|At the start of the Grand Campaign – 14 October 1399|
|Government type||Steppe Nomads|
|Center of Trade||Fars, Hormuz, Samarkand|
|Other accepted cultures||Persian, Khorasani, al Iraqiya Arabic|
The Timurids are the legacy of the feared conqueror Timur, a crippled Turco-Mongol warlord with a mastery of warfare. The likely mortal enemies of a Timurid Empire are: The Golden Horde, the greatest threat to Timurid dominance in the Mongol world; The Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, former slave warriors intent on reversing their former situation and becoming the predominant power of the Middle East; and the Ottoman Empire, the rising sons of Osman who have become the scourge of the Balkans. Don't be fooled by their comparatively miniscule size, The Ottomans have very high manpower for their size and more advanced unit types than Timur's hordes. Their stable government also allows them to take advantage of crises in Timur's lands.
The Timurids are a horde nation, which has important consequences for how they operate. For starters, you will be, by default, at war with every country that you border (except other hordes), as well as their vassals. To end a war, you have to beat the enemy enough to either extract tribute or to concede defeat. You cannot ally with regular countries or make any regular diplomatic actions. You will revert to war as soon as a peace treaty expires, unless you have extracted tribute or forced vassalization.
Timur is your leader, and he is one of the best in the entire world. He is a fearsome commander and great administrator. However, he is old, and there will be a bloodbath upon his death. As a Tribal nation, with each succession, there is a Tribal succession crisis. This has three effects: a pretender army rises, every province gets +10% revolt risk for two years, and every non-core province has a rebellion. Depending on your stability and the number of non-cores you control, the crisis can range from an annoyance to something that will completely tear your country apart.
You start with an enormous army, divided into three large stacks and one single regiment of infantry off in Samarkand. Two of these hordes are in the west, bordering the Mamluks and the Ottomans. You have a maximum manpower of about 100,000 to start with, and have a forcelimit of 84 units. With enough money, your army will be a terrifying force even to the largest powers.
You start with 3 centers of trade and the third highest income in the world, plus you have excellent potential to raid and plunder weaker neighbors for tribute.
Although you cannot take provinces through regular means, the 5.1 patch makes hordes automatically seize provinces controlled for two years. This allows for extremely rapid expansion, but at a cost. In addition to the regular revolts found in newly conquered territory, every single non-cored province will have a nationalist uprising during a Tribal Succession Crisis. This can easily amount to hundreds of thousands of rebels in a rapidly growing empire. You therefore have a choice: go for broke conquering everything in your path, or play more conservatively and extract tribute from your neighbours. Further, the extremely limited technological progress of the nomads means that eventually your enemies (especially Europeans) will be able to wipe the floor with you. While it is possible to Westernize directly, the easiest way out of being a horde is to form the Mughal Empire. This makes you a despotic monarchy and moves you to the Muslim tech group.
Since Tribal Succession Crises are so devastating, never use your ruler as a general. The one great exception is Timur, who is both incredibly talented and elderly, so he's bound to die in a few years regardless. Once he is gone, you should have enough military tradition from the endless wars to recruit excellent generals.
War Exhaustion can be crippling, since your revolt risk is already quite high. You retain the peacetime WE reduction during wars with civilized countries, but lose it if you ever fight another horde. This means that wars with other hordes should be avoided whenever possible (In particular, don't ally with other hordes - they have a tendency to draw you into pointless wars with the Oirats and the like).
Although you start at war with no fewer than 11 countries, only two - the Ottomans and the Mamluks - are a serious threat. Concentrate almost all of your forces in the west, and let Timur crush his enemies with his excellent stats. Take advantage of terrain - mountainous provinces like Mus strongly favour the defender while plains and desert provinces like Van are good for attackers. It may be useful to let the Ottomans take your border province with them (Ereresum), since it will take them a long time to colonize it and in the meantime their armies will probably not bother you. Once their main armies are defeated, crush the remnants, then occupy their land. In the east, an army of 10-15k should be more than enough to keep your small Indian neighbours at bay.
Midgame: Conquer the World or form the Mughals
How much you want to expand after this is up to you. You have cores on some Jalayrid territory, which you should certainly take. There's nothing stopping you from conquering all of Arabia and North Africa, which being Sunni, will be RELATIVELY easy to hold on to and lacking in rebels. India is rich but the wrong religion and will produce tremendous amounts of rebels - they're not impossible to defeat, but certainly frustrating. Note that hordes cannot build ships, so you'll have the annoying experience of a single cog blocking a gigantic army (this means that tiny nations like the Knights are impossible to conquer until you reform the government). If you subdue all of Anatolia and want to cross into Europe, you will either need to hack through Qara Koynulu and the Golden Horde to get a land border with the Europeans, or you need to hope that your enemy on the other side of the Bosporus has its navy destroyed by someone else.
To form the Mughal Empire, you need Government Technology 4 - which should be your first research priority - and a leader with Military skill of 6 or higher. Timur dies too soon and his successor is too untalented, so you will have to get lucky with your next leaders. You must also either vassalize Sind, Kashmir and Delhi, or control five provinces in India. Four are held by Delhi, but the fifth is part of Rajuptana at game start, which you can't see. This means you'll need to conquer provinces bordering it in order to send in troops.
As the Mughals
From this point the nomadic tribes that were your friends automatically will become your constant foes, so be quick to secure all borders from Kazakh, Nogai, Chagatai and Qara Qoyunlu forces. Start increasing relations with surrounding Muslim countries and make royal marriages with them. Now your goal is to stabilise your country.
As a Despotic Monarchy, you will lose the steppe horde bonuses of doubled forcelimits and manpower and reduced maintenance, which will cause your military expenses to increase dramatically. Some amount of minting to sustain what you used to have is inevitable, unless you disbandd troops you don't need until your economy recovers.
After your country will be quite stable you can try to expand either to southern India or into Ottoman Empire - the choice is yours. Because of your geographical position, the colonization of east African shore could be your first target for building a colonial empire.
Heir to the Throne and Earlier
Tamerlane, or Timur, is one of most talented commanders in the history and also one of cruelest men who ever lived. In 1399 this restless conqueror is already 63 and the huge red-coloured empire in front of your eyes when you start a game as Timurids is his legacy, built from scratch during 40 years of bloodbath and towers built of heads of decapitated enemies.
The Timurid Empire at first glance looks unstoppable. Vast territory between India and Asia Minor, three Centres of Trade, huge income, numerous elite armies with one of the best commanders in the world. With Tamerlane himself leading the main army, the world won't see a king and a commander like him for a long while.
You start at war. The enemies at the beginning may look like target practice. Qara Koyunlu, the Jalayirids and Georgians will beg for White Peace from day one. The Ottomans may be tougher than that until their army is beaten up, then they will come begging for peace as well.
Here's where problem lies, as powerful as Timurid faction is at this moment, it will crumble as soon as Tamerlane dies. He is the glue that puts it all together, when he's gone, the empire is likely to disappear as well and Timurids will be lucky if they will survive as a minor nation centred around their capital in Samarkand. And he's 63 already.
A wise player should therefore start preparations for chaos after Tamerlane's death from the very beginning of the game:
- Peace should be signed quickly with all the enemies, no troops should be wasted on attacking them at this point. Their time will come eventually, but not now, not when empire is so fragile.
- Armies should be withdrawn back east after beating up Georgians and Ottomans enough to make them accept white peace.
- Regrouping in central Persia is obligatory in anticipation of the succession crisis.
- Hiring Artist advisors and full Stability investment is advisable. Moving one step towards Centralization can be afforded. All religious decisions that lower stability cost or add to number of missionaries can be picked at this point too.
As an alternative, player might choose to go with Timur's plan of subjugating Ottomans early on but it will make pulling the empire together after unavoidable quick death of Tamerlane extremely hard, sometimes impossible. Either way, taking lands that aren't cores should be avoided because upon a succession crisis, every single one of them will spawn rebellions.
After your first succession crisis
So you've just been through hell of horde succession crisis. Rebels spawned all over the empire and you thank god of your choosing that you could foresee it and pulled your forced back from Turkey on time. You killed hundreds of thousands of rebels, it took half a decade of full-time work that didn't allow you to even think about other things. But now situation calmed down, rebellions aren't as common, you can start making plans for future now that you know you retained Timur's legacy, his empire, in the shape he left it to you.
- This succession crisis will happen EVERY SINGLE TIME your khan dies and a new one assumes the throne. To rule the empire he has to first prove with steel that he's strong enough.
- Weak khans will cause all kinds of "incapable ruler" penalties, worst one is caused by low administration skill and will basically force you to mint a huge chunk of income to pay for the army alone.
- When your War Exhaustion is low and you're at peace, a pretender rebel will be spawned demanding you to start a war with someone. When you are done with rebels after each succession crisis, you should immediately attack and plunder someone. Hordes can't afford staying on defensive, Horde must conquer to keep alive. It's like a shark, if it stops swimming forward, it will die.
- There are benefits from being a horde. Huge benefits. One of them is the fact that you don't need Casus Belli to attack neighbours. You just go at them with general Horde vs Settler CB, plunder their cities, demand gold and prestige and withdraw to regroup and attack someone else.
- Another benefit is event which grants you Core on neighbour province provided it's richer than the province event fires in. This will give you a lot of claims on your neighbours and a lot of opportunity to grab extra land for no cost whatsoever.
- Third benefit is the fact that every time you win a siege, you let your horde run rampant in the taken city plundering it at will. This removes some War Exhaustion from you as well as give you legitimacy and prestige!
- All that summarized means that games with hordes are composed of two phases, one coming after another. When old khan dies, new one must first kill rebels for 5–10 years (depending on his skill) to establish his power over the horde. Then he should immediately organize invasions upon neighbouring countries plundering as many provinces as humanly possible. After Khan dies, another succession crisis kicks in and the circle of life begins anew. After a few of those you will get into the rhythm of it, don't worry.
- Lands to the north aren't worth taking. They are occupied by other hordes, are extremely poor, have low support limit and there's no point in owning them whatsoever. Nogai, Khazakh and Chagatai should be plundered on regular basis during the first phase of the game since they are weak and easy targets. Later they all should be vassalized and allied so they protect Timurid northern flank during their incursions into richer lands of Egypt, Anatolia and India.
- Arabian Peninsula just like the north is a country of high attrition and low incomes, it should be a target of early plundering escapades to cheer the horde, gain prestige, gold and legitimacy. Later countries here should be vassalized and allied just like those up in the north so they don't fall under Ottoman or Mameluk influence and won't cause a distraction for Timurids while they are busy fighting the big guys.
- The same applies to Qara Koyunlu, Georgia and other Caucasian kingdoms, plunder first, then steal any provinces that are your cores, vassalize them and ally. This will create a good safety buffer between Timurids and Golden Horde allowing to delay inevitable confrontation between Hordes for a while.
- Western lands are divided into three spheres of influence, Mameluks hold the Egypt and usually exert their power over Arabian Peninsula as well. Anatolia and Caucasus are held by rich and powerful Ottomans. To the north of Caucasus, Golden Horde holds vast steppe territory. Those three are the main rivals for Timurids and none of them should be allowed to build up to be strong enough to challenge their reign in Persia.
- India. This is where the real riches lie. Indian states are weak and divided and are the main source of Timurid income over the next century. Before they can be consumed, Delhi who firmly holds the north of India should be taken care of. Timurids are likely to get a mission to annex Delhi early on, great Tamerlane sacked and burnt this city once, now it's time to finish the job. With Delhi's fall, riches of India will be up for grabs. :-)
- Europeans arrive in India around 1580s but their presence will be limited for next few decades to just a few provinces. A great opportunity to learn their ways and westernize. Conflict with them preferably should be avoided.
Word of WARNING. Every single province that isn't a core of Timurids will spawn a rebel stack right after a succession crisis starts. Taking provinces that aren't cores should be avoided in most cases. It's much more convenient to plunder all cities, take ransom and pull back to do the same 5 years later than to take province with its limited income and then have to fight a rebel stack in it before more plundering can be done on neighbours. "Rich neighbour" event will generate enough cores for Timurids to expand at a reasonable rate, along with vassalizing weaker and poorer neighbours, it's enough to grow enormously by 1600.
Culture, trade and research
- Moving the sliders towards centralization from the beginning while staying narrowminded is a very good idea. It will prepare the country for future reforms and westernization while still leaving space for missionary and spy work. Movement towards Offensive (to aid plundering) or Free Trade (to improve research through higher incomes from foreign CoTs) both can be considered as secondary choices.
- Surprisingly, Timurids won't have much infamy throughout their career as a plundering horde as long as they use proper Casus Belli (Reconquest, Horde or Infidel CBs) for declaration of war and as long as they don't take provinces that aren't their cores.
- This will allow for trading in Asia, especially in Indian and Chinese Centres of Trade. Since Timurids due to their plundering of neighbours and vast size don't really need to worry about how much money is spent on sending merchants to China or Japan, they can afford merchant spam all over the continent. Three starting Centres of Trade make it even easier for them.
- Why trade? Research will be bad. Being a Horde means -50% penalty to research and this means with good advisers only one tech can be kept up to date with western countries. Suggested route of research for Timurids is Government Tech 10 (allowing to reform the tribe from horde to Despotic Monarchy), then Production Tech 9 to be able to build Workshops and secure enough income to be able to pay for the army even with the least capable khan. Finally, after those two are secured, full Land research is in order to not fall too much behind Ottomans (or whoever else dominates Asia Minor).
- Luckily, all Islam nations can take Diwani Script cultural decision which will build up their culture pretty fast. This allows to gamble for a very high level advisor every 5 or so years. Diwani costs 3 magistrates while Timurids gain 0.10 magistrate a year so first 30 years of the game should be spent accumulating magistrates to take that decision and benefit from it throughout the whole game.
- Even with Diwani-generated advisors, limited trading in Jiangsu, Bihar along with domestic CoTs, Timurids will still be lagging behind in tech. Their goal for first two centuries of the game should be ensuring they can get three national ideas, ability to build Workshops and keep up with Ottomans in Land tech.
- First national idea is picked even before the game starts, it's national conscripts and with constant warfare (either rebels or plundering), it's a perfect choice. As a second NI, Timurids should consider picking either national bank to boost incomes a bit higher with minting or grand army to increase the number of troops they can field. Then anything that boosts trade or tax income is fine.
- No mercy and no consideration can be shown towards heretics and infidels. All non-Sunni provinces should be immediately converted and any rebels that spawn to protest against that must be killed. Timurid empire has too much trouble with rebels even without having to worry about religious uprisings. State religion should be enforced at all cost.
- Moving National Focus to Baghdad, accumulating 5 magistrates and creating a grain depot in there via a province decision is a good way of boosting the numbers of Timurid army. Glorious monument can be built in a similar way in another rich province to reduce infamy and grant prestige.
- As much fun as being a horde is, after a while, having to reconquer your own country over and over again every time a khan dies becomes irritating. Not to mention that Timurids will start quickly falling behind in tech which means Europeans arriving in India might not be afraid to attack Timurid possessions in there, not to mention old enemies trying to win back some of the lost terrain when Timurid army starts being outdated.
- After 100–150 years of being a horde, it's time to settle down and create a proper feudal westernized state that can secure its position as a world power.
- To achieve that Timurids need high stability, a khan with good administration value (7 or more), Government tech 10 (we've got it, remember?) and an army ready to kill a few hundred thousand rebels that will spawn all over the empire soon after. Becoming a settled nation means no more free casus belli on everyone, no free cores, no special bonus for plundering cities but also means no succession crysis and no tech penalty. It's also important to note that to reform government, Timurids need to stay either Narrowminded or Decentralised which means moving sliders towards Westernization isn't possible before the reform.
- Another way of civilizing which is unique for the Timurids is enacting the Mughal Empire decision, which will change your country tag to Mughal and your government to despotic monarchy.
- After government is reformed (and all religious decisions requiring high Narrowminded are taken), Timurids should move towards Centralization and Innovative to westernize.
- Conditions for both decisions are available in the game since day one.
- After reforming, becoming an Empire isn't a bad choice, it gives enough magistrates to introduce all the necessary province land and tax reforms. From Empire Timurids should progress to Absolute Monarchy which grants them Imperialism Casus Belli allowing to attack and annex pretty much anyone they have borders with.
- Building a University in Samarkand will give access to a few very good decisions late in the game.
Late game, taking out old enemies or whoever conquered them
With an empire stretching from India to Syria, 10 or more allied vassals, westernized state with booming research and economy taking out old enemies from Egypt, Asia Minor and Ukraine won't be a big problem. Bribing them into friendship and claiming their thrones to later inherit their countries is the fastest and the easiest way to unite all Muslim world but good old style conquest can be used too. At this point Timurid power will be pretty much unlimited and no other country should pose a challenge.