|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Despotic Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||7|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
Rajputana is nation of warriors, known for their chivalry and bravery in fending off invasions of India. But perhaps a Rajput empire could do more, taking the fight to their enemies and carving out an empire stretching across the Indian subcontinent and across the Iranian plateau and beyond.
Rajputana lies in northwest India, surrounded by hostile Indian Muslim nations, who all have a holy war Casus belli against you. But you have the opportunity to launch your own wars of religious liberation to conquer them with little cost to infamy. To your south and west lie the weaker states of Gujarat and Sind. To your north and east lies the powerful sultanate of Delhi. Delhi looks very frightening, a large and wealthy nation wrapping around Rajputana. But they actually don't seem to attack Rajputana immediately very often. Delhi tends to invade Bihar, or be invaded by the Timurid horde. Therefore, you're generally have some time to prepare for a Delhi war by conquering weaker neighbors and finding allies. Also, compared to most Indian states, Rajputana's slider settings are much closer to the Westernization thresholds. In HTTT, you can westernize quite quickly into the Muslim tech group by two slider moves to centralization and three to innovative (if a good monarch appears).
Creating an Indian Empire
Rajputana's first objectives are the conquests of Gujarat and Sind. The player will likely get a mission targeting them. Regardless, you can launch a war of religious liberation against one, then the other, building hill cavalry to overwhelm their forces. However, conquering Sind will give a border with the Timurids, who vastly outnumber you (and in DW will automatically go to war); it may be better to conquer only Gujurat and direct your ambition further south. Then it's possible to move south into the Deccan Sultanate, liberating those Hindu provinces as well. Orisa and Vijayanagar often launch invasions of Deccan as well. Rajputana can ally with the other Hindu powers for help conquering the Muslim sultanates and to deter Delhi from attacking you. Remember, you can also pick up the Anti-Muslim edict and Introduce Din-i Illahi decisions at some point too. However, the necessary slider moves for Westernization will wipe out the missionary gain from Anti-Muslim edict, leaving you only with reduced tolerance; if you don't have another way of increasing yearly missionaries, this is a net loss. Ironically in light of the other decision, Din-i-Illahi was historically an attempt to merge Islam and Hinduism.
Now the optimal strategies for DW and HTTT begin to diverge. In DW, it is a good idea to look at the culture map and find the provinces of your own Western Aryan culture group which are still out of your control. Conquer all provinces in the culture group to achieve the Form Hindustan decision. This decision gives cores on all India, making it possible to expand rapidly at no cost to infamy. In both expansions, Rajputana will have to face the might of Delhi. With allies, it should be possible to overrun the Sultanate. But be warned, it is suicide to attack a large Delhi army in a mountain province. Draw them out to flatter ground, or go around to take the mountain province for yourself and fend off the counter-attack.
In DW, consider taking Colonial Ventures. Sooner or later, you're going to have a border with the Timurids - if nothing else, because they'll conquer Sind if you don't - and colonists are the only way you have of taking provinces from them; you get some for bordering a horde, but the more the better. Beyond the Timurids lie a succession of other hordes and then huge tracts of uncolonised land, and then islands in the Pacific, so this Idea will never lack for utility; and it can result in a huge Rajputana/Hindustan at no infamy cost (this is partly why "more is better", because it will shift from being your only means of whittling down the horde to a rush to gobble up their land before someone else does). Sooner or later, you will face either the might of Ming or a vastly technologically superior opponent in the West; when that happens, you'll want the enormous manpower such an expanded empire will give you.
Rapid Westward Expansion and Westernization
Rajputana is only a few steps away from the innovation and centralization thresholds needed for Westernization. Assuming a good monarch appears, Rajputana can undergo its first Westernization in the 1450s or 60s (DW requires a technology gap of 25 techs so this strategy cannot work). The player can do everything in her power to ensure a good monarch, by ordering dangerous assaults and praying rather than sending for a doctor when an heir with a poor Administrative rating gets sick. Throughout history people have sacrificed their lives for their countries and your poor royalty should be no different. Otherwise, rush towards government tech 10 to become a Noble Republic. At any rate, your border with the Timurid Empire gives the first step towards Westernization at the Muslim tech group level. Rajputana can then use the settler-versus-horde Casus belli to launch a massive invasion of the Timurid Empire (in DW, of course, you will get a war with the Timurids for free). Use the manpower of India to overwhelm the Timurids. The Timurid empire is notoriously unstable. This is to your advantage in conquest, but if the empire actually breaks apart into Persia and other Iranian minors, the Casus belli for easy expansion is lost. The closest nations in the Eastern tech group are Georgia, Trebizond (if it survives), and Armenia (if it appears). These nations are on the opposite side of the Timurid Empire so cut a path of conquest to them.
The Western tech group is a massive improvement over Eastern or Muslim because of its powerful neighbor bonus. The Western tech countries are much harder to reach, unless there have been some later-day crusades into Muslim lands. For the mighty Ottoman Empire blocks your way. Even if you can destroy their armies, or even if the Ottomans are weak in front of a defiant Byzantium, you cannot cross the Bosphorus without a Mediterranean navy. But there is another way to get the Western border necessary. Take a coastal province on the Mediterranean or Black Sea and give it to a Western European power by selling a province for 0 ducats (you need knowledge of Western Europe which you can get from the jump to Muslim tech). For example, give Judea to the Papal States. How could they refuse? Actually, they may refuse you many times so keep trying and shop around. Eventually, Rajputana can get its Western border and the jump to the Western tech group.