|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Feudal Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||2|
|Center of Trade||None|
|Other accepted cultures||None|
With HTTT, Serbia has a much much greater chance of surviving and thriving but only if you realize three things:
- The Balkans are extremely poor.
- Do not play the game of politics with your local Orthodox neighbors; they are infighting and usually conquered. The royal marriages and the inevitable war you will fight against all of them makes alliances and royal marriages more of a pain than they are worth. Stick to guarantees and warnings.
- Do not be stupid enough to fight Hungary or the Ottomans unless it is absolutely perfect timing.
Steps to Uniting the Balkans
As worthless as the Balkans are, the wealthy nearby areas are too well defended to take so you need a strong base to start chipping away at your rich heretic neighbours. First, start the game after 1400 so you are not a Vassal of the Ottomans and before 1449 because it is a benefit to have Timur breathing down the Ottoman's neck.
Before you unpause the game:
- Get military access through the Ottomans, because it is early in the game you will have good enough relations to get this. This keeps you safe from the ottomans for a while.
- Guarantee Wallachia and Bosnia.
- Declare war on Montenegro and Albania if you started the game when it existed.
- Move your Slider to land or free trade but land will be more useful immediately.
Both of these opm are poor but they are culture cousins with a coast line. Now you need to evaluate the neighbour powers of Venice, Ottomans, and Hungary. If the Ottomans or Venetians are at war (hopefully with each other) jump on top of Wallachia and if you're really gutsy a Greek minor. If Hungary is the weaker of the three than take Bosnia and/or Ragusa. I suggest Bosnia because you can get a cousin province and a vassal, and Ragusa borders Venice which is just asking for it.
Your now should be focusing on cores for the income increase, a National Idea (either Military Drill, National Bank or a National Trade Policy), and workshops asap. Don't take loans because the interest will murder you. Hopefully you will be getting missions to conquer your neighbors for free cores. Move your sliders to cenralization if you have enough military strength to deal with possible revolts. Otherwise focus on land. I don't recommend free trade because your high infamy from attacking neighbours will make your traders useless for now.
Securing Regional Hegemony
Once all the Slavs call you king, you must push the Ottomans back to the deserts and the Hungarians into Poland. Don't DOW them unless they are already at war, so just send them warnings. Hungary usually ends up at war with its Catholic neighbours so just DOW Translvania (if it hasn't been annexed) to take advantage of your weakened neighbour. Do not take the Croat lands from Hungary. All it does is take you closer to Austria and Italy who will want those provinces. Both of them can and will dow back to Serbia.
I suggest fighting the ottomans after the Hungarians because the Ottomans will have more allies and a better funded army. If you don't mind overpaying and waiting for cores you could borrow the Byzantine strategy of blocking the Bosporous with 30 galleys but by now the Ottomans will have a better navy than you ever could and remember that the Slavs have never been great sailors. Your strategy should be funding pretenders in Asia (to keep their armies away from Europe and you) and funding Greek patriots as far South as possible. I would wait for this war until you have swarm cavalry otherwise you are just asking for your whole army to swept aside. If you time it right with the Ottomans at war and rebels at the edges of their far flung Empire, you could rush on Edirne and Bulgaria for a quick war. Do not expect to gain much territory for the first war or two because if you give the Ottomans enough time, they will rally and crush you. Short wars taking Bulgaria and Greece piece by piece.
By now you should have enough power to stand on your own two feet. From here your goals should be westernizing, keeping foreigners out of South East Europe, and preparing for the eventual wars with Italy, Austria, Poland, and whatever power is rising in the east. but if you were good enough and lucky enough to last this long, you will easily create the first Slavic empire in centuries
It's 1453, Constantinople has fallen and the situation in the Balkans is grim indeed. A new religion, Islam, is going to spice up already chaotic situation in the Balkans. The Ottomans have established themselves as a major power and now they've gained a foothold in Europe that won't be given up easily. Controlling the most important land route from Europe to Asia Minor and Middle East, a lot of powerful players will be vying for control. Sounds interesting? Well, playing Serbia will put you right in the middle of it. Creating an empire from a small country surrounded by powerful enemies is no easy task, hence the need for this guide.
In 1453, Serbia is only a shadow of the power it's been in the 13th and 14th century. Infighting created bitter rivalry between nobles and any form of central government is lost. After a great defeat on the river Maritza (1371) and the indecisive battle of Kosovo (1389), what's left of Serbia had to accept Ottoman supremacy. After a brief period of being a vassal of Ottoman Empire, Stefan Lazarevic used the chaos in the Ottoman Empire after their defeat in the battle of Angora (Ankara) and made Serbia an independent nation once more, before accepting Hungarian supremacy and becoming a vassal of Hungary. In 1453, Constantinople has been conquered by the Ottomans, Catholics to the north don't show much interest in helping Orthodox Serbia, so at the start of the game Serbia is fair game for everybody.
First, what you want to do is to move your starting date to 1457 or 1458, because at 1453 Serbia is at war with the Ottoman Empire. With no allies, only one province and one unit, you have absolutely no chance to avoid defeat in that war. For masochists who do want to try, I would advise taking a loan and hiring a lot of mercenaries, and praying to whatever higher power you believe in. It won't help probably but you could try.
In 1457, Serbia has no allies and no enemies so you are allowed some breathing space. The first National Idea has already been picked for you. It advisable to change it to Deus Vult, since it will prove vital later on. Do try not to anger any of the major players in the area (Hungary, Venice, Ottomans) as an early war with them would prove fatal.
You start with a pretty bad economy. After winning some provinces, and after your stability rises, start sending your merchants to Thrace. Thrace is the best choice, since you really don't want to go to war with the Ottomans early on. If you do, it doesn't matter if they embargo you, since you will probably be conquered pretty quickly. Don't send them to Venice since you will be involved in several wars with them in the beginning. Invest in workshops as soon as you get Production level 1. Other than that, save money for the manufactories later on. Don't waste it needlessly. Only exception to this rule is if you see an easy province in the western Balkans (Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia) and you want to raise an army.
Your main field of interest should be Land, Government, Production, and Trade, in that order. So invest in your research and build your manufactories accordingly.
Go toward Quality, Free Subjects and Innovative (if you don't want to be a colonial power). Since you can not hope to defeat more prominent players like Hungary, Ottomans or Austria by numbers, you need quality army.
You will mostly be fighting Catholics so be sure to give them the same treatment as to Orthodox. So, move that slider to the max. Reduce tolerance for Eastern and Pagan religions, since you won't encounter them in the beginning.
Now you have to choose whether you want to become a colonial power or you want to create a European Empire. Either way, you have to strengthen you position to achieve on or the other.
At the beginning, you can get Royal Marriages and Alliances with both Zeta and Bosnia easily, as they both share you culture and religion. Allying with Bosnia is worthless since it is attacked by Hungary or Venice (and her ally Ragusa) immediately.
Get a Royal Marriage and Alliance with Zeta, hire one mercenary unit, and declare war on Albania immediately. If you wait, the Ottoman Empire is going to conquer them. If you attack with your starting unit + mercenary unit, you will defeat Albania easily. After that, annex them to gain another province. In the meantime, Venice and Ragusa have most probably divided Bosnia among themselves. The other possibility is that Venice controls both Bosnian provinces. Wait for Venice to go to war with somebody else and attack Ragusa. Venice will come to defend their ally, but will be busy on another front. Also, they have to transport their troops by sea which take time, so it gives you enough room for blitzkrieg against Ragusa. Without Venice's help, Ragusa is an easy target. After you defeat it, do NOT annex it, just force it to become your vassal and to cede Hum (one of two Bosnian province) if they hold it. By that time you will probably be able to sign a peace with Venice. White Peace would be ideal, but if you have to, give them some money or some other tribute, expect provinces, of course. If you are really lucky, Venice will be losing a war with a third country so you could take one or two of her provinces but that is an unlikely scenario. Start building up your relation with Ragusa (proclaim guarantee, send gifts, enter an alliance) so that you can annex them peacefully later.
After that, relax a little, build up your army how much your economy will let you. If the opportunity occurs, attack Venice again, and try to take some of her provinces. If not, bide your time and build up your economy. Try to keep your relations with other major Balkan power good, so that you don't get attacked. This especially important in the case of Ottoman Empire.
By now you should have a decent position in the Balkans, owning several provinces and having two vassals (Zeta and Ragusa). Try to annex them peacefully. You can either be persistent, or use the save/load option if you are impatient. Build manufactories and strengthen your army. If you've decided to be a colonial power, this is the right time to embrace Quest for the New World national idea.
Ignore small islands and go straight for the south and Central America. Build your colonies between Maya and Inca empire. Keep good relations with other countries and try to stay out of the wars. Don't build your colonies right next to Incas or Mayas. Instead, try to keep a couple of provinces away from Native Americans. Establish 5-7 colonies and start sending all your colonists there, so that they become cities as soon as possible. In the meantime transport your armies to the new world. When you feel you are strong enough, you can attack the Incas. This won't be so hard since your armies are far superior and they have only level 1 forts, or no forts at all. You can get HUGE amounts of money from them. Use that money to build manufactories in Europe in provinces you haven't already, and to build any other structures, for that matter. If you want you can repeat the same pattern with the Mayas, Zapotec and Azteks. When you are not involved in open warfare, send your colonists to gain all other unoccupied provinces.
If you decide to concentrate on Europe, your strategy shouldn't change from the beginning. Try to keep your armies up-to-date and wait for an opportunity to present itself. Attack only when other countries are involved in a war with a third country. Your safest bet would be the remaining Venice provinces in the Balkans, then Hungary and Transylvania and then Austria. Don't mess with the Ottomans yet. When you gain a few more provinces, build them up, and keep your army up-to-date so that you can attack any country that is vulnerable
By now, you should have pretty decent army and economy. You are no longer in an immediate danger of being conquered so you can decide for yourself what is the best course of action.