- +10% Infantry combat ability
- −10% Idea cost
- −10% Cost of reducing war exhaustion
- +1 Yearly legitimacy
- +10% Manpower recovery speed
- +10% Morale of armies
- +10% National tax modifier
- +10% Production efficiency
- +20% Spy network construction
- +25% National manpower modifier
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 Mixtec cities (such as Coixtlahuaca) to the south.
East of the Aztec, the allied city-states of 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 people of 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 Tarascans and Aztecs eye the 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 Colima, Tonalla and 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 Chichimeca are a perennial source of problem for the more settled states to the south. The most powerful of them are likely the Guamar confederacy, but far more familiar to the Mesoamerican people are the 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.
- 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).
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. 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 recruiting generals and generating gold 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)
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.
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.
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 reduce by defeating enemy armies. A good way to do this is to stackwipe large armies with superior army quality, but Doom can also be gamed 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: +5% Discipline
- Open up Sumptuary Restrictions: −0.05 Monthly war exhaustion
- Tribal Expansion: +1 Colonists (provinces adjacent to colonies are auto explored)
- Legal Reform: −20% Stability cost modifier
- Extend Pochteca Obligations: +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
In order to enact the final reform, Aztec must directly border a European nation's core province. This will take some time, so the player should consolidate power in Central America. Aztec's 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.
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.
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. 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.
Once the Aztecs owns cores with European religions (Islamic and Christian sects) the player will have a decision available to converse to either of these religions. The benefits of converting must be weighed against the cost, but generally conversion is not necessary. Be mindful that converting Christian and Islamic provinces are 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.
Imported CKII saves
Available only in saves imported with Sunset Invasion active.
- −10% Advisor cost
- +10% Land fire damage
- −5% Technology cost
- −2 National unrest
- Can recruit Explorers and Conquistadors
- −10% Naval attrition
- +5% National tax modifier
- +5% Production efficiency
- +10% Discipline
- +10% Global tariffs
- +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.