- +10% Trade efficiency
- −20% Land attrition
- +10% National tax modifier
- +50% Chance of new heir
- −10% Military technology cost
- +1 Diplomatic reputation
- −25% Envoy travel time
- +10% Provincial trade power modifier
- +5% Infantry combat ability
- +10% Production efficiency
- +5% Discipline
- +30% Improve relations
Kongo is a small country on the western coast of southern Africa. In 1444 they border their vassals Loango and Ndongo to their north and south respectively, Tyo to the north and Yaka and Kuba to the east, and they are vulnerable to European colonization.
- Main article: Kongo events
The Kongolese events simulate the extreme change of Kongo turning into a Christian monarchy if Portugal discovers the Congo (region). Should they decide to allow Portuguese missionaries to bring western influences into Kongo, the very foundation of the small African nation will be shaken and the now-King will suffer a temporary, if harsh, drop in prestige and legitimacy. However, over a period of time the missionaries will change the pagan, tribal Kongo into a Christian monarchy, with all the benefits that come with following the example of the courts of Europe.
Alternatively, threatening the Portuguese missionaries or executing the aspiring Christian chieftain can turn Kongo in a temporarily more stable, if still pagan and tribal, nation. Additionally, the player may not want this event to trigger early, as it will make it hard to ally/vassalize neighbors since they are not Catholic.
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. The last version it was verified as up to date for was 1.25.
Kongo's starting position is very advantageous. It has two vassals, a good amount of territory, a long coast, and the ability to marshal together larger armies than its neighbors, assisted by small vassal armies. It is perfectly poised to quickly dominate its starting region by quickly conquering and annexing neighboring tribes, and as it expands further, it will take advantage of its solid set of national ideas to become a diplomatic and economic powerhouse. In addition, its location in central Africa opens many natural avenues of expansion and makes it easier for the Kongo to contain European expansion towards Africa and Asia.
Unfortunately, Kongo will, from the beginning, face a series of significant hurdles that must be overcome if it is to achieve its destiny as Africa's greatest empire. It begins as a tribal nation with a 50% tech malus from not embracing Feudalism. This penalty will soon worsen as new institutions appear in Europe, beginning with the Renaissance after 1450. Its position on the coast, while offering the ability to explore and expand across the Atlantic, means that sooner or later, Spain and Portugal will reach Kongo's borders and may seek to seize some of its lands by force. In order to resist the Europeans, it is necessary to quickly expand and adopt new institutions in order to catch up in technology.
DLC: The expansions with the most significant impact on playing Kongo are Common Sense and Rights of Man. The first allows manual development and force-spawning of institutions, which completely changes the strategy of the early game; the second adds Fetishist cults which unlock a variety of bonuses and enable dozens of events.
Kongo begins with two vassals: Loango and Ndongo. It is certainly the strongest individual country in the area but still needs an ally or two, preferably ones further east like Luba or Kazembe that are not in the path of Kongo's early expansion. Tyo, whose sole province (Anziku) shares the Kongolese culture and is located in Kongo's capital state, is an excellent first target for an early war. Although there is little reason to waste a diplomatic slot on Tyo, it is up to the player whether to annex or vassalize other vanquished tribes. The tribal government reduces the number of potential diplomatic relations, but Administrative monarch points are vastly more important than Diplomatic points in the early game. Beginning the process of integrating the starting vassals as soon as possible will free up space for more relations and boost the country's development and force limit.
Like all of its neighbors, Kongo starts with no institutions. Feudalism may eventually spread to West Africa, while Kilwa and the other countries on the eastern African coast will reliably spread it to Mutapa and the southeastern countries. Lacking any direct connection to either region, Kongo will not benefit from this spread at first. The best way to solve this problem depends entirely on whether the Common Sense DLC is activated.
Without Common Sense, Feudalism must be acquired from another African country that has it. The easiest vector is southeast Africa, but reaching it will require rapid expansion and rushing for Administrative tech 5 to unlock Exploration. Once this is done, colonizing the belt of empty provinces separating the Congo region and southeast Africa will open up the option to fabricate claims and start wars. As most of the provinces will likely have adopted or be close to adopting Feudalism by this time, turning the provinces into state cores will enable embracement of Feudalism; if not, it will still allow Feudalism to automatically spread into Kongo's heartlands.
Adopting the Renaissance is much trickier. It will very gradually spread to West Africa via dissemination from the north. It will spread more quickly if the Europeans conquer Morocco and make inroads into West Africa. Either way, Kongo's best chance to receive the institution is to colonize northwards to get borders with West African countries like Benin, which will enable expansion in the region.
With Common Sense enabled, the player is better off force-spawning Feudalism, though the timing of this is a delicate strategic choice. Spawning Feudalism will require an investment of thousands of monarch points and will put Kongo behind its neighbors in technology. Doing this early will save more monarch points in the long run, but it will delay expansion considerably as Kongo will need to wait to catch up in Military technology before attacking its neighbors. Doing it later will allow Kongo to begin immediate, rapid expansion, but it will ultimately cost more monarch points as Kongo purchases expensive techs.
The Renaissance will arise in Europe soon after 1450. Adopting it in any reasonable amount of time will require another period of massive investment in development, but it is not difficult to catch up in technology once the penalty has been eliminated. It is not necessary to rush this institution immediately after it is born, as the increase to technology costs will only begin to become noticeable after a decade or so, but it is a good idea to have it before the birth of Colonialism in 1500.
Be aware that force-spawning institutions will gradually spread them to any bordering countries, rival or no. The player should use the tech advantage early to wipe out any remaining independent countries in the Congo and Central Africa regions. A player who does not wish to immediately expand into East Africa can deny the region Kongo's institutions by leaving a band of uncolonized provinces as a buffer between Kongo and East Africa. The countries there will eventually fall very behind in tech and become easy targets for Kongo...or for its European rivals if enough time passes.
With Common Sense enabled, monarch points spent on development give progress towards the next Institution that has yet to spread to the province. Note that development given through events does not count towards Institution progress, and if there are multiple un-embraced Institutions in the province, only the first one will receive progress. Each institution will require investing approximately 25-30 development in a province, which will be a total cost of 2,400 to 3,400 total monarch points. Institution spread will start in small increments and grow to larger increments as more development happens (so your first development may give 1.5% spread while your 25th development may give 9.5% spread).
The best provinces to invest in have high Institution spread rates and lower development costs. The capital region, ports, and the capital itself give bonuses to Institution spread. Grasslands have the lowest penalty to development in the tropical area. For this reason, the best order to develop in is:
- Mpemba (+22.5% spread, +10% dev cost)
- Soyo (+17.5% spread, +15% dev cost)
- Mbata (+12.5% spread, +15% dev cost)
- Mpangu (+12.5% spread, +15% dev cost)
- Mbamba (+17.5% spread, +30% dev cost)
- Yaka (+7.5% spread, +15% dev cost)
- Kumbana (+7.5% spread, +15% dev cost)
However, after embracing 4 Institutions, Global Trade has been reached and it is unlikely that force spawning will be needed.
Conversion of the Kongo
Kongo begins as a Fetishist country but, uniquely among African nations, has a special event chain that will offer the Kongolese the opportunity to convert to Catholicism and reform the tribal government all at once. From here, Kongo can convert to Protestantism or Reformed if desired.
As a pagan country, Kongo can also convert via decision to any non-pagan religion within its borders, which will most likely be Sunni or eventually Coptic. It may convert to an Eastern or Dharmic religion as well, but this will require making inroads into India or East Asia.
Be warned: Kongo's subjects will not follow the Manikongo's lead and change religions. This includes colonial nations, which will continue to spread the old faith. If the player wishes to avoid having to use the Enforce Religion on Kongo's colonial nations, it's best to hold off on founding one until after officially changing the empire's state religion.
A player intending to lead Kongo away from Fetishism should prepare by having started the Religious idea tree and hiring an inquisitor adviser if one is available, though that can be delayed by Catholic-minded players who accept the Counter-Reformation.
The arrival of the Portuguese in Central Africa will soon trigger an event chain that offers the Kongolese the chance to convert to Catholicism. The decision will automatically reform the Kongo's government into a proper monarchy but comes at a heavy cost in stability.
A Catholic Kongo will feel less heat from Europe because of better relations with powerful Catholic empires like Spain, France, and especially Portugal. The ability to engage in royal marriages and even personal unions with Europe opens up many diplomatic bonuses; on the military side, the Religious idea group's Deus Vult casus belli will give Kongo free reign to overrun Africa. Catholicism is also the easiest religion to speedily convert to because embracing the Counter-Reformation will give +2 missionaries and boost missionary strength. Converting so many provinces will also provide a bounty of papal influence to buy boons. On the downside, a Catholic Kongo will be shut out of the papal controller race without invading Europe to acquire cardinals. A less aggressive or more colonial-minded Kongo will struggle to acquire a steady stream of papal influence after the initial conversion-fueled burst without conquering heathen provinces.
Protestantism and Reformed can be powerful religions and allow obtaining the Printing Press institution without bordering a province where it is present or force-spawning it with monarch power. Unless a province following the relevant religion is acquired, converting to one of these will require Catholicism as a transitional stage. As long as the player allows Portuguese missionaries into Kongo, the country can convert to Catholic via event or decision (from owning the one Catholic province) and from there jump to Protestant/Reformed. Converting via decision unfortunately does not automatically reform the government, but it can be a good idea if the Manikongo baptism event fires too early before the Reformation has begun, because the player should keep the time spent as a transitional Catholic to a minimum; it is important to get religious unity to acceptable levels quickly.
Coptic can be acquired by invading Ethiopia. With Rights of Man, the blessings offer powerful bonuses, but Kongo will most likely have to square up against the Ottomans to secure more than one or two of them. If the player intends to go Coptic, rushing towards Ethiopia will allow conversion to start before the empire becomes too massive.
Sunni Muslims exist in abundance to Kongo's east and north. Converting to Sunni will open up alliances with Muslim African states, but most of those are likely to be significantly weaker than Kongo. The true prize is an alliance with the Ottomans, who will cheerfully help the Kongolese drive the Europeans into the sea for good.
There are a few Shia provinces in Africa, and some may pop up via events. Shia can be a powerful religion, but it lacks the diplomatic weight of Sunni and is much less useful for securing Muslim alliances.
Ibadi can be gained by invading the Arabian Peninsula, but it is by far the weakest of the three branches of Islam for Kongo.
If the Rights of Man DLC is activated, Fetishist rulers can choose from various cults that grant flat bonuses and access to many events unique to each cult. More cults unlock as the Kongolese encounter new religions and peoples. Some of the cults have incredibly weak bonuses, but others offer decent bonuses backed up by powerful events. Of the 3 cults initially available, Mwari is the most useful for its discipline bonus. The primary drawback from remaining Fetishist is diplomacy. Most of the other Fetishist states will lag behind in technology and remain regional tribal powers, making said allies useless should the Europeans or Ottomans attack Kongo.
Unlike Catholics and Muslims, Fetishists have a large bonus to tolerance of heathens, so a Fetishist Kongo will hugely benefit from Humanist ideas. The high tolerance and reduced separatism will largely eliminate unrest in newly conquered provinces. Despite being geared towards Humanism, Religious ideas are still very viable, especially because of the Deus Vult casus belli.
Without Rights of Man, there is little strategic reason to stay Fetishist unless the player is roleplaying or wishes to maximize use of the holy war casus belli.
Any of the religions of Asia can be acquired if a Fetishist Kongo conquers Eastern or Dharmic provinces and converts via decision. Many of these religions, in particular Hinduism, can be quite powerful, and the lack of any co-religionists in Africa and the western hemisphere opens up lots of opportunities for holy wars. However, an Eastern or Dharmic Kongo may easily be locked out of allying any of the typical great powers like the Ottomans or France. Reliable alliances will only come in the late game when wars and diplomacy become global affairs.
If the player wishes to embrace Judaism, then Kongo will have no choice but to rush east as fast as possible before Ethiopia converts its Jewish population. Do not stop expanding until all of the Kongo and Central Africa regions are annexed. From there, Kongo can then colonize the central belts of empty provinces to try and get close to Ethiopia, conquering through any obstructing neighbors. Another option is to colonize along the coasts and invading East Africa until Ethiopia is reached.
The Fight for Africa
Soon after the Portuguese arrive, Portugal and Spain/Castile will colonize the coasts of West Africa and proceed further and further south as the years press on. Of all the colonial powers, the Iberian kingdoms receive the most bonuses to colonization and will spread the most rapidly, and if the Kongo does not begin to colonize north of Loango, the Europeans will soon close the gap with their colonies. A border with either country will enable the Iberians to attack either using claims or the Holy War casus belli, and even if the Kongo has caught up in technology, the well-developed western empires will initially be able to field larger armies boosted by their powerful national ideas.
This point in the game is when the Kongo is most vulnerable. Sending diplomats to increase relations with nearby European powers will lessen the likelihood of war and even open the possibility of an alliance with one of the colonizers. If Spain begins to turn hostile, France is the best choice for an ally as it rarely displays interest in Africa and often rivals Spain. If France refuses an alliance, Portugal is often open to good relations, especially if the Kongo chose to convert to Catholicism. Also, securing the allegiance or support of any remaining African neighbors will boost the Kongo's power.
Should a European power invade before the Kongolese are fully ready, it is strongly advised to take advantage of any defensible terrain and whatever forts that are present to hold them back and bleed them out. Offensive operations at this early point are futile as the European powers will be able to build larger navies that will sink any transports, and any armies that successfully make it to Iberia proper will be trapped in long sieges and likely wiped out by large, defending armies. Thankfully, the Europeans often divide their armies and send numerous tiny armies to invade, allowing the Kongolese to pick off smaller groups one by one. Unless the Kongo is allied with another European power in the war, it is better to seek a white peace as soon as possible to force a truce and buy time to prepare for the next war. If it is possible to make demands, dissolving alliances between European powers will weaken them. The player should be cautious about taking land that may be difficult or impossible to defend in later wars. If territory far from the Kongolese heartland is taken in peace, building another army in the conquered provinces is strongly advised, as it is very risky to rely on transporting troops across the ocean during war until the Kongo's navy is unquestionably dominant.
The Kongo is surrounded in every direction by empty provinces waiting to be colonized. To that end, Exploration is a solid first idea group to choose, as colonizing the coast of West Africa and nearby islands will prevent the Europeans from gobbling up the African continent. The Kongo also enjoys the best position in the game to found South American colonial nations and can easily have its first one formed by the early 1500s. If so, there is a high probability that the Colonialism institution will be born in the Kongo's borders. If the kingdom is so fortunate, it can move to adopt Colonialism quickly and the vast distance between Central Africa and the European mainland will slow the institution's spread to the Western empires, giving Kongo an opportunity to catch up in technology. If Colonialism is born in Europe instead, it will spread quickly in Kongolese ports if the Kongo has founded a colonial nation and can be hastened with development as usual.
Left to their own devices, the Europeans will overrun the entirety of the New World and colonize all available coastal space in western and southern Africa before eventually reaching Indonesia and East Asia, but the Kongo is well-placed to slow or stop the tide. With its many open paths of expansion, the Kongo is capable of pushing in multiple directions at once after finishing off the last of its neighbors. Colonizing South Africa will open up expansion into the Indian Ocean, while destroying the Muslim sultanates in West Africa will keep them out of Spain's hands. A player going for the African Power achievement should, of course, prioritize African routes of expansion above all others, but a colonial nation in Brazil can still be very helpful after it expands.
Alternatively, the Kongo can focus on winning the colonization rush and covering South America with colonial nations. It will find itself in heated competition with the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and possibly the English as the myriad colonial powers strive to expand and strengthen their colonial nations. Thankfully, they often hate each other and frequently engage in destructive wars. Should a major war distract a nearby competitor, the Kongolese can exploit this advantage to take low-cost provinces from colonial nations because even a European power will struggle to protect its colonies while defending its homeland in Europe. Waging wars of conquest and continuing colonization efforts will create large, powerful colonial nations that will increase the Kongo's force limit and strengthen their trading capabilities with extra merchants, in turn aiding the Kongo in its wars against other colonizers.
Players focusing on expansion in Africa, for the achievement or otherwise, should focus on colonizing South Africa and the islands of coasts of East Africa to keep them out of the hands of the Europeans. They will not be able to penetrate the interior for many, many years so there is no competition for the Central African provinces. The greatest danger likely to appear in the conquest of Africa is the arrival of the Ottomans, whose vast territory, incredible wealth, and large armies of high-quality soldiers will pose a serious threat to the Kongo. Typically, the Turks will conquer Egypt and either steamroll the North African Berbers, attack Ethiopia, or simply do both. In this case, the Kongo must focus on expanding as rapidly as it can to bring any remaining African countries under its banner in order to contain Turkish expansionism. When the borders are set, the time will soon come to attack the Ottomans African possessions directly. Doing so alone and when the Ottomans are at peace will likely end in disaster. The best allies to bring in are those that can distract the Ottomans by opening a second front and/or by weakening or destroying Ottoman fleets. While the Ottomans' attention is divided, rapidly pushing them to the Sinai will create an effective chokepoint that can be exploited to inflict heavy casualties on invading Turks. An ally being forced out of the war by losing to the Ottomans is not the end of the world as long as the Kongo has used the distraction to gain ground.
If the player opts not to unite Africa, raising relations with the Ottomans may prevent them from becoming hostile while they expand in other directions. Even so, it is a good idea to block off their expansion southwards.