This article is considered accurate for the current version of the game.
- +10% Provincial trade power modifier
- -10% Idea cost
- +15% Fort defense
- +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 in 1644 (the founding of the Qing Dynasty). 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 rival that poses an immediate threat. However, its provinces are administered with high autonomy by the celestial empire government, severely limiting the manpower and tax income available to the emperor. While the Jurchen 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, while the Inward Perfection further hinders everything from heir succession to army discipline to trade efficiency, which can only be partially negated by manipulating court factions. 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 strategy: Division
Ming's unique challenges
Ming has a unique government form called the Celestial Empire, reflecting the Chinese belief that a well-governed kingdom 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% and a Chinese Bureaucracy system. Chinese Bureaucracy comes with the Inward Perfection modifier, the Mandate of Heaven triggered modifier and a faction system.
Ming is affected by a wide range of inefficiencies that can be negated selectively by management of the faction system.
- Discipline -10%
- Land Force limit -25%
- Manpower recovery speed -25%
- Unjustified demands +25%
- Global trade power -25%
- Diplomatic upkeep -2
- Global trade income -25%
- Advisor cost +50%
- Build cost +50%
- Global tax -25%
- Advisor pool -1
- Heir chance -25%
The Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a triggered modifier that gives stability cost −10% and global unrest −5. This modifier holds as long as Ming maintains a minimum of 0 stability and a legitimacy of 60. Ming must also hold a minimum of 20 provinces.
The Mandate of Heaven Lost is a triggered modifier that gives stability cost +50% and global unrest +5. This is triggered when Ming has stability less than 0 or a legitimacy less than 60. Losing the Mandate of Heaven can be devastating to Ming since having negative stability or low legitimacy also increases global unrest.
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. Combined with maluses from same-group or non-accepted cultures with the Chinese Bureaucracy, it is common for only 10% 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, it also loses the Celestial Empire government and Chinese Bureaucracy.
Three factions compete for power and influence in 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 conscription.
Ming is affected by penalties, named Inward Perfection, because of its sprawling Chinese Bureaucracy.
Depending which faction is in power, some of these penalties can be negated.
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 transforms into a feudal monarchy.
Full list of effects:
- Global trade power: +25%
- National trade income modifier: +25%
- Advisor costs: -50%
- Diplomatic relations: +2
- Bonus: Diplomatic reputation: +1
Full list of effects:
- Manpower recovery speed: +25%
- Land force limits: +25%
- Discipline: +10%
- Unjustified demands: -25%
- Bonus: Monthly war exhaustion: -0.05
Full list of effects:
- Build cost: -50%
- National tax modifier: +25%
- Possible advisors: +1
- Increased chance of new heir: +25%
- Bonus: Religious unity: +25%
- 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 revolt risk.
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.
Ever since the Han Emperors the people of Dai Vet have recognized the mandate from heaven that the great Emperor has. It is time to remind them once again.
The Japanese have invaded Korea and are threatening to turn the Southern tip of the peninsula into a base for their hated Wokou pirates. We must ensure that they do not gain a foothold.
The island of Taiwan is sparsely populated by uncivilized savages, we should open these lands up for Chinese settlement.
This mission is also available to the Manchu.
- 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.
Ming shares its decisions with Manchu.
Parts of the Great Wall are in dire need of extensive repair. In its current state it doesn't offer sufficient protection for our northern provinces.
The Forbidden City will be a glorious national monument, increasing our prestige and promoting stability.
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 eventually begins to leave the empire due to increasing competition from regional neighbors and the eventual arrival of the Europeans. Due to Ming's size and ethnic diversity, this makes managing revolts a lot harder. 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 her 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 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. Without them, Ming gets penalties to discipline that will render its troops unable to beat similar sized 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 to be lost. 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 vassal 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 Ming has an option to focus on building manpower and gaining horde vassals through diplomacy, rather than costly wars. It is possible to vassal, through diplomacy, Korchin & Haixi. If either of these hordes claim too much land in Yeren, 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 vassal or annex other steppe hordes. The use of horde vassals will allow Ming to remove the only other direct threat to the early game, Oirat, 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 South East 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 South East 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, 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. The Expansion group 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.
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. Humanism will also allow more of the Chinese culture group to become accepted, increasing the tax income and manpower of the nation. 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 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 the majority of the Chinese culture group to become accepted cultures. Diplomacy will also allow Ming to annex more land per war during conquests. Since Ming suffers 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 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. Inward Perfection combined with the minimum autonomy of 50%, results in a small pool of manpower and army force limit. Annexation outside of the Chinese culture group 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, 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. 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 will 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. Japan 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 Chagatai. Force vassalzing 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 before they begin their colonization expansion.
- 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.
Colonizing South Africa is lucrative 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 will 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 revolt risk. This increase in revolt risk 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 revolt risk , 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 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.
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 strategy: Division
In 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 before releasing his own state. This can be more difficult than it sounds.
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 his 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. 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 his 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, he should obtain the support of Ming's new enemies for his 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, he should work to consolidate his 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.