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 a 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's has serious internal issues. The high autonomy limits income and manpower, while the Chinese bureaucracy 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 Missions
- 4 Events
- 5 Decisions
- 6 Strategy
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%
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.
Ming is a Celestial Empire, a unique government type with -10% tech cost, 50% minimum autonomy on provinces, and unique mechanics such as the Mandate of Heaven and factions.
The Chinese Bureaucracy modifier has negative modifers covering almost all aspects of the nation. This modifier is called Inward Perfection. Manipulating different factions to power can negate some of those maluses. As only one faction can be in power at once, it is important to adjust the factions to suit current needs. As a guideline, Eunuchs or Bureaucrats are suited for peacetime and the Temple faction during wars.
The Celestial Empire suffers from 50% minimum autonomy. This causes Ming to lose a base of 50% from taxes, production efficiency, manpower, and force limit contribution. This autonomy also causes provinces to lose a base of 25% from trade power. Combined with the maluses from Inward Perfection and the maluses from the many cultures in the Ming empire, the nation is in a precarious situation. Wars can be very risky due to manpower generation and income generation can be difficult when investing in advisors. Trade eventually begins to leave the empire due to low local trade power competing with the efficient traders from Malacca or Europe. Expansion with direct annexation yields extremely small benefits for the Ming empire. Losing a war can also be devastating as provinces from Ming have a -50% warscore cost due to autonomy.
The Mandate of Heaven modifier places Ming in a potentially volatile situation. Losing the Mandate of Heaven gives Ming a base of +5 to global unrest. Global unrest increases further depending if the loss is from stability or legitimacy. Due to Ming's size and ethnic diversity, this makes managing revolts a lot harder, especially when coupled with decreased manpower due to minimum autonomy. 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, if none of these issues ever come up, Ming is a regional powerhouse and capable of a whole lot more.
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 game, 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.
The Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a triggered modifier, providing a significant reduction to national revolt risk and a minor reduction to stability costs. It is maintained provided the country has stability zero or greater and the ruler has legitimacy 60 or greater. Should these conditions not be met, the 'Mandate of Heaven' modifier is lost and in addition, the 'Mandate of Heaven Lost' modifier is triggered. The 'Mandate of Heaven Lost' modifier ups unrest and stability cost significantly, all the while penalizing national tax income. Hence the player should be wary of an heir lacking a strong claim succeeding the throne and destabilizing events. While a problematic succession can cause problems for any country, the significance of the 'Mandate of Heaven' means the problems for the Celestial Empire are relatively much worse. An effective swing of +10% unrest can result in waves of rebellions across the Empire.
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 stays 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, then the player will 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 a vassal is useful if this option is needed.
After gaining a horde vassal, it may be used to force vassal or annex the other hordes in the north. This is a good tactic for early wars due to the benefits the steppe hordes have regarding attrition, force limits, manpower and unit superiority. Utilizing hordes as marches is recommended. The use of horde vassals will allow you to remove the only other direct threat to the early game, Oirat, and to fight other wars on your southern borders or begin expansion into Central Asia.
The choice of Ming's first National Idea Group is dependent on the player's game plan.
If Ming is seeking to colonize or westernize early, then the Exploration group should be first choice. The Expansion group is useful for a westernized Ming, allowing for rapid conquest of Asia.
A crucial idea group for helping Ming keep stable is the Humanism idea group. Providing -2 to unrest globally and religious tolerance is very useful for a Ming expanding westward. 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 and manpower of the nation.
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 game, 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. Due to Chinese units having high fire pips earlier and their +1 land leader fire National Idea (added in patch 1.9), these idea groups will allow troops to fight with frightening skill. Paired with the Expansion and Quality, Ming has access to The Mining Act which will add an additional +1 to land leader fire. It is not uncommon for Ming to have 6 land leader fire pips with minimal tradition.
The Religious idea group is also very helpful, providing an early free casus belli against Ming's non-Confucian neighbours (of which there are many), and allowing easier conversion of Sunni provinces. The final bonus to improved relations over time is also beneficial if Ming is aggressively attacking its neighbours. The "inquisition" idea (+2% Missionary strength vs heretics), combined with the +3 % from 'divine supremacy', is very helpful in rapidly converting South East Asian provinces.
Diplomacy paired with Humanism and silk trade will give Ming access to the Multilingual Diplomats policy, allowing the majority of the Chinese culture group, Korea and Japan to become accepted cultures.
The Innovative idea group has a number of events that provide monarch power and can be helpful in keeping Ming technologically on track. Ming effectively pays 50% more for its technology (+60% in Chinese Tech and -10& for Celestial Empire), meaning it is slightly ahead of its neighbours, but would require a push when dealing with its western enemies. The bonus of -25% to advisor cost syncs with the Trading in Tea bonus, assisting Ming in keeping all level 3 advisors throughout the campaign.
While being the largest nation in the world, Ming does not have the luxury of picking wars at will, due to its small pool of manpower. While southern and Tibetan nations don't pose a threat, their tropical and mountainous terrain can drain Ming's precious manpower. Moreover, Ming's most dangerous enemies are the hordes that lie to the north, the Oirat and the Jurchen (Manchu) tribes. Defeating the Northern nomads early on erases some potential problems for Ming (like the unified Manchu) and opens up a path to Siberia for easy colonization. An expanding Ming will often find its pickings small. Due to Ming's minimum autonomy penalty and the relatively low base tax of surrounding provinces, the profit from conquered territories is tiny. This is also worsened by the different cultures and religions of the surrounding provinces.
There are 3 Jurchen tribes in the northeast of China, while all formidable enemies on their own, they do not pose a serious threat to Ming. However, if they manage to unify themselves, they become a dangerous enemy ready to strike Ming at moment's notice. It is very important to take them out while they are still fractured, but don't be overzealous because other hordes will prey on a Ming with depleted manpower. The best time to declare war on a tribe is when it is preoccupied with some tribal feud war and its army or manpower is smashed. It is possible to diplomatically vassalize Haixi and Korchin during the early game.
The Oirat are more difficult to cripple than the Manchu due to the Oirats starting with a very strong general and have Mongolia as its vassal. The Oirat provinces are numerous but very poor and attrition is severe in their territory. It would be wise to wait out their starting general, and wait for improvements in military technology to alleviate the attrition before making moves. As they are Buddhist and of Altaic culture, with Ming's 50% autonomy their provinces are close to useless, so it may not be readily profitable to conquer their territories.
The fractured Tibetan states are poor and lie in mountainous regions, and remain very weak without much potential for expansion, with their armies usually fielding no more than 6 units. Their provinces are also worthless to China before westernization. It is possible to peacefully vassalize some of the Tibetan states (Kham is harder due to border friction), if given a well-timed relations boost by an event modifier (like the 'Eased Tensions' modifier), but it can be rare.
Korea can field a decent sized army and navy (approximately 15 units and 20 ships, more if they have taken territory from the Manchu). By themselves, Korea is no threat to Ming, however they may ally with Oirat or any of the Manchu tribes. Korea usually cannot be peacefully vassalized due to its high base tax. If Ming does not ally or annex Korea for a long time, a unified Japan may attack Korea. Korea tends to have bad relations with Japan. Korea may be a worthwhile ally early in the game and tends to remain peaceful with Ming if not allied with any of the hordes.
A fully unified Japan is capable of fielding a substantial army and navy (up to 35 units and 35 ships). Given Japan's high discipline, morale and combat ability, direct land conflict is risky. It may be easier to invade Japan through the north by crossing from Sakhalin (should Ming own it) to Hokkaido and blocking any of the straits with ships to prevent Japanese troops from attacking your invading units. Another strategy is to declare war on an independent Daimyo and force vassalize them. This will allow you to press claims (DLC: Art of War) to eventually unify all of Japan under your rule.
It is possible to immediately declare war on Dai Viet by taking the mission, "Restore the old frontier". However, due to the high coring costs of Dai Viet cores, it may not be worthwhile to conquer their lands. Diplo-annexing also poses a similar problem. As with other provinces of different culture and religion, their provinces are not useful to Ming prior to westernization or cultural and religious conversion.
Southeast Asian Nations
Some of these nations can be peacefully vassalized and present very little threat to Ming. They are easy expansion opportunities but can drain manpower early on due to tropical attrition.
Force vassalzing Chagatai before they gain allies will give you access to the Siberian Tribes which you can use for expansion through pressing claims (DLC: Art of War). Since the Siberian Tribes are in the Muslim religious group, this will allow for easier assimilation for your vassal. This also weakens your Oirat rival by limiting their expansion opportunities. With this strategy it is possible to reach Muscovy before they begin their colonization expansion.
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 its 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
Taking a colonization or conquest route from Southeast Asia (Philippines or Borneo to the Andamans) to South India (Ceylon or Maldives) to East Africa (Madagascar or the Swahili states) to South Africa or West Africa and establish a few provinces there. Then wait for westerners to colonize a neighboring province. The player will need to conquer a neighboring core since the AI will turn colonized land in Africa into a Trade Company. If colonization in western Africa doesn't happen quickly enough or the player wishes to avoid warfare, continue westward to Brazil and colonize near a western tech province.
Island hopping from the Pacific
Cut a route through Manchuria, and conquer the Siberian tribes in the north, this provides a very short route to Alaska. From then on, hop downwards to the Mexico or Panama region, and gain access to the Atlantic Ocean on the other side. From them on, finding a province next to the colonizers is very easy.