This article is considered accurate for the current version (1.12) of the game.
- -20% Fort maintainance
- -10% Idea cost
- +5% Fort defense
- +25% Garrison size
- +5% Discipline
- -10% Stability cost modifier
- +10% Production efficiency
- +10% National trade income modifier
- +10% National tax modifier
- +1 Land leader fire
- +30% Better relations over time
The Ming Dynasty ruled China for nearly 300 years, from 1368 until the Manchu conquest of mainland China in 1644 (the founding of the Qing Dynasty) and until the 1680s in the form of holdout states in Taiwan and southern China. The Ming have traditionally been held as one of the high points of China's long history; Chinese art and literature flourished, many great projects were undertaken, civil service examinations were reestablished and great trading voyages that drew tribute from as far away as Africa were expedited.
By the game's start in 1444, however, these merchant adventures have stopped and China has turned inward. The scientific progress of the Song Dynasty has slowed, and the Ming court began to adopt an isolationist outlook to foreign affairs. Furthermore, court eunuchs and bureaucrats began a power struggle to influence the future of China. This manifests within the game as a system of competing factions. Managing these factions will be one of the great tests for players as a Chinese ruler.
Strategically, Ming is in a good position. Holding the entirety of the extremely populous Chinese region, it has an unrivaled base tax and more provinces than any country in the world, with no major rivals that pose an immediate threat. However, its provinces are administered with high autonomy due to the Celestial Empire government, severely limiting the manpower and tax income available to the emperor. While the Jurchen (Manchu) and Mongol hordes are fractured for the moment, given enough time, unified horde armies can pose an existential threat to Ming.
In addition to rising threats to the north, Ming has serious internal issues. The high autonomy limits income and manpower. The Ming dynasty's right to rule over China, like all previous dynasties, is dependent on the Mandate of Heaven: losing it due to weak successions or lack of stability will cause terrifying rebellions to rise up and destroy Ming.
- 1 Ming's unique challenges
- 2 Factions
- 3 Religion
- 4 Missions
- 5 Events
- 6 Decisions
- 7 Strategy
- 8 Alternative setup and strategy: Division
Ming's unique challenges
Ming has a unique government form called the Celestial Empire, reflecting the Chinese belief that a well-governed empire was evidence of divine sanction and blessing, whereas a poorly governed or tyrannical one was evidence that the Emperor could be deposed. The Celestial Empire government effect is technology cost -10%, a minimum province autonomy of 50%, a negative force limit modifier of -33%, and a Chinese Bureaucracy system. Chinese Bureaucracy comes with the Mandate of Heaven triggered modifier and a faction system. It is also the cultural union for the East Asian culture group. As of 1.12, Ming no longer has the Inward Perfection modifier.
The Celestial Empire also imposes a minimum 50% local autonomy on all its provinces, further reducing the effectiveness of taxes, manpower, force limit and trading power available to Ming. It is common for only a fraction of a province's tax and manpower to become available for Ming.
There is a way for Ming to reform and remove these crushing inefficiencies, that is to seek contact with Europeans, and westernize the country. Upon finishing westernization, not only does Ming get the western tech group, but it also loses the Celestial Empire government and Chinese Bureaucracy.
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a triggered modifier exclusive to Ming. The Mandate of Heaven is a belief in the ancient Chinese and philosophical idea in the Chinese dynasties that Heaven granted the emperor the right to rule based on their ability to govern well and fairly. Thus it was Heaven who decided the first ruler of a dynasty. The government itself can be directly compared to an absolute monarchy, the emperor had all the power of the country and its throne would be succeeded by his heir. If the current emperor fails to rule the country and does not fulfill his obligations as the emperor, the Mandate of Heaven will decide that he is not worthy of ruling the country and loses his right to rule. Cases of natural disasters (famine, flood, etc.) are taken as signs of Heaven's displeasure with the current ruler and will also mean the loss of Mandate of Heaven. The citizens will start uproars and rebellions to overthrow the emperor with his dynasty and a new one will rise. The new emperors were often leaders of rebellions, people of common birth that exceeded in leading his people to victory and thus be considered "chosen" of Heaven (the first Ming emperor for example), gaining the Mandate of Heaven and the right to rule.
Ming is currently the only country who can receive the modifier. As long as Ming is not western or westernizing, has factions, at least 20 provinces, stability of 0 or more, and legitimacy of 60 or more, the Mandate of Heaven will be active. It has the following effects:
If the requirements aren't met, the modifier is replaced by the modifier "Mandate of Heaven Lost," which has the following effects:
Although Ming is a cultural union, nationalist rebels can revolt if "Mandate of Heaven Lost" is active.
Additionally, an emperor can lose his right to rule if he loses the Mandate of Heaven, which can occur in-game.
The Mandate of Heaven is a strong modifier to ensure stability within the country, it is very important to keep it alive, losing it will mean an increase of +10 National unrest in total and an increase in stability cost. Rebels, including nationalists from cultures in Ming's cultural union, will rise up in every corner, while income and maximum manpower will be reduced. This is one one the main reasons for Ming to Westernize. When Ming starts westernisation, they will lose both Mandate of Heaven and Mandate of Heaven Lost and only the westernisation modifiers will come into play. Losing the mandate of heaven through an unlucky chain of events before westernisation can be attempted is not unlikely, but survivable.
A Ming without Mandate of Heaven is not necessarily doomed, but the threat of rebellions effectively prohibits waging wars while the Mandate of Heaven is lost. The goal is to regain the Mandate of Heaven as soon as possible.
To avoid losing the mandate of heaven due to low stability, Ming should make sure that it has at least +2 stability in case of sudden events and emperor deaths and keep good amounts of administrative power saved for those cases.
Loosing the Mandate of Heaven due to low legitimacy is a more difficult issue. With Patch 1.12, surviving this has became significantly easier, since it is now possible to retire an unhired advisor to gain a new one. This is costly, but allows to selectively search for a theologian advisor (-2 national unrest). With this, Ming can bring its national unrest down to manageable levels, while hoping for an event that increases legitimacy. It goes without saying that Ming should stockpile money for this eventuality. If Ming doesn't have enough cash reserves, going into debt might be a better option than leaving the unrest unchecked.
If the current heir to the Celestial Empire only has a weak or an average claim to the throne, Ming can try to switch to the Bureaucrat Faction and hope for the event that increases his claim strength.
Three factions compete for power and influence within the Ming Empire, each with a governing focus:
- The Bureaucrats on administration and infrastructure.
- The Eunuchs focus on trade and diplomacy.
- The Temple on war and religion.
Each faction has unique events that are themed around their government focus.
The faction system is removed when Ming westernizes, and the Celestial Empire government is replaced with a feudal monarchy.
Full list of effects:
Full list of effects:
Full list of effects:
- Main article: Religions and denominations
Confucianism belongs to the Eastern religious group and is Ming's primary religion. Confucianism is a highly tolerant religion that confers Tolerance of heretics: +2 and Tolerance of heathens: +1. Heretic religions are Buddhism and Shinto.
There are events & decisions associated with Confucianism.
- Enforce our Heritage: -1 tolerance of heathens, +2% missionary strength
- Anti-Christian Edict: +2% missionary strength, -10% better relations over time
- Resurgence of Neo-Confucianism: +2 tolerance of heretics or +1% missionary strength, +1 yearly legitimacy & +1 national unrest.
If the player chooses the Humanist idea group, Confucianism will confer the maximum +3 tolerance of heathens and heretics. This effectively overwrites the reduction in tolerance from Enforce our Heritage and the revolt increase from choosing to denounce Neo-Confucianism.
Ming may force conversions on Buddhist or Shinto nations through warfare.
If Ming chooses to accept Jesuit entry into China, it can lead the nation down an event chain culminating in the state religion changing to Catholicism.
Restore the old frontier
This mission is also available to the Manchu.
Advance to the Black River
- is_playing_historical_setup = yes
- Any of the following:
- Country is Ming
- Country is Manchu
- Is uncolonized
- Has been discovered by our country
- Any of the following:
- The faction system is disabled
- The Eunuch Faction is in power
- num_of_colonists = 1
- Has at least 1 ports
- Any of the following:
- Any of the following:
- The faction system is enabled
- The Eunuch Faction is not in power
- All of the following:
- Is colonized
- Does not own Deren
- Has less than 1 ports
- Any of the following:
- Owns Deren
- Any of the following:
- The faction system is disabled
- The Eunuch Faction is in power
- Changes prestige by 3
Note: This mission currently cannot fire, as the Manchu tribe Yeren already controls Deren in 1444.
- is_playing_historical_setup = yes
- Country is Ming
- Has the idea Quest for the New World
- Indian Coast:
- Has not been discovered by our country
- Has at least 1 ports
- Does not have the idea Quest for the New World
- Has less than 1 ports
- Indian Coast:
- Has been discovered by our country
- Changes treasury by 50 ducats
- Adds the modifier "Colonial Enthusiasm" for 5.14 years:
- +5% colonist chance
- +25 global settler increase
Note: This mission currently cannot fire, as Ming has already discovered the entirety of India in 1444.
- Main article: Ming events
The events for Ming China are a mixture of religious, reformation, and political events, from "The Arrival of Jesuits" to "The Closure of China" and "Qi Jiguang's Army Reforms". They will affect the country in many diverse ways, bringing factions in and out of favor and adding extra flavor.
Despite being the most powerful nation in 1444, Ming is in a precarious situation. Wars can be risky due to a low manpower pool and limited offensive forces. Income generation can be difficult when choosing to invest in advisors or the military. Trade will eventually begin to leave the empire due to increasing competition from regional neighbors and the eventual arrival of the Europeans. Due to Ming's size, this makes managing revolts a lot harder, although Ming's being a cultural union offsets this a little bit. The state of Ming therefore heavily depends on the legitimacy of the ruler. Even an average claim successor can put Ming severely at risk. However, when stability is secured, Ming is capable of showcasing its full power.
Due to Ming's massively inefficient government, it is strongly suggested to westernize as soon as possible. While Ming's size if sufficient to deter aggressors in the early to mid campaign, unified horde neighbors in the north, consolidated allies in the south, the approaching Russian expansion and the impending arrival of European colonizers will eventually test the empire.
Understanding when to switch faction control is crucial to avoiding the penalties associated with Chinese Bureaucracy. Switching between factions costs monarch points and is slightly offset by the Celestial Empire's reduced tech cost. When faction events occur, it is recommended the player also take into consideration the balance of power between the factions. Events will frequently occur that will boost or reduce the power of a faction, which can reduce the cost when switching between them at a later date.
Early in the game, should Ming be at war, it is advised to have the Temple faction in power, as they provide discipline bonuses. Eunuchs are also a good choice, as they have no bonuses or penalties to discipline. With Bureaucrats in power, Ming gets penalties to discipline that will render its troops unable to beat similar sized or even smaller enemy armies. The Temple faction also reduces the diplomatic power cost for pressing unjustified demands.
Should the Ming ruler have a weak or no heir, it is crucial to keep the Bureaucrats in power, as they offset the penalty to the chance of getting an heir and trigger events to increase claim strength. This is crucial as the consequences of a weak heir or no heir can be more severe for Ming than other countries, because it will trigger the Mandate of Heaven Lost modifier. Large scale building projects or construction of special buildings are more affordable with the Bureaucrat faction in power.
During peace time, the player may choose to keep the Eunuch faction in power. This will allow the player to better afford advisors and profit from trade. The Eunuch faction will also allow the player to integrate vassals faster due to their +1 to Diplomatic Reputation.
Besides the aforementioned situations, deciding on factions is a matter of long-term orientation, and should be adjusted according to the difficulties facing the country.
Ming starts out with low manpower, behind in military tech and inferior unit strength when compared to the steppe hordes in the north. Because of this, Ming must be wary when engaging in northern wars. The Oirat are a large early threat due to attrition taken in their territory, starting with a 5 shock general and their Mongolian vassal. Oirat will typically attempt to force-vassalize the neighboring hordes, keeping them busy early in the game. This allows the player to turn their focus to Manchuria. It is advised that the player remains aware of the condition of Oirat since they may either grow stronger through expansion or become vulnerable.
Early on, Ming has an option to focus on building manpower and gaining horde vassals through diplomacy, rather than costly wars. It is possible to vassalize, through diplomacy, Korchin & Haixi. If either of these hordes claim too much land from Yeren, however, the player might not be able to use this tactic. The use of war to gain a horde vassal is advised if diplomacy is not an option. Having Korea as an ally is useful if this option is needed. A steppe horde vassal has many benefits such as military strength and their Tribal Feud casus belli. This casus belli may be used to force vassalize or annex other steppe hordes. The use of horde vassals will allow Ming to remove the only other direct threat to the early game, the Oirats, and to fight wars on the southern borders or begin an expansion into Central Asia.
Another option is for Ming to establish an early foothold in resource rich Southeast Asia. Many nations in the south can be vassalized through diplomacy, enabling Ming to engage in offensive wars for the Siam trade node. Wars fought in Southeast Asia can be costly due to tropical attrition and a web of alliances.
Ming also has the option to remain mostly neutral to expansion and to focus on internal stability, technology rushing and building infrastructure. This option, while not the most engaging, will allow Ming to quickly surpass her neighbors in technology and income and establish a solid infrastructure to offset some of the maluses from the Chinese Bureaucracy.
- Main article: Idea group
If Ming is seeking to colonize or westernize early, then the Exploration group should be a first choice. To get into contact with western nations, at least one colonist is required (see: Westernization, below). The Expansion group also provides a colonist, and is useful in its utility allowing a westernized Ming an extremely rapid conquest of Asia, additional trade control & a policy to enhance their already boosted leader fire. However, not more than 50% of the idea groups may be taken from the same category (in this case administrative), so if Humanism is to be taken as second idea, Expansion can not be taken as first idea. Also, only Exploration gives the option to hire explorers and conquistadors - without them most colonization strategies are difficult.
A crucial idea group for helping Ming keep stable is the Humanism idea group. Providing -2 to unrest globally and additional religious tolerance is very useful for a rapidly expanding empire. This is especially important when westernizing to mitigate some of the unrest it will generate. Since Confucianism already has a tolerance for heretics and heathens, it works well with this idea group and will allow Ming to effectively ignore differences in religion. The Cultural ties idea of Humanism, which halves the accepted culture threshold, is not as useful for Ming as for other nations. China starts already quite large, and even with the additional -10% bonus provided from trading in silk, a foreign culture whose provinces were conquered by the Empire, will only rarely be large enough to become accepted. (Before Patch 1.12, Cultural ties was useful to make Manchu an accepted culture, but since Ming is a cultural union of all Chinese cultures, including Manchu, now, this is no longer important.)
The Trade idea group is essential for Ming. Paired with Expansion, Ming will have uncontested control of all trade in the east. During the mid to late campaign, this will also afford Ming the ability to strategically control trade at important choke points such as Cape, Gulf of Aden, Mexico and Ceylon.
A westernized Ming is in no short supply of manpower or troops, so recommended military ideas are Offensive and Quality. Ming's troops fight with frightening accuracy when these idea groups and the national idea,Red Cannon, are combined. Paired with Expansion and Quality, Ming has access to The Mining Act which will increase fire damage even further with an additional +1 to land leader fire. It is not uncommon for Ming to have 6 land leader fire pips with minimal tradition.
Diplomacy paired with Humanism will give Ming access to the Multilingual Diplomats policy, when combined with Trading in Silk, allows more culture groups outside Ming cultural union to become accepted. Diplomacy will also allow Ming to annex more land per war during conquests. Since Ming is likely to suffer from many negative relationship modifiers with European powers, the enhanced diplomatic reputation will assist in creating powerful alliances.
The Innovative idea group has a number of events that provide monarch power and is helpful in keeping Ming technologically on track during and after westernizing. The bonus of -25% to advisor cost capitalizes on Ming's Trading in Tea bonus and, combined with the Diplomatic Cooperation policy, reduces overall advisor costs by 45%. Effectively allowing Ming to easily afford tier 3 advisors and divert more income to other interests.
Economic is another option for Ming; however, since Ming begins with uncontested trade, a large base tax and luxury trade goods to stimulate income, it is not an essential choice.
Ming has many options for expansion, being the strongest early power in the Far East region. Conquest, vassalization and colonization are all within Ming's circle of influence. While being powerful, Ming does not have the luxury of picking wars at will and can be risky. Annexation outside of the Chinese culture group/union yields results as low as 0% tax income and 17% manpower. Due to these penalties and the relatively low base tax of surrounding provinces, the profit from conquered territories can be negligible. Losing a war can also be devastating as provinces from Ming have a -50% war score cost due to autonomy.
Ming's most imminent threat is from the steppe hordes in the north due to their superior unit type and military technology level. Defeating the northern threats will open an optional path for colonization of the Siberian region. The Oirat are more difficult to cripple due to their starting general and Mongolian vassal. The Oirat provinces are vast in size but very poor, and attrition is severe in their territory. An offensive push into Oirat is advised when Ming has military tech parity and sufficient support from sources such as alliances and vassals. Provinces in this region will produce little to no profit for Ming due to low base tax and different culture groups. The four steppe hordes in the northeast of China do not pose a serious early threat to Ming on their own; however, they become a formidable foe if they manage to unify themselves into the Manchu nation. Ming has the option to attempt diplomatic vassalization or direct conquest of these nations. Many of these provinces are in the Chinese culture group, which may make it favorable to own directly through immediate annexation or an eventual integration by vassalization.
The Tibet region is not a threat to Ming and may be possible to diplomatically vassalize, conquered or even ignored. The provinces are very poor, do not hold valuable trade goods or manpower. The region is entirely mountainous, which makes any war very costly due to attrition; however, there are some benefits of owning the Tibetan region. The region is ideal for starting an expansion into India, leading to the highly lucrative Bengal trade node. An early march Tibet may also be used defensively against a rival Timurids or Oirat. Owning the Tibetan region is advised if the player is seeking a strategic profit versus an economic profit.
While resource rich South East Asia does not pose an imminent threat, nations that consolidate power in the region can become challenging to subjugate and will eventually siphon Ming's trade value. Wars can be costly to manpower due to the attrition from tropical provinces. Provinces in this region are not an accepted culture in Ming and incur steep penalties. South East Asia can be used to begin an expansion into Malaysia, leading to lucrative trade income for Ming.
Korea, by themselves, is no threat to Ming; however, they may ally with Oirat or neighboring steppe hordes. Early attempts to diplomatically vassalize Korea may prove unsuccessful due to their base tax. Direct annexation of their lands will also provide little benefit, outside of naval force limit, due to Korean not being in the Chinese culture group. Korea may be attacked by Japan, which can be useful to a Ming that is currently not their ally. Coming to Korea's aid and successfully defending them will unlock a Ming claim on the entirety of Korea, allowing an affordable conquest of the nation. It is possible for Korean culture to become accepted with silk trade and investing in the Humanism idea group.
Japan is not a direct threat to Ming and can mostly be engaged at the player's discretion. Japan and her diamyos can field similar armies as Ming, with higher quality. The provinces hold some valuable trade goods, gold and many ports. It may be beneficial for the player to stay aware of daimyo independence, which can present an opportunity for a Ming invasion. Japanese is not an accepted culture of Ming, but may become one if the player owns the entirety of the Japanese island. Japan may be difficult to invade for a Ming that has not built up a sizable navy.
Another nation that can be utilized for long-term conquests is the Chagatai Khanate. Force vassalizing the Chagatai before they gain allies will give Ming access to the Siberian steppe hordes which can be used for expansion through pressing claims (DLC: Art of War). Since most of the Siberian steppe hordes are in the Muslim religious group, this will allow for easier assimilation with Chagatai. This may also weaken an Oirat rival by limiting their expansion opportunities. With this strategy it is possible to reach Muscovy itselfbefore they begin their colonization expansion.
Diplomatic Expansion and Vassals
With the introduction of Art of War, expanding through vassals by pressing their claims becomes a valuable option for Ming. Not only would this void the Monarch power payment, her underlings will not suffer the same penalties she's stuck with, so the lands are more useful in the hand of her vassals. In fact some of the potential vassals will likely fight much better than Ming ever will, not at least after a century or two, furthermore, with the option of marches, Ming could turn a part, or even parts, of her empire into a powerful war machine.
It should be noted that in certain situations, diplo-vassalization would be less costly than forced ones, and with Ming being tied with an assortment of penalties, she will very likely be in this position. This makes diplomatic vassalization and annexation a viable and sometimes even preferable method of early game expansion. However, in order to maximize diplo-vassalization possibilities, Ming will need to be actively involved in trying to keep everyone around—that's also of the same religious group -- *below 40 base tax* yet *not eliminated*. Ming can do this by proclaiming guarantees of independence, issuing warnings, as well as making allies strategically, being the biggest nation in the neighborhood, her diplomatic vows carries weight, and will generally delay, if not deter, lesser nations from blobbing.
The Oirats again are the greatest threat. Not only could they beat Ming in war early on, they can also very reliably vassalize and annex any nation north of Ming, depriving her of any chance of expanding northwards early, or even at all.
To prevent Manchuria from being unreachable, the region needs to be protected and meddled with, it's unlikely that Ming will be able to completely prevent the growth of every nation there. But by simply slowing the process down, Ming will have time to grab the whole of Manchuria eventually. This is due to the unstable tendencies of these nations, and the likelihood of them having claims on each other, meaning Ming will only need to diploannex one of them to assure the eventual conquest. But should they ever grown too big to fail, Ming will find it difficult to expand there. As a possible starting move, Ming can simply guarantee and ally Korchin and one other nation there, in an attempt to stunt growth of not only the Oirat, but also anyone whom Ming did not side with.
Korea is also part of the Manchuria skirmish, as they are nearby and can also blob out of control. Note-worthily, they start with *just above 40 base tax* so should any of the Manchurian nations, or even Japan, take even one province from Korea, she will be available for diplo-vassalization. Ming can even deliberately cause this either through direct action or inaction: with a declaration of war, by supporting rebels, by throwing a war when on Korea's side, or even by giving the nearby nation of Jianzhou some financial aid. This is overall a viable alternative to the "Defend Korea" mission method, and can be potentially done without ever fighting Korea.
However, the northern states will likely have enough base tax to resist Ming's offer of diplo-vassalization at the start. So, while Ming stalls the unification or conquest of Manchuria, she should try to expand her own base tax in the mean time. Even though war is certainly an option, the southern states are very prone to accepting your offer of vassalization, nonetheless, Ming will again need to hinder any nation there from blobbing.
Perhaps frustratingly, Ming will have a southern equivalent of the Oirats in India, typically Bengal, which is powerful enough that it can beat Ming fair and square, and blob to block your own expansion.Even more troubling are the lesser Buddhist/Confucian nations that tend to blob over 40 base tax and not share a border with Ming, Ayutthaya and Khmer being the prime examples of such potential threats. These nations have decent base tax and army to begin with, and likely has a chance of beating Ming in the early game as well, more so should they ever band together. And much like the Manchurian states, when unchecked they can likely hinder Ming greatly in he prospects of expanding south.
Consequently, the same tactics in Manchuria will also work here, but Ming should be working on getting diplo-annexations as soon as possible instead of just stalling, not only to prevent others blobbing, but to also aid your own expansion efforts. Every possible diplomatic action that would raise relation above +190 should be on the table, even free subsidies that would put Ming into debt.
It should be obvious by now that if Ming wants to expand diplomatically, the Eunuchs should be in power, unless desperate wars, the lack of heir, or a surplus of monarch points calls for other factions to be in power. If Ming plays her cards right, she could potentially diplo-annex a large chunk of anything east of Bengal and north of Malacca plus Tibet, while keeping the north divided and the Oirat at bay. Once Ming gains enough base tax to diplo-vassalize even one Manchuria nation. Ming will be well on her way to face the Oirat. At this point war will be a much more useful and effective tool for Ming, especially with powerful marches and vassals.
In the west, pretty much only one nation that's important will be that of your religion group, the Oirat. The best case scenario of diplomatic annexation, thus, is one of a weakened Oirat. Typically, this will involve the release of Mongolia and the expansion of either Uzbek or Chagatai. Once Oirat is small enough to be offered vassalization, it would be trivial for Ming to restore the Oirat's strength, only this time as a loyal subject. By letting the Oirat expand west and then annex it, Ming could even block off Russia's colonization of Siberia, and better yet, Ming will also have access to early westernization.
Finally, to the east, there's the warring states of Japan. Here, the only thing needed for an ambitious yet diplomatic Ming would be simply getting a vassal, anyone at all, even an OPM daimyo (preferably the one with a gold mine). Japan will never be able to force you to part with it once Ming have one, and whenever Ming wishes, she can press the daimyo's claim, which pertains to *all of Japan*.
As a final note, one should keep marches below 60 base tax, as it would lose all its special modifiers thereafter. By picking a vassal with the right national ideas tradition and ambitions, and feeding province with a small base tax, Ming would greatly enhance her warfare efforts. Some of the better marches available to Ming are the following: Nepal, any Manchu states, Dai Viet, and Khmer.
- Main article: Colonization
By taking exploration and expansion ideas, Ming is capable of colonizing eastern Siberia, Southeast Asia and even the west coast of the New World.
Ming is in an interesting spot for colonization. Local regions like Southeast Asia provide rich trade goods vital for trade income, Siberia provides additional manpower & protection from an expanding Russia while Australia can form the only Colonial Nation in the Pacific. Unlike the Europeans, Ming doesn't have to compete with other colonizing nations, allowing them to colonize unimpeded. It is also not necessary to rush colonization of the Pacific, as Ming has an advantage of being a local regional power and can aggressively conquer colonies once they are founded.
Expanding into the New World can be lucrative to Ming as trade can be steered from Mexico towards the east. It is possible to reach the New World early by access through the north eastern tribes of Siberia to Alaska. In addition, Ming can use these colonies to westernize off colonial powers such as Spain and Portugal.
Colonizing South Africa is lucrative (mainly due to the valuable luxury goods produced in the Cape province) and strategic as it will allow the player to collect most eastern trade, if steered away from the Gulf of Aden. This can handicap Europe's trade income substantially.
- Main article: westernization
While westernizing is not essential for other Asian nations, it is crucial for Ming due to severe maluses that can only be lost through westernizing. Without westernization, direct annexation yields little return for Ming. A westernized Ming will be able to fully utilize its power as the largest nation in the world. It can be capable of directly challenging a full-sized Russia, crushing all opposition in Asia and even invading Europe or the Americas. There is little, if any, challenge for Ming post-westernization.
Dependent on Ming's income when attempted, westernization may only progresses at 5 power per month, meaning westernizing may take around 20 years. Ming loses the Mandate of Heaven when westernizing, which will incur a cumulative base of +10 unrest. This increase in unrest can be extremely dangerous to an unprepared Ming. It is advisable to ensure Ming has 100% religious unity, maximum manpower, has the Humanist idea group to unlock -2 unrest, defeat the northern hordes, and stockpile administration points to increase stability. It is also advised to not attempt westernization if Ming has an elderly ruler, weak/average heir or no heir.
If the player wants to prioritize earlier westernizing, there are some colonization strategies available:
- Island hopping from South East Asia to Africa: Fast colonizing or single province conquest to Africa is a possible strategy for Ming. The player may colonize or conquer their way from Southeast Asia and South India to the gulf of East Africa. Once the player has reached Africa, continue to South Africa and West Africa. The player must then wait for westerners to colonize a neighboring province within coring range. The player will need to conquer the European core since the AI will likely turn colonized land within Africa or Asia into a Trade Company. If colonization in western Africa doesn't happen quickly enough or the player wishes to avoid warfare, continue even further westward to the New World in the Brazil region and colonize near a European settlement.
- Island hopping from the Pacific: Ming has a relatively short distance between Asia and the New World. Annexing land in Manchuria will give the player access to the Siberian region for colonization. Dependent upon if the Siberian tribes have migrated, conquer or colonize the province of Penzhina and Kagyrgyn. The province of Kagyrgyn will allow Ming to reach the New World province of Aleut. Ming needs only to colony jump south to the Mexico or Panama region, gaining access to the Atlantic side of the New World. Finding a province next to a European settlement is relatively simple in this region.
- Seizing a European Colony: Ming could also declare war on any European power and take a North American colony which is close to finishing. Just find a colony that one of the colonial powers is creating which is next to another colony, declare war at around 950 or so population with a twenty sized stack or so, and then immediately westernize when the colony finishes - the oversea colony finishing gives you a free core with which to westernize.
The player must keep in mind to avoid forming a Colonial Nation when attempting to gain a border with a European settlement. A Ming Colonial Nation will not count as having met the border requirements to start westernization.
Alternative setup and strategy: Division
After version 1.9, it became possible to play as a released vassal in Iron Man mode. Several new cultures and possible Chinese states were also added. A player starting as Ming may therefore choose to play as one of a number of smaller Chinese states by releasing them. If one wishes to play as one of these smaller states, they begin by facing one major challenge: the danger of re-absorption by the Ming. In order to avoid this first danger, the player must ruin the Ming or releasing as many other states as possible before releasing their own state. This can be more difficult than it sounds. Note that achievements cannot be obtained by playing as released nations.
To ruin the Ming, first, the player must completely disband Ming's army and navy. The player should then take as many loans as possible. Use the money, first, to begin recruiting an army in the provinces which will be controlled by the released state. As long as the player releases the state before the units are produced, they will spawn as units belonging to the released state. This serves the dual role of depleting Ming's already dwindling manpower and providing the player with an essentially free army for their new state. Donate the remainder of the money to some foreign country.
Next, deplete Ming's monarch points by promoting the influence of all the three court factions. Try to end with the bureaucratic faction on top as they will be the least helpful.
Next the player must anger Ming's neighbors and destabilize Ming. With the remaining diplomat, obtain a royal marriage with some neighboring country. Break this marriage off as soon as possible. As soon as each diplomat returns, use them to insult as many of neighboring states as possible, prioritizing the largest and most friendly. Also, set a missionary to work converting some province which cannot be converted to build up unrest. Once a month has passed, there should be some rebels in the south demanding to break away. Accept their demands and release a few states as independent countries.
Also, remember, do not shatter Ming completely by releasing several vassals. Each vassal has its own economy and fresh manpower, so a tiny Ming with twelve or so vassals is actually far more stable in the short term than Ming as a united empire. In addition, all of these states get the Chinese Reunification casus belli. The player will also not be able to release vassals as independent states because your prestige will be too low.
Lastly, the player must do all of this as quickly as possible because, as the player is insulting their neighbors, they will likely declare war on the player. Try to release your new state within two or three months of the game's start. No more than six months at the most. Obtain and break more royal marriages if possible.
Once the player has assumed control of a minor Chinese state, they should obtain the support of Ming's new enemies for their independence. Some neighboring state will probably wage war on Ming within a year. The player should not fight Ming's enemies for them. Wage a war of independence as soon as you are ready. Ming may recover temporarily before the masses of rebels start to spawn. With the help of the player's allies, victory should come easily, just avoid the hordes of rebels and don't allow Ming to build up large armies. They won't be able to pay much military support, but they can still spawn hordes of poorly funded infantry. Once the player's state is independent, they should work to consolidate their rule. Ming will most likely disintegrate completely within a decade. The player's strategy from here will vary greatly depending on which state the player chose to release. It is advised to take advantage of Chinese Reunification casus belli to unite all of China, as then you practically become Ming without Celestial Empire (or the cultural union).