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- +10% Morale of armies
- +30% Better relations over time
- +10% Imperial authority
- −15% Diplomatic annexation cost
- -10% Fort maintainance
- +15% National garrison growth
- +0.05 Yearly inflation reduction
- −1 Interest per Annum
- +2 Diplomatic reputation
- +2% Missionary strength
- +1 Diplomatic relations
- +30% Reinforce speed
- +3% Discipline
- +50% Chance of new heir
Austria starts the game as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. As Emperor of the traditionally fractious German HRE 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 a 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 also start with an army of 37,000 troops, the largest army in Europe.
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 Reformation
- 4 Strategy
- 5 Preventing the Shadow Kingdom
- 6 Idea groups
- 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.
Styria can form Austria if Austria no longer exists.
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game.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 1.12.
Playing Austria is very different from most other nations in the game and therefore could offer a unique experience. Austria must retain the title of Holy Roman Emperor in order to maintain their might as a continental power, which means playing the diplomacy and imperial authority game within the HRE. Thankfully, Austria's national ideas easily form the best set of diplomatic ideas in the game. Maintaining allies is also essential as all of Austria's major opponents (particularly France and the Ottomans) have superior military-oriented ideas.
The Electors: Austria should try to maintain the votes of at least 2-3 electors, but it may not be necessary to ally them to do so (though it's much easier). Do not ally two electors who are rivals against each other (i.e. Brandenburg and Saxony) to avoid the -25 'allied to rival' opinion modifier. Because electors will vote for themselves if they have the backing of another, the best choice is to ally two other electors who also allied one another (otherwise one will vote for the other, leading the other to vote for themselves). Also do not ally Bohemia for the vote as Bohemia almost always votes for itself.
Improve opinion should only be used on the chosen electors Austria wants the vote from. Allowing the other elector's opinion stay low increases the chance of receive the valuable "Improve our Relation with the Elector of" missions, which gives +10ADM, +5 Legitimacy, and +5 Imperial Authority. This mission is available when opinion is below 50 and succeeds when opinion rises to 100.
Poland: Poland often rivals Austria later on, but rarely does so at the beginning of the game. By befriending Poland early, answer calls to war and calling them into wars, Austria could easily gain a powerful alliance that lasts the entire game. Furthermore, allying Poland will usually keep them from invading the HRE, while Polish wars against their principle foes Russia and Sweden could be accepted without risk: the Commonwealth's mass entirely shields Austria from Russia, while Sweden's only direct access to HRE through Holstein is easily defended.
Castile: Castile/Spain is a natural ally as France will likely be Austria's greatest enemy for much of the game. Maintaining Castile as an trusted ally is essential in forcing France to fight a two-front war. Furthermore, once Castile forms Spain, their powerful navy will be of great help against the Ottomans.
Hungary: As of patch 1.12 Hungary nearly always starts with a friendly opinion of Austria. Because Hungary starts in Interregnum, it is recommended to immediately get a royal marriage with Hungary to ensure the possibility of a personal union. With some luck, the player should have Hungary in a personal union in the 1500s.
Bohemia: Bohemia is a special case among the electors. While they typically vote for themselves, they also start in an interregnum making it easy to get a Habsburg onto the Bohemian throne, allowing for the possibility of an early union. Like Hungary, it is best to break any alliance by calling Bohemia into a war they'll reject after 1500, as Austria will receive a mission ("Bohemia must accept Austrian over lordship") to force Bohemia into a personal union.
Friesland: Friesland is a Republic in the HRE, and should be made to be a Free City for the extra Imperial Authority.
Rivals and Early Expansion
Depending on the direction of expansion, setting rivals will speed up claim fabrication and boost your power projection when conquering.
Venice: an easy target at start. They begin adjacent to Austria holding imperial territory, yet they are not a member of the HRE (as taking land from HRE members lead to greater aggressive expansion to all other HRE states). Furthermore, the Venice trade node is one of the three end trade nodes in game. It is best to attack Venice as soon as possible before they forge major allies like France or Britain. While Venice's mainland territories are need to be added to the HRE before 1490, it should be noted that Venice itself makes an excellent vassal or march (doable in 2-3 wars; preferably 3 to avoid massive aggressive expansion and coalition risks); Venice has the historical ally modifier which massively reduce their liberty desire (but after 1.12 it will be removed if the player attacks it), their national ideas are excellent to provide naval support against any Mediterranean power (especially the Ottomans later on), and as long as they hold Venezia (even if all other Venice node provinces are taken from them), they will pull trade in with their trade posts and extra merchants for the benefit of Austria collection.
The Papal State: Like Venice it is an easy target and all four of its Italian provinces need to be added to the HRE before 1490 to prevent the Shadow kingdom event gouging a chunk out of the empire. It will probably take two wars because of Rome's high development. It is best to take the Eternal City when your Imperial authority is high because it will incur the wrath of all catholic nations giving a hit to relationships with all the electors and -1 diplomatic reputation. High Imperial authority will keep at least a few of the electors backing you after this despicable act. Any catholic nation can get the mission Restore the Holy See so it is advisable to give Rome back to the Pope, who will probably have popped up somewhere else in the empire by the time it is cored and added to the HRE, or release the Papal State as vassal.
Salzburg: a rich single-province with Austrian culture. Salzburg can be seized with minimal effort, and is the only HRE state best seized militarily due to the high aggressive expansion of expanding elsewhere within the HRE.
Ottomans: the Ottomans should be rivaled early on to gain Poland as an ally. This is especially important if Austria plans to also ally Hungary while maintaining the Polish alliance as those two countries are rivals. However, attacking the Ottomans early game is a bad idea due to their superior units and military ideas.
Hungary: if Hungary starts rivaling Austria, then they become an easy expansion target. Doubly so with Polish help as Poland and Hungary are always rivals. Do keep in mind that because Austria receives a mission to force Hungary into personal union after 1500+, Hungary should be seen as an opportunistic target until then: only grab if another power (Poland/Ottomans) is invading.
France: An early war against France with Castile's help could delay the onset of the blue blob by decades. However, the costs of such a war is also phenomenal due to the massive army France and its vassals can put into the field. Use of mercenaries to replenish front-line infantry will be essential, and Austria should hunt down the retreating French army with Castilian help until it is destroyed. The best time to attack is not at the start (England will land little troops to stop France from winning the Hundred Years' War prior to 1.12, but as of 1.12 they no longer start at war with France, so with patience and careful diplomacy one can strike when England inevitably attacks France) but when France declares on Burgundy to seize French lands. Due to aggressive expansion issues and high coring costs, it's better for release French minors and then diplo-vassalize/annex.
Bosnia/Serbia: Bosnia/Serbia will usually be annexed by the other, but their orthodox faith leaves them without any nearby friends. Austria can fabricate claim for conquest CB once the Venetian province of Dalmatia is seized. Due to their orthodox faith they can be taken with low aggressive expansion. However the difficulty in converting Orthodox provinces without the Religious idea group means it is best to annex only the Catholic Croatian lands and vassalize the rest (or vassalize the entirety in a single war, achievable with the Diplomatic idea group's Flexible Negotiations). Vassalized Venice will happily take the port of Ragusa for its center of trade/naval forcelimit bonus.
Burgundy: Austria can gain all imperial lands in Burgundy through the Burgundian Succession Crisis. This event is likely to happen if Burgundy is losing a war or does not have an heir before the year 1500. Therefore, it is best not to spend efforts on Burgundy prior to that. If the Burgundian Succession Crisis does not occur by 1500, then Burgundy makes a good expansion target, especially when France is attacking them for French lands. Be careful, though, as all French lands will be ceded to France, making them even stronger than before.
Unifying the Holy Roman Empire
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 1.12.
Austria, starting out as the Holy Roman Emperor, has the easiest path toward unifying the Holy Roman Empire (abbreviated as HRE). This path is largely about diplomacy, and is very different from the normal wars of conquest of a state outside the HRE.
The top priority early on is generally to ensure that the Emperor title stays with Austria. It is usually unnecessary to ally with the electors, although the Palatinate or Brandenburg will usually offer an alliance at the start of the game. However, constantly improving relations with the electors whenever their reasons for voting for you start to drop is a good idea, as if Austria loses the Emperor title, it will be set back by a large amount. 3 votes is usually enough, as Bohemia will usually vote for itself.
The second priority is keeping the Italian nations in the Empire. To prevent the Shadow Kingdom event from firing Austria needs to conquer Venice's holdings on the mainland, all of the Papal State in Italy and Urbino before 1490 and add them to the HRE. No time should be wasted in fabricating claims and attacking both Venice and the Pope because it will probably take at least two wars with each and some time in between to wait out the truces. Only cored provinces can be added to the HRE so these wars need to be complete by 1487 to leave coring time otherwise Savoy, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Mantua, Ferrara, Lucca, Montferrat, and Siena will leave the HRE, taking all their territory with them. It is probably best to return Rome after adding it to the HRE, despite the massive investment of admin points, because it will be incorporated again eventually by passing the final reform.
It is unnecessary to expand very much within the HRE, as the last two Imperial reforms gives the player control over it. The player may wish to annex Salzburg, a bordering One Province Minor (OPM), though, as they are very wealthy, and the Aggressive Expansion should wear off within a few years.
Part of managing the Holy Roman Empire is to accrue Imperial Authority (IA), which allows imperial reforms to be passed, which eventually allows the Emperor to unify the HRE into one nation-state. Imperial Authority is gained in many ways.
When a foreign power attacks a member of the Holy Roman Empire (this is usually Denmark and co. at the start, as they have a mission to attack the Hansa, one of the members of the HRE), the Emperor will receive a Call to Arms, granting IA and a large relations boost with the entire HRE, and winning the war will grant more, so it is very important to answer these calls. Another, easier method of increasing Imperial Authority is to use the Imperial Liberation casus belli, received when an HRE member is annexed. This allows them to be released, and gain more IA. The country holding the Emperorship also gains 10 IA when a new emperor is elected from the same country, but this is not a very reliable method of accruing IA. Finally, every province owned outside the HRE in Europe can be added to the HRE for 1 IA each, but this is recommended to be only done to pass the last two reforms, when other methods won't work.
After reaching Administrative Technology 5 and unlocking the first idea group, it may be a good idea to unlock a Diplomatic Idea group, as diplomatic technology is not very important early on. It is probably best to choose the Diplomatic idea group, as it gives many benefits.
Occasionally, when Austria's relations with an Elector are under 100, it will receive a mission to get the relations to 100, giving a free +1 stability and +5 IA. This is typically very easy to do, and thus this mission should usually be picked when available.
After a while, Austria should be able to pass a reform or two. It is usually a good idea to pass these as quickly as possible, except for the second-to-last, "Revoke the Privilegia,". Imperial Authority above 50 increases the chances that countries will agree to passing the reforms, and while only a majority of the HRE is needed to pass the previous reforms, when "Revoke the Privilegia" is passed, countries that vote no on it will leave the HRE, which is not good. However, Austria will get CBs to force vassalage on them in that case.
In the 1500s, if all goes according to plan, many of the one-province German and Italian minors (if they haven't left by event yet) will have been annexed by their neighbors and then subsequently released by the player for the IA. The player may find it harder to keep relations up with the electors at this point, as the player may have been expanding (although it is probably wise not to expand within the HRE, as it causes much more Aggressive Expansion). Consequently, it may be a good idea to vassalize, whether by force or by diplomacy, 3 or more of the electors to secure the vote. Note that Austria receives a mission to force a personal union over one of the Electors, Bohemia.
At this point the Reformation will happen. The player is advised to not try to accrue IA immediately before and during the Reformation, as princes will frequently be converting to Protestantism, and later to the Reformed faith, costing the emperor a substantial amount of Imperial Authority with every conversion.
While it is possible to politely prompt the Protestant princes to convert back to Catholicism, this is not recommended, as it hurts relations with the rest of the HRE by -25, which decays quite slowly. Instead, during wars, there is usually an option to Force Religion, which does not hurt relations with anyone, although it doesn't return the lost IA from the conversion to Protestantism.
After 30 years or so, the conversions generally slow down by quite a bit, allowing the player to continue the previous strategy of liberating princes, etc.
Landfriede, Erbkaisertum, Privilegia and Renovatio Imperii
This strategy works perfectly well until the proclamation of the Ewiger Landfriede, when all inter-HRE wars are disallowed. This means that the player can no longer declare war on HRE nations to release princes, although HRE members may still be dragged into wars started against their foreign allies. If the emperor is not part of the HRE, members can still attack the emperor and vice versa.
Next, the Erbkaisertum removes the ability to receive 10 IA after every Imperial election consecutively won by the same nation, as it removes the elective nature of the HRE and keeps the current Emperor in power forever. By this point, the player should have expanded outside the HRE to such an extent that the player has many provinces able to be added to the HRE, which will increase IA by 1.25 each, as the Erbkaisertum increases IA gain by 25 percent.
Before Revoking the Privilegia, it is recommended to improve relations with every prince as much as possible, and to get IA to 100, as both of these actions increase the likelihood that princes will vote yes. Any princes who vote no leaves the HRE, which is annoying, and the emperor gains CBs on them to force vassalage.
Finally, the final reform itself is easy. Because all the princes are the Emperor's vassals, the reform is assured to pass. However, since there is a base force limit (i.e. forcelimit = base + provinces * x), the Imperial army is likely to actually be weaker after the final reform is passed. However, if the player feels like he or she would rather sacrifice a larger army for direct control of a smaller one, the Union is always an option.
There! Alles Erdreich ist Österreich untertan!
Preventing the Shadow Kingdom
Sometime before 1450, you'll get a warning that all Italian states will leave the Empire unless all of the Kingdom of Italy region is part of the Empire by 1490 and stays that way until 1550. To prevent the "Shadow Kingdom" event that removes all of the Italian states from the Empire, the player will need to make a concerted effort to quickly conquer Venice's and the Papal States' holdings in Italy. Specifically, this means that all of the provinces need to be part of the Empire, even if they are held by non-members.
The advantage to this is about 0.5-0.8 additional Imperial Authority per month from the additional Empire members, depending on how vigilant the player is in freeing and protecting the Italian one-province minors, as well as a small amount of additional manpower and force limit. It also discourages France and Naples/Aragon/Spain from expanding into northern Italy. The disadvantage is that the player's expansion into northern Italy will incur twice as much Aggressive Expansion with members of the Empire, as well as negate the advantages of keeping Italy in the Empire in the first place.
These provinces are:
- The Papal States
To conquer all of this in time, the player will need to be very aggressive. There's just enough time to conquer all of the provinces needed while bleeding off enough Aggressive Expansion to prevent coalition wars.
From day 1, the player should start forging claims on Verona, set Venice as a rival and see if they can get a Spymaster (+10% spy offense) or Diplomat (+30% improved relations over time) advisor, to help prevent or reduce aggressive expansion. Failing that, a Statesman advisor is useful to help remain Emperor. Then, alliances with countries likely to join wars against Venice and the Papal States are crucial. These include Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, Aragon, Savoy, France, and/or Milan. Making Emperor Friedrich a general is extremely dangerous; because the player is going to rack up Aggressive Expansion, forge many claims, choose allies for their military potential, and eventually suffer a Diplomatic Reputation malus for conquering Roma, there's little time to
As soon as the claim is forged on Verona, the player should forge claims on Treviso. As soon as the claim forging begins on Treviso, the player can go to war with Venice; there's no need to wait for the second forgery to finish. (No matter what, it's best to declare Verona the war goal, to get warscore ticking earlier.) In this war, the goal is to annex Treviso and ideally Verona, return Brescia to Milan, and break any dangerous alliances Venice might have. (England frequently allies Venice and can be annoying if they aren't bogged down in France.) The player should not demand anything else from Venice, so the truce is as short as possible. Annexing Friuli is possible but inadvisable in the first war, due to Aggressive Expansion. Once each annexed province is cored, it needs to be added to the Empire. Since this gives a point of Imperial Authority, it may be best to wait until after passing a reform if Imperial Authority is above 50.
There's time and Aggressive Expansion to spare for one single war before or after the first war with Venice. A war for the throne of Bohemia or Hungary is ideal, although conquering Salzburg or Augsburg is a decent second choice if a personal union isn't practical. In 1.12, the player needs to be very careful about Aggressive Expansion if they force Bohemia or Hungary into a union, making sure to raise their reputation with any dangerous neighbors who aren't allies. In the 1.13 beta patch, the player needs to carefully ration their ability to call in allies; the player will be at war with Bohemia/Hungary/Salzburg, then Venice, then the Papal States, all in quick succession. It's important to carefully consider how much help is necessary to win each war.
As soon as the claim is forged on Treviso, the player should start forging a claim on Ancona, followed by Romagna. Any time there's a diplomat spare, they should also forge claims on Urbino. As soon as the player has claims on two of the coastal Papal provinces and a claim in progress on the third, it's time to go to war with the Papal States. Be careful of their likely allies; France, Hungary, and Aragon are all common, so it may be necessary to drag one of them into an unrelated war if they are your ally, or wait for them to be embroiled in a different war if not. It's important to take one of Urbino or Ancona; getting all three coastal provinces is ideal. Again, do not demand anything but breaking dangerous treaties and annexation of the coastal provinces in the first war, to keep the truce short and Aggressive Expansion low.
From there, the player can take some time to bleed off Aggressive Expansion and recover manpower, while forging claims on Friuli and Umbria. The second war with each country should be much easier. For Venice, it helps to station a large army in Treviso, then immediately order them to move to Venezia the same day as the war declaration before Venice can make a blockade. This will trap your army and isn't necessary to win, but it does significantly shorten the war. Depending on Aggressive Expansion and luck, it may be possible to forge a claim on and annex Venezia in the second war with Venice.
In the second war with the Papal States, it's important to take Roma. It helps to also take any remaining Papal provinces in Italy, although those can wait for a third war if absolutely necessary. It may also be necessary to go to war with Ferrara or Florence if they've conquered one of the provinces while the Papal States were weakened from the player's first war. (However, if the Papal States conquered any territory from Ferrara, Siena, or Florence, it isn't necessary to reconquer it.) Holding Roma gives a penalty to Diplomatic Reputation (making it harder to be re-elected Emperor or pass reforms), so as soon as Roma is cored and added to the Empire, it can be returned to the Papal States with the Return Province button. (Because Roma is part of the Holy Roman Empire and the Papal States will always set their capital to Roma, they immediately become a member of the Empire.)
If all of this is done before 1490, congratulations! All of the Italian countries and provinces will now remain part of the Holy Roman Empire. As long as no provinces are annexed by a non-member before 1550 (France, Provence, Naples, and Venice can be dangerous), they will remain so permanently.
Diplomatic or Influence should always be Austria's first idea group due to the importance of holding onto the Holy Roman Emperor title. Both grants an additional Diplomatic Relations (more allies) and Diplomatic Reputation (votes for Austria/supporting reforms). Influence is better for rapid expansion thanks to reduced aggressive expansion and reduced diploannex costs. But Diplomacy has better events (including one that could give +5 Imperial Authority), better improved relations, free royal marriage breaking.
Offensive or Defensive are both helpful to Austria as a major land power that must repel hostile invasions on the HRE. Offensive is slightly more useful due to the need to wage many small wars within the HRE to free annexed states (improved siege = faster wars), as well as the larger forcelimits to win battles against the huge French army.
Religious or Humanism is essential by the third idea group in order to counter the religious chaos of the Reformation. Because it's in Austria's interests (as Emperor) to remain Catholic and convert Protestant/Reformed princes back to Catholicism, Religious is easily the better choice. But if the Reformation starts right next to or within Austria, Humanism may be necessary to prevent Austria from descending into religious chaos. Alternative, the Religious-Offensive policy (Anti-Heresy Act) offers a powerful bonus (+20% Religious Unity, +3% Missionary Strength vs Heretic) for a cheap MIL upkeep cost.