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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Empire Total War Campaign Guides


Origins by pjmorse from flickr (CC-SA)

As I got back to Empire Total War, somehow I couldn't find any good faction guides. All advice was awful, or only applicable to outdated patches.

So I decided to did some research and write my own guides. It's mostly based on campaigns I played before, but for factions I played less I did a lot of testing.

The guides apply to unmodded campaigns, or lightly modded campaigns (things like removing forts, faction unlocks, additional units, graphics mods etc.). Because Empire modding is rather limited, you can still mostly follow them even for big mods like Darthmod as long as they have start similar to 1700 vanilla start.

The guide mostly targets hard/hard campaign difficulty. I find it's an enjoyable balance of modest AI bonuses to be a bit more challenging without game being completely stupid they way very hard is.

Most of the advice would still apply on very hard, but some fights I see as very winnable on hard might be pushing your luck a bit on very hard. It definitely applies on normal - on normal you can just play without much plan too and do fine.

I genuinely believe these are the best guides for pretty much every country, but I might have missed something big, so feedback is very welcome.

I also wrote some general gameplay tips before (one, two). They're not essential, but a few factions can really use techniques like ship switching and move after landing.

General advice

The stuff advisor says is mostly nonsense. Also you shouldn't care the tiniest bit about your victory conditions. Your priorities should always be:

  • safety
  • economy
  • everything else

in this order. Once you're safe and rich, getting any victory conditions is trivial.

Whoever you play as, your main concern should be safety of your country. Empire Total War is an offense-only game, with no good defense options. Armies no longer need to wait a turn to build siege equipment before taking a province. Garrison troops are completely worthless and just 1-2 Line Infantry can crush every garrison except maybe capitals. Walls would be worthless even if it wasn't for 0fps bug that makes people mod them out. And AI is really aggressive and will randomly declare war on you a lot.

Generally the easiest factions are those with one or two fronts, and hardest are those which need to defend from every direction at once.

You can predict which wars you'll need to fight by starting new campaign, and pressing end turn a few times. AI moves in the first few turns are extremely predictable, that's one of the reasons this guide works as well as it does.

The only ways to protect yourself are:

  • keeping very expensive troops on the borders - one full stack can protect your frontline very well, but one full stack costs about 5000 a turn
  • attacking first to eliminate your opponents and get more favorable borders. However simply eliminating your current enemies isn't enough, as countries that become your new neighbours really love to declare war on you next turn (give them military access and trade agreements instantly)
  • alliances with potential enemies - you might need to use bribes to secure alliances. At least AI doesn't surprise backstab its allies as much as it did back in Medieval 2, at least as long as it has some other ways to expand available. If you get allies, they generally won't attack you, but do not call them into your wars unless you absolutely have to, as allies abandon you more often than not
  • bribe your enemies to peace out - AI especially loves technologies, and giving away technologies doesn't cost you anything; however game tracks how many times you trades each technology; which presumably means other AIs will value it less each time you trade it; don't count on such peace lasting long, so use time you bought well

You can and should tone down AI aggressiveness by giving everyone unlimited military access and trying to get trade agreements with all neighbouring factions. If AI wants some money for trade agreement, it's usually worth paying, as it will repay itself in a few turns, and trade agreements make AIs a lot less aggressive.

Also give unlimited military access to Great Britain, and any other great powers far away from you, so they don't get an idea of dropping a surprise naval landing on you.

You should trade with all your neighbours by land, as it cannot be blocked and doesn't cost you trade slots. For naval trade, best partners are Marathas and Britain as pretty much they never get trade blockaded. New Spain, Thirteen Colonies, and Louisiana are good for the first few turns, but then they get annexed. The worst partner are the Mughals, they get blockaded every time without exception. Everyone else, it depends on how campaign goes - having trade agreement that cannot be fulfilled due to blockaded ports loses you huge amounts of money, so be sure to break any such agreements unless you think they'll fix it soon.

Pirates and Barbary States are a big hassle first few turns, but AI fleets usually crush them even if you do nothing, so don't worry too much.

You should aim at having about 4 universities within first ten turns, usually 2 universities in your capital region, replacing any inn or church that's there. Best place for others are 6-slot settlements (so you can build culture buildings to counter unhappiness), but not capitals of playable factions (capitals of playable factions start with -30 resistance to foreign occupation, everything else just -13).

So places like: Portugal, Denmark, Koenigsberg, Saxony, Rome, Mysore, and so on. If you play with factions unlocked mod, be sure to use a version that only unlocks whichever faction you want to play - otherwise every faction's capital will have -30 resistance to foreign occupation.

Always research Canister Shot first, no exceptions or excuses. It unlocks mobile artillery, adds ridiculously overpowered canister shot ability for artillery, and even gives that ability to your existing fixed Demi-Cannons. After that, aim for Fire by Rank as soon as possible, and get Square Formation on the way - these technologies make your Line Infantry a lot better. Enlightenment technologies that let you build better schools and give research bonuses are great as well. Everything else has much much lower priority.

You really shouldn't obsess over special units - most European factions will have core army of Line Infantry, 12-lber Foot Artillery, and a bit of whichever cavalry you can get, and that's perfectly adequate. Getting military techs earlier than your enemies matters far far more than faction-unique units.

You start with some really trash units - Pikemen, Militia, Demicanons, and worse. You absolutely want to replace them with proper troops as soon as you can, but don't disband that trash - have them die for their country instead, that will save some of your regular units. Just don't reinforce them, and merge depleted units, until there's not much left, or you find yourself at peace for a few turns.


I'm a bit baffled by Austria.

If you do nothing, Prussia, Poland, and Ottomans will attack you within first few turns, setting you up for awkward fights on multiple fronts. It's not too bad, as Prussia and Poland will also fight each other, while Ottomans are weak and have a lot of other enemies, but it's somewhat challenging.

However, on completely unmodded hard/hard campaign, if you give away military access and trade agreements to all your neighbours, nobody will attack you. This trick is supposed to tone down AI aggressiveness, but in testing with every other faction, it was never anywhere near that kind of effective. Perhaps that trick plus your extremely long list of allies is enough to be a perfect deterrent?

But that's not all - the usual wars between Austria's neighbours like Prussia vs Saxony and Poland, just don't start. If allowed, Prussia and Poland both keep armies just barely within Austria's borders, and there they stayed on extended holidays.

So that's pretty much the guide - just offer all your neighbours except one free holidays, and then do whatever you want to that last one. I recommend taking Balkans from the Ottomans, as early game Ottomans are a total pushover, and you'll have very easy to defend natural borders in either Constantinople or Anatolia by the time you stop.

Eventually, Prussia and Poland might finally wake up, but once you have your Southern border secure, it's going to be extremely easy.

Once you're in a mood for fighting Poland, attack their protectorate - Saxony if it still exists, or Courland otherwise. Poland will likely still be allied to Russia, and maybe Denmark, and getting them involved is a pointless distraction. Prussia usually has no allies or just Hannover, so they can be declared upon directly.

Your starting ministers are decent. You can get better with a small reshuffle, but it's not essential.

You should absolutely destroy church in Innsbruck, Austria and replace by university. Same with inn in Olmutz, Bohemia. That gives you 3 universities, you can build another one or two on conquered lands like Saxony or Greece.

You start with a missionary and a rake. Missionary should be converting Muslims not other Christians, as Muslims generate 5x more unrest per person for Christian rulers, and converting in Europe is really slow. Your rake should try to assassinate Ottoman imam in Bosnia for the same reason. You'll be taking over those lands, and the agents are literally standing there next to their targets so might as well use them.


France starts with ministers with mostly good stats who infuriate everyone, with total of -2 nobility and -3 lower class happiness. The worst offender is your treasury minister, who gives +7% tax income at cost of -2 lower class happiness - +7% means 7% of wealth not of taxes, so he increases your tax income by about 20% over what it would otherwise be. Your king has -2 happiness for nobility, and sadly cannot be replaced except through a guillotine. You should replace at least your incompetent justice minister by someone who can keep the masses in check.

You start allied with Spain, and that means you'll be pulled into turn one war with Netherlands. Your Canadian holdings will be attacked by the Iroquois, and likely also the Huron.

You have 6 provinces in the New World, and not one of them can recruit any good units. It's a good idea to at least build Barracks and Ordnance Factory in Quebec, so you don't have to rely on Militia, and native troops.

If you start war with Netherlands in your colonies, Netherlands can get a lot better units in Curacao than you on your holdings.

You'll be issued a mission that lets you annex Louisiana if you take 3 native provinces, but it's not worth the rush - Louisiana is just 2 poor provinces, just let them be.

I'd go even further - if you can find a buyer for Montreal, I'd recommend selling it, as it's just a liability - it makes no money, can recruit no troops, and will expose you to inevitable expensive wars with the natives which you'll need to fight with awful troops. I couldn't find anyone who'd exchange any provinces for it, but you can sell it to random European minors for all their cash.

Natives will likely take it at some point, but by that time you'll have some military buildings in Quebec to retake that with decent force.

Your European situation is much better. Move all your armies towards Le Havre, and recruit as much Life Infantry as you can in Paris and Alsace, and move them there too. Your fleets can be split between Le Havre, Brest, and Marseille (just to protect it from Barbary States blockade).

Then you have two options:

Netherlands will attack Spain, accept call to arms, drop your troops on Amsterdam, and take it, eliminating Netherlands from the game, turn two or three. If you do that, be sure to take Curacao and Dutch Guyana, they are great provinces close to you.

Netherlands will attack Spain, accept call to arms, ignore that as Dutch and Spaniards will likely just stare at each other for a few turns. Instead attack Britain (declaring on their protectorate, not on Britain!), drop your troops on Ireland, Scotland, and England to take it over with overwhelming force in one turn before they can react. You can destroy Britain turn three to five, without a single naval battle. Britain has so many ports it's likely a lot of them will be undefended, and you can just land and walk to your target. And if not, you can use move-after-landing technique as a fallback.

Going Netherlands first, you could do Britain second - in one way it's great, since it gives you a few extra turns to recruit more troops. But German minors might then decide to attack you in Netherlands or Alsace, so that could be quite awkward.

Going Britain first you can do Netherlands second. This order completely closes that frontline, as AI will never land in French Britain. If Netherlands takes Flanders from Spain you'll even have pretty borders once you take both. The downside of that is that you can have French Guyana attacked, and there's a chance Netherlands can take Flanders too fast, invade France, and complicate your plans.

So neither of these orders are perfect, but either way you'll eliminate your two main rivals by 1702 or 1703.

After that you can focus on Pirates, or Italy, or German minors, or Iroquois. If you want to conquer India, you could send a small army to Ceylon or Begal, but it will take it very long time to get there, and you'll be paying it all that time. Basically whatever you conquer there should be your main recruiting base, moving troops between theaters is just too expensive to do except in most exceptional cases.

Spain will remain your ally, and other than Flanders looking annoying you have no real reason to break that.

Great Britain

You will need to fight a bit on sea, so this campaign is easy if you're comfortable with naval battles, and maybe less so if you're not.

Great Britain starts allied with Portugal, Netherlands, Hannover, Austria, and overlord of Thirteen Colonies. Of these Austria is a huge liability, will drag you into pointless wars with Prussia, Poland, and Ottomans, never do anything useful for you, so just break that alliance right away.

You or your protectorate will get attacked by Iroqouis and Huron turn one. The Pirates will also attack your fleets in the Caribbean.

There's really easy way to fix some of those issues. The Huron really want Rupert's Land, so sell it to them for their whole treasury of 8000. It would take something like 50 turns for that region to make that kind of money, even if you didn't have to pay to defend it.

This will also teleport your army from there to Bahamas. It's only 2 bad units, but add 4 units already on Bahamas, put them on ships, and sail towards Antigua. You'll have to fight two naval battles (3 ships vs 3; and then what's left vs another 3), which you can win by chainshot zigzag easily. You can capture Antigua turn two, then eliminate pirates turn three or four. If you feel uncomfortable with that, there's 2 extra ships that are a bit slower, but they'll still reach Antigua turn 2 if you keep all 5 together. There are also some units in Jamaica, if you want to send one ship to pick them up and return.

For every captured island, if it has a shipyard, you absolutely must destroy it and build a trade port. Otherwise, plantations on those islands cannot export and they whole island is completely worthless.

Thirteen Colonies will likely struggle against Iroquois, and might lose New York, but they shouldn't get overrun. If they struggle for very long time you can send some troops to help them, but that's not a priority.

To annex Thirteen Colonies you'll need to take over three provinces. From Cherokees you need Georgia, and Cherokee Territory; from France you need Quebec (New France in game). Defeating Cherokees is relatively easy and they're close to your Caribbean power base, France is a much harder, and it's out of the way.

In any case, there's no rush. Thirteen Colonies start really poor, so let them develop, using magical extra money each faction gets. You can give them techs for free to help them a bit.

In Europe you're at no risk of any invasion, but your weak starting army and limited recruitment slots will limit your ability to achieve much in first few turns.

The most obvious thing to do is put all your troops in Greenwich and recruit some more, then drop them all in the usually undefended Le Havre, and take Paris in same turn as you declare war. If you then take Alsace-Lorraine, France will be removed from the game, and all their colonies will go rebel - except your mission goal Quebec will instead form a new nation. In occupied France destroy church in Dijon. It's up to you want to keep university in Orleans or not. France has decent happiness bonuses, with inn in Lille, and you can build another in Dijon, so it's relatively fine as far as -30 resistance to foreign occupation provinces go.

You can try to drop on Spain as well, but Spain has far too many European provinces to be eliminated quickly, no convenient port accessible for easy landing from Britain, and France might interfere if you do, so I'd recommend eliminating France first, and Spain only later.

You can pack all your army on ships and send them to India, to attack Mughals - or for a bigger challenge Marathas. Sending armies is obscenely expensive, so just get enough on the boats to conquer first couple of provinces, and then rely on local recruits. Even Sepoys can deal with Mughal trash troops just fine.

Replace church in Oxford by second university. There aren't any amazing places for third, but Cork, Ireland, is a very poor town, and is likely better used for an university than a factory.

If you have spare cash, and you'll be fairly well off, just build Indianmen in every port that can, all the time. Britain is in great position to exploit all trade.

Your ministers have good stats, but they really piss off your nobility (-4 nobility, +2 middle class), so you might want to replace them.


It's about the easiest campaign in the game.

Just rush Mughals like crazy. If you're feeling confident in your ability to win even battles, you should be able to take Ahmadnagar, take Hyderabad, and destroy Mughal army in Bijapur all on turn one. If you're feeling less confident in your abilities, try to do at least do two of those three things.

Don't stop pushing until Mughals are eliminated - if the first punch is hard enough, they'll never get their stuff together. Even better, as Mughals are a non-playable faction, their capital has only -13 resistance, not -30, so you can keep its university without much hassle.

Destroy pointless tavern in Trichinopoly, Carnatica. It's not a perfect place, but I'd recommend building university there. Or alternatively you could build a factory there instead.

Your starting ministers are quite good. Be sure to prioritize unrest reduction (especially for lower classes), as you'll be conquering a lot of land, with many Muslims in it (Muslims generate far more unrest than various Christians), and your troops should be pushing hard, not wasting their time on rebels. South India is mostly Hindu, but you should build some ashrams in North India to help convert the peasants there.

It's important to avoid temptation of attacking Goa and Ceylon. Portugal and Netherlands both have only one provinces in Europe each, and they very frequently get eliminated. This will make their Indian possessions go rebel, and then you can take them for free.

Mysore is a valuable region with pre-built university, but they're very unlikely to attack you, so just let them live until you're dealt with the Mughals. They'll invest most of their money back into developing your future province.

Consider getting a few boats to blockade the Mughals, and build a lot of trade ships for Indonesia and East Africa. You don't really need to protect them - AIs will likely eliminate Pirates before you even get there, and you won't have any wars with Europeans.

After conquering Mughals, Mysore, and getting Goa and Ceylon from rebels, you can take Persia for the Maharajah of the Indies achievement. It's a lot easier than achievements for other theaters.


Mughals are the only major faction that's not playable, so you'll need to play with that faction unlocked. Due to playable factions getting -30 resistance to foreign occupation, it messes up the game a bit if you make all factions playable, so get a mod that only unlocks the Mughals if possible.

I think they were intended to be playable, as there's even recorded advisor speech for them, they were likely cut at the last minute.

Anyway, the whole campaign can be basically won turn one. Just offer Marathas some money for peace deal. If you do it right away, they'll request your whole 12000, but you can bargain it down a bit. Just queue some buildings to make you appear to have less money, and they should accept about 6000-8000 plus military access (at least on hard) - you might even get trade agreement as part of the deal. Then unqueue those buildings and buy something else.

Once you have peace, just move all your troops to the frontline. Then you can take your time to get your country in order - about 10 turns should be enough. Once you're done, either break your peace treaty and attack once your whole army can do it together, or just stay there waiting for Marathas to do their first move, there's really no rush, time is absolutely on your side here.

Playing Mughals the hard way, and actually winning the war with Marathas while your armies are scattered all over India is a lot harder.

Your early troops are absolute trash and far worse than any other factions, but you'll get decent troops eventually.

Your economy starts terrible, but if you fill all empty towns with tier 1 buildings, and replace your shitty treasury minister, it will get better fast.

You have a bunch of inns which you should replace by universities, factories, or at least madrasas. Hindu peasantry in India does not like you, so converting them is a good long term investment.

Persia will not attack you, and they might even ally you. You have no other enemies for very long time. Europeans might show up eventually, but it will be very late game.


Netherlands start as a republic, so you'll be constantly replacing ministers one by one by kicking out the worst to get a random new one. It's a lot of hassle, and every 16 turns it's all thrown away and a completely new random cabinet replaces what you worked so long for. Other than that, being a republic comes with a lot of bonuses to research rate, town wealth growth, and lower class happiness.

Your universities generate 80% less unhappiness, so you can put them pretty much anywhere, and you don't need to destroy captured ones. On the other hand you have very limited building slots at start, so I recommend destroying factory in Kandy, Ceylon, and building your second university there. A few more will need to be on captured land.

Netherlands start is challenging not because it's particularly difficult, but because you'll wants to do so many things at once, but you'll need to choose just some:

  • you want to take Flanders from Spain; then either conquer France or conquer German minors
  • you want to start conquering defenceless land from the Mughals
  • you want to take over New World, starting from French Guyana, and islands controlled by Pirates, France, and Spain; then either New Spain or coastal North America
  • you want to just spam trade ships, send them everywhere, and have piles of trade goods

Sadly you won't have money and armies to do all those things at once, so just pick whichever one or two of these you fancy to do first.

I'd recommend breaking your alliance with Austria, as that only pulls you into a lot of wars you don't want, and Austria does nothing to help you. Cancel your trade agreement with the Mughals - their ports will get blockaded by Marathas in a few turns every campaign, and that makes your ships throw all cargo overboard for some reason, instead of trading somewhere else.

Here's a sketch of what you could do with every direction.

If you want to expand in India, I recommend starting from Orissa and Begal, using usual tricks to jump form ship to ship to double your movement range, and to attack same turn you land. Ceylon can recruit 2 Sepoys a turn, which are not great, but Mughals have absolutely trash units and zero navy, so they'll do just fine. From there either walk West to Gujarat, or build second army in Ceylon to land in Gujarat.

It would be nice to ally Marathas and divide India between you, but they're unlikely to accept that. If by some change they would, just take it. If not, at least give them military access so they chill a bit. Once you upgrade your barracks, you'll get VOC infantry and cavalry units instead of Sepoys - VOC troops massively outclass anything Indians have.

Portugal will likely get destroyed at some point, so that's a good time to snipe Goa from the rebels before Marathas do.

If you want to exapnd in Europe, you need to start with Flanders, and that means war with Spain. Do not declare war on Spain, declare war on their protectorate New Spain. This way France doesn't join, and New Spain will do literally nothing anyway - they can't walk to Dutch Guyana or Curacao, and they have no ships.

Unfortunately France is very likely to attack you in the first few turns anyway. It won't be an easy fight, but you could just keep recruiting as fast as you can, take Paris, France and Strassburg, Alsace-Lorraine, and that eliminates your biggest rival. German minors you neighbour are likely to ally you and trade with you, but they probably won't defend you. It's worth it anyway, at least one less thing to worry about - you definitely don't have anyone to spare for protecting your borders there.

In Americas you have military building at Curacao able to recruit 2 Line Infantry per turn. Destroy Pirates, and then island hop to take colony after colony of whomever you're fighting against - Spain and France typically. Pirate capital will have stronger garrison than any other settlement in the game, so you might need to recruit for a few turns before you can take them on.

For every captured island, if it has a shipyard, you absolutely must destroy it and build a trade port. Otherwise, plantations on those islands cannot export and they whole island is completely worthless. It's a good idea to destroy and replace shipyard in Antwerp, Flanders as well, as it's wealthy town and that gives you more trade slots.

Your best investment other than tier 1 buildings (there's one empty slot in Dutch Guyana) will be trade ships, which you can send everywhere. The game tries to trick you into recruiting Fluyts as trade ships. Do not fall for that, and recruit only regular Indianmen. Fluyts are obscenely expensive in upkeep so they won't even pay for themselves, and they're absolute trash at fighting as well due to low range of their guns.

If you eliminate Pirates by taking their both islands, that removes all Pirate fleets from all trade theaters, so you can trade in peace. If not, AI usually overbuilds fleets and fights Pirate fleets anyway, it will just take a while.


You start with 12 provinces, and two protectorates with 4 more. You seem like overextended extremely poor empire on verge of collapse under imminent attack from every direction.

You already start at war with Russia; and Austria and Persia will attack you turn one. Georgia and Venice will probably attack you turn two or three. As every Christian power in Europe is at war with your protectorate Barbary states, you cannot ally any of them. Morocco might attack Barbary States, so if you accept that's another war you'll be pulled into.

So 6 wars in three turns, and no money to fight them? Oh and all your troops are absolute garbage, barely better than Mughals. Looks really hard, right?

Well, you can turn it all around very quickly. For some crazy reason Venice will trade Morea for Bosnia. That gets you far more valuable province, prevents war with Venice, and lets you move your Greek troops somewhere more useful. You should always take this no matter what else you do.

Fix your awful ministers, this will massively increase your income. Build tier 1 buildings in every empty slot, as soon as you can. That won't completely turn your economy around, but it will make a huge difference.

Give away military access and trade agreements to Austria, Georgia, and Persia. This should at least slow down the inevitable declarations of war.

Your units are trash, but one is very good - 18-lber Foot Artillery which starts with Canister Shot (which you can also get in Istanbul) - and two others are at least serviceable - Isarelys (which you can get in Istanbul), and sort of Desert Warriors (which you can get in Middle East).

All other troops, I'd recommend not disbanding yet, just have them be a distraction in first few battles.

Now you have a few options. If you do what I just described, out of original 6 wars you were facing:

  • move your Moldovan troops to help Crimea survive. just sit on river crossing in Crimea - this is especially effective as it has additional effect of confusing AI pathing. Russian attacks against Crimea are fairly anemic, and while Crimea would likely fall undefended, even your modest additional forces should save them pretty much indefinitely - soon Russia will fight Sweden as well, so they won't have too many forces to send against you
  • move all your Balkan troops to Serbia and recruit more to defend it from Austria; without Bosnia there's a lot less to defend, so that war is a lot better. Unfortunately this isn't quite enough as Austria will also attack Moldavia if you just sit in Belgrade, so you'll need to take the fight into Transylvania, and be generally a massive nuissance - eventually Austria will get into wars with Prussia and Poland, and you can probably push them out; this is the hardest frontline, but still a good deal easier without Bosnia
  • recruit troops in Baghdad (spam Desert Warriors; you have general, Demi-Cannons there and some trash there) to defend against Persian invasion. Persia will attack with their own comparable trash, so you'll do fine.
  • Morocco will fight Barbary States, but it's too far to actually attack your lands, so feel free to ignore it indefinitely
  • Venice without Morea is very unlikely to go to war with you now
  • while not completely guaranteed, hopefully Georgia leaves your alone with military access - this won't work on anyone else here

If that's the level of challenge you like, go for it. Time is on your side. You're slowly rebuilding, and your enemies will get more and more enemies.

But you can go for an even easier challenge:

  • buy alliance with Persia for 2 technologies. Do not call them into your wars when attacked, as they will dishonour, but at least this will give you peace and quiet
  • if you ally Persia, then you can move your Mesopotamian troops to face Georgia, and you'll easily defeat them if attacked
  • you can abandon Barbary States (just keep trade), that prevents Morocco from attacking you, and even lets you have alliances with Europeans eventually (but they won't like you due to religious differences)
  • you can sell Moldavia, Serbia or both to any minor country for some petty cash - the point is to either prevent war with Austria, or at least simplify your frontline to one place to defend not two; if you sell both Serbia and Moldavia (as well as Bosnia, which you always do), then Austria shouldn't bother you, so you can go fight Persia or Russia instead

I couldn't find anyone who'd give me anything good fo Serbia or Moldova, but the point is buffer zone, not land. Getting Morea for almost free gets you very far ahead on tax income anyway.

For longer term strategy, it's really tempting to go for Vienna, but then you're exposing yourself like crazy to Poland, Prussia, Russia, and so on. Russia, or India are easier directions for defensive borders.

As soon as you have money, replace all your madrasas and inns by universities - you don't have any slot in your capital province, and you'll need at least one to build Modern University, as it can only be built there. By the time you get the technology, Kozani and other town will pop out.


You start as Constitutional Monarchy, which is a great system. Your starting ministers are trash so before you do anything else just press election button to get new random ones - they'll be far better, and you should build up from your new cabinet.

If you play campaign without knowing what to do, you'll find yourself in very difficult situation. You are allied with Denmark and Russia, and have Saxony and Courland as protectorates. Without fail, Sweden will attack Denmark, and Prussia will attack Saxony turn one. Then Austria is very likely also attack Saxony turn two.

It gets so much easier if you're prepared. First, Denmark is a liability. They will not defend you, they add nothing of value, just break that alliance right away. Just be sure to break alliance yourself, that costs no diplomatic reputation with other countries. Refusing to defend your ally costs you a lot of diplomatic reputation.

Abandoning Saxony seems like it would save you from two other wars, especially since they'll get destroyed before you can reach them anyway, but that only delays war with Prussia by a few turns, as you're their next target once Saxony falls.

But there's a great way to deal with Prussia - for some crazy reason they want Gdańsk, West Prussia so badly they're willing to give you Koenigsberg, East Prussia for it, and even throw some cash for a good measure. It's an insane deal and you should absolutely take it whatever your other plans are - East Prussia in about 4x more valuable than West Prussia, and it massively weakens your main enemy.

Now you have a few options. You could break your overlordship over Saxony, then fight just Prussia - either attack them right away, or get attacked in a few turns. You could ally Austria, as that generally stops them from declaring war on your protectorate, but they'll want some cash to agree to an alliance. The worst option is to keep Saxony and have wars with both Prussia and Austria right away, but even that is not end of the world, as Austria is really sluggish at gathering its armies for an attack.

Whichever way you choose, you need to deal with Prussia. Since you took Koenigsberg for cheap, you have a huge headstart. Position your troops as close to Gdańsk as you can, so you can take it the turn war begins. Then take all your troops, recruit some more Line Infantry in Warsaw and Koenigsberg, and march on Prussian to take Berlin and Saxony (which at that point will most likely be occupied). War against Prussia won't be the easiest, but once you win, you'll be in really great political situation.

Sweden, Austria, and German minors will likely attack you at some point (unless you ally Austria), but once Prussia is dealt with, your situation is really quite comfortable. Russia is unlikely to backstab you, I've never seen a protectorate backstab its master, so Courland is safe, and Ottomans will likely have too many bigger issues to even think of attacking you, especially if you give them military access and trade agreement.

Polish early campaign is really inflexible, as Prussia will force early war no matter what you do, but once you deal with them, you really have a ton of options.

For universities, replace Gardinas inn in Lithuania, and Tannenberg inn in East Prussia by universities.

Once you take Brandenburg, it's best to destroy university there, as it's a huge hassle with -30 resistance to foreign occupation on top of university penalty. Then again, at this point you can afford to take it slow, and just keep your troops there for a bit longer anyway.


Prussia has a start so obvious that even AI manages to do it correctly every time. Attack Saxony, this gets you into a war with Poland without getting Polish allies Denmark and Russia involved, then use your East Prussian armies to take Gdańsk, West Prussia without a fight.

You can do better than that! Attacking Saxony as before, but send just one crappy unit to siege Gdańsk. Alexander's army standing halfway between Gdańsk and Koenigsberg will reinforce without moving. After Gdańsk that is taken, attack Warsaw with your Koeningsberg army, then make Alexander's army reinforce the siege.

You should then move your one unit which was sieging Gdańsk back to Koeningsberg, as it might be attacked by small Polish force in Lithuania (1 Pikemen and 1 Militia). You might want to recruit general for it if you're not feeling confident.

These 4 fights (conquest of Saxony, Gdańsk, Warsaw, and defense of Koeningberg) are not the easiest, but if you win, you crush your main enemy and increase your country from 2 to 5 good provinces on turn one.

A much much less ambitious opening is to recruit a few Line Infantry units in Berlin and Koeningsberg, and take only Saxony and Gdańsk on turn two or three. You can't wait too long, or Austria will take Saxony, and that really complicates that whole campaign.

This is a great start, but you'll face some new issues soon. Austria will likely attack you, German minors you border (Hannover, Westphalia, Bavaria) might attack you, and what remains of Poland might try to attack you from the East. Of these Hannover makes a decent ally, and giving away military access and trade agreements to minors might placate them for a while.

Attacking Austria directly is a terrible idea, as that would bring up to 6 new countries into your fight. Fortunately they'll probably attack you soon themselves. Just keep a few units in Saxony to defend from such attack.

If for some reason Austria doesn't attack you, and you're done fighting Poland, you could declare on one of German minors allied to Austria. They're also allied with each other, so you can't fight just one, but at least it won't pull Great Britain and Netherlands into the war.

Once war with Austria starts, Saxony army can attack Prague, and Warsaw army can attack Breslau. For that other one you might need to move without artillery to start the siege, and then move artillery second to join the existing siege. That, or build better roads, or position Warsaw army closer to the border.

There's no space in your capital for second university, but Leipzig, Saxony, and Tannenberg, East Prussia are good spots - destroy the inns, build schools. University in Kraków is best destroyed and replaced by a factory, as Poland is going to take forever to control, and you'll need those armies elsewhere.

Your ministers are already good enough, just replace one for the navy.


Russia has two starts, normal start, and sell-your-provinces start. Let's first talk about the normal start.

Russia has 9 provinces, but 4 of them look terrible. Komi has 0 literally tax revenue, and Bashkiria, Don Voisko, and Astrakhan are not much better. In fact they all make you negative money as administrative costs are based on just number of provinces.

So your economic situation looks desperate at first, but it's not really quite as bad.

The first thing you need to do is fix your cabinet. 4/5 of your starting ministers are awful, and you should replace them by other candidates before you do anything else, especially treasury minister.

Then try to construct all tier 1 buildings in every empty slot, starting from farms, then mines. Upgrading Governor's Residence in your good provinces is a great idea as well. Still, you should exempt all provinces with wealth less than 1000 or so from taxes so their villages grow faster. Get farm tech maybe a bit earlier than you would as other countries (but Canister Shot first, no exceptions!).

Replace inn in Yaroslavl by university. There's no great place for an early third university.

The most interesting thing about Russia is bug in the game. Empire is supposed to increase wealth level of towns (very poor / poor / growing / prosperous / wealthy) as province "town wealth" increases, but due a bug it is never happens if there's a port in a province. Since Muscovy and Kiev have tons of town slots, and no ports, they'll get obscenely rich by mid-game, with all towns including emergent ones becoming wealthy, and making twice as much money as other factions' very poor emergent towns. So really, there's nothing to worry about long term.

Russia has pretty decent strategic position.

Russia starts at war with Crimea and their protector Ottomans. You should take Crimea for the port, turn two or three, but there's really no rush going after Ottomans after that. Their Balkan lands are trash, and very awkward to defend.

Your ally Poland is really unlikely to backstab you so you're safe from the West. To your East there's edge of the map.

Sweden might attack you, but they can't reach any of your cities fast enough, so even if they catch you completely unprepared, you'll be able to recruit a whole new army in Moscow before it comes under Swedish siege.

Once you go to war with Sweden, you should take Ingria, destroy shipyard at Staraya Ladoga, and replace it with Trading Port. After that you can go for Riga or Finland, but there's really no rush. If Sweden is reduced to just their capital (plus possibly Norway or Denmark), don't try the slow walk around Gulf of Finland, use ships to drop on Stockholm. You don't need to fight any naval battles, just haul your troops and attack Stockholm in one go.

All this is really easy, there's just one complication - Georgia and Dagestan hate you, and really want to attack you. Giving them trade agreements and military access might delay that, but it will happen. I'd recommend not caring too much about this risk. If Don Voisko or Astrakhan fall before you can reinforce them, it's really no big deal, and there's no way for them to surprise reach Muscovy or Kiev.

After you eliminated Sweden, Crimea, Georgia, and Dagestan, you can do pretty much whatever you want. Maybe backstab Poland, maybe take over India by land through Persia, maybe destroy the Ottomans and take over the Holy Lands? Everything is possible.

The other Russia start is to sell a lot of your provinces, especially to minor powers. You get huge injection of cash this way (just check below each faction's starting money, they'll often pay you all they have), your income will be higher as they're net negative at start, and the new owners will even develop your provinces for you.

I'd recommend keeping at least 4 since that's what has no administrative costs. Those 4 should be Muscovy, Kiev, Karelia, and Arkhangelsk - all very good provinces (Karelia and Arkhangelsk a lot better than wealth number says, since they also produce furs). Kazan is maybe worth keeping as 5th.

Province selling strategy also prevents Georgia and Dagestan from attacking you, so you can fight Sweden and Ottomans in peace.


Spain starts with enormous empire of 9 provinces and a 6 province protectorate of New Spain - making it the biggest country in game, as well as one with least defensible borders.

You start allied to France, which is great, and Bavaria, which is fairly pointless, but unlikely to drag you into too many wars.

Your cabinet is decent, but your king is terrible. You could switch to a republic early, but then again bad king mostly costs you diplomatic reputation, and revolution also costs you a lot of diplomatic reputation. The country is mostly ran by ministers not by the monarch.

If you do nothing, you'll be attacked by Netherlands, as they really want Flanders. Pirates will also attack your ships in the Caribbean, and Barbary States will attack your ships in Mediterranean.

Because of your extensive European possessions, you'll likely get attacked by Pope, Genoa, Morocco, Venice, Portugal, and even Westphalia over next few turns. These attacks are not as predictable as Dutch attack.

Including your two starting wars, which for you start with naval battles turn one, that's 8 wars, far too many.

You can avoid 3 wars by alliances with Pope, Venice, and Genoa. They all want your land, but weirdly they also really like you, and will ally you right away without any demands. Just never call them into your wars, and your Italy is safe for a while. You could try to conquer Italy instead, but you have so many other more urgent fronts, it's best if you wait a while with backstabbing Italian minors.

Flanders I recommend just selling. You have many possible buyers. France will trade it for Newfoundland, which is not as rich, but completely safe, and once you upgrade its high yield fur trapper and other slots, it's actually quite close in value to Flanders. Venice will trade it for Morea, which might be direction you're going for. Westphalia will buy it for 7500, or Prussia for 8000, and so on - it's not so much about money, it's mainly about which wars do you want Germans to fight. Check list below for how much money other potential buyers have.

Alternatively you could try to fight the Dutch for Flanders. This is mostly a bad idea. If you call your allies to get France in, then your other allies will abandon you and you'll get some wars in Italy. If you don't call allies, then the Dutch can recruit 3 Line Infantry a turn, while you can only recruit 1 Militia, and it would take at least 4 turns for first reinforcements from Spain to show up. You can do this if you feel very confident in your skills, but that's definitely hard mode. Even if Westphalia somehow doesn't attack Flanders.

This leaves you with much fewer wars:

  • Netherlands will attack you anyway turn one, for your Caribbean colonies, but you won't need any land armies to defend
  • Morocco and Portugal will still attack you soon enough
  • Pirates and Barbary States will still harass your ships

Do not call anyone into your wars, or you'll lose your allies. The only fight of these you care about is one between France and Netherlands, and they'll start it anyway.

What I'd instead recommend is to focus on Morocco first. March troops towards Tangier. Your navies as well, you can burn Oran on your way. Recruit some Line Infantry in Madrid, it will be useful later. Morocco might attack you or not - if they don't, they never have any allies so just declare war on them, conquer them turn 2, and then remove that risk early. There will be massive religious unrest there, so you might even want to destroy factory in Fes to build a church.

You cannot really declare war on Portugal, as you don't want to fight Britain early, but if Portugal declares war on you, that's amazing, just drop your Morocco army and take Lisbon same turn. You'll also get another university this way.

If Portugal is not interested, then you can take Algiers, Tunis, and Malta. Sadly Algiers and Tunis are full of rebellious Muslim peasants, and don't even have a slot for a church, but you'll need to deal with Barbary States sooner or later. Just crush a few rebellions, they tend to be very weak (6 shitty units typically).

As Spain you should prioritize getting Secular Humanism as early as you can in your technology tree, to reduce Muslim peasant unrest, but even rushed it's a mid-game tech.

Once you have that under control, you can sail from Porto to fight the Dutch, saving a turn compared with sailing from Cadiz. But really, you're better off just letting them go.

Italy is a good second target after Morocco / Portugal / Malta. Once those alliances outlived their usefulness, get Italy under your direct control. Malta almost always have zero allies, and most of the time so does Savoy.

I think Mediterranean Empire is much better direction for Spain than trying to get Flanders and Netherlands back and getting dragged into wars against various Germans.

In the New World you'll be at war with Pirates and Netherlands. You can recruit Line Infantry in Florida, but you lack ships to move things around safely.

To integrate your protectorate of New Spain you need three provinces - Curacao from Netherlands, which should be your first target anyway, as it instantly doubles your recruitment capacity; then Trinidad & Tobago from the Pirates, which should be your second target anyway, as you want to remove pirates as soon as possible. Now your next targets should be Antigua and Dutch Guyana. For the mission however, you'll need to take Texas. It's really easy once you've dealt with the Pirates and the Dutch - natives put almost no resistance, and it's very easy to drop troops there.

For every captured island, if it has a shipyard, you absolutely must destroy it and build a trade port. Otherwise, plantations on those islands cannot export and they whole island is completely worthless.

Of all protectorates, New Spain is most valuable to annex. New Spain and New Grenada provinces are some of the richest in the game once their building slots are filled, Guatemala and New Andalusia are good as well. Panama is poor, but you need it for continuity of your defenses. New Mexico is a trash province, if you can find a buyer for it, you probably should sell it.

Overall first 10-20 turns basically play themselves this way, and you'll end up owning Iberia, most of Italy (leaving Venice as buffer state makes sense), most of North Africa, South America, most of Caribbean, and Newfoundland (which you traded for Flanders).

Then you have many options:

  • you could backstab France
  • you could invade Netherlands (possibly after France)
  • you could attack Britain (possibly after France)
  • you could conquer Ottoman lands
  • you could invade India
  • you could spam trade ships

And so on. There's likely going to be very little pressure for you.

Going back to first few turns, destroy church in Sevilla, Spain and inn in Barcelona, Spain and replace one of them with an university. 3 universities in one province in too much unrest for an absolute monarchy, so unless you plan to switch to a republic early, it's best to make the other one a factory.

Palermo, Naples is another useless church that can be an university instead.

Send all your priests to North Africa, converting Protestants is useless, Muslim peasants you'll conquer later generate 5x as much unrest per person as Protestant peasants.

If you want to build trade ships, Spain has unique Galleon. Absolutely do not build it ever. It is obscenely expensive compared to Indianmen (300 vs 50) and will never pay for its own upkeep, and because its guns have low range it's terrible as warship.


Sweden's main issue is that it's surrounded by alliance block - Denmark, Poland, and Russia, as well as Poland's protectorate of Courland. You'd like to fight one of them at a time, not all of them.

Related issue is that Riga is impossible to defend, and not even worth trying.

There are two obvious approaches:

Plan Denmark First - move your 7 Swedish units to port of Malmo by 1 ship. This is not strictly necessary, but using 2 more ships and mid-sea ship-to-ship transfer you can even move your 4 Riga units there too. Declare on Denmark, Poland will not honor alliance, and there are zero units in Copenhagen so you can take in turn one. After that, blockade crossing from Copenhagen to Europe with a ship, trapping main Danish army, and turn two drop on Norway and take it. Iceland doesn't matter, you can now destroy remaining Danish forces, and then move your troops to Eastern front before that front goes hot. This plan can be greatly improved by giving Russia military access and trade agreement - that makes them also abandon Denmark (at least on hard/hard), so you'll be fighting Denmark and nobody else.

Plan Courland First - declare war on Courland which will bring their protector Poland into the fight as well. Besiege Courland with 4 units you have in Riga. Drop 7 units from Sweden to reinforce - there's no port, so you might need to use movement trick to have them move after landing, but even without it, it's not too hard - just take time to let reinforcing troops join. After that just get more troops and march them towards Vilnius and Minsk. Poland will likely be busy fighting Prussia and Austria, so it will be really easy.

There's no real Plan Russia First, as both their allies will honor their alliances. If you want to focus on Russia, just start with Denmark and let Russia join. Your army in Ingria can defend itself until Denmark is destroyed.

If you don't do that and wait - one of the three enemies will attack you sooner or later, and then you can fight them before others do so as well. If you split your army in three (Malmo / Riga / Ingria), none of those attacks can do much, and then use your ships to reinforce whichever front goes hot. If it's Poland, just seize Courland before invading Poland itself.

Whichever way you go, after you take over Denmark, make sure you have good relations with Hannover (trade agreement and military access) and keep that crossing blockaded anyway, just to completely secure your Western borders.

Your starting ministers are all decent, but you can do better.

Destroy inn in Karlstad, Sweden and replace it with university. Keep the one you capture in Denmark.

At some point destroy inn in Narva, Estonia & Livonia, and replace it by factory or university. The risk is that you'll need to leave Riga undefended early game, so your investment might get wasted, so it makes sense to do it a bit later.

If you capture Muscovy, Poland, or Brandenburg, they have too much unrest, so I'd destroy their universities and replace them with factories. Instead I'd recommend building some in Koenigsberg, Lithuania, and so on.

Initial Faction Treasuries

This is most helpful when selling provinces turn one. Minors are starting with surprising pile of cash.

Beyond turn one, there's no easy way to find out how much money each faction has, so you can start by offering a province for a ton, and just keep going lower until they accept.

  • Austria - 10000
  • Barbary States - 9000
  • Bavaria - 7500
  • Britain - 7500
  • Chechnya Dagestan - 7500
  • Cherokee - 8000
  • Courland - 7500
  • Crimean Khanate - 7500
  • Denmark - 8000
  • France - 10000
  • Genoa - 7500
  • Georgia - 7500
  • Hannover - 7500
  • Huron - 8000
  • Inuit - 7500
  • Iroquois - 8000
  • Knights of St. John - 7500
  • Louisiana - 8500
  • Maratha - 6500
  • Morocco - 9000
  • Mughal - 12000
  • Mysore - 7500
  • Netherlands - 7500
  • New Spain - 8000
  • Ottomans - 7500
  • Papal States - 7500
  • Piedmont-Savoy - 7500
  • Pirates - 7500
  • Plains - 7500
  • Poland-Lithuania - 6000
  • Portugal - 7500
  • Prussia - 8000
  • Pueblo - 7500
  • Russia - 6000
  • Safavids - 8000
  • Saxony - 7500
  • Spain - 7000
  • Sweden - 7000
  • Thirteen Colonies - 9000
  • Venice - 7500
  • Westphalia - 7500
  • Wurttemberg - 7500