The Mamluks are a nation in modern day Egypt with the potential to become a Middle Eastern power however they are hobbled by poor Government type and regular rebellions.
|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Tribal Despotism|
|Center of Trade||Alexandria|
|Primary culture||al Misr Arabic|
Note: This strategy is less useful after Patch 5.2 where releasing nations which have cores from your nation removes the core making reintegration a more troublesome prospect. An alternative is to vassalise neighbours but retain your own provinces. This is a strategy to quickly change government, speed up research, and westernise earlier.
Firstly, we need to vassalise our neighbours, hopefully before our leader dies. Luckily, we have the Tribal Feud CB which we can use on all our neighbours. The 15k army should be enough at first, but you may want to make a few more regiments of 15k later on (only if you have the cash). I started with Tripoli, as they were the weakest, demand vassalisation as soon as possible, try not drag wars out. Continue vassalising all your neighbours. Make sure to have good relations with the Ottomans, if they invade it will make the game very very hard.
Sell all your poor provinces to your neighbours. You should be left with 9 provinces, 3 in Egypt and 6 in Syria. Now we need to secure the two halves of our territory. I kept 15k in each section, but you may not need this many troops. If you have a deficit feel free to kill troops. Your borders are largely secure now, as long as you keep your vassals happy. The only border left to secure is the sea; start building ships as soon as possible. We will need around 15 cogs and 25 carracks, although this number is not set in stone, just try to keep your fleet larger than most European countries, Castille may become a problem.
Now we can focus on research and trade, our vassals should keep us safe (remember to ally with them and keep relations at 200). Move sliders towards Innovation, Centralisation and focus research on Government technology, switch to Despotic Monarchy as soon as possible. Impacts of government changes and Westernisation should be low and easily managed as we're now a small and very efficient state. Annex your vassals once you've westernised and are happy with your technology.
Congratulations! You've largely finished the hard/annoying/boring part, now you can start conquering the world. Make sure to keep your fleet strong, as you will eventually be attacked by Europe. Options are numerous now, West or East the choice is yours. I went for uniting the Muslim world, India was the next best choice, naturally.
Heir to the Throne
- You have a center of trade in Alexandria which is pretty valuable
- You own Judea (Jerusalem) which gives +0.50 missionaries per year and a +1% prestige bonus
- You have very weak states to the south and you have a Holy War casus belli on Ethiopia
- You border Hedjaz which owns Islam's most important province: Mecca. Capturing this province will grant you important bonuses.
- You are a Tribal Despotism which means that you will get a succession crisis everytime your leader dies and you also get the Incapable Ruler modifier. This also means that your research speed is 50% slower
- Most of your provinces produce grain so your economy is weak
- You will soon border the Ottomans and they tend to get a casus belli against you
- You are in the Muslim technology group so Westernization is a must
- A Pretender Rebel will spawn in a random province if you stay at peace for too long
- The provinces to the south have high attrition so you cannot station many troops there. They also don't have forts so they will fall instantly in case of a rebellion
It is highly recommended that you constantly employ three advisors: an army reformer, because you need to advance your land technology as quickly as possible, a statesman because you need to reach level 10 of government technology fast in order to Reform the Government and an artist because your stability hits will always be an issue. However, it'll be quite difficult to raise your cultural tradition high enough to get good quality advisors (at least level 4) because Tribal Despotism has no bonus on magistrates and only get 0.10 base magistrates per year. So it will take 10 years to get just one magistrate. One way to raise cultural tradition is to wait until you have 3 magistrates in order to get the Diwani script, which grants +3% cultural tradition each year until the end of the game. As you only get 0.10 magistrates per year, it will take 30 years to get the Diwani script but it is worth it.
Much of the problems that the Mamluks have stems from their government type: they are a Sheikhdom, which means that they are of the Tribal government type. You get a 50% penalty to your technology costs and you get Tribal Succession Crisis every time your leader dies. Worse still all rebels get their technology from the Latin technology group, which means that as you grow more and more backward you're going to have a heck of a time going after those rebellions.
However if you are not daunted by such odds, it's not all doom and gloom for the Mamluks. They are a Muslim nation in Africa, which means that they are still miles ahead of their neighbours to the South. They enjoy good relations with all their Middle Eastern neighbors, and they control Judea, which adds a bonus of 0.50 missionaries yearly. Plus European nations don't really take an interest in the Mamluks for the first 100 years.
Firstly you should concentrate all your energies into gaining stability. Anything that lowers revolt risk is a very good idea. You start off with the National Conscripts idea, but it is advisable to replace it with Church Attendance Duty because it lowers the stability cost by 33%. Changing the national idea gives you a -3 stability hit but, since you lowered the cost, you will recover your stability fairly quickly (especially if you have an artist).
Position troops so they can take advantage of any possible rebel movements. I would recommend having a sizable, permanent stack in every potential revolter area (in the beginning, that would be Syria), with a strong cavalry reserve in Cairo. That way you can quickly suppress any pesky nationalistic revolt before they declare independence.
You will probably need to adjust your slider tabs to lower your research as far as humanly possible - full free subjects first, then move innovative. Changing towards Centralization is also necessary in order to Westernize as soon as possible. Of course this will also increase stability costs, but there's not much you can really do about that if you really want to be anywhere near the technology level of your Muslim peers in about 50 years. Investments will probably need to be geared towards Land technology. Forget about Trade technology and Production technology - besides those 5 merchants in Alexandria it's not really feasible for you to go anywhere else. You can also forget about Naval technology because you will not need to become a naval power. Place all your investments into Land and Government technology. It is crucial that you reach level 10 of Government technology in order to Reform the Government. This changes your form of government to Despotic Monarchy and you won't need to worry about the succession crisis everytime your leader dies.
Once at +3 stability it's probably time to expand. Your obvious first choice would be Ethiopia: it has a few nice provinces, is Orthodox and has very very bad technology (level 1 land technology). Perfect for the taking. Try to demand reasonably profitable provinces from Ethiopia - those that produce gold or salt, for example. You don't have the time or money to be spending millions of ducats on grain provinces which is, unfortunately, what most of your core areas produce. Build forts in your new conquered territories, then convert them.
By now you should have experienced your first major convulsion as your leader dies, unless you are really lucky and you got an absolute genius. Hit rebels as soon as they appear, with a decent general at its head. Try not to use your leader unless he has a really high military ranking, if he dies you are well and truly lost. Have your mobile reserve traverse up and down the country, beating rebels in tandem with the regular force stationed there. If rebels are appearing everywhere concentrate on the potential revolter areas like Ethiopia or Syria; at least Egypt won't defect. Take care of nationalistic or religious revolts before peasant, noble or, horror of horrors, Pretender revolts.
After a few excruciating years the problem should by and large be over, just in time for you to laugh at the Timurids' incompetent efforts to hold their empire together. You should be laughing, because the Timurids were probably your greatest threat in the Mid East. With them gone there shouldn't be any major disruptions barring some succession war.
What happens to the Mamluks afterwards is pretty much up to you. The constant revolts make it quite hard for the Mamluks to expand really definitively, and with the technology penalty you can kiss those dreams of trade/domination of Europe goodbye. I would suggest as your next targets to be somewhere in Africa: Mutapa, with its gold mines, is a must. I'd also, instead of rampant expansion, go for province development: you'll need all those Level 2/3/4 Forts if you're planning to hold on to your outward provinces.
They are quite playable. There's plenty of reasonably easy prey nearby taking Ethiopia, Najd etc. Once you're ready for the bigger world a good strategy is to take Sole Defender of the Faith which allows a DOW on any different religion with no CB required as long as they are at war with someone of your faith. This allows domination of the Persians and as much Europe warfare as you like.
A second strategy is to head east right from the beginning, gobbling up the Arabian peninsula and going to war with Timurids or steppe nations. Those guys usually end up fighting each other, so jumping in and reaping the benefits will help a lot.
Mid to late game, the Ottomans will pose a big threat. Once you've gobbled up plenty of nearby Muslim minors, take out your big brother to the north and finally recreate the infamous Caliphate.