- +10% Morale of armies
- +30% Improve relations
- +10% Imperial authority growth modifier
- −15% Diplomatic annexation cost
- −10% Fort maintenance
- +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. It is up to the Emperor of the traditionally fractious German HRE states to unify the Empire as the famous Habsburgs and stake their claim on history as a world power.
Austria is present 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.
The Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire may be called into defensive wars against outside aggressors, and are also tasked with maintaining order in the empire and enforcing religious unity.
- 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.
Playing Austria is very different from most other nations in the game and therefore could offer a unique experience. Austria should 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 form the one of the best sets 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.
As a note, economically Austria is relatively weak in trade due to its home trade node being the inland node of Wien. However Austria is unique in that it has one of the few gold mines in Europe (Tirol) and starts out as Emperor with 8 free cities providing a 16 ducat bonus as taxes per year. The inflation from the gold mine can be managed by either Economic Ideas, Austria's third national idea, or by using Papal Influence to choose the Forgive Usury action that reduces inflation.
Austria is also perhaps in the best position to form the Holy Roman Empire, due to starting as Emperor, having several diplomatic oriented national ideas, and their relative position and strength in the empire to enforce their will on the other Princes. Following the steps below will help ensure the player can form the Empire at a relatively quick pace.
- with more princes in the HRE +0.004 per prince over 25
- up to 8 free cities +0.005 per city
- peace in the empire +0.10
- heretic princes -0.01 per prince
- electors that are vassals or missing electors -0.1 per elector (This does not include personal unions, however there is a -50 penalty in elections for the suzerain.)
- Imperial provinces under the control of non-members or subjects of non-members -.005 per province.
Other mechanics can be seen at Holy Roman Empire.
Minimizing the Reformation
To reduce the impact of the Reformation it may be helpful to let one province countries like Friesland or Oldenburg be annexed by larger countries to prevent centers of reformation and religious rebels from instantly converting princes. This decreases Imperial Authority tick, but they may be released after 1650 if their cores still exist.
Another option of dealing with the reformation is to go to war with countries in the Empire who have centers of reformation in them, take the province, and convert it back to Catholicism. This will help stop the spread and ensure more nearby princes stay true to the faith. If done quickly enough, the Empire may be able to avoid the Thirty Years War altogether. However, Reformation Centers have high Missionary resistance and thus Austria will usually need to either complete all Religious ideas to have enough Missionary Strength for conversion, or embrace the Counter-Reformation.
Rein in Northern Italy
The Empire can be greatly strengthened by preventing the Shadow Kingdom event.
Preventing the Shadow Kingdom is most easily accomplished by enacting the Rein in Northern Italy decision, which requires that eight provinces be under Austria's rule through direct or indirect ownership: Venice's Treviso, Fruili, and Verona, Urbino's Urbino, and The Papal State's Ancona, Romagna, Umbria, and Roma. Successful completion of the Rein in Northern Italy decision adds all the listed provinces to the HRE. Enforcing this decision means more Imperial Authority, but it also means more wars to keep minor states in line, and potentially more princes to fall victim to the Reformation spread. Careful management will be needed to ensure that Austria can keep the Italian princes in line with the rest of the Empire.
The strategies behind dealing with Burgundy should have in mind keeping Imperial territory in Empire hands and protected from France and England. The strategy can be started from Sundgau via fabrication or a rival conquest mission. Ways to pull apart Burgundy include:
- Forcing Burgundy to move their capital by annexing Bourgogne through Franche-Comté. Burgundy may move their capital into Imperial territory automatically forcing Brabant and Holland back into Imperial arms. (This is greatly increased by having Picardie and Artois in another nations hands: France has missions and England generally fabricates claims.)
- At least three wars, releasing Hainaut, Luxembourg, cancelling the subjects of Holland, Brabant, and reclaiming French-Comté.
- through the Burgundian Succession Crisis (a luck based event) which can give direct control over all provinces controlled by Burgundy or its subjects which are in the Holy Roman Empire. Note though that France will generally receive control of the Bourgogne, Picardie, Artois, Charolais, Nevers, and Rethel provinces. Austria can also choose to release the princes after inheriting their land for more imperial authority with the bonus of having another base of territory in the Empire to keep the Princes in line.
Other Subject Members
Provence at the start is the suzerain of Lorraine (Metz and Lothringen) and controls the Imperial territory of Barrois, from which you can release Bar to have an extra prince. Holstein is also part of the Empire, but is a vassal under Denmark.
Territories of Non-Member Nations
Neumark, a core of Brandenburg starts under Teutonic Order's control at the start. There is now an event that can allow the TO to sell Neumark to Brandenburg, or otherwise Brandenburg will usually get it via war. Brescia, a Venetian province, is also part of the Empire, and can usually be returned to Milan should Austria go to war with Venice to add their provinces to the Empire.
If the first Imperial Reform is passed, the Imperial ban casus belli may be used to secure these provinces.
Diplomatic or Influence are strong contenders for first idea group due to the importance of holding onto the Holy Roman Emperor title. Both grant an +1 diplomatic relations and +2 diplomatic reputation (+10 modifier for elections and +5 per point for supporting Empire reforms). Influence enables faster expansion due to reduced aggressive expansion (-20%) and reduced diplomatic annexation costs (-25%). Diplomacy, however, may have better events (including one that could give +5 Imperial Authority), better improved relations (+25%), and free royal marriage breaking (from -1 stability and -1 prestige).
Offensive or Defensive are both helpful to Austria as a major land power that must repel hostile invasions on the HRE. Offensive may be slightly more useful due to the need to wage many small wars within the HRE to free annexed states, as Engineer Corps decreases the length of siege times +20% and Grand Army provides a larger force limit +20% to win battles against the French, Ottoman or Polish armies.
Religious or Humanism may be essential by the third idea group in order to counter the heretics during the Reformation. It is in the Emperor's interest to remain Catholic and convert Protestant/Reformed princes back to Catholicism which makes Religious a strong choice. However, if the Reformation starts right next to or within Austria, Humanism may be necessary to prevent the religious turmoil disaster. Alternatively, the Religious-Offensive policy (Anti-Heresy Act) offers a powerful bonus (+20% Religious Unity, +3% Missionary Strength vs Heretic) for a -1 monarch point upkeep cost.