and to get the best religion of your group, which is Hinduism. Also the path towards Latin neighbours, allowing westernization leads through India.
- Australia and Oceania are worth colonizing, but this needs QftNW and colonial ventures, so it is not recommended as an early expansion strategy.
- Indochina is mostly poor, but the CoT in Malacca gives some additional trade income as you will have a hard time with trade in foreign countries.
In IN it is possible to change religion within the same group by giving in to heretic rebels. As the best religion in your group is Hinduism (+5% tax instead of -50%) the best target to accomplish a change of religion is India. The best strategy is probably to expand to India as soon as the large revolt is beaten down. It will cost quite some stability to invade India, but in the early game this does not take too long to recover. As soon as nationalism is low enough in conquered Hindu provinces you can enforce religious revolts by using missionaries. It also helps revolts to take war taxes whenever possible, as this drives up war exhaustion.
To give in to a religious revolt requires being at peace and positive prestige. It will cost 50 prestige, 3 stability and give slider movements of 2 towards decentralized. After having changed your religion, almost all your land is considered heretic and if you increased your war exhaustion to enforce revolts, this will now turn against you in the way that a lot of confucian revolts pop up. However you do not loose your decision modifier concerning neo-confucianism! Altogether it is very painful to change religion but the reward is huge as soon as stability is regained and your richest provinces are converted to Hinduism. Your yearly income increases by 50%, giving you loads of money and turning you from a tiger shark into a great white.
To simplify conquest of India, support the Muslim states, especially Delhi, with as much money as you can spare for such purposes. You can declare war on them without stability hit, yet they will not convert even a single province to their state religion. This gives you the second advantage of receiving almost no badboy from beating them up. Therefore you want them to conquer as many Hindu states as possible. It is reasonable to conquer Hindu states first, as declaring war on them costs stability which is easier to recover the less provinces you have. You mostly get a mission that allow you to get rid of 10 badboy points by improving relations with the Oirat Horde. If you insult them afterwards this mission tends to occur again. This can be exploited for reckless conquest while remaining at low badboy.
Even if one of the Muslim states reaches hegemonia over India due to your support, you can easily subjugate India within one or two decades. You can decide to keep the CoTs for the tax bonus or you can maim them to increase the value of the CoT in your capital. Both has advantages and disadvantages and is probably mainly a matter of taste. For the Indian campaign you do not need some particular national idea so you can pick one according to your further plans. Otherwise national bank and military drill are the usual suspects for quite reasonable first ideas.
The Siberian Frontier
Colonizing Siberia will require two things:
- You must get access to the uncolonized land, either by annexing the Mongol Khanate, which is your vassal, or by beating Manchu.
- You need colonial ventures as (first) national ideas to get a reasonable amount of colonists.
As explained above, colonizing Siberia pays off in the long run but first of all it will cost quite a bit too sustain colonies. It is helpful to be Hindu before colonizing and of course it is recommendable to try and keep stability high. You need not slay the natives in Siberia as they are extremely peaceful. In fact it pays off to leave them be as they fully contribute to population of the province, once the colony is fully grown, thereby increasing revenues.
The fight against Japan is fierce and building up a large enough fleet will cost you a fortune. It is not recommendable to approach the conquest of Japan early in the game. If you have conquered India and have become Hindu your income will soon allow you to rip the Japanese apart single-handedly.
To westernize you will have to expand very far to the West indeed and you may face huge difficulties when you go west from India. Your sliders are in quite fortunate positions, so the limiting factor will be the need for a Latin neighbour. If the Timurids do not fall apart they will become ever more annoying, the longer the game runs. After 1500 they may be so far ahead in terms of technology that you must invest huge amounts of gold to beat them. The straight forward road to Europe is blocked by the Ottomans which you are probably unable to challenge. It is probably way easier to simply slay the Mamluks, cakewalk through North Africa and visit the Spanish or Portuguese colonies that are probably there. This gives you a Latin neighbour, which allows westernization. If you can westernize around 1550 you perform quite respectably.
Even after westernization, technological backwardness will haunt you for some 50–100 years. In this period you can amuse yourself with the conquest of the rest of eastern Asia, the colonization of Australia and Oceania and the conquest of western Siberia to the Russian borders. As soon as your Technology level can compete with the one of the Europeans you can go for the great Eurasian conquest. The Chinese troops, with which you are stuck even after westernization, can compete with the Latin troops of the same Technology level until Technology level 40~50 which occurs around 1730~1765. This means that you might be able to take out all major European powers without the need to ever build Latin troops in freshly conquered provinces.
Vassalize everything and take the most valuable of provinces, annexing everything will make your research costs ridiculous, having south east Asia as a bunch of vassels allowed me to beat the Spanish in North America and Burgundy in the Caribbean. Playing as Ming gives you both definite advantages and definite disadvantages and is a huge challenge. If you think you have mastered Europe, give Ming a try. Vastly different strategy is required due to your technology issues. You can still be very successful, however, and take over an amount of territory that would be impossible from any other part of the world. Controlling all the territory from Japan to India is very possible, not to mention a solid foothold in the New World. Try that with a European Power!
The key to playing Ming is to avoid drops in stability at all costs. I kid you not, it can take 10 years to increase your stability one level should it drop. If you plan on colonizing, you will need to start moving the Narrowminded slider fairly early on. The stability hit almost doesn't make it worth it, however.
The first step to Ming is use your massive armies against someone who you can attack without reducing stability. From a strategic perspective, try to begin by dealing with enemies inside the borders of modern China (such as Manchu). Insult them, warn them, do whatever it takes to get someone to declare war on you. Ming is so powerful that you can fight several small countries at the same time without fear.
After you have consolidated China, head towards southeast Asia. There are lots of easy to take territories in today's Vietnam and Burma. This will probably make your BB very high, so you won't have to worry about declaring war on others. Fortunately, there is a lot of terra incognita in Western Asia that will buffer you from powerful potential enemies to your west.
Once you have made a dent in Southeast Asia, it is time to take Korea. There is a good chance that they will declare war on you, so you don't have to worry about the stability drop. Remember to plan all of your attacks so that you can annex the territories of the alliance members before your alliance leaders. This way, you can win multiple territory gains very quickly.
Once you control Korea and have placed enough troops to the west to deal with rebels and potential attacks by your neighbors, you need to concentrate on improving your Land technology. Many of the territories you take do not have forts, so you will spend a lot of time chasing your enemies around the countryside undoing the damage they have done. Fortunately, you will have so many territories that you can afford temporary setbacks. Just remember to "divide and conquer": deal with enemies one at a time and sue for peace individually. It is generally pretty easy to get a white peace even with high BB.
When you have firm control of the mainland, head for Japan. Japan is a very powerful enemy, and should not be taken lightly. When you land troops, land in force. Several of their territories are heavily populated and very wealthy, so they can raise an army in a hurry. Many of the territories to the North will not have forts. Take a handful of them, and then besiege the capital. You should get a good foothold in Japan this way. Be advised however, Japan will declare war on you every chance they get. You will need to land enough troops to take them out quickly. One advantage is that you can travel between most Japanese islands without a boat due to their close proximity. This makes fighting much easier.
After Japan, the sky is the limit. If you have chosen the right advisers and continually moved towards narrowmindedness, you should be able to start colonizing. You can either go for the Russian Frontier to your North, or head to the New World. Be advised, though that you will likely encounter European powers in the New World who have vastly superior land and naval technology. Quest for the New World is a tempting National idea, but your government advances come very slowly, so make sure this is what you want. It will likely be 50–100 years before you can choose another new idea. Colonial Ventures (to overcome the colonist issue mentioned above), Church Attendance Duty (to help recover stability quickly), Deus Vult (to reduce stability lost when you declare war), or Scientific Revolution (to reduce your overwhelming disadvantage in research) are also good choices.
Another option is to slowly, methodically head West towards India. There you will find wealthy, heavily populated territories that will help your cause. Be warned, however, that you will eventually run into mid-eastern powers such as Persia and the Ottoman Empire. You will have a huge manpower advantage if you fight them, but also vastly inferior technology. Remember to have a powerful general to lead your armies and attack with overwhelming force.
One of Ming's problems is religious friction. Like a European player who must deal with many types of Christianity, the Ming player must keep in mind that Japan and Ryukyu are Shinto, Tibet and SE Asia are mainly Buddhist (and Ming's southern provinces are Buddhist too), Indonesia and Malaysia are Moslem, and states in the India subcontinent are Hindu (as is Bali and the southeastern tip of Vietnam). If you're planning to attack westward, you'll find several pagan (animist) provinces. You may want to use missionaries to convert provinces to Confucianism. That's an expensive plan, so build several levels of fort in provinces you hope convert before sending missionaries (each fort level improves the chance of conversion.) Alternatively, if you don't mind 1% extra revolt risk, you can take the religious decision Denounce Neo-Confucianism for exceptionally high conversion chance rates - think fifty to sixty percent.
The slower strategy is to expand without war and colonization by making vassals and later annexing them. This takes longer because you must: (1, 2, 3 doesn't need to be in that order)
- Have a royal marriage, (only possible within the same religious group, i.e. Confucian Manchu and Korea, Shinto Japan and Ryukyu, Buddhist Tibet and SE Asia, Hindu India and Bali). That means that this approach can't be done for pagan and Moslem countries (Malaysia and Indonesia) around Ming
- Ask them to be your ally (provided you have less than 2 existing alliance) (you probably need to befriend them first)
- Befriend them until 190+ (can be increased through successful royal marriage and alliance)
- Ask them to be your vassal (if failed, repeat step 3)
- Keep the friendship for 10+ years and relationship 190+
- Ask them to be part of your glorious Empire (if failed - most of the time it is -, step 5)
- Repeat step 1 for another target country
Note that in In Nomine and the most recent builds of vanilla and NA, diploannexation only works on very small countries, typically with total warscore less than 100% - it gets progressively harder the more valuable and larger the country. It also comes with a penalty of one slider move towards decentralization, which severely interferes with any desire you may have to westernize, AND you can only diploannex one country per ten years. In general, it's not recommended.
After Action Reports
From Paradoxplaza forum: