- −10% Land attrition
- +2 Tolerance of heathens
- +20% Income from vassals
- +10% Production efficiency
- +10% National manpower modifier
- +5% Discipline
- +0.5 Yearly navy tradition
- +1 Merchant
- +10% Trade efficiency
- +10% Infantry combat ability
- Main article: Malian events
This section may contain outdated information that is inaccurate for the current version of the game.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 1.21.
Mali in 1444 is an empire on the decline, having once stretched to Timbuktu and Gao and now consisting of just the empire's heartland around the capital and the twin gold mines of Bure and Bambuk. Your former subjects however are weak and offer plenty of room to expand. Additionally, Mali's location just a short hop across the Romanche gap from Brazil offers a unique opportunity for a careful player to colonize the New World before even the Iberian powers.
If the player decides to play a colonial game, rushing for the relevant technology will require putting off territorial expansion for the next 50 years or so as the player can't afford to use admin points on coring new conquests. Instead the player will have to focus on getting admin tech 5 so they can unlock the first idea group: Exploration. The player can still expand by vassalisation however. The player should start by allying Macina to keep them as a stable buffer while turning their sights on Kong and Jenné. Invariably the two will ally each other. Check which of the two has a second ally and declare war on the other one after fabricating a claim. Stomp them completely and the option to vassalise them both appears at 100% warscore. Because their development is so low, both can vassalised in just the one war.
Next comes Jolof on the coast. They are too isolated to have any allies so defeating them is easy. Take the mission to conquer Siine and fabricate a claim. You can afford to annex and core Siine alone, for the sake of fullfing the mission and keeping Jolof as a smaller and more loyal vassal.
Next comes a few decades of relative quiet. Send diplomats to make amends with the vassals you've returned to the Mansa's fold. Leave an advancement edict running on your capital state so that the feudalism institution arrives sometime in 1480s. As a Muslim country, Mali will periodically get flavour events that will effect your piety. Aim to get it as low as possible to get a -10% off technology costs. You can play with estates to get more admin power. The Ulema can be used to get level 2 administrative adivsors for half the upkeep, and you can squeeze them periodically for 50 and 100 admin points, however, be mindful not to lose the loyalty of a powerful clergy. Also, admin points can be earned from getting 50 power projection, so pick a rival if there's still one available and act as nasty as possible to them without actually seizing their land. Send them insults, embargo them, and humiliate them in wars.
Around 1470 the Fulo will appear in the empty land to the east of Jolof. They'll receive cores on your Fulani provinces and you'll take an unrest hit, but they actually aren't that powerful. Macina will usually eat them up.
When you're approaching admin tech 5, stop spending diplo points to save up for buying ideas in the Exploration line. To have the colonial range to reach the new world, the player will need diplomatic technology 3 and the first 3 diplomatic ideas, which will cost 1200 diplo points, and it's preferably to have as close to that amount on standby as possible for when you finally unlock your first idea slot. After that it's just a matter of sending your three starting Barques out on a exploration mission to Brazil, and thereafter a colonist. Executed right, Malian explorers will make landfall in the New World around 1490.
Now that your admin point austerity has paid off, feel free to go annexing any thing you want. In the New World, you can annex the various native OPMs to help your Brazilian colony take off. Be warned though, your troops don't have quite the fire and steel of the Conquistadors, and you may find fighting them more difficult then you are used to.
Back in Africa, start expanding by war and integration of your vassals. If your alliance with Macina has stood, end it soon, as you'll want to expand into their land rather than eastwards into Mossi lands because Macina offers provinces in the Mande culture group. Senegambia and Fulani are good choices to promote to accepted culture at this time. For a second idea, go economics to help you control inflation, autonomy, and it's other fantastic bonuses.
Around this time Europeans will begin to colonize Guniea to the south of your empire. Seek an alliance with Morocco and watch the Iberian powers closely. When they show weakness and get involved in a war with Morocco, see if you can swipe a few colonies off them. Eventually a European power will try to colonize Brazil as well, and follow the same drill. Between annexing OPMs and colonization you should get a colonial nation up well before them, so use the advantage of colonial troops and a secure base to make up for your technological inferiority and drive them off the continent before they can get entrenched.
With this strategy Mali will go into the 1500s as a transatlantic and westernizing power, able to tangle with the largest European powers in its slice of the world. If the Europeans can be driven out of Brazil and West Africa completely, it will seriously hinder their ability to colony hop along the tip of Africa and into the wealth of the east indies, the lands the Christians were trying to reach since losing the silk road connection with the fall of Byzantium. In the coming centuries, an enterprising player is in a position to tap this vast wealth for himself.