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Kingdom rankAztec
Primary culture
Aztec (Central American)

Capital province
Mexico (852)

Despotic Monarchy Government monarchy.png

State religion

Technology group
MesoamericanMesoamerican technology group
Aztec ideas
Ambox outdated info.png Please help with verifying or updating this infobox. It was last verified for version 1.33.

Traditions.png Traditions:

+10% Infantry combat ability
−10% Idea cost

Cost of reducing war exhaustion.png Flower Wars

−10% Cost of reducing war exhaustion

Yearly legitimacy.png Sustaining the Gods

+1 Yearly legitimacy

Manpower recovery speed.png Telpochcalli

+10% Manpower recovery speed

Morale of armies.png Eagles and Jaguars

+10% Morale of armies

National tax modifier.png Imperial Tribute

+10% National tax modifier

Production efficiency.png Floating Gardens

+10% Production efficiency

Spy network construction.png Pochtecayotl

+20% Spy network construction

Idea bonus.png Ambition:

+25% National manpower modifier
Shield Aztec.png
From the early fourteenth century, the valley of Mexico and its neighboring regions have labored under the sway of the rulers of the Tepanec rulers of Azcapotzalco.

Their reign, however, has faded. A bitter feud for the throne between the rival brothers Tayatzin and Maxtla left them vulnerable, and in 1428 they were overthrown by the nascent alliance between the city-states of Mexico-Tenochtilan, Tlacopan and Texcoco. Having now consolidated their power, this Aztec triple alliance led by Montezuma Ilhuicamina now look to expand beyond their homes, in particular toward the wealth of the Flag of Mixtec Mixtec cities (such as Flag of Coixtlahuaca Coixtlahuaca) to the south.

East of the Aztec, the allied city-states of Flag of Tlaxcala Tlaxcala are determined to maintain their independence in the face of Aztec aggression. The Aztecs are willing to accept it: Tlaxcalan captives taken in war to offer as sacrifice have far greater value to the empire than Tlaxcalan subjects. Meanwhile, to the south, the Nahuatl.png Nahuatl people of Flag of Teotitlan Teotitlan play the dangerous game of trying to maintain their independence through friendship with the Empire, rather than through warfare.

To the west, in the highlands of Michoacan, the cities of Lake Patzcuaro were unified between 1300 and 1350 under the rule of Tariacuri of Tzintzuntzan. From this power, Tariacuri's Tarascan successors have spread further, creating a powerful state that can rival the Aztecs. Between them both Flag of Tarascan Tarascans and Aztecs eye the Flag of Matlatzinca Matlatzinca of the valley of Tolluca warily: while they would make a nice addition to either empire, they may be more valuable as a buffer state, and aggression in that direction may well draw the two powers in a war they do not wish to fight.

But Tolluca is not the only worry of the Tarascan rulers. To the west and north of their realm, a plethora of small states like Flag of Colima Colima, Flag of Tonala Tonalla and Flag of Xalisco Xalixco watch over wealthy saltpeter deposits that the Tarascans would like to control. Independently, they are unlikely to resist Tarascan expansion, but if they were to assist one another, they could be a formidable obstacle to Tarascan expansion.

Finally, at the northern edge of the region, the various people that the Aztec collectively call Flag of Chichimeca Chichimeca are a perennial source of problem for the more settled states to the south. The most powerful of them are likely the Flag of Guamar Guamar confederacy, but far more familiar to the Mesoamerican people are the Flag of Otomi Otomies, who are often settled among them, or found serving as mercenaries in countless wars.

The Aztec are a country located in Central Mexico. It is also the primary nation of the Aztec culture and follows the Nahuatl religion.

Events[edit | edit source]

Main article: Aztec events

There is a group of events dealing with Altepetls revolts that fires cyclically and forces the player to deal with the danger of revolts. Other events concern some flavor aspects of Aztec nations, granting four permanent modifiers (first one is mandatory, others are optional).

Strategy[edit | edit source]

Strategy The below is one of many player suggested strategies for Aztec. Bear in mind, due to the dynamic nature of the game, it may unfold differently for other players.

Aztec relies heavily on the El Dorado expansion, which adds additional events and religious mechanics. Unique to unreformed Nahuatl nations is "Doom", a value representing your country's collective fear of the apocalypse. If 100 Doom is reached, your nation's ruling family is sacrificed and a war for rule of the country ensues (in most cases leading to eventual subjugation or conquest by neighbors/colonizers). Doom begins at 0 and base rate is +3 per year, with another +1 per year for each province held. Nahuatl reforms can slow Doom's increase and eventually halt it altogether, allowing Aztec to take and hold territory without penalty. In order to enact Nahuatl reforms, you must have five vassals and Doom must be lower than 50. Each time a reform is passed all vassals are released and 25 Doom is added.

However, neutralizing Doom through reforms can take 50+ years, so additional strategies are required to reduce it in the meantime. Events and overlord decisions can lower it in exchange for various resources, but the most reliable way to lose Doom is by defeating enemy armies: stack-wiping in particular as one loses 1 point of Doom for each enemy unit stack wiped, hence a 12-unit stack being wiped will reduce Doom by a hefty 12 too This means 'competitive' Aztec's early game must be an almost-perpetual state of war. For these reasons, the player must learn to manage Doom in addition to aggressive expansion, manpower, and opinion.

Estates are useful for generating gold (issuing monopolies on some commodities) or monarch points. Close attention should be paid to Estates, as Aztec has several events that modify loyalty and influence, allowing the player to receive frequent benefits.

Achieving reforms (early game)[edit | edit source]

Managing Doom is the most difficult aspect to learn when playing as Aztec. The player should take every event that reduces Doom, as well as events that give permanent bonuses until the end of game, no matter the monarch point or gold cost. The most valuable long term event being sumptuary law that provide a 0.05 monthly reduction in war exhaustion and 2.5% Discipline until the end of the game.

Aztec is lucky to have a 3/4/4/0 ruler general, which is the only military advantage to start. Immediately build to the force limit and set rivals that have Aztec as a rival. At least one neighbor should be available to ally, preferably one that rivals and borders an Aztec rival. A merchant should be sent to collect trade in Mexico, while the other merchant should sit idle. Set monarch point focus to military and hire a military advisor, especially one that gives combat bonuses. Having an advantage in military tech will be key to defeating enemies after the first couple of wars. And given the heavy cost of development as a primitive nation military tech should really be the only tech developed until reforming.

Immediately declare war as soon as the initial timer runs out. For the first target, choose an enemy that your ally will join if promised land (as they will not yet owe any favors). For example, if allied to Totonac, chances are they will join in a war against Tlaxcala. Try to declare war on an enemy that has only a single ally, as fighting three enemies will be tough this early on. The goal of every war in the early game should be to vassalize all enemies, rather than expansion (as extra provinces will make Doom tick higher), and with the Flower Wars casus belli (permanent casus belli on neighbors), vassalization requires a low war score. However, the player can generally take one province per reform without Doom ticking much higher. The best provinces to take are:

  • Tlaxcala (To immediately destroy the fort and make future wars easier, and for high development)
  • Cutzamala (Again, to destroy the fort)
  • Tochtepec & Mixe (to gain casus belli on Itza and Xiu)

The player should also extract as much money in peace deals as possible, to support reinforcements, advisors, and mercenaries. The first war tends to be the most difficult, and may require a few starts to achieve success. After winning the first war, the player should immediately find another target, again by promising land to an ally, or finding an enemy with only a single ally. Vassals will typically not be of assistance in wars, except to distract enemies and defend their own lands.

In addition to managing Doom by events, Doom can be reduced by defeating enemy armies. A good way to do this is to stackwipe large armies with superior army quality, but Doom can also be reduced by leaving one or two enemy provinces unoccupied while sieging their capital. Enemies will continue to recruit mercenaries, which can easily be wiped out to reduce Doom in small increments.

Continue declaring war on enemies until five (and only five) neighbors are vassalized, and then take the first reform. Reforms may be taken in any order, but the recommended order is as follows:

  • Warrior Ranks: Discipline.png +5% Discipline
  • Open up Sumptuary Restrictions: Monthly war exhaustion.png −0.05 Monthly war exhaustion
  • Tribal Expansion: Colonists.png +1 Colonists (provinces adjacent to colonies are auto explored)
  • Legal Reform: Stability cost modifier.png −20% Stability cost modifier
  • Extend Pochteca Obligations: Diplomatic relations.png +1 Diplomatic relations

This same strategy of blitzing enemies should also be used for the next few reforms, and each reform will be easier to achieve, as Doom will tick more slowly and Aztec's military tech will quickly outpace neighbors. After a few military tech levels, manpower will become irrelevant, as an Aztec army of 10k should be able to stackwipe an enemy army of 10k easily. With each reform, the player can annex more territory without worrying about Doom.

The player could also expand towards Xiu, Itza, and Kichu for additional war targets to cycle through. Truces may be gamed by declaring war on enemies allied to truce targets. Aggressive expansion and liberty desire can be ignored, as enemies will perpetually cycle through truces and never be in a position to fight back.

With an aggressive strategy, the player should be able to enact all five reforms around 1500, after which point Doom will be irrelevant and the player can consolidate Central America while waiting for the Europeans to arrive.

Final reform and expansion[edit | edit source]

In order to enact the final reform, Aztec must directly border a nation that has adopted Feudalism, typically this would mean bordering a European nation's core province. This will take some time, since Mexico and Louisiana are normally colonised only after the Caribbean, Colombia or Brazil, so the player should consolidate power in Central America until then.

Know that the neighbor determines Aztec's reforms. For example, bordering England typically means also adopting their parliament. Portugal or Castile would yield to a pure monarchy. Note that bordering a colonial nation (the result of a European power having cored/colonised at least 5 provinces in a colonial region) will result in becoming a republic and hence suffering penalties to absolutism mid-game.

Aztec's primitive neighbors should be easy targets for conquering, but Cocomes makes for a good ally at this stage, as they will most likely not border Aztec, and will help with expansion into Mayan lands.

Because of the large proportion of income from gold managing inflation is a constant struggle with Aztec, so the player should hire a Master of Mint whenever possible. Also, Aztec can protect itself from inflation by pawning gold provinces off on a vassal. The player should consider vassalizing Tlapanec and feeding it Coloyopan, another gold producing province. As Aztec does not have any easily accessible neighbors outside of Central America, vassals will also help provide manpower and armies once war with Europeans occurs.

Note that it is better to release a vassal from one's own provinces than to vassalize another nation. Apart from not having a relationship penalty of 'they force vassalized us', released nations inherit the player's tech levels and government and religious reforms, so they will be as powerful as the player's nation rather than being primitive nations many tech levels behind.

After sufficiently expanding North and South (be sure to take Iximche or Chacujal for Southward expansion), the player should remove focus from military technology and work to admin level 5 to gain an idea group. Exploration ideas is a good first group to take, as it will let the player recruit Conquistadors (Explorers and boats will not be available until the final reform is passed). The conquistador should be used to explore as much of South and North America as possible, to find European settlements. Europeans will most likely settle in Colombia first, but may occasionally head to Mexico immediately.

While waiting on European contact, and with no more enemies, Aztec's one (or two) colonists should be put to work expanding southward. Without boats, Aztec can only colonize directly adjacent land, so it is unlikely that Colombia can be reached before European contact. To bypass this slow growth, a no casus belli war against Muisca or Carib can quickly launch the player to South America and serve as another location for colonization (assuming they have colonized the coastline).

Once European contact is made, the final reform will allow Aztec to quickly catch up in technology as they inherit 80% of the more advanced nation's tech levels (although they will not gain any ideas).

An Explorer should be recruited to discover the Caribbean, and colonists should target the development-rich provinces there, especially the Windward Islands. With a large development pool from colonization, it is highly likely that Aztec will quickly be a Great Power, allowing for victory against European Powers. It is also recommended to colonize the Panamanian Isthmus for its trade power, but also as a choke point with rough terrain for enemy colonies in South America.

Once a sizable development base has been built, it will be time for Aztec to set its sights on Europe.

During this time, the following idea groups are recommended:

  • Quality (Aztec will remain a few tech levels behind Europeans for some time)
  • Economic (Aztec struggles with income and inflation)
  • Humanist (To deal with inevitable religious strife)
  • Quantity (Aztec provinces have a low manpower reserve)

It may also be prudent to remove the Exploration idea group once enough provinces have been discovered (including Europe) and the Caribbean colonized, which will allow for more useful ideas to be selected.

Converting religions[edit | edit source]

Once the Aztecs owns cores with European religions (Islamic and Christian sects) the player will have a decision available to convert to either of these religions. The benefits of converting must be weighed against the cost, but generally conversion is not necessary. However, taking the -4 Stability cost modifier.png stability hit to convert to Christianity may be worth it for access to being the senior partner in personal unions with the large European powers.

Be mindful that converting Christian and Islamic provinces is difficult as the Aztecs lack any innate conversion strength and those two religion are harder to convert than the others. Once the Aztecs are strong enough and has a core in Europe, the European powers will be open to alliances even with religious differences. Either way, Humanist Ideas will be essential to maintaining religious unity as more and more Christian provinces are taken.

Alternative fast-track strategy to reform earlier[edit | edit source]

One large downside of being a primitive nation is that one's future seems fully dependent on whenever the Europeans finally arrive and then bordering a full core of theirs in order to be able to reform (assuming the final and fifth religious reform has already been completed). This also has a large RNG dependency as the neighbor determines one's form of government, for example, bordering a colonial subject would make one a democracy, bordering England typically yields a parliament and bordering Portugal, Spain or France while they are colonising typically yield a monarchy.

Given that these foreign colonisers typically do not colonise Central America first it may take a very long time to advance, even a 100 years or so, i.e. 1520 to 1540+.

Moreover, albeit one receives 80% of their technology level on reforming when they are generally at tech 12 by that time, it still means that one would not have been able to fill any of the three idea slots (tech 5,7,10) that open up - being a severe 21 ideas behind. Add to this that primitives suffer Development cost.png +50% development cost the path to world conquest may look bleak at first blush.

It would certainly be much better to have more control over one's future.

The secret lies in one's primitive animist neighbours to the north, being Guamar and Chicimeca. The strategy works as follows:

  • One wants to ultimately stay Nahuatl for the powerful military modifiers the religion provides.
  • However, if one were able to convert to being animist the +50% development cost penalty would disappear and one could more cheaply develop a province to the point of having Feudalism present (or even Renaissance)
  • Ensuring that this Feudalism bleeds over to a neigbor (most likely an animst neighbor who has embraced the institution, hence force convert a few neigbors to animist to hasten this process) one could then meet the key requirement to reform.
  • However, in older versions one could force convert on oneself in a 100% peace deal. In the latest version this is not possible as it costs 426% (even if one were to only have one small province) for primitives (hence those who have not reformed yet, such as Guamar and Chicimeca) to force convert another.
  • In the latest version it is also not possible to fully annex primitive native American nations, they simply scatter and resettle elsewhere (even if one takes 100% of all their land).
  • The quickest path for the Aztecs would therefore require the following:
    • Ally one of the Animist neighbors who border Guamar (or Guamar after you've taken land from them) as you will need them to be your Feudalism neighbor later.
    • Attack Otomi early on to acquire the province of Metzitlan which borders Guamar.
    • Then attack and take all or most of the Guamar provinces. Be sure to hand them back at least one province in order to force them to settle (native Americans keep migrating until they have more than one province, which they typically cannot do until reforming. This settling process can be hastened by giving them a second province).
    • The key is to annex at least one of Guamar's provinces where post-acquisition they would not have a core on the province one took. Typically this would be where their original "mobile" capital was, normally the province of Guamares. As they would be forced to resettle their capital elsewhere that province would thankfully remain uncored, hence having no cores at all.
    • By setting one's missionary maintenance to zero and trying to convert this animist non-cored province one would trigger a religious rebel counter (note that typically newly acquired provinces with the original owner's core have separatism and therefore a missionary would spawn separatists and not religious zealots, or if the rebel progress is less than 30 the separatists will become religious rebels). Since this province has no cores on it, it cannot have separatism.
    • As a Naguatl nation It is not necessary to wait for the religious rebels to fire as one can immediately "deal with the rebels" by accepting their demand to convert.
    • Being animist post-conversion, be sure to develop the province of Mexico or Tlapacoyan to the point of having Feudalism present. Also, while animist, be sure to force convert a few Nahuatl neigbors to animst to hasten the spread of Feudalism from your nation to theirs.
    • To convert back to Nahuatl one must take the province of Cholula which would fire an event with a 12 month MTTH and a decision to convert to Nahuatl. Owning Cholula also allows for an extra Nahuatl missionary.
    • One of the first wars should therefore be to attack Tlaxcala to take the province of Texcoco and the fort province of Tlaxcala to border Cholula.
    • Being friendly with a nearby Animist nation will allow the quick bleeding of Feudalism to them as by owning the province of Guamares one should be able to border one of them. Being allied to them one should be able to knowledge share with them to hasten the speed even more. This will also yield some much needed income.
    • By the time the Aztecs have finished their fifth reform their next door Animst neighbor should have Feudalism embraced.
    • Neatly executed this process would allow one to reform by as early as 1480 or 1490, nearly half the time needed to wait for the Europeans.
    • With one's first ideas being (1) Exploration and (2) Religious one could reach the Europeans to deus vult them before they even know the New World exists.
    • To quickly reach Europe one could colonise one of the most Northern provinces in the New England area near Canada. One should then have coring distance to core provinces in Ireland in a no-CB war, or with the third colonisation idea, to just reach the most valuable trade centre of London.
  • Be aware that even if one can "see" the Europeans one will not actually "discover" them until one finds one of their colonies in the New World.

Some notes on this alternative fast-track strategy to reform:

  • One can reform by at least the 1490s or even earlier
  • As a native one will be at least two techs behind the Europeans on reforming (assuming one developed up to at least military tech 4 to fight locally) since primitives start at tech 1 while Europeans start at tech 3.
  • Avoid developing any provinces as a primitive with the huge development penalty. Only develop while being animist (to get Feudalism) or after having fully reformed. Hence try and 'save up' monarch points until reforming.
  • Additionally, on reforming, the income penalties from being a primitive nation will fall away and one can gain full benefit from the gold provinces. The total income generated will be massive, if one has taken the trade centres and most of the gold mines. Moreover, the Mayan trade goods in the region are extremely valuable commodities.
  • To develop the Renaissance and Colonialism post reforming it's suggested to develop it in the two neighbouring grassland provinces of Xicallanco and Champutun (or Mixe) to save on development costs, allowing them to quickly spread to each other as well as the extra income from their being cocoa provinces. Be sure to convert them to Nahuatl before developing them otherwise it will be difficult to convert them later while suffering religious disunity. These neighbouring grassland provinces can then mid-game be used for developing Manufactories in 1650. Simply building a level three trade centre will spread Global Trade within the homeland from 1610 or so.
  • By 1500 one can fairly easily have consolidated most of Mexico and become an 8th or even 6th Great Power. Total income would be around 50-60 ducats per month (at least 20 to 30 of it being from gold).
  • Too much gold as a percentage of total income will cause huge inflation (Assuming one has a Master of Mint advisor, gold as a % of total income must be 20% or less to offset (inflation increases at 0.5 per month x Gold Revenue/Total Income). It is recommended to have a Master of Mint at all times to reduce inflation as it compounds quickly. Income can be diversified through (i) trade by taking the three Mexican trade centres early on and upgrading them including building marketplaces, and (ii) production income by building workshops. Importantly, building workshops in the cocoa and sugar provinces will materially boost production income as well as nodal trade revenue. In fact, these contiguous cocoa lands in Central America form the most valuable production region in-game.
  • After researching up to diplomatic tech 7 one can fill out the Exploration ideas up to at least the third idea, to gain maximum range to reach and core within Europe. Together with colonising a province as far north in New England or Canada as possible one would be able to core London.
  • Trying to attack England early on and taking London as well as the key English trade centres to move one's home trade node to the English Channel will drastically position one for global domination. Dominating this most valuable trade node in-game and then expanding from there to strategically drive all trade there is the key to financing an unbeatable army and large fleet.
  • By reforming early on in this fashion one can ally key European players such as France in order to counter England, the Dutch and Castile. Meeting the Europeans before they fully settle in the new world would mean they generally have a neutral opinion of the Aztecs.
  • However, waiting to reform until the Europeans arrive would cause most colonial players to have the 'want your provinces' opinion malus and would mean one could typically not ally France, Portugal, England or Castile. More than that, they are very likely to outclass one in battle, set the Aztecs as a rival and be very aggressive in attacking the Aztecs, sometimes in an overwhelming consortium/group.
  • This alternative method to reform early on and being a Great Power by the time they discover the New World completely changes the political landscape.

Importantly, there are potentially two preferred strategic routes based on the government reforms one chooses on reforming off an Animist neighbor (or another nearby fully reformed tag) which Embraced Feudalism:

  • If the neighbouring country is a monarchy one could go the normal monarchy route immediately including having a parliament later, or even becoming a republic as the final reform.
  • If the neighbouring country is a tribe then the final government reform (probably around 1560+) would be a choice to become a Monarchy, a Republic, a Theocracy or a Horde. Hence, an Aztec Nahuatl Horde.

Following the strategy above, by the time one reforms to a horde one's home base node will be generating vast quantities of ducats and manpower while owning the English trade centres including London will generate vast trade income. Both offset the early income penalties from starting as a horde. Yet, being a horde one will have a permanent claim on all neighbouring provinces while being able to create tributaries (see Steppe hordes for more detailed strategies on being a horde)

Imported CKII saves[edit | edit source]

Kingdom rankAztec
Primary culture
Aztec (Central American)

Capital province
Mexico (852)

Despotic Monarchy Government monarchy.png

State religion

Technology group
High AmericanHigh American technology group
Aztec (CKII) ideas

Available only in saves imported with Sunset Invasion active.

Traditions.png Traditions:

−10% Advisor cost
+10% Land fire damage

Technology cost.png Build the Telpochcalli and the Calmecac

−5% Technology cost

National unrest.png Enact the Flower Wars

−2 National unrest

May explore.png Invade the Whiteskins

Can recruit Explorers and Conquistadors
−10% Naval attrition

National tax modifier.png State Administration Reform

+5% National tax modifier

Production efficiency.png Found the Imperial Cities

+5% Production efficiency

Discipline.png Form the Imperial Jaguars and Eagles

+10% Discipline

Global tariffs.png The Imperial Road Network

+10% Global tariffs

Idea bonus.png Ambition:

+20% Morale of armies

The Aztec can also exist in games imported from Crusader Kings II, provided that Sunset Invasion was active. If so, Aztec starts off in control of the entirety of Mesoamerica, possesses different national ideas, and will have the High American technology group.

Achievements[edit | edit source]

Sunset Invasion icon
Own and have cores on Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Rome as the Aztecs.

Note that this can only be achieved by not being a tribe (which includes being a horde)

On the Edge of Madness icon
As Aztecs, reach 95 Doom, then go 20 years without Doom hitting 100.
Country guides

Western technology group Western.png United States.png United States
Mesoamerican technology group Mesoamerican.png Maya.png Maya
North American technology group North American.png Caddo.png Caddo Cherokee.png Cherokee Iroquois.png Iroquois

Central African technology group Central African.png Kuba.png KubaMutapa.png Mutapa
East African technology group East African.png Ethiopia.png EthiopiaMogadishu.png Mogadishu
Muslim technology group Muslim.png The Mamluks.png MamluksMorocco.png MoroccoTlemcen.png TlemcenTunis.png Tunis
West African technology group West African.png Air.png AirMali.png Mali

Eastern technology group Eastern.png Jerusalem.png Jerusalem Karabakh.png Karabakh
Muslim technology group Muslim.png Afghanistan.png Afghanistan Ajam.png Ajam Arabia.png Arabia Ardabil.png Ardabil Hisn Kayfa.png Hisn Kayfa Hormuz.png Hormuz Oman.png Oman Mushasha.png Mushasha Timurids.png Timurids Qara Qoyunlu.png Qara Qoyunlu
Indian technology group Indian.png Assam.png Assam Bahmanis.png Bahmanis Bengal.png Bengal Orissa.png Orissa
Chinese technology group Chinese.png Bali.png Bali Brunei.png Brunei Dai Viet.png Dai Viet Japan.png Japan Khmer.png Khmer Korea.png Korea Majapahit.png Majapahit Malaya.png Malaya Pagarruyung.png Pagarruyung Pasai.png Pasai Sunda.png Sunda
Nomadic technology group Nomadic.png Jianzhou.png Jianzhou Uzbek.png Uzbek Mongolia.png Mongolia

Andean technology group Andean.png Chachapoya.png Chachapoya Cusco.png Cusco Muisca.png Muisca
South American technology group South American.png Mapuche.png Mapuche