|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Despotic Monarchy|
|Number of provinces||3|
In Divine Wind, Songhai is notable for being, besides Adal, the only non-tribal nation eligible for the African Power achievement. Having a more advanced form of government makes survival and westernization considerably easier than with any of the tribal Africans.
In 1453 you have 3 provinces, situated right in the middle of the Sahel. Sahara to the north, malaria to the south, bigger African tribes to the side, things are looking grim. However, there's also much potential for the only monarch in 1000 km to grow and conquer.
- You're a monarchy: That counts for so much against your rivals. All strategies for playing a backward nation revolve around westernisation (or a play style that is as boring as it is ingenious). Being a tribal nation is a large handicap towards westernization, though it can be overcome. As Songhai, that's not a problem, if/when you westernise you'll be able to run away with west Africa, provided the Europeans don't pose to much a threat.
- You're isolated: This is bad as well as good, but I count it as good because you have a head start on your plans of domination before most Europeans realize you exist. If you're using Magna Mundi, the head start is even longer.
- Gold: There's lots of it around, you just need to take it. Don't let it inflate your currency too much though, you'll pay for it in the long run. Still, Gold income is better than trade and production seeing as you won't be making a fortune on that any time soon.
- Stability: At least for the first phase of your game when Songhai is small. You can move your slider, change to a Feudal Monarchy and swap national ideas like trading cards, stability will shoot right back up in no time.
- African tech group: Research will move at a snails pace for a long time until you westernise or turn Songhai into a trading superpower. On the flip side, so will your immediate neighbours, so don't feel pressured until Portugal starts moving south.
- African units. Your home grown troops will always be inferior to Western, Eastern, Muslim, Indian, Chinese and New World ones (well, maybe not New World) but having a number of provinces with Western cores will let you churn out whatever soldiers they are.
- Money: There will never be enough of it. Gold is your best bet followed by trade followed by tax/production.
Before you unpause
What's your first move? First, move that slider. I always like to move mine to innovative no matter who I am, but you could really use those colonists in a few decades to inch closer to a European colony, maybe buck rationale and go for Naval or Free Trade; stability will bump back up in no time. Probably don't hire some advisors, money is too valuable for the moment. Set up your auto-send merchants to Timbuktu. Mint nothing and pour every ducat into government research, now wait 13 years or so.
You're too weak militarily to attack anything stronger than a broken toothpick. With barely enough manpower to make a division and a very weak, don't build a huge army unless you're about to use it straight away, and if so maybe use mercenaries. Diplo-annexing is viable but at your size, most Chiefs would just as soon annex you. Use every trick in the book to improve relations without sending gifts, which means giving and taking military access, royal marriages and alliances. African chiefs also have somewhat short lives, so you get about +25 relations when the king dies and you renew royal ties, free. Just be careful about getting caught up in a succession war. Try to vassalise Oyo & Benin; Mali & Hausa are too damn big. If you're allied to Mali and/or Hausa, seriously consider disbanding your army altogether; you need to avoid going broke.
Once you have your national idea, choose Quest for the New World and convert to a feudal monarchy, which helps with the manpower problem. Explore everywhere you can; in 1.2 you can't flee native battles into terra incognito, so you'll have to tolerate not going further than adjacent provinces; have a big and overly expensive army to kill them or jump in & out of native provinces to hopefully trigger the discovery of an adjacent province. With some luck you'll make it to a new center of trade like Ndongo, Lisboa, or Andulucia and send the rest of your merchants there.
If you get lucky you might be able to annex someone and grow that way. Hausa, Kanem, Oyo, Ashanti, & Benin are all targets; Mali is too darn big. If you do it will be the end of quick stability, but you'll have a bit more wiggle room. Once you are bigger, hope for Westernisation.