- +15% Manpower recovery speed
- +15% Reinforce speed
- −1 National unrest
- −10% Stability cost modifier
- −10% Cavalry cost
- +15% Cavalry combat ability
- +10% Production efficiency
- −15% Mercenary maintenance
- +10% Morale of armies
- +10% Infantry combat ability
Serbia is a minor power located in the heart of the Balkans. Though it is severely threatened by the Ottomans and Venice, it's one of the strongest Balkan minors at the game start. It is bordered to the north by Hungary, the South by Albania, to the West by Bosnia and Ragusa, and to the East by the Ottomans. Kosovo is one of the handful gold-producing provinces in Europe.
Move Capital to Belgrade
Belgrade (4239) is Orthodox and has Serbian culture
Serbia starts in a precarious position in the Balkans, but can be considered the strongest of the Balkan minors, due to high income from the gold producing province of Kosovo. However, Serbia shares a border with the voracious Ottoman Empire, which holds many provinces of Orthodox faith. Its religion makes it slightly more difficult to ally with Catholic nations
The toughest part in playing Serbia is early game because of its expansion limitations and danger from various and more powerful nations. Attacking Albania and annexing Lezhë (Lješ) might be possible without repercussions, but given Venice and Ottomans both border and have a core on Lezhë, this will significantly increase the chance of getting declared on by either the Ottomans, or Venice. Additionally, either nation is likely to declare on Albania early on and annex them quickly. Some bordering provinces of interest are Travunia, Bosna, Visoki, Hum (Bosnia), Skopje (Ottomans), and Srem (Hungary), since they already have Serbian culture and Orthodox faith (except for Hum, which is Catholic).
Ragusa would normally be the first thought for expansions due to being the center of Ragusa trade node, but starts guaranteed by the Ottomans, who will also probably send a warning very soon after the start of the game, keeping Serbia from conquering Ragusa directly in early game. Even so, it can help to have a claim on Ragusa so that, in the event the Ottomans get into a very taxing war, they may not honor their guarantee (or get into a war with their allies, and the player may conclude separate peace and annex Ragusa without Ottomans directly interfering).
Bosnia is another excellent target for early expansion and should be fully annexed to prevent other neighbors taking that land, but it would be wise to wait until Serbia can establish protective alliances. The aggressive expansion caused by fully annexing (Catholic) Bosnia would make allying other Catholic countries much more difficult. Due to several of Bosnia's provinces being Catholic, rebels are likely to spawn sooner or later.
The Ottomans are an existential threat to the player in the early game and should be attacked as soon as an opportunity presents itself that has the Ottomans distracted in a war with low manpower and troop numbers, and 2–3 bigger allies willing to join in against them. Due to a slow build-up of favors with its allies, this is likely to be 20–30 years in the game, by which time the Ottomans will often have established themselves in Anatolia, reclaiming all their cores.
If Venice happens to be severely weakened (for example, by a war against the Ottomans), they would also present an excellent early expansion opportunity (Dalmatia and perhaps Durazzo and Corfu), provided that the player can fabricate a claim on them.
First alliances should be sought with the Ottomans' rivals (likely to include Hungary, Austria, Poland and Lithuania), to prevent early Ottoman aggression. An alliance with Poland can be great in the long term, especially if they enter in personal union with Lithuania. Allying Austria also gives player some flexibility in dealing with bordering countries and can facilitate joining the HRE (if desired). Hungary, although very helpful against the Ottomans as a third ally, will usually rival with Poland, so the player will have difficulties building alliances with all three great powers. Note that allying just one, or sometimes even two of these powers, will not be enough to take fight to the Ottoman side.
Serbia faces trouble being Orthodox in diplomatic dealings. Improving relations from day one, as well as sending gifts to potential allies and hiring a diplomatic reputation advisor, might be necessary to secure an alliance before the Ottoman invasion. Serbian success after gaining principal allies and the Serbian cultural lands depends highly on the opportunities afforded to it by outside factors. Given the correct opportunity and friendly alliance members, Ottomans, Venice, and Hungary should be broken to ensure the security of the Serbian state. Note that the Ottoman units peak at the early game, and Hungary may fall under personal union with Austria.
Joining the HRE
Joining the HRE will have benefits as well as drawbacks. It will be possible once Serbia either borders Austria directly or shares a sea tile with them, has high enough relations (which may require an alliance and royal marriage) and has not grown too big. The obvious advantage is having the emperor as a defensive co-belligerent able to call in their own allies, as well as increased aggressive expansion should a war be lost against the Ottomans or Hungary. The disadvantage is that Serbia would not be able to rise beyond the state of Duchy unless leaving the HRE again (which greatly angers the emperor). And as an orthodox nation, the player would not be able to become emperor or even elector unless the Peace of Westphalia happens or the player switches to catholic by falling to religious rebels.
Once Serbia has established itself by expanding and maintaining powerful alliances, the primary expansion targets should be the remaining Balkans and Anatolia. It is especially important to destroy the Ottomans as completely as possible, in order to prevent a later retaliation when the player and/or their allies are weak. Secondary targets are Italy's rich provinces (especially if Naples finds themselves independent) and Poland (if the player sees no further need for a Polish alliance). Arabia and Africa are within grasp once Anatolia is secured, and the taking of Jerusalem and Mecca can provide more missionaries to speed up conversions.
Choice of ideas
- Quality, Quantity, Offensive, Defensive ideas help field a more powerful army. Taking Aristocratic ideas is also good for staying on top with the contemporary military tech.
- Economic ideas will help battle the inflation from gold mines in Kosovo as well as helping with autonomy reduction.
- Influence and Diplomatic ideas will help any bid to become the emperor of the HRE.
- Religious or Humanist will help prevent unrest either through conversion or through acceptance.