- −20% Fort maintenance
- −10% Idea cost
- +5% Fort defense
- +25% Garrison size
- +5% Discipline
- −10% Stability cost modifier
- +10% Production efficiency
- +10% Trade efficiency
- +10% National tax modifier
- +1 Land leader fire
- +30% Improve relations
Even though Ming continues to prosper, its international presence has flagged since the end of Zheng He's voyages, and new realms have posed fresh challenges to the empire. In the divided north, nomads have begun to coalesce under the leadership of the Oirat warlord Esen, who aspires to become the new Great Khan of all the Mongols. Ming diplomacy at least prevented a similar movement from happening among the Jurchen tribes to the northeast, where Imperial policy has encouraged infighting among the nomads. While the fractious and distracted Jurchens are unlikely to pose a threat any time soon, Esen's Oirats may prove to be a very formidable foe indeed.
Ming's relations in the south are somewhat better. Dai Viet freed itself from Ming domination only two decades prior, and still remains wary of its Chinese neighbor to the north. Other powers in the region have a more positive opinion of Ming, but mountains and jungles mean that Ming receives little more than token tributes from the southern kingdoms.
Ming's relations are strongest with the Joseon dynasty of Korea. Both Ming and the Joseon dynasty emerged from the ashes of the Great Yuan, and thanks to their common adherence to Confucian philosophy both have maintained strong bonds ever since.
Not all of Ming's troubles are external; the Mandate of Heaven is a fickle one, and if the Emperor's authority wavers too much then there are those who may choose to shun the Ming altogether. China would have to fall far indeed to reach such dire straits; in the 15th century, the Great Ming Empire is by far the strongest realm in Asia, and quite possibly on Earth!
Ming is an extremely large country in eastern Asia. The Ming era has traditionally been held as one of the high points of China's long history. Chinese maritime trade prospered, and Zheng He's mission brought to Ming both diplomatic reputation as the Celestial Empire and valuable trade goods from India and East Africa. By the game's start in 1444, however, these merchant adventures have stopped and China has turned inward; the Ming court has begun to adopt an isolationist outlook to foreign affairs.
Strategically, Ming is in the best position in the game. Holding the entirety of the extremely populous Chinese Zhongyuan region, it has an unrivaled development and more provinces than any country in the world, with no major rivals that pose an immediate threat. However, while the Manchu and Altai hordes are fractured for the moment, given enough time, unified horde armies can pose an existential threat to Ming, as a disaster will trigger if a large bordering horde is not subdued as a tributary, or not allied with Ming. The later arrival of western powers, especially Russia, will be another threat to Ming if not dealt with immediately.
- 1 Celestial Empire
- 2 Missions
- 3 Events
- 4 Decisions
- 5 Strategy
- 5.1 Managing Empire of China
- 5.2 Securing dominance in India
- 5.3 Maintaining Power Projection
- 5.4 Ming's Religion
- 5.5 Managing Institutions
- 5.6 Idea Groups: Exploration or Not
- 5.7 Managing Trade Company
- 5.8 Moving capital
- 6 Achievements
Please help with verifying or updating this section. It was last verified for version 1.28.
Ming has a unique monarchy form with fixed empire rank and fixed dynasty called the Celestial Empire, reflecting the Chinese belief that a well-governed empire was evidence of divine sanction and blessing, whereas a poorly governed or tyrannical one was evidence that the Emperor could be deposed.
Without the Mandate of Heaven expansion, there is a way for Ming to reform and remove this archaic system, that is to embrace the institutions Renaissance, Colonialism, Printing Press, and at least one of the following: Global Trade, Manufactories, or Enlightenment. Upon embracing the required institutions, a decision can be made to change into a constitutional monarchy, but only with a ruler with 4 monarch points in any category. With Mandate of Heaven, the Celestial Empire represents Ming being the emperor of China in 1444, a fact that alters gameplay far beyond what is described here, and it may lose or regain this government form like other eligible nations.
The Celestial Empire provides the following:
- +0.5 Yearly prestige
- +300 Governing capacity
- −10% Clergy influence
- −10% Nobility influence
- −10% Burghers influence
- Main article: Factions
Three factions compete for power and influence within the Ming Empire. Each faction has unique events that can increase or decrease their influence, and the player can use 10 monarch points of the faction's type to boost its influence by 10. The faction with the greatest influence gives bonuses and maluses to the nation. This system replaces the estate system used by most countries unless the Mandate of Heaven expansion is active.
- Main article: Chinese missions
- Main article: Ming events
The events for Ming China are a mixture of religious, reformation, and political events, from "The Arrival of Jesuits" to "The Closure of China" and "Qi Jiguang's Army Reforms". They will affect the country in many diverse ways, bringing factions in and out of favor and adding extra flavor.
Repair of the Great Wall
If the country is AI-controlled, then it:
Construct the Forbidden City
If the country is AI-controlled, then it:
Ming is the number one Great Power in 1444 start with unparalleled economy and size. With Ming's economically focused ideas, it will likely be drowning in ducats throughout the game. Ming's hegemony, however, is much more fragile than first appearances. The advancement of Institutions will slow down its technological advancement. Northern hordes threaten its borders. Colonization will reduce the relative importance of Beijing trade node. Even when all these nuances are managed, an equal nation with multiple military bonuses in their national ideas and traditions can still bring Ming to its knees with ease as Ming's own ideas offer little military bonuses. If Ming ever falls behind technologically or economically, its military will not hold against another Great Power.
Managing Empire of China
Ming starts off being the Emperor of China, which confers various benefits when mandate is positive. There are steep penalties for negative Mandates. Before 1.29, since non-tributary neighbouring countries reduces mandate steeply, for every Great Power neighbour that Ming cannot make tributary of or quickly conquer, there need to be corresponding tributaries to make up the mandate loss. See strategy on being the Emperor of China. As of patch 1.29, non-tributary neighbors no longer reduce mandate. As a result, Ming is no longer required to maintain tributaries as buffers between large countries and herself, although the benefits of tributaries remain. In particular, using tributaries as a buffer against steppe nomads can nip the "Unprotected Nomadic Frontier" disaster in the bud.
Suitable tributaries depend on the overall strategies the player choose for Ming. Notable countries to nurture as future high development tributaries include Kilwa, Mali, Portugal through colonization and Japan through the need to conquer a Shinto province. The player should be cautious of adding tributaries that can drag players into unwanted wars. Targets of Ottoman such as Mamluks and Aq Qoyunlu are examples. Ryuku starts off as Ming tributary. Player should keep in mind that, most likely, AI Japan will eventually declare war on Ryuku despite of Ming's suzerainty. The same applies to Ainu if player adds Ainu to his or her tributary system. A naval build-up no later than tech 15 when Galleon becomes available is usually necessary to combat Japan. Given naval dominance over Japan, it is not hard to snatch provinces from Japan with some surprise landing and subsequent blockade off isolated islands of Japan even if the player does not wish to commit too many troops on Japan or building too large of a transport fleet. A navally weak Ming may have to abandon Ryuku as a tributary before Japan becomes too powerful.
One other side effect of the tributary system is piracy. Since Ming cannot declare war on its tributaries without steep penalty, being a tributary of Ming is a license to pirate Chinese trade nodes. In order to protect trade income, a combat fleet of either heavy ships or galleys is required. Hunt pirates efficiency is based on the number of guns. Galleys offer more guns per maintenance cost. China is also home to a number of in-land seas. Thus a small galleys offer great utility early game. As the game progresses, heavy ships will be required for their combat capacity.
Ming's vast manpower pool and thus recovery speed in absolute terms can be cashed in for ducats or prestige using the subject interactions of tributary. Send additional troops to decrease liberty desire after demanding extra tribute offers a limitless mean to milk Ming's tributary subjects dry. The send troops interaction requires the subject to be at war. Setting rich subjects as countries of special interest by right-clicking the country flag on the provincial interface can help tracking such opportunities. Of course, Send additional troops can also be used to manage liberty desire of large tributary subjects as with any other tributary overlord.
Securing dominance in India
By the late 1400s, or early 1500s, 2-4 independent Indian nations will essentially dominate the Indian subcontinent. The most powerful Indian nations tend to be Delhi, Vijayanagar, Bengal, and sometimes Jaunpur. If Ming leaves the Indian subcontinent alone for too long, one of these 4 nations can easily unite the majority of the Indian subcontinent by the late 1500s, creating a significant rival to Ming. By the 1600s, nations across different continents will be forming alliances with each other; the Indian nation that controls the majority of the Indian subcontinent (Delhi, Vijayanagar, Bengal, and sometimes Jaunpur) will become a problematic threat if it forms an alliance with a European Great Power. Such a situation can be problematic because achieving a high warscore against the dominant Indian power will be difficult if the European ally is also pulled into the war. The European ally can also declare war on Ming for its colonies, forcing Ming to fight a two-front war: one front against the European colonies, and another front against the dominant Indian power. Furthermore, the dominant Indian power by itself will have significant manpower and force limit without accounting for any allies.
In order to disrupt the power plays taking place in India, a Ming player can push into the Indian subcontinent by first conquering the Tibetan nations of Tsang and Kham. From there, a Ming player can then establish a border with Delhi, Jaunpur and/or Bengal by conquering Limbuwan, Kathmandu and/or Gorkha. The goal at this point is to wait until one of the three Indian states that Ming now borders (Delhi, Jaunpur, or Bengal) starts losing significant territory. Once one of these Indian states has been reduced to a manageable size (5-7 provinces), declare war on the weakened Indian state, annex, and then release as a vassal. Releasing a nation as a vassal ensures a lower starting liberty desire (compared to forced vassalization). Furthermore, the vassal will receive the 5-7 provinces Ming just took from them, ensuring a development of between 30-70 (this is from my experience of vassalizing Bengal, which has multiple coastal provinces). A lower development means lower penalties for liberty desire, however Ming also wants their Indian vassal to be strong enough to support future wars in the Indian subcontinent; aiming for a vassal development of at least 100 is a good idea. Feel free to designate the vassal as a march to help boost the military power of the Indian vassal, as annexing Indian vassals early on will incur many public order problems due to different cultures and religions. In the early game, Ming will already have public order problems within its own borders due to different cultures and religions as well as events, so adding on to these pre-existing problems by annexing an Indian vassal will force Ming to spread out its forces even more. At this point, the Ming player will want to keep a close eye on the changing alliances of the Indian subcontienent, making sure to strike when alliances fall through while also feeding their Indian vassal (gifting the Indian vassal provinces from wars against other Indian nations). The Ming player should consider making new Indian vassals if one vassal begins to approach a total development of over 300 to avoid incurring development penalties that can significantly increase liberty desire.
Following this strategy prevents any one of the Indian states from uniting the majority of the Indian subcontinent, especially as Persia, the Ottomans, or a resurgent Timurids begins to push in from the West. The other independent Indian nations are unlikely to declare war on Ming's Indian vassal(s), allowing Ming to lock down large areas of India by making/feeding vassals. In other words, Ming can exert considerable control over the expansion of Indian nations through its Indian vassal(s) without necessarily having to be constantly at war, because the vassals can form an impassable wall that the other independent Indian nations cannot expand into. Once the Indian vassal(s) get large enough/strong enough, Ming can leave the defense of its western borders to the vassals as the combined power of the vassals will overwhelm any remaining independent Indian nations as well as any of the horde nations bordering the Tibetan provinces. Furthermore, the Ming player obtains high development, high manpower vassals or marches. This strategy can be done in conjunction with any colonization efforts of the New World by spending diplomacy monarch points on the Exploration idea group. Ming can obtain diplomacy monarch points from its tributary states to at least partially compensate for the diplomacy costs of wars and vassalizations so that it can still afford the Exploration idea group.
Maintaining Power Projection
For most part of the first half of the game, Ming is too strong to have validrivals. Occasionally, validrival targets come up. For example, when Ming's development score is reduced by not having the most up to date institution. In case the Dharma DLC is active, be sure to scornfully insult the rival promptly to gain +10 power projection as the rival may not still be a rival as soon as next month. Privateering is often required to maintain a high level of power projection for Ming.
Ming starts with Confucian with most of its China provinces under the true faith. Neo-Confucianism adds extra +2 tolerance of heretics to the existing +2 from Confucian, making heretics almost as accepted as true faith even without Humanist ideas. Thus religious unity is not an issue early to mid game when Ming's territory stays within the coverage of eastern religions.
Combining the high tolerance with the fact that unaccepted culture gives -33% to most forms of incomes, and that cultures under harmonized religions cannot be converted, it is usually not worthwhile to harmonize other eastern religions -- except Shinto, which gives a valuable +5% to infantry combat ability. In order to harmonize Shinto, a province in Japan is required. Player needs to plan ahead whether he or she wishes to remove the unaccepted culture malus on rich Japanese provinces -- thereby requiring either a) reserving 2 to 3 accepted culture slots for Japan or b) complete conquest and cultural conversion before harmonizing Shinto. These two options need to be further balanced with the need to maintain total development among tributary nations, among which Japan can be an ideal option. The player may have to settle with a compromise somewhere in between.
Harmonization vs Conversion (of heathens)
|Available only with the Mandate of Heaven DLC enabled.|
Expansion beyond China region and Buddhism requires either religious conversion or harmonization to maintain religious unity. Conversion costs harmony and the cost scales with development. This makes religious conversion highly restricted with Confucian. Harmonization also costs harmony, takes up to 34 years (with some events offering opportunities to reduce the duration), and has an additional cost of being unable to convert province cultures, but has the effect of affecting a whole branch of religion as truth faith. Thus, exceptional circumstances aside, harmonization is usually the preferred option. Given the lengthy process, it is wise to a) accumulate the positive modifiers for harmony as much as possible, b) avoid unnecessary spending of harmony on conversion, and c) avoid wasting harmony from overflow. The latter also means the harmonization of a religion should occur reasonably early before a lot of heathen provinces are conquered.
If the player moves capital to outside of Asia, trade company can be used to skip the harmonization of Hindu. (DLC or required.) With 1.28, moving the capital outside of Asia can be near impossible due to the "50% of total development" rule.
Ming cannot obtain Renaissance through adjacency within any reasonable time frame. Forcing its adoption through provincial development is the reasonable option. And the monarch point cost is hardly an issue as the economic prowess of Ming affords the most expensive advisers with the only nuance being to save up sufficient monarch points in advance while using them from time to time to avoid wasteful overflow. The more interesting strategic question is where to develop.
One obvious choice is the capital Beijing. With Ming's existing development, there would be -50% development cost reduction in Beijing. This can be further combined with imperial decree “Expand Palace Bureaucracy” and state edict “Encourage Development”. (DLC required.) There are, however, two downsides with developing in Beijing: 1) North Jiangsu is not stated and is not usually worthwhile stating (also conflicting with later addition to trade company if stated), which leaves a gap between the rich capital area and the rich southern Yangtze delta and Pearl River delta area, hindering spread via adjacency & 2) developing Beijing now adds to the cost of moving capital later. The former is less of a problem as at the time of Renaissance, before Ming expands and statify too many territories, the presence of Renaissance around North/South Hebei and Shandong is usually sufficient for a nation-wide embracement through the use of the some ducats. The limited stated development compared to late game also limits the ducat expenditure. The latter factor on moving capital is worth more consideration. If a player later decides to move the capital, Beijing developed far enough for adopting Renaissance would usually incur a full extra 500 admin points. The player needs to consider whether the -50% development cost reduction is worthwhile in light of the extra move capital cost. This is compounded by the fact that developing Hangzhou, for example, would make spreading to neighbouring (rich) provinces easier. This not only applies to Renaissance but also later institutions.
Adopting later institutions
Ming can reasonably compete for the origin of Colonialism. That usually requires Exploration as the first idea group. And that is a reasonable choice for Ming since Ming's initial economic prowess delays the need for a military idea group compared to other smaller nations. The adoption of Colonialism is intrinsically linked to capital move as well. Moving capital to the New World enables direct control of New World provinces. Since Colonialism does not spawn in countries whose capital is in the New World, the player should time his or her capital move in order to contend for the origin of Colonialism, which gives monarch powers, prestige, a minor local trade power boost and delays the adoption of Colonialism elsewhere. Individually, these benefits are small but combined they are worthwhile when colonization is already a part of the player's plan.
Delaying the move of capital is more than just that. It is a valid strategy to form a few colonial nations first before moving to the New World, reaping both the benefits of having colonial nations and directly owning provinces in the New World. This can go hand in hand with delaying the move of capital to contend for the origin of Colonialism. Delaying the move too far though slows the player's colonization progress because colonists take substantially longer to travel from Beijing to the Americas than the capitals of most other colonial powers.
Ming can also reasonably compete for the origin of Global Trade -- at least in single player. Usually, a sizable trade fleet to wrestle control of the Nippon trade node is required to maintain Beijing's top place in trade value among all trade nodes. This can be managed easier if Ming colonizes rapidly after Colonialism through a capital move to the Americas and subsequently steering trade to Japan. On the home front, widespread construction of manufactories is usually required. Choose provinces with decently valued trade goods. (See strategy for buildings.) If Beijing is a few ducats short, temporary Trade Embargo on England or Great Britain may reduce the trade value in English Channel just enough for the origin of Global Trade to spawn in Ming. To that end, some control in the Ivory Coast trade node is helpful. Temporary diversion of trade value towards Sevilla can reduce the trade value in English Channel by a good margin.
Enlightenment is another institution that is best planned ahead for. The spread of Enlightenment is slow for countries whose capital is outside of the spawn continent for the institution. This is a late game institution thus the player is likely to have expanded Ming's territory to many parts of the world -- raising the minimum number of stated provinces required for the presence of Enlightenment before adoption as well as raising the ducat cost of embracement. The player should decide ahead of time whether a later move to Europe will be needed. If so, it may be best to avoid developing the capital for adopting Printing Press as well as Renaissance to avoid the costly development difference penalty from the move.
Idea Groups: Exploration or Not
Ming can reach Americans reasonably early through island hops or through Alaska while being the first to colonize Africa -- seizing Cape and gaining a free merchant as a start. Colonizing Inhambane (1183) next to Kilwa can be a start of conquest in East Africa or could be the move to gain a high development tributary. In the latter case, control of ivory can still come but likely much later through Center of Trade upgrades and late game provincial trade power modifiers. To that end, colonization of the isolated islands in the East Africa trade region is advisable.
Since colonization is a valid strategy, and Ming's military position is not usually challenged early game, Exploration is a valid first idea in Single Player. If a human player is present in the region, a military idea group is most likely required urgently since Ming does not have strong military national ideas. If Exploration is chosen, completion is also valid strategy -- despite of the limited use of the idea group late game. That is because Ming may have limited number of coastal provinces and thus fall behind in Naval Force Limit, to which the Exploration group gives +25%. The Quality-Exploration policy gives -25% land attrition. That can be another reason to complete Exploration and keep it. Complete Exploration and a capital in the New World will allow Ming to quickly dominate the Americas.
Subsequent idea groups are usually common with other nations. Ming will need multiple military idea groups and need them before major territorial conquests. The core creation cost reduction from Administrative stacks with the bonuses from being the Emperor of China well. As vassals are usually required for Ming as a measure to increase Mandate, the -25% diplomatic annexation cost reduction and +2 diplomatic reputation from Influence ideas provide great utility for Ming.
Between Humanist and Religious, Humanist likely offers greater value since as the conversion ideas will mostly be wasted on Confucian due to the cost on harmony. When completed, Humanist also gives the much-needed yet rare modifier of +0.25 yearly harmony growth. (DLC required.) In addition, Humanist increases the maximum number of accepted cultures, which helps mitigate the fact that provinces with harmonized religions cannot be culturally converted. The religious idea group nevertheless offers strong military policies. Military bonuses are in short supply with Ming. Thus, it's not unreasonable to choose Religious ideas late game.
Managing Trade Company
A Ming player is incentivized to move his or her capital for a number of reasons, some of which already described above. Enabling trade company in Asia is another major incentive. Trade Company when permitted in Asia can help managing religious unity for Hindu and many Animist provinces -- players can skip harmonization of Dharmic group altogether by adding Indian provinces to trade companies (and potentially in conjunction with retaining Multan as one of the last remaining tributaries). Trade Companies will also provide merchants. In addition, through Trade Company investments, they will help maintaining army tradition, increasing naval force limit -- helpful if Ming doesn't own many coastal provinces, and production in the home China region if planned ahead strategically. (DLC or required.) Here, it is important to note that stated provinces cannot be added to trade companies and trade company investments are removed if a single trade company province is removed in a region where trade company is present. Stating and unstating within China will lose permanent cores. Thus, together, both stating and assignment of trade company provinces in China should be considered as permanent and there is no conversion between state provinces and trade company provinces. A player needs to plan ahead which region will belong to whom. Worthy of note are coal provinces within trade company charters.
Other strategies with trade company are common with other nations.
The potential benefits of moving capital for Ming are as follows. Note that some of them conflict with each other or require multiple moves to realize within the same run.
- Direct control of New World provinces (New World)
- Faster colonization in the New World (New World)
- Enable trade companies in China superregion (New World, Europe)
- Faster spread for Enlightenment (Europe)
- Enable East India Trade Company decision, East Indian Trade Route and related Parliament issue (Europe)
Note that colonization in the spice islands will become slow after moving the capital to America or Europe. Also beware that moving capital moves trade capital to the same destination concurrently. As well, moving capital to Europe exposes Ming to some of the mechanics of Revolution such as the Counter Revolution and Reaction modifiers.
With patch 1.28, the capital can only be moved to a continent that has at least 50% development of country. Minimizing development on Asian continent sufficient for a capital move can severely restrict Ming's ability to obtain Institutions through development.