This article is accurate for the latest versions of EU3, Napoleon’s Ambition, In Nomine, Heir to the Throne and Divine Wind.
Playing Portugal is easy. It really is. You are safe, you have plenty of time to colonize the new world before others even learn that it exists. You are meant to become a great power, you are meant to rule the world. Just start early and don't break anything. That's why Portugal is considered a country for new players.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||6|
|Center of Trade||Lisboa|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Portugal is one of my favourite nations, if you will, to play. They are really easy, and some of the strategies above are viable for Divine Wind, but not all. Here's my guide on how to do it.
Prepare For Colonization
Portugal is the prime nation for colonization, they don't need that many bonuses for Africa and parts of the Caribbean, but further on might require more naval technology and/or a colonial range boost advisor. Stay stable, keep succession safe, try to stay out of major wars. Your research should be primarily invested in Trade technology or Naval technology, you will also need at least one level of Government technology for the Quest for the New World Idea.
One of the most probably mission with Portugal is to capture Tangeirs. If you feel confident you can take it and defend it, then you might want to go for the jugular. If you don't have enough ground troops or a competent navy to protect yourself, then cancel it (if you have enough prestige, at least 10 or 15, but the more the merrier). All this time, get navy tradition, cultural tradition, province improvements (docks help to repair ships 25% faster as well as improve ship production). If you can, get an alliance with Castille, your starting alliance is useless with England, they just draw you into pointless conflict.
Grabbing Africa & The Islands
During 1425, you should probably be ready to send out your first colonists and explorers. The first targets to grab are the Canarias, Maderia, and the very popular Azores. Once these are functioning, look to Africa. Your base colonial range should be enough for you to get to either Rio de Oro and the other surrounding provinces, to possibly have a good base of operations to attack Morocco. Or to Siera Leone and the Grain Coast, if you want an easier but slightly more annoying war with Mali, Sokoto, or Songhai.
By 1450, you can and probably should have at least the Azores and Maderia/the Canarias, and some parts of Africa, I prefer the south like Sierra Leone, but its your choice in the end. After the Azores are self-sustaning, you can turn to the Americas. But first, try a tribal war in Africa. Once all your colonies there become self-sustaining, build forts. Most of the provinces like Futa Jallon and Bure don't have forts, so you can easily capture them. However, Mali or whoever can just take them back instantly to. However you should have the upper hand, making sure that your colonies are not taken directly. For me, it usually takes 2-5 wars depending on events to fully take over Mali.
Grabbing the Americas is quite easy, with enough colonial range, you can reach western South America and the Caribbean and colonize what you can of modern Brazil. Make sure you have troops where you want to colonize is the big thing. After that, just make sure no native risings or native powers take your colonies, again fortify them ASAP.
Portugal is often seen as the purest colonizer in EU3, as there is very little to gain from wars with Castille or Spain. It also has a wide range of Apart from minors conquests in North Africa, most of Portugal's territorial gain and economic growth will come from American colonies, and maybe with some Asian conquests added in.
Of course, Naval is a very high priority, as most of the income will eventually come from colonial holdings, and Defensive will be very useful, as the few wars that will occur will involve very few Breitenfelds or Friedlands. The priority will be to slow down the opponent in Europe for the longest possible time, while taking as much territory as possible across the Atlantic (especially since colonies can be stolen immediately, and most cities won't have forts either). To get more destructive forces from the small land force limits, Quality would be a help. Aristocracy/Plutocracy and Mercantilism/Free Trade can go both ways, depending on the importance given to exterior trade, especially since Lisboa early in the colonizing period, and possibly Portuguese New World CoTs later on, will have a good CoT value. Notwithstanding, one of Plutocracy and Mercantilism should probably be chosen for spies, and as Mercantilism starts already at -4, it is simpler to keep it there. Portugal needs a lot of colonies to succeed, so an increase in the growth rate would help.
We have 6 provinces on the old continent. Three of them produce fish, the other three wine. Our diet is not very diversified but very healthy. Those with wine earn for themselves. Those with fish don't. It is tempting to give half of the country to Castille right on the beginning, isn't it? Well, we don't do that. We need every single ducat we can earn to be able to build foundations for our future mighty and unbeatable colonial empire.
Good news is we also have 2 colonies. Madeira is fully developed and produces sugar. It earns for our whole nation. We like Madeira and want more colonies like it. The other province, Azores, produces fish. This means low profits and this province seems to be more a trouble than it's worth. Not true! The Azores are one of Portugal's biggest assets. Most European countries would pay a lot to have such an island. Why? Because it is a great naval base from which all our exploration and colonization can be launched; this is where we will station our fleets and our main base of operations on the northern Atlantic. This is our future main military base, where we will station troops and ships ready to intervene anywhere our business is endangered.
Let's look around our country's screen now. The first screen shows we are allied with England. Many would call this a source of joy, security and power. Many would say that; we won't. We don't like this alliance. The game starts with England getting seriously beaten by France in the Hundred Years' War. We don't want to waste precious resources on a war in which we can't possibly get any significant profit or wealthy provinces. We must have a strategy of avoiding any hassle in Europe, not to spending a single coin there since we should invest everything in colonization. We will get rid of this useless alliance by simply refusing to help them when they send a "call to arms". They are too weak to punish us and our fleet will crush them if they try.
Instead of this silly alliance with England we will go for a much better one. Our position is quite safe. We have poor provinces in a forgotten corner of the continent and most people aren't interested in us at all. The only real threat to Portugal is a land war with Castille. If we ignore Europe completely, Europe also will ignore us until we become a significant power. So send emissaries to Castille right the beginning offer a Royal Marriage. Later we will try to ally with Castille just after it gets rid of Granada and ends its wars with Grenada's allies. This is going to take around five years. For that time we just sit down calmly and hope nobody will notice us. Castille is not a warmonger, it won't attack all its neighbours like some countries (Austria, Burgundy, Poland) do. An alliance with Castille will also protect our back while we turn to the new world. A much better situation than spending resources on England uniting the isles, isn't it?
The next screen shows our king. He's not a genius, this one we have to admit. But he isn't also a total disaster. His decent administration skill is everything we need at the moment. It also shows his advisors. We start with a great one. A wonderful fleet reformer who will make our ships modern and unbeatable. Since our fleet is our wooden wall, we need to keep this guy as long as he lives. We still have to fill in other two slots. Well, we are about to become a colonial superpower. To become one we need... colonists. To have colonists we must employ the best colonial governors we can get. If none are available we employ other guys and hope a colonial governor will show up next year. We also set up our message settings to be informed whenever a country is annexed. Whenever we receive such a message, we pause our game, go to this screen and check if there are any good colonial governors available. AI jumps on advisors it doesn't need and annexations result in advisors being added back to the pool. If there are no colonial governors we employ people who improve our stability. We aim for +3 in that and want it to stay there for next century or so. After having +3 stability we can get rid of artists if there's anybody boosting our research.
Now the budget screen. We have some income, oh my God. Fish must sell well in Europe. Well, we have to make a few decisions from the beginning. We are going to be a colonial superpower. We are not interested in any wars, especially land ones. We lower our Land technology research to zero and freeze the slider there. Risky? Isn't slowing down our colonial expansion even more risky in the long run? We are also not interested in pumping additional money into our Naval technology as our advisor handles that for us. In fact, what we need the most is being able to colonize. So we set up our treasury to give us 0.1 ducat every month and we invest all the money left into inventing Government technology level 1. This is what we need to start our colonial expansion.
Third screen we adjust is the domestic policy screen, so called "sliders". We are set pretty much for a colonial expansion. The only thing that stops us from it is our poor level of Free Trade. For most of the game we have to invest all the available slider moves here. This way we will get more people of the kind we need. This slider improves the number of colonists and merchants we can send. Every move of it improves the pace of our colonial expansion significantly. We have no other choice here, really.
Now we have to do a few moves on the map and after that we will be ready to unpause the game. First of all, we join our troops into one army and set our king to lead them. Many people would disband those not to spend money on them, what a great idea to get invaded early in the game. We leave them where they stand. We have to look at least not totally defenceless.
We also have to make a decision about Azores. Those need two colonists to become a city. It is very tempting to send two of the three we start with there. Well, nothing bad happens if we do that. But it would be much smarter to leave Azores as they are, to save the money we start with and to spend those somewhere else. Azores have a very decent population growth and will become a city without our spending. So why bother? Well, if it's your first time in this game, go colonize them, train and see what happens when a colonist arrives to a city. If you have been through that already, save your money.
Another move on the map we can make early is deciding in which trading center our merchants will work. The obvious choice, our mighty capital, Lisboa, is also a stupid choice. It's poor and nobody invests his precious merchants there. We are smart so we go to the 17th page of the ledger and check there which center of trade in Europe is the wealthiest. When we have checked this, we send all our merchants there. This is our main activity while waiting for the first Government technology being researched - to get 5 merchants inside and to keep them there for good. An alternative strategy for trading is to put the merchants in a less competitive center of trade which has open seats like Cairo.
So, the country is set up to reach level one of Government in a year and a half (approximately). This invention will allow us to pick our first national idea and as we are not retarded, we will obviously take Quest for The New World. This national idea makes it possible to hire explorers and conquistadors. Those guys will discover our future colonies. Let's unpause the game and wait those long 16 months! Oh wait. Don't forget to pause exactly one year after starting the game to check and see if any better advisors have appeared. Mark your calendar for May 30.
If you want to get some cheap provinces, ally with your neighbours and declare war on Brittany, let your allies do all your fighting and vassalise it.
After many long months we will finally be able to choose our first National Idea. This one has to be Quest for the New World, taking anything else is just against our nature and also against our best interest.
After we have it, we recruit two guys, an explorer and a conquistador on the same screen where one can recruit a general or an admiral. We take two ships of our starting five, join them together and while still at port, assign the explorer to lead them. We sail out of the port and put two of our three units of infantry led by our conquistador on the ships. We sail to Azores.
Now, before we rush to uncover every single piece of Terra Incognita, we have to realize one thing. Terra Incognita is a natural advantage the player has over AI. Why? The player knows there is wealthy land to take, he knows where to sail to find it, he was (hopefully) preparing and saving money for the last two years to do that. The problem is that Portugal is not a very wealthy country at the beginning. It can't really afford a wide colonization effort. Also, every single province we discover is exposed to our opponents after 50 years. We should only discover as much as we are able to colonize in 50 years. Some would complain that this is gaming the system; if you agree, go have fun and uncover as much as you want. You were warned though it may hurt your future business.
Just remember, for the next century or so, there will be only three countries with Quest for the New World and able to uncover Terra Incognita, you, England, and Castille. You can't stop Castille from exploration, this damage can't be avoided. But you can certainly stop the pace with which other European countries expand into the New World...
Well, whatever way of playing we choose, we have to make a decision where we want to go. Where to establish our first colonies. There are a lot of them. Well, there's a huge world ready to colonize in fact. Anywhere we go, we can get many wealthy provinces. This is the choice authors of this guide can't make for the player, it's just his preference where he wishes to establish this wealthier and stronger part of his country. We can discuss potential targets though and advise for them and against them.
Many small islands, all of them producing sugar, coffee and tobacco. Some of them are inhabited by very dangerous natives, others are inhabited by friendly natives. An early target of many players. It takes around 100 years of intensive work to get them all (with Antilles) to the city level. Quite easy to defend if you have armies prepared and a large fleet. Quite short way for colonists from Europe. Very advisable. Just kill the natives wherever they pose any substantial threat (5.0 hostility and more).
"Brazil" means area that in the real history was colonized by Portuguese. By this we mean all the provinces from Santana up to Trinidad. Goods here are coffee, sugar and gold. Gold means wealth, wealth means faster rate of colonization. Very advisable to go here. Natives are mediocre, sometimes dangerous, sometimes friendly, depending on the province. Generally you don't need to kill any of them. Defending your possessions here is easy, it's enough to build a one huge cavalry only army and rout any armies that would like to land around the place.
America (Eastern Seaboard)
This is the area north from Florida. It is inhabited by different factions of Indians so you can wage an early colonial war here to gain some colonized land for free. Everything producing cotton and tobacco is a good choice for a colony. Indians are friendly, growth rates of your populations are very good. Another great area of colonization.
Should be left alone for now, except for the Cape. African natives are numerous and dangerous, and the tropic climate is a killer. Many colonists will die here, many colonies will by damaged. Growth rates are low and attrition kills your troops. Not worth the effort, really. If you plan on going East, you need to establish some bases along the way to support your navy: Cap Verde and the Cape, perhaps Fernando Po.
It takes a few years for a colonist to get there. Is pretty much like Caribbean but far away. Don't go there if you don't want to lose your ships. If you go for this area, you should have established bases around Africa (as mentioned above) and on the empty islands in the Indian Ocean.
India and China
Those are taken by different smaller and bigger countries. In the early period Portugal can't afford conquering anything that has soldiers (especially on very hard difficulty), better leave them until you are ready for those.
So we should choose either Brazil, Caribbean or America and set sail there from the Azores. The mini-map can be helpful here. When we find a piece of land we want to take over, we leave our conquistador there and send our ships back to Azores for repairs. We use the conquistador and his 2000 troops to uncover any nearby land and try to make a choice where to send our first colonists.
Two advantages to go for Ming China - Land Tradition farm and really rich provinces. I'd shoot for going after 1600's. Maurician/Tercio/Cannon vs level 1 forts and spearmen = easy kills for max land tradition. The 2.0 unit Chinaware provinces each produce about 2.5x a Caribbean sugar colony. Add massive population and CoT's giving lots of manpower and tax income.
Key here is overcoming Ming's massive manpower. Either land with 100k troops for a battle royale (hard but satisfying), or manage with about 20k and peace when they'll cede you 1-2 provinces & build regimental camps (much easier).
We have a separate chapter on Colonies. It's helpful to read it before you set your sail to the New World. This guide is not a place to explain how one can place his colonists in a colony, what is the success rate and so on. But we can discuss how the colonial empire should look like.
First of all, you have to know that whether a province is worth taking or not depends on what it produces. You want as many provinces producing gold, coffee, tobacco and sugar as you are able to colonize. You should ignore everything producing iron, copper, naval supplies, fish and such. They may be a good place of mid and late game colonization to build their resource-specific factories. You know, a weapons factory earns twice as much if it is built on iron or copper, for example; that would make the province profitable.
Also, try to build your colonies in huge groups rather than taking one colony here, another one there and three somewhere else. It improves your chances to be successful in colonization and also makes it much easier to defend your colonies. Now a few tips:
First advice is to go to either South America (gold), Caribbean (many islands easy to defend with your fleet) or North America (decent population growth rates and a lot of Indians to conquer and convert). Islands produce 10% less tax than continental provinces but are much easier to defend (as your fleet is the best in the world). Make your choice here - taxes or safety. Both are about equal.
Second, do not cover too much area at the beginning; develop two or three colonies at max. Check how many colonists you earn per year, this is the number of colonies you should build at the same time. Wait till 1 January to get annual taxes and send them all at once.
Third, how to start such an empire, as many people don't seem to know that. First we send just one guy. He establishes colony. Then we send others to establish their colonies in the land around him. They have to wait, why one may ask? This way our chances of colonization grow as taking land adjacent to our existing colonies is easier than taking completely hostile territory. Nothing worse than to waste 5 colonists on taking one piece of land right at the beginning.
Fourth, natives. If they are friendly - 4 and lower hostility - it is not a good idea to kill them. You have to figure out if it is worth losing a colonist or two to get this additional population that comes from the number of natives or not. For Portugal, which is quite low in available manpower, it would be very nice to spend a few colonists more but have several thousand cavalry more. Especially because low Land investment and lack of National Ideas connected with army makes us very weak.
Fifth, take all the islands around the world that are placed in strategic locations. Send a colonist or two to each and forget them. Just make sure they are yours. This way you will develop a network of naval bases around the world allowing you to expand in any direction you wish and also to station your troops and ships as forces of quick response if anybody dares to attack you. Islands that are worth taking are:
- Bermuda - to cover North America and Northern Europe
- St. Helena - to cover colonies in South America and in Western Africa
- Mauritius - to cover Indian Ocean, South Africa, the way to India and colonies in East Africa
- Falklands - to cover South America and Inca Empire if you have conquered it
- Martinique - placed strategically between two sea areas in Caribbean can serve as a great naval base of operations in the area
- at least one island in Indonesia before you even start thinking about expanding there
- Fernando Po, Zanzibar and similar islands around Africa, to secure your operations there and as places to repair ships
In mid-game you should develop all those into cities and build them strong forts (don't forget to build forts on The Azores and Madeira as soon as you reach Land technology 1). Some of them have quite nice income (Mauritius) but most may seem useless. Wrong, those island bases allow your fleet to dominate the world and you can expand in any direction you wish.
One last thing to add here. You may be tempted to go to Africa to colonize provinces that supply you with slaves. This is not a good idea. Price of slaves is low at the beginning and if everything worked, should rise a lot during the game with more and more countries building their colonies. Well, it doesn't work (in 1.1 - feel free to remove this note if this was fixed already). The price stays low and such a province doesn't earn for itself. So don't bother.
Trade versus Colonial Conquest
Fairly early in the game (generally when hitting government level 5), Portugal will face a significant decision – trader or colonial conqueror. There is no “best” decision – it is a matter of personal preference. Following a trader strategy (see below for details) will result eventually in a huge income from trade (and will allow for some limited colonial conquests as well, but at a cost in terms of a period of reduced trade income). Following a colonial conquest strategy (that is, expand your colonies not just by colonizing “empty” land, but by conquering non-European nations) also has financial (and other) rewards, and for some people is more “fun,” though it mostly precludes trading.
It’s difficult to do both. Colonial conquest hurts your reputation, and even a moderately bad reputation will result in the loss of much of your trade income. You can recover from this, which is why a trader can engage in some conquest (e.g., the Aztecs). But a player who makes multiple colonial conquests will gradually lose all or most of his trade. Moreover, the national ideas needed for the two strategies are different. Traders need Shrewd Commerce Practices and National Trade Policy. Colonial conquerors need Deus Vult and can benefit from several others. Changing national ideas results in a stability loss, so it’s best to make your decision early and stick to it
There is a chapter on Trading Strategies that is worth reading before proceeding with this guide. Many people ignore this part of the game. If they play countries that are big and powerful, why not. We play Portugal. It is not that bad in the matter of income, but we could use additional cash for boosting our research. That's why we will not only build a colonial superpower, we will also do our best to dominate world trade. This way, even with a huge colonial empire, we will be able to double our incomes and thus stay always at the top of the technological race.
To do that we have to plan ahead. We don't stop investing into researching Government technology after we got Quest for New World. We also invest a lot in Trade. Second National Idea will be available to us after 40 years or so of playing. Third one after another 40 years. We should choose Shrewd Commerce Practice and National Trade Policy. With those our merchants will be much stronger than those of anybody else. They will be able to stay in the center of trade for many years and defend their business efficiently. They will also improve our incomes significantly and thus boost our research rate. Having 5 merchants everywhere in Europe gives a 60% increase in income; having 5 in each of the big centers of trade in the world, especially if you have discovered the Chinese one, allows you to double your income even with a huge colonial empire.
Just remember to send merchants in pairs, one will remove competition, second one will take the freed space and stay persistent in that. Also, don't stop moving towards Free Trade.
Consider changing to a Merchant Republic before you add much territory (stability recovers more quickly for small nations). After a few years of Government Research you will be able to go for Administrative Republic that gives 5% bonus to trade efficiency and 2.5% to competitiveness. Consult Types of Government for more information.
Conquering Incas and Aztecs
This is not something Portugal is able to do before around 1520-1550, depending on the difficulty level settings. It needs quite a lot of cavalry to do; it also is hard to do without a significant level of Land technology. Also, somebody who is trading heavily has to be aware that annexing a lot of land will produce insane amounts of bad reputation and nothing hurts merchants more than a lot of badboy. Merchants will disappear one after another and holding even two or three centers of trade will be extremely difficult. Recovery will take many years, and a lot of work will have to be put to regain market position from before the conquest.
So why bother? There are several reasons. First of all, you don't want anybody else to do it; they'd becme too strong. Also, Aztecs, Mayas, Zapotec, and Incas are very wealthy, and despite being very backwards in research are still on the top of the income ledger. Any country that manages to conquer them will be the wealthiest in the world (assuming that nobody has discovered China yet); they will give all the manpower we need to outnumber any enemy in Europe too.
If you want to spare yourself some BB pts, you can blitz the Aztecs for their gold provinces and CoT, and just white peace the Zapotec/Maya for later. The Inca are as big as the northern 3 combined, and have twice as many gold provinces as the Aztecs. I'd bring at least 30k cav unless you want a really drawn out campaign, as they definitely have the money and manpower to train a horde of spearmen, and their own cav as well.
There are several ways to beat them and take their land. Use armies consisting only of cavalry in order to quickly rout their primitive infantry. It's very easy if they do not yet have forts (roughly 1550?); just move your cavalry from one province to another until all their land is covered in green stripes. Then annex them. Congratulations! Now wait 15 years to recover your trading position.
After you have annexed the center of trade in Zacatecas or in Cuzco your first priority is to convert this province. Having a foreign culture CoT gives your merchants 15% penalty and thus they will disappear all in 3 months. Many believe it's a bug, others claim it's working as designed. Let's leave arguing to people who like it and do some work instead. After your missionary is successful, the center will join your culture and there won't be any further problem. That's the point when you can start rebuilding your trading position.
Don't be too afraid of losing all your merchants. It is not that hard to place them back after you have sorted out your reputation and converted centers of trade you have taken. Really. It hurts to see all that hard work we put into trade being undone in two months. But all the gold we produce, all the manpower we have, all the land we conquered, it all compensates for lost merchants.
Also, while your trade is still dead and after you have acquired so much wealthy land, you can fire your colonial governors and hire missionaries instead of them. Then you have to step on a long and difficult way of conversion of your new acquisitions. This way you will boost your tax income significantly and also will be much less prone to revolts should any long and bloody war start. Before you do that though, consider converting whole your country into Protestantism. It gives a nice bonus to your production income and removes the -1 stability hit when attacking European countries. It is a good moment to do that after you have Inca and Aztec land. You will do one giant conversion once and will never have to do that on such a scale till the end of the game.
Keep in mind though that Protestantism is not all about the bonus. It reduces your number of colonists per year, converting cancels all your diplomatic agreements, and Catholic countries stop liking you. Make sure you have your tolerance to Catholicism set to max and send a few gifts to Castille to keep them calm. You will also lose all your influence on the Pope, you will no longer get cardinals, so forget reputation and prestige bonuses here.
Is it worth doing? Well, make your decision before you convert Indians to Catholic and keep to it till the end of the game. You know advantages and disadvantages of it, make your choice. For many, it is worth to do it just to learn this aspect of the game. By the way, better forts help conversion, so build them everywhere you can.
Fighting wars in Europe
It's only a waste of resources. So don't start any wars and stay peaceful as long as you can. Your alliances, your conversion to republic and Protestantism, well, your wealth in general may tempt AI to wage a war against you.
If the country attacking you is not Castille but somebody else and you have good relations with Castille the war won't be very difficult. You just move your massive colonial fleets to blockade any ports they have and destroy all their ships. This way they can't endanger your colonies and protecting colonies is everything in such a war. Also, move to any of their colonies you know about and take it from them by the end of the war. When they are all blocked and can't really retaliate, you can proceed with getting a peace deal. Good choice here is to build many small mercenary armies and land them to siege as many of their cities as you can afford. Also, you should have a stack or two of regular (not mercenary) cavalry ready to beat and chase all the armies they might have. After they see that you're taking their land one province after another, that their fleet doesn't exists, that their colonies were seized, they will surrender quickly. Don't take their homeland though, most provinces in Europe are poor and not worth having. They will drag you in more and more stupid wars too. So take some cash and leave them where they are until they cross you again. This way you can beat and strip of colonies every single country, be it France, England, Aragon, Austria, Denmark, Teutonic Order, literally anybody except Castille - which has land access to your land.
Fighting Castille is far more difficult. Castille has a huge colonial empire, a fleet that can match yours if you were lazy in Naval technology research and also controls a center of trade in Andalucia that gives you a lot of profit and which stops earning after they issue an embargo on your merchants. Castille also can afford a huge mercenary and regular armies. You most probably, depending of course how far you are in your game, won't be able to hold them off from your homeland. So remember, here it is crucial to win the naval part of the war. This way you can blockade Castille's ports and hurt their colonial incomes. This way also you can pick their in most cases undefended colonies one after another raising your warscore. Finally, every naval battle you win gives 1% to your warscore, so if you have many ships and many great admirals (not that hard to find those in Portugal, really) you may go up to 30% just with your fleets. What's funnier, in this game, if your win is crushing enough, you can take over their ships. This way you can double your fleet, if you are skilled enough, during this war. After having beaten their fleets you can start regaining all the land they took in the meantime. Do it in a smart way, do not strike on their main armies until they have bled out through attrition, drop mercenaries to their own land instead, where it takes a lot of marching to get back. Try to besiege as many provinces as you can at once; make sure you take Toledo, their wealthiest one. This way sooner or later after having lost a lot of land, colonies and ships, they will surrender. Try not to take any of their homeland in the peace deal, you don't want them to have a casus belli on you. And repair your fleets to be ready for another war. Also, if you really have to give them a Casus Belli on you, take Canarias, your core province, in this war.
As a side note, once you finish your conquest of the American Indians, you should have ample manpower to take on the small Italian provinces for their universities. After that, forget ever researching Government technology ever again.
Alternate Portugal Strategy
Portugal can follow almost exactly the same strategy, but you should move to colonize the Georgian coast and the Azores(you can, if you want to, keep your alliance with England explained later) Portugal should run into the three native American nations there. The most northern one (Huron), are usually not allied with anyone at the early stages. So get there fast. First though change your tolerance for pagans to 5. Portugal should only need about 8,000 to 4,000 Latin Knights (or build Charge Cav. from Tangiers). Annex them, then either build about Merc 4,000 Cav, or wait and build the cav from the old world. Hopefully you will have gained a core, but if you don't then just build more cav from the Azores and the Mainland. Then attack the Cherokee, push south and occupy all of their land (don't annex yet), then push into the Creek land, annex them, then annex the Cherokee (you'll probably have a second idea by now, take either Deus Vult, Military drill, or viceroys. Then take your fleet and move one of the armies to Central America. make a colony next to the Maya border, then wait about a year or two. In this time Portugal should move on the Iroquois and Huron or convert provinces and build forts. Then, if you get a border dispute. then attack, if not, attack anyway. Send two armies to the north first and have them scout the Aztec, Miztic, and Mayan lands. When the armies are all in the south and you can see all of their land, declare war on the aztecs and push north, annexing as you go. Once this is done Portugal should be ranked very high. I got the world ranking of first in about 20 years. Once you own Mexico, you can connect your lands and build up for an attack on the Inca. Once they are conquered, you can do whatever you want to.
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