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This article is considered accurate for the current version of the game.

Primary culture
Aztec (Central American)

Capital province
Mexico (852)

Despotic MonarchyGovernment monarchy.png

State religion

Technology group
Ideas and traditions

Traditions.png Traditions:

+10% Infantry combat ability
-10% Idea cost

War exhaustion cost.png Flower Wars

-10% Reduce war exhaustion cost

Legitimacy.png Sustaining the Gods

+1 Yearly legitimacy

Manpower recovery speed.png Telpochcalli

+10% Manpower recovery speed

Morale of armies.png Eagles and Jaguars

+10% Morale of armies

National tax modifier.png Imperial Tribute

+10% National tax modifier

Production efficiency.png Floating Gardens

+10% Production efficiency

Spy offense.png Pochtecayotl

+20% Spy offense

Idea bonus.png Ambitions:

+25% National manpower modifier

Aztec is a country located in the Central America. It is also the primary nation of the Aztec culture.

Note: If converted from CK2 game where Sunset Invasion is active, they will have other national ideas and the High American technology group High American technology group.


Main article: Aztec events



The 1.8 update drastically changed the Meso-American region. There are now many warring nations in the region, and the Aztecs have a lot less power than they used to. Starting out, the strategy is the same standard one; form alliances and use conquest to create an American powerhouse. Generally you should try to keep your tech low and conserve monarch points for westernization, but there are a few key technologies that are highly advisable to have. First and foremost, you NEED diplomatic tech 3. With it, you can create heavy ships, which are your best chance against the conquistadors. By the time that Europe arrives, their armies will be leagues ahead of yours, and any land battle that you fight will be almost a guaranteed loss. Your ships however will be more evenly matched, and thanks to having two coastlines, valuable trade goods and high basetax, you can field a very large number of heavy ships. With these, you should be able to prevent the Europeans from making landfall. Slightly less important is administrative tech 4, and the idea that it provides. While it's tempting to go straight for a colonist to expand your realm right away, this also expands your coastline, making it harder to defend with your fleet. Instead, you should go for either humanist ideas to help with westernization and the eventual conquest of European lands, or naval ideas to give your obsidian navy a bit of extra oomph for that first frantic defense. As for military tech, just keep it at or above whoever you're trying to conquer and you should be fine. I also recommend using culture conversion, both to keep your diplomatic power around the 2,000 mark and to keep the unrest low when you westernize. Now, all that you have to do is unify Mesoamerica and wait for a European colony to pop up near you so that you can westernize off of it. If you're given the option to convert to some form of Christianity while westernizing, it's really up to you. On one hand, conversion will make it easier for you to make powerful western allies and get rid of that pesky anti-pagan CB, but on the other hand, it will drive your unrest up to dangerous levels, practically ensuring at least one rebellion while you're westernizing. Anyways, once you're western, you can do whatever you want. Colonize Australia, kick the Europeans out of America, or even take the fight to them and shoot for the Sunset Invasion achievement; the possibilities are just about endless.

1.10/El Dorado[edit]

The release of the 1.10 update and the El Dorado DLC has dramatically altered the gameplay of the Aztecs. Previously, the optimal strategy would have been to conquer all neighboring nations and tech up to build a fleet that can hold off the Europeans. This is no longer possible, for two reasons. One, the doom mechanic that applies to the Nahuatl (Aztec) religion will increase more rapidly based on the number of provinces you hold. The more land, the more doom. Two, the five religious reforms that can be passed to slow the accumulation of doom and prepare for westernization require you to have five vassals. As a result, the Aztec game becomes one of a decentralized empire, rapidly expanding, contracting, and repeating the cycle.

Doom increases based on the number of provinces directly owned, and decreases due to battles, sieges won and vassalizations. If desperate, the leaders of subject nations can be sacrificed on the subject tab to provide a quick doom reduction at the expense of vassal loyalty.

In the beginning, you need to repeatedly attack your neighbors, while (at least initially) allying some, as your army will not be strong enough to fight off 2-3 at once. You can always initially ally Colima and Itza, they do not border you and should be friendly, and you do not need any of their provinces. They both also have strong armies and are able to help you significantly. Mostly, neighbors will form alliances with 1-2 other states; try to fight two-state alliances initially. Build your army up to your force limit + 1 first. Then, initial targets should be Totonac (for Cuetlaxtlan trade hub), Zapotec (for the three provinces leading to the south) and Tlapanec (for the two provinces to cut them off from Colima). It is important to take the Tlapanec provinces in the first or second doom cycle. This takes away Colima's flower war CB, and gives you five small states just for yourself. Slowly reduce those states in size during the coming wars. Take money during (separate) peace offers, to keep them weak - that also means you need not be afraid to take a few loans during war. Starting with the second (or third) doom cycle, you can also start attacking Cocomes and Xiu through fabricated claims (consider taking one Xiu province that does not border Itza to fabricate on Cocomes) and demand forced conversion during the peace offer. Note that if you vassalize a Mayan state, Itza may turn hostile; same for Colima if you vassalize their remaining neighbor (after you isolate Tlapanec); you can avoid the hostility by taking those vassals last and immediately passing a reform.

If you want to be safe (and are not aiming for the edge of doom achievement), you should not take more than 8-9 ticking doom per year in the first 2 cycles. That means max 4-5 provinces before the first reform. Your first reform should be the +5% discipline increase; seeing as you will be fighting a lot this will help you preserve manpower. Each reform you pass will reduce your doom by 20%, so do the math as to how many provinces you can hold onto safely - seeing as you need less than 50 doom to pass reforms. (The fifth reform reduces your doom growth by 100%, but does not disable the doom mechanic.) Never let the doom counter fill! At maximum doom, your entire ruling family will be sacrificed and replaced with a young 0/0/0 ruler with 20 legitimacy. All stored monarch points will evaporate, all vassals will break free, and stability will be reduced to -3. Avoid at all costs, unless you are absoluty sure you can sustain and you wanna go for the "Die Please Die" Achievment without waiting for fitting ruler.

If you intend to expand to the south, you should do so as soon as possible - that means taking three Zapotec provinces before passing the second reform, as well as the Iximché provinces (and forced conversion during the peace offer to Kiche) to open up southern colonization. If you want to expand quickly, your second reform should be colonization (you cannot afford a colony before your second reform). Otherwise, the stab increase cost reduction may be useful.

By the fifth reform, the neighbors you isolated from Colima as well as Kiche should be down to one province, making them easy to annex afterwards. This is also the time to start turning on Colima and Itza, if you have not yet.

There are two basic strategies to pass the reforms quickly:

  • Truce Cycling: You can choose to respect the truces, preserving your admin and diplo points. During the post-reform truces, in order to reduce your doom, you should then (1) respect call to arms of your allies and (2) attack the other states for forced vassalization, provinces and/or forced conversion. Whenever an event allows you to choose to reduce or increase doom, and your doom is already above 10, choose to reduce. This strategy allows you to pass all five reforms by around 1500, by which time you should have reached the right admin tech to enable the first idea group and unlock a few ideas in the exploration group - prioritize these ideas absolutely over the diplo tech, in that case.
  • Truce Breaking: You do not necessarily have to respect the truces, and can feel free to break them if necessary. That means that your allies will not join; it also means everyone will hate you even more, but that is really not important, as they will not be around for long. This will take you down to -3 stability and increase your war exhaustion every time. You do not need to go back to 0 stab immediately - you can easily surf along at -1 or even -2 stability for a while, to avoid spending too many admin points at once (you need some to core). This strategy can see you attack your former vassals before they find allies, allowing you to fight them alone easily. This strategy should allow you to pass all reforms by 1480 or even earlier.

After passing all reforms, your next concern is to reform your religion (bringing you up to 80% of western tech) and westernize as soon as possible. Your need to keep in mind that the Europeans will attack by 1550 at the latest, at which point they will be military tech 12 or so, and you will still be tech 4 or 5. Here again, there are two strategies:

  • Colony Seizing: As soon as you have a conquistador through the second exploration idea, look for the European colonizers (likely Spain or Portugal) in South America. If you took the truce cycling approach, that should be around 1500, and they would still be far away on the Eastern tip. Wait for a colony to almost finish (less than 975 + whatever their monthly growth is), then declare a no-CB war on them and use the "seize colony" button. If you are lucky, your enemies are busy in another war in Europe at that time. Immediately offer truce, giving them whatever it takes - usually war reparations and money; if they will accept it, one of your allies' trade power should work (at 60% war score). The colony will auto-core upon completion (it is too far awary for you to send a colonizer). Once the colony is completed, immediately reform your religion and start westernization as soon as you have enough monarch points to do so. Do not be afraid to run out of monarch point necessarily. If you are lucky, the European powers will not attack you during that time. To reduce risk, sell back the colony to the colonial nation immediately after westernization is complete, to keep them from having a CB on you for quite some time.
  • Invasion: Your other option to reform and westernize is when the European colonizers (usually Spain, Portugal and/or England) attack by 1550. In that case, do not expand too far south, as that territory will take long to reach in the case of an invasion. You do not need to expand too far along the Eastern coast of North America yet either - there is plenty of time for that later, as the Europeans are a bit slower in colonizing North America. You cannot build ships, so when they land their troops in your territory (ideally a jungle tile), your full army should be enough to defeat their troops, due to the terrain and landing maluses. Let them take one province (or sell it to them afterwards perhaps, if possible) - after they core it, you will be able to reform religion and westernize. This should make your troops strong enough to repel another attack, due to your increased military tech. Be prepared for another attack as soon as the truce timers are up, and while you are still westernizing! Note that whoever took your province can easily fabricate a claim on you later on, so build up your navy as soon as possible.

The strategy for the next 100 year is pretty straightforward: Finish exploration ideas, take expansion and quantity, and get up-to-date on military technology. Expand as quickly as possibly - be sure to take the two policies that allow so: Colonial Expansion (+20 colonial growth at the cost of 1 diplo point) and The Colonial Settlement Act (+1 colonist and +10 colonial growth at the cost of 1 military point). Colonize provinces such as to block off as many empty provinces for yourself as possible. This must be done in North America, which has plenty of provinces. You can choose to also expand in South America - this will likely use all four colonists (later five) in the Americas. Instead of South America, you may also choose to expand in Asia - note though that unlike the Americas, there is 75% minimum autonomy in your new provinces. Expand into the Caribbean as well, to allow moving your trade port there later if feasible. You can also attack close-by or neighboring primitives once you complete exploration ideas. Feel free to do so and take their provinces (if you can core them) or take money (the North American primitive states are quite rich sometimes) and demand forced conversion - all religions here are Pagan and therefore in your religious group.

Ally powerful Europeans as soon as possible - note that the colonizers will likely be hostile to you most of the time, and in any case not very reliable allies, as they tend to want your provinces. More likely and valuable allies will be Austria or Sweden (if they are strong) or the Commonwealth. Take allies that are likely to join wars against Spain, Portugal, Great Britain or France. Keep those allies by following their Call to Arms, unless the war is very difficult to win or counters your interests too much. A foothold in Europe will reduce the border distance malus and allow you to ally them more easily, as will attacking their rivals. If colonial nations declare independence, they may also make good allies - you should be far stronger than them by now, and they can help deter Europeans from invading you.

If you go for the Sunset Invasion achievement, get a foothold in Europe as soon as opportunity presents itself (for example, an Irish minor with no friends), and start attacking in earnest as soon as you reach diplo tech 22 with the Imperialism CB. Watch your AE, as you want to avoid a coalition forming against you. Rome may take only one war to get (if you are lucky), Lisbon and Holland will likely take at least two; London, Ile-de-France (Paris) and Madrid will likely take three wars to obtain. You need to isolate the capital first before you can demand it in a war (i.e., no bordering province owned by the country). Note that you can avoid truce-breaking by declaring on a nation's allies that you do not have a truce with (asking them to annul treaties will help with this, as they will seek new allies); this will, however, double the province war score cost for your actual target, meaning you can likely only take 2-3 provinces. Your biggest challenge will likely be getting Paris, as France usually has a very strong military by the time you can attack them in the late 1600s.