Some testing revealed a bug that if I vassalize HRE, then all non-HRE vassals (Ural) will have 100% liberty desire, as they count strength of HRE vassals.
This is highly problematic, as it means I need to integrate Ural before 7th reform and stop making new vassals until I pass the 8th and lose all bonuses. Having vassal swarm is probably optimal for power level, so it's a shame. I could spend over 400 prestige to placate them temporarily, but it's a really a bad solution.
I kept fighting Mali, and I got a strange coalition of Portugal, Egypt, Deccan, and nobody else. It took some creative diplomacy to make them disband. I also discovered another bug - I guaranteed Portugal, then made them my tributary. That made guarantee impossible to cancel, but still wasting a relations slot.
I reached Indonesia in 1510, a good deal ahead of schedule, with just threaten war range from Madagascar. I'm a bit surprised I didn't need to colonize Diego Garcia or Mauritius, or take any other stops in between.
I discovered Ming, but I couldn't make them my rival. They passed 2 of 5 reforms (in vanilla they'd have 4 or 5 by now), and were completely surrounded by 23 tributary states.
I had a few plans to be a border:
- fabricate on coastal province bordering Ming from the South, held my Dai Viet, threaten war, get border
- fabricate on coastal province bordering Ming from the North, held by Jiangzhou, threaten war, get border - turns out Ming's border is exactly where trade company regions end, so I'm just one province too far
- fabricate on Pegu, attack them, fully conquer, and get border this way
- go through Ural into Anxi
The first plan worked with some creative diplomacy, and in March 1518 I got border with Ming, which increased price of tea, sugar, and chinaware, and gave me nice CB.
What I hoped would happen would be Ming's mandate falling down real hard. Unfortunately that's not how it works at all.
It doesn't count all my development, but only development of lands it borders - so of that one Dai Viet province, and nothing else. Even worse testing revealed that if I connected my capital to theirs through Ural, it would still only count my Asian provinces.
So the whole anti-Ming plan finished way ahead of schedule (exploration / expansion finishers allowing overseas fabrication plus threaten war work very well together), and I still managed to fail miserably.
This means that in vanilla pretty much nobody can challenge Ming - Western Europeans don't count, Russia almost doesn't count (its Siberian provinces are too poor), Japan or some Indonesian regional power won't really count.
That leaves pretty much:
- big Manchu horde
- big Mongol horde
- big Timurid horde
- Indian blob
And that only with Fun and Balance increased penalties for bordering non-tributaries. In vanilla, you'll at most stall their progress.
Even if somehow their mandate goes to 0, or someone takes their mandate, that causes zero unrest, they keep their tributaries.
And war for Mandate of Heaven won't even allow me to transfer or cancel their tributaries without paying massive amount of bird mana. And I can't attack them directly to cancel or transfer that.
It's all ridiculous on so many levels. It's like they hired DDRJake for PR not QA.
I had a few more ideas, and ran into even more game fails - I allied Jianzhou (apparently it's totally fine to ally other countries' tributaries), and hoped that would make them want to go independent, but nope. There's no way to support independence of tributaries, their relative strength counts only them not me, and Ming took Danish -30 subject liberty desire age bonus (which at least expires 1530, but even that won't be enough to make Jianzhou disloyal).
So maybe they could help me attack Ming? It's possible in theory, but they'd never accept as it would destabilize them.
I guess I could simply send a lot of troops over and attack Ming. They have no allies, and their tributaries won't defend them, so I only need to defeat their 120k army, 23 heavy ship (101 total) navy, merc spam, and 24 forts.
So updated plan:
- create 7 colonial nations - adding Canada, New Prussia, Colombia, and Australia to existing Brazil, West Indies, and La Plata
- keep fighting Mali
- integrate Ural so I can pass 7th reform safely
- avoid getting more AE in Europe, so I can pass 7th reform
And as for Ming:
- and Jianzhou integrates their vassal Buryatia, conquers more of Korea and other hordes, and new age starts, they might just become disloyal, so I could kick at least them out of Ming's sphere
- I could expand a lot harder in Africa and Indonesia, and then just march my armies from Malacca onto conquering spree in Indochina
- I had a silly idea of conquering some provinces and selling them to Deccan, so they wreck Ming's mandate not me. In theory just 9 provinces would be needed, but it would rely on AI wanting all that land.
- I could conquer Central Asia - it wouldn't count my European provinces, but there's a lot more development there than in Siberia. Together it would be nice supplemental front.
- Whenever I fight Ming I could just stall that and attack all their tributaries freely. It doesn't work like HRE, where you can't do that. The only thing I could do would be conquer and core them myself, but it's still doable.
- Invading Ming and destroying their prosperity would also help reduce their mandate a little.
Ming's tributary system is huge