- +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 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 traditions and foundations of the small African nation will destabilize and have a temporary, if harsh, set back on the prestige of the nation and legitimacy of the now-King. 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 taking the European courts as example.
Alternatively, quick threatening of the Portuguese missionaries or executing the aspiring Christian chieftain can turn Kongo in a temporary 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.
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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. This and its relatively large size in comparison to its neighbors make it the strongest individual country in the area, but it cannot stand against a unified alliance. The easiest way to avoid having to face down a vast alliance is for Kongo to secure an ally of its own, preferably one further east like Luba or Kazembe. It can be a good idea to start an early war, as waiting too long can result in Kongo's ally aligning itself with one of the initial targets, complicating early expansion. The best first target is Tyo, whose sole province (Anziku) shares the Kongolese culture and is located in Kongo's capital state.
Although there is little reason to waste a diplomatic slow 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 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. The Muslim states of North Africa will gradually spread it to West Africa, while Kilwa and the other countries on the eastern African coast will gradually spread it to Mutapa and the southeast. Lacking any direct connection to either region, Kongo will not benefit from this spread initially. 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 conquer the region. 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.
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.
Conversion of the Kongo
Portuguese explorers will discover the Kongo rather quickly, which will soon trigger an event chain that offers the Kongolese the chance to convert to Catholicism. Converting to Christianity will permanently strengthen relations with all of Europe and deny Catholic Spain and Portugal the use of the Deus Vult casus belli, reducing the threat from western empires. It will also allow the Kongo to use the same casus belli to conquer nearby Fetishist and Muslim countries without having to fabricate claims. If Protestantism or Reformed Christianity have greater appeal, converting to Catholicism opens up that route.
Notably, the decision to convert to Catholicism will automatically reform the tribal monarchy into a normal despotic monarchy if the Kongo has not already reformed its government.
The primary disadvantages of conversion are losing the ability to wage holy wars on European Christians and, if the Rights of Man DLC is activated, the loss of the benefits provided by cults. Without Rights of Man, Catholicism is by far the stronger religion; with the DLC, the cult bonuses make staying Fetishist a much more viable option. Since Fetishists who take the Christianity cult regularly get an event that grants +50 to relations with all Christian countries, the increased relations from converting outright are less significant with Rights of Man enabled.
The decision regarding religion merits very careful consideration. Catholicism is a powerful religion that offers some valuable protection from Spain and Portugal, but the decision to forsake the ancestral gods can bring the Kongo to its knees. Religious unity will plummet to single digits and unrest will spike across the empire. Because low religious unity raises stability costs, restabilizing the Kongo will be prohibitively expensive. Frequent rebellions will follow and an unprepared player may be pushed into a position of halting expansion in order to focus on hunting rebels and keeping the economy afloat. The worst-case scenario is the Internal Conflicts disaster or some similar catastrophe occurring. Deal with rebels as quickly as possible. Raising autonomy will reduce income but can help keep the Kongo's armies healthy. If the rebels exhaust the nation's manpower and military, the Kongo will be left open to attack.
If the player intends to convert the Kongo to Christianity, it is wise to pick Religious ideas beforehand to help speed conversion efforts later on. Embracing the Counter-Reformation after filling out the Religious idea tree will give the player 4 extremely powerful missionaries, each of which will be able to convert a province in 1-2 years, or even earlier if Christian decisions to boost missionary strength are taken and missionary states edict are enabled. The capital and the most highly-developed provinces should be converted first to boost religious unity as quickly as possible.
Unlike Catholics, 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 significantly lessen unrest in newly conquered provinces. Despite being geared towards Humanism, Religious ideas are still very viable, especially because of the Deus Vult casus belli.
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.