Speaking of idea groups, I had trouble picking up 5th after exploration/expansion/administrative/espionage:
- religious (or humanist) - I avoided them in age of reformation, so it felt silly now; Confucian in any case works differently - it doesn't convert (like religious) or accept (like humanist) the heathens, it just incorporates them into your primary religion
- all military ideas - unless they help with sieges, what are they doing for me at this point?
- economic/innovative/trade - I don't really need extra money
- diplomatic/influence - there seems to be a shortage of countries to do diplomacy with, and I stopped caring about AE long time ago
- maritime - that's some serious joke idea group
I ended up delaying that decision for now. I thought I might go quality for a change, but sword mana is really useful for boosting absolutism, so I'll need it for now. Maybe trade or innovative just for flavor? None of the choices will matter much.
I took over mandate of China in June 1611. That removed my legitimacy and introduced meritocracy instead. Well, no more legitimacy reduction tricks for easy absolutism, but I still paid 300 sword mana to increase my mandate by 30 and absolutism to 27, for 20.9% efficiency - compared with 20% pre-Mandate-of-Heaven system I'd have.
As soon as I cored Ming's lands, I attacked their tributary Anxi, and white peaced them to reset truce timer from 15 to 5 years.
I was getting not just 6 mandate/year, but also tons of events, so I managed to pass first reform in June 1612, admittedly at cost of a lot of money and mana.
I got second reform passed in January 1616.
I got my absolutism to 61 (max sadly only 79, would be 80 if I got 100% religious unity), at which point I need to intentionally trigger a crisis to increase the max by 20.
Now the truce with Ming expired, so I'm going to unify the rest of China.
Ming somehow lost all their tributaries (no idea how) and have +10 unrest from "Mandate of Heaven Lost" (new in 1.21).
World conquest progress:
- own: 9664 ⇒ 10417
- vassal: 3941 ⇒ 3833
- colony: 1192 ⇒ 1276
- tributary state: 3852 ⇒ 3980
- foreigners: 5036 ⇒ 4558
- uncolonized: 896 ⇒ 770
There are 12 foreign independent countries now, 4 Ming's tributaries became independent, otherwise we'd be pretty close to everybody being a great power.
Deccan's War Plan was to take Australia, and then something?
I made sure they lose colonies so this silliness won't happen again
My War Plan was a bit more straightforward
I plan to remove their coastline over next few wars for my convenience
Korea is gone but a lot of Koreans live in deep Siberia
Other than that Asia is getting unified under rule of God-Empress