That together with age bonus of +33% goods produced (Polish in vanilla) got my trade income to 350 - majority of my total income. My trade network is still disconnected, collecting in English Channel and Bengal - with some side collections in Bordeaux and Safi.
I wanted to recover before upcoming wars, so all I did was tiny bit of expanding while keeping it under 100% OE. I even let many truces with my usual targets lapse.
I got to 0% OE, got rid of mercs, had 100k manpower reserve, Ming was at 10 mandate and falling fast, so it was time for the second great Ming war.
Before that I wanted to break alliance between my tributary Malacca and Ming's tributary Ligor. Unfortunately since Paradox half-assed their implementation of tributaries, I couldn't ask either side to break that alliance.
I also wanted to invite Jianzhou into my war, but they were bankrupt, at -3 stability, with growing fresh debt, and no horde unity. Hordes have such massive penalties when they're big AI has absolutely no way to keep them stable - and huge horde bordering Ming is the only way Ming in vanilla can possibly lose mandate. I sent them some money to maybe help them recover for third war, but I'm not exactly holding my breath here.
Ming had 140k troops to my 360k, but very low mandate does nothing against Ming's 25 forts - some kind of distributed Great Wall.
As soon as I attacked Ming I also declared on Ayutthaya and Mong Yang, but this time only getting less than 100% OE from each.
Even with all the penalties, Ming's ability to spam mercs and throw overwhelming forces at my army sieging their forts was still quite respectable.
I invaded from the North-West steppes and from the South coast. Ming completely focused on defending Northern approach to Beijing and they won a lot of battles - helped by compeltely ridiculous zone of control system.
Last fort before Beijing fell in North and South in same month. Their fort system was so effective that Beijing was the second last fort to be sieged - the only one after that was one on border of Manchuria.
I had a choice what to take - either strip their forts, or go as far along the coastline as I can. Because it's still really unclear to me if stripping forts would force me to wait for coring first line of provinces before I can core the next (and doing that at very high overextension is a horrible idea), I took coastline and just 2 provinces up North.
That leaves Ming with a ton of forts, and very hard Northern approach, but only Nanjing stands between my Southern armies and Beijing now. If Jianzhou joins, only one fort in Shenyang could possibly stop them. And it's still 5 forts fewer to deal with.
I got age objecive Asian trade (with Chinaware) from Ming occupation. I doubt I'll get unify culture group one before end of the age, so that's pretty much it.
During last months of the war, Jianzhou noticed that Ming's armies are all obliterated, and attacked their tributary Korea, and Ming bailed out on that.
With Ming weakened so much, I need to make plans to deal with all other great powers. The list is currently:
- Shiba, who almost unified Japan (with only one daimyo bugging out and becoming independent)
Byzantium after last war is no longer on the list, while Jianzhou, Arabia, and Egypt are big enough to be on it, but are behind on institutions, not quite having figured out colonialism.
I think I should do something about the Aztec, like attacking them directly. Inca have bigger army than Aztecs anyway at same tech, and my colonial states have 56k on paper at least.
By the way - EU4 desperately needs frontlines, even if just to keep armies in outliner organized. I'm using army labels as sort of frontlines, but every time I split one army loses the label, so I need to reapply them every now and then.
And amazingly Ming started to colonize Alaska.
Two front war
Southern front was busy with Ayutthaya and Mong Yang, so was delayed
Still got to Beijing same time as Northern front
Ming ignored the South completely, focused on just the North
It was a decent strategy
Ming fleet did nothing of value, and they lost half the coastline, so I built them for nothing
The borders look quite OK. Eliminated bottlenecks and their fleet.
They're still at over 1000% warscore worth of provinces - and even more overextension
I'll probably fight them a few more times before I'll even consider taking their mandate
Aztecs developed for institutions, everybody else is behind on admin/dip, but usually OK on mil
That's still much worse performance than High American had before institutions
Jianzhou fell behind real hard, techs at 4/6/8 vs Ming's 13/13/13
Even with massive penalties, Ming armies would probably just wipe them.
Oh and they have zero horde unity, so they get overran by tribal rebels
Maybe I should just take over their lands directly?
They clearly can't manage them.