This article may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game. It was last updated for 1.1.
- +30% Better relations over time
- -20% Diplomatic annexation cost
- +10% Imperial authority
- +20% Fort defense
- +0.05 Yearly inflation reduction
- -1 Interest per annum
- +5 Diplomatic reputation
- +2% Missionary strength
- +1 Tolerance of the true faith
- +1 Diplomatic relations
- +30% Reinforce speed
- +50% Increased chance of new heir
Austria starts the game as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. As Emperor of the traditionally fractious German states, it is up to the player to unify the Empire as the famous Habsburgs and stake their claim on history as a world power.
Austria starts as country in Central Europe, bordered by Bohemia and minor German states to the north and west, Hungary to the east and Venice to the south. They do also start with a large army of 36000 troops, second only to England with 37000.
As Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the player might be called into defensive wars against outside aggression, and are also tasked with maintaining order in the empire and enforcing religious unity.
- 1 Missions
- 2 Events
- 3 Formation
- 4 Strategy
- 4.1 Opening moves
- 4.2 Unifying the Holy Roman Empire
- 4.3 Blobbing as the HRE
- Main article: Austrian missions
Austrian missions are focused around uniting the Habsburg lands, and uniting the Holy Roman Empire.
- Main article: Austrian events
Austria's events deal with Austro-Bohemian relations, instability in Austria's holdings in Hungary, famous people of the time period such as Mozart and Metternich, and the Italian Wars. Austria may also have an event that provides the ability to change to a unique government type, giving Austria a diplomatic advantage over other nations.
Styria can form Austria if Austria no longer exists.
- Austria does not exist
- Country is Styria
- Primary culture is Austrian
- Is not in regency
- Is not at war
- Changes prestige by 10
- Changes country to Austria
Rivals and Allies
Depending on the direction of expansion, setting rivals will speed up claim fabrication and boost your power projection when conquering. Venice is an easy target to rival. As for allies, due to Austria's role as Emperor, you have your pick of allies. You can even rotate allies in between wars, so you will have allies always ready to fight for you. Be sure to get rid of allies through a call to arms rather than dissolving an alliance, so you can maintain their high opinions of you when you need new allies again.
Expend the minimal effort to influence Electors so that you have enough votes to be re-elected if your Monarch should unluckily die. In most games this means one vote, maybe two if two Electors happen to like the same target or if one Elector backs another causing that Elector to vote for themselves. Then you can repeatedly use the Improve our Relation with the Elector of ... Missions to get +1 Stability and +5 Imperial Authority. This mission can become available if the Elector's relations to you are less than 50 and succeeds if their relations are 100. It is important for you to keep Austria's prestige and legitimacy close to 100.
The Prince-Bishopric of Salzburg can be easily conquered with minimal effort. It used to be much easier because picking Rivals had no restrictions; however, since the 1.6 patch Rivals have to be within a certain range of power relative to the player's country. Nevertheless, claim Salzburg and conquer it at the very beginning.
Venice holds a few of your Imperial territory, but these provinces are expensive to core. It may be best to return cores to Milan and take only the Croatian lands. This will allow you to expand into the Balkans and away from the HRE. Venice usually allies France, which you can use to your advantage if you cannot get a CB on France or if you want to chain consecutive wars with France (using Venice's trucer timer).
Hungary begins as your rival, so previous strategies do not work. Hungary usually allies Teutonic Order, so ends up fighting Poland/Lithuania. Hungary shares the same dynasty as Austria, so wait for the Restoration of Union CB which can happen due to weak Hungarian heirs OR an Austria mission after 1500.
Like Hungary, Bohemia does not start with a ruler. If you immediately enter a Royal Marriage with Bohemia you have a chance to get a Habsburg on the throne, and you can get a very early Personal Union with Bohemia. However, unlike Hungary, it is not guaranteed to get a Habsburg on the throne. Later on in the game, Austria can get a mission to force a Personal Union with Bohemia regardless.
Austria can gain non-French lands in Burgundy through the Burgundian Succession Crisis. It can happen either if Burgundy is losing a war OR its heir dies during peace times regency. You should add any non-HRE provinces to the Empire after getting these lands. Now, you can either use that land yourself or create Burgundy so you can return cores from France to avoid AE. Keeping the lands for yourself will lead to an event where HRE princes ask for their cores back. Refusing them will cost prestige and opinion.
Fighting France requires getting good allies and mercenaries. You should go over your relations limit just to get a good force: Aragon, Castile, Poland, Bohemia, Milan, (vassal) Burgundy and anyone else willing. It sorts itself out when you do a call to arms to all your allies. If you can fabricate a claim or have the Imperial Ban CB, then you can declare on France and separate peace Venice for the truce timers. If you cannot get a CB on France, then declare on Venice but white peace Venice once you are finished with France.
Your allies and vassal should be doing most of the work. The immediate goal is to drain France's manpower. If France marches over to the Alps, just bait with mercenaries and then reinforce. Do not worry if you lose a battle or two. Once France has no more manpower, go hire more mercenaries and carpet siege.
The first peace deal should focus on returning cores to (vassal) Burgundy. Then when the Venice truce timer is up, declare war again and use the same strategy. Neutralize Venice, but do not take the wargoal so you can avoid the call for peace. France should still be weakened and easy to crush. The second peace deal should focus on releasing French minors that you can diplovassalize. France should be in shambles now and easy for any of its neighbors to pick on. Eventually, it should be small enough to vassalize, though its negative opinion will take some time to improve.
By early 1500s, your Austria should be the strongest nation in the Europe and ready to crush everyone. For the other superpowers, PUs work best if they take on your Habsburg dynasty, but you might have to sacrifice your dynasty if you really want to a PU to happen.
Unifying the Holy Roman Empire
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Austria is the country that has the easiest path toward unifying the Holy Roman Empire (abbreviated HRE). This is very different from the wars of conquest you normally get as a non-HRE state.
Forming the HRE is about diplomacy, diplomacy, and diplomacy, backed up by the largest possible army.
At the start of the game Austria will want to get one large ally. Someone like Castile, Burgundy, France or Poland. This will be really useful in winning wars at the beginning. In the long term you will likely end up fighting France and Burgundy as they get into HRE-related wars, but you can set out to use them and lose them.
You also need to take a close look at the HRE dialogue and the Electors. You need to make sure that you are always going to win the next election. If you aren't, then your absolute top priority is to make sure you do, otherwise if your leader dies, then you're massively setback. Fortunately, 3 votes is usually enough. Royal Marriages and Alliances with some of the Electors is a good idea - but not too many alliances, as you don't want to be in a position where you can't honour their call to arms. You also want to use the Improve Relations button a great deal.
Cautious expansion is what you are all about. It is fairly easy to acquire some of the adjacent minor German states. Most of them are very rich, which is nice. However, annexing an HRE member state gives you a penalty to relations with other HRE members in addition to regular aggressive expansion penalties, so make sure you only annex gradually. Also, being overextended gives a penalty to the chances of passing an Imperial Reform, so go slowly.
The other reason for caution is that you will get Imperial Calls to Arms as well as those from your allies. It's important to honour these calls to arms so that you gain Imperial Authority. However, it's even more important that you don't end up in a situation where you have exhausted your Manpower and your Treasury, because those are the circumstances where you can end up defenceless and losing. So you need to be careful about your wars so you don't find yourself getting a Call to Arms just at the point where your nation is exhausted from a war of aggression.
As soon as you get an Idea Group slot, the best bet is to take the Diplomacy idea group. This is really vital - the diplomacy bonuses are crucial to you managing the HRE - even though as Austria you get some similar bonuses from your own Ideas as well. You also have very little else to do with your Diplomatic points. Trade isn't a big priority for you, and you won't need a navy for centuries. So take the Diplomacy ideas rather than investing in your technology. For your second and third Idea groups, one should take military - Defensive and Quantity are good choices to increase the size of your army.
Investing in Temples, Constables and Armories is good. Constables are particularly strong because Austria has many high-tax provinces where +20% tax is very good. Armories are important because manpower is often a limiting factor on Austria's ability to wage war, so you want to increase manpower. (Building the March also helps here).
Wherever possible take missions that improve your Imperial Authority. With Decisions, take those that increase your tax, stability, or missionary power. Don't pass the Statute in Restraint of Appeals - you want to keep the HRE as Catholic as possible.
After a few good wars, you will be able to pass the first Imperial Reform. You should always do these as soon as you're able to (until you get to "Revoke the Privilegia" at the end of the series).
You will probably come to a point some time in the 1500s where many of the one-province German and Italian minors have been eaten up by their neighbours, and the French and/or Spanish are interfering in Italy. You should also find that you have a lot of diplomatic flexibility thanks to your Ideas. At this point, you should start preventing any other HRE member state from becoming too powerful. Don't forget - lots of small minor states in the HRE is good for the emperor. This is for several reasons:
- Creating a minor HRE member gains you Imperial Authority
- Small minors are easy for you to ally with, and ultimately diplomatically annex at a time of your choosing
- Large states have an inherent bias against Imperial Reform and are alternative candidates to be Emperor
Vassals are good for you, though don't try to vassalize an Elector, unless you can deal with the -100 diplomatic hit.
So now you should move your focus away from wars of expansion to wars of liberation. Indeed, the only reason for being at peace should be because you're recovering from or preparing for another war. Avoid taking provinces for yourself in peace deals - you can do it but don't do it often, because of the impact on relations within the HRE. But do diploannex often. It is somewhat better to diploannex nations with non-Germanic culture and leave the Germanic states independent, because those states with French and Italian cultures have an additional -5 penalty to supporting Imperial reforms.
In the middle of this the Reformation will happen. Stay Catholic, it's simplest. You can occasionally bully other HRE members into converting back to Catholicism but you should do it sparingly - it gives you Imperial Authority but damages relations. (In case you've forgotten - poor relations with Electors means you stop being Emperor, which is a pain).
Also, don't start wars unless there is an HRE-related goal in mind. At this point, Hungary and Poland start to be good allies as you should be happy with your Eastern border where it is and with a good buffer between you and the Russians and Ottomans. (Eastern Europe is much poorer than the HRE, and also Hungarian provinces have that annoying triple cost to core - so focus your energies on Germany and Italy. For now!)
Continue doing this for a few hundred years, gradually passing more and more Imperial Reforms, and acquiring more and more vassals and provinces. You will probably find that you have 10-15 Diplomatic Relations at some points and this hammers your Diplomatic technology. Don't worry about this - you are fine with a worse navy and with poor Trade tech. Your massive tax base will keep you wealthy enough. Build some Mints and ultimately Stock Exchanges.
You should also find that you can win wars much more easily, even with major powers. You will have quite a large army and high Manpower. And you should naturally find you have many allies. In the first few months of a war, German minors will send their armies to stack with yours - it's great when you check the one regiment of cavalry you left behind and see that it's now part of a 60,000 Imperial army, probably led by the King of one of your vassals. Allies will also supply good navies.
Landfriede, Erbkaisertum, Privilegia and Union
You can keep going with this strategy until you pass the Ewiger Landfriede reform. This disallows wars within the Empire, so make sure you have won all the necessary wars and that none of your rivals are too big, before passing it. After this point, your growth in Imperial Authority is much more down to peace and the occasional external war. It's increasingly unlikely that any AI nation will be silly enough to try to attack the Empire at this point, so you will need to use the Imperial Ban casus belli on any nation unfortunate enough to be holding Imperial territory.
The Erbkaistertum reform also removes one of your sources of Imperial Authority - the succession of your heir to the Imperial throne. However, once you pass the Erbkaisertum, it is relatively easy to move promptly to unification. Why? Because during the previous centuries you have annexed lots of minor nations - and releasing those minor nations gains you lots of Imperial Authority! What's more, because they're your vassals, they all vote for the next two reforms.
Before Revoking the Privilegia, do everything in your power to max out your relations with every Imperial member state. Any nation that doesn't support your Privilegia reform will permanently leave the HRE. So on this occasion don't pass it the moment you get 50% support, leave it until you have high authority and have liberally dispensed bribes, Imperial grace, and improved relations. Try to get everyone in.
Finally, the Union itself is relatively easy - a short period of peace and releasing a few big vassals will do it. Of course, it doesn't matter if you release a huge amount of your nation as vassals, because very shortly they will be integrating into the HRE.
Then - you have done it! The HRE is now a hugely powerful nation and you can intimidate the rest of the world without fear. If you keep playing, the most fun thing to do is to switch focus from European expansion (a bit boring now) to colonial expansion.
Blobbing as the HRE
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The following is taken from a thread in SteamCommunity.com's EU4 section, by Xara, and gives a step-by-step guiding to blobbing as an Austria-formed Holy Roman Empire.
Okay, here's the secret to my last Austria ironman success, pictured below, before I stopped out of blob boredom : [Norway and Portugal are sworn to me]
- If Burgundy is hostile, restart
- Accept marry, +100 relations quest for Burgundy. Start improve relations. Marry with 2nd diplomat. Ally with 2nd diplomat. Guarantee and offer military access with 2nd diplomat. Stop relations boost when quest is done
(Since Patch 1.7 Burgundy and Austria are by default rivals. Since Burgundy is the key to this approach - early crushing of France - this strategy is no longer feasible. Instead an alliance with two powers of the Iberian Peninsula and/or other major powers closeby is recommended.)
- Ally and marry Castille
- Ally and marry Provence. Do not guarantee them
- Ally, marry, guarantee Scotland. You don't want England conquering the isles, it sets them back, though you will be too busy with France to ever shut England down completely.
- Do not ally or marry anyone else and deny all offers
- France is highly likely to attack Provence for reconquest once England loses the HYW
- When they do, accept Provence's CTW and CTW on Castille + Burgundy yourself
- The four of you should be able to win
- In the peace deal, make France cancel vassal on Auvergne, Foix, Bourbon, whatever else you can get
- Ally and marry those 3, boost relations, vassal them if you can, but Foix will be too far borders and the others might resist due to base tax
- Start playing the HRE diplo game. Defend against Denmark, Aragon, but especially Burgundy if they start attacking members. You really, really, really want Burgundy to be in a war when they have no heir or a regency. AI Burgundy gets a -50% to heir chance. Every war you get in, hopefully you assume leadership from being the emperor and most powerful. If so, negotiate with every enemy participant separately and take all their ducats plus free any annexed minors. You want 500-1000+ ducats stacked up for when you unlock Temples
- Build temples in all provinces. They boost base tax, the requirement for vassalizations. the only other building that does this is the Stock Exchange
- [Rarely] refuse a call to war. If you do, you not only ♥♥♥♥ up your relations - with every HRE member if it was an empire call - but [you lose Imperial Authority].
- Pray that the Burgundy king dies in war. If not, well, it's a huge setback not taking the Netherlands when he does
- Get the Netherlands. Move your capital to Antwerpen. Trade income and overall income will greatly increase
- Every. single. diplo point. you earn. should be spent on unlocking Diplomacy + Expansion for the relations cap and reputation increase. I'm serious. Ships and trade boosts are useless to you that early. I was at 10 / 3 / 10 tech or something before I started spending it on diplo tech.
- Make more allies, but don't max out this time. Leave at least 1 spot open. At any given moment, the Austrian quests dealing with Bohemia or Hungary might pop up. These offer a 60% warscore, 30 AE 'restoration of union' quest allowing you to force a PU with those two. Those are you eastern borders and each is as big as or bigger than you are at the start, plus you will bypass Hungary's "♥♥♥♥-you" coring cost increase.
- Get Quantity or Offense for 3rd idea set. You want both in time. You want forcelimit increases, manpower boosts, and cost decrease. You want to build the biggest army the world has seen. But you will be suffering for manpower very, very much. Use the income and stacking military points from being ahead of tech to add manpower buildings
- Religion for 4th idea set. You will need it to counter Protestant / Reformed / Orthodox provinces in all the things you'll be annexing
- When truce with France is done? Attack them. Attack them hard. Bring in all the allies. Try to make England one of those, so their ships blockade everything for you. Make France release Normandy, annex the rest of the northern shores. Vassalize Normandy, sell the neighboring province to them. Once they core it, sell the next one to them. And so on. You should not ever be spending Admin points yourself, sell the provinces to vassals. The one exception is lands that are HRE-enabled, you cannot sell those and must core them yourself.
- Continue attacking France every chance. Make Champange, Orleans, Berry break off. Make them release what they took of Burgundy. The more you grab, the higher your base tax gets (as you annex vassals) which makes you able to vassalize bigger and richer nations as you go on. Keep annexing the oldest vassals. Splinter off the western French nations, vassalize Brittany, eventually France will be totally landlocked and if you do it fast enough, the constant war upon them prevents them from ever colonizing.
- Once they are crippled that way turn your attention back to the HRE. I hope some of your allies were electors and that you kept relations high, if you lose emperor status, you're going to be hurting.
- Keep relations improving everywhere. Use enforce peace to join the defender in any nearby war you weren't called to - you get authority for winning, even in internal HRE fights. All you need is for the war leader to concede defeat to you, but taking more ducats and relasing more HRE minors is gravy
- Post landfriede, switch your relations boosting to all the nearby non-HRE nations and keep enforcing peace to achieve the same thing
- Post landfriede, add French and Hungarian lands that you integrated / annexed to the HRE to boost authority
- Boost relations and get every single HRE member to vote for the vassalization reform
- Finish the HRE completely
- Congratulations. Your base tax is now obscene and powerful enough to diplo-vassal almost anything Christian.
- With Austria (+5), Expansion (+3), Diplomacy (+3), Statesman (+5), Trust (+40) (from honoring calls to war), Military (+20), Friendly / Threatened (+10), Legitimacy (+2), Judiciary (+1) (from national decision), and, if you can get it, but its long-term / difficult, trading in ivory (+2) you will have +91 positive modifier to the question of vassalization which means any Catholic nation not hostile / rival to you will agree to be a vassal regardless of size
- I diplovassaled Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, and Portugal after that. I did not have Ivory, myself, so Spain has held out, England is protestant, Russia is Orthodox. There is a temporary event from Expansion that can add +5 reputation. If base tax gets high enough you might have them at -85 or something from base tax which will let you inch it in
- Build temples and stock exchanges everywhere except the provinces bordering non-vassals who you want to make vassals, because it increases border friction too much due to base tax increase
- Enjoy your blob