Ottoman Empire

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Original version By Memnon

The Ottoman Empire in 1836 is a shambles, some of its best and richest historic territory is ruled by the Khedive of Egypt, its finances are in ruins, its army second rate and its navy non-existant.

Yet it holds some of the most important strategic spots on earth and is placed in ruggedly defensible territory. The Russian Empire is looking on with greedy eyes at Ottoman land, yet most of the other major powers including Britain are friendly and careful alliance building can prevent horrible beatings.

Time is something the Ottomans need, another is money, if you can get both then perhaps with careful management a top 8 finish is not out of the question.

Introduction

The Ottoman Empire in the mid 1830s was in rapid decline. Internal stagnation and corruption were eating away at the infrastructure and nationalism would soon begin to tear the country apart, but in Victoria, the Ottoman Empire is more than playable—it can bring you victory. The path to success as the Ottomans is not easy; it is wrought with dangerous neighbors and disaster can befall you easily, but if you keep certain goals in mind and remember your position, you can achieve victory.

Weaknesses

The Ottomans, though a civilized country, begin the game surprisingly weak. Their technological level is the same as that of Egypt, their uncivilized neighbor, and several leagues behind that of Austria and Russia. This does not bode well for warfare in the region.

The Empire contains within its borders a plethora of nationalities—Serbs, Bulgarians, Romanians, Greeks, Armenians—most of which are susceptible to nationalist movements triggered by Russia. These nationalities can quickly turn the Ottoman Balkans into a hotbed of dissent and rebellion.

The Empire’s borders are long and difficult to defend. The country borders no less than twelve different countries of varying strengths and levels of advancement. Moreover, the lands of the Empire stretch from the Central Mediterranean to the Black Sea to the Persia Gulf. Ottoman North Africa is even separated by land form the rest of the empire. Add a huge amount of coast to defend, as well as two separate borders with Russia, and the Ottomans have a potential military nightmare on their hands.

Unlike every other power in the region, the Ottomans begin the game without Freedom of Trade, meaning that their factory choices are limited to wineries, liquor distilleries, and glass factories. They also lack basic railroad technologies and the ability to produce most kinds of weaponry. Add to this a low literacy rate, and the Ottomans have a wide technological gap to fill.

Strengths

Keeping the weaknesses in mind, let’s now look at the strengths of the Ottoman Empire. Though they are far behind in technology, they are indeed a civilized country, unlike all their neighbors to the south, east, and west. Being civilized beings many advantages, such as being able to expand RGOs, a higher rate of diplomatic point production, and the ability to build regular units, all of which give you innumerable advantages over your uncivilized neighbors.

The Ottomans have one great advantage when it comes to cultures—they not only have Turkish as a national culture, but Arabic as well. This means that all of the Arabian Peninsula and all of North Africa are easy states, and the Ottomans have the almost unique opportunity to be able to conquer more people of one of their national cultures than already exist within their borders. This means more many more factories, many more efficient craftsmen and clerks, and many more regular divisions.

The Ottomans are both blessed and cursed by geography. While their empire poses problems for military defense, it offers plentiful opportunities for expansion. The Arabian Peninsula, Persia, Tunisia, and Tripoli are all large regions and contain several very populous nations. Moreover, aside from French interest in Tunisia and occasional Russian interest in Persia, most of the countries that border you aren’t quickly conquered by anyone else. If that weren’t enough, the Ottomans have uncontested access to the colonial regions of North and East Africa, giving them the chance to raise enormous amounts of prestige.

In terms of military defense, the Ottomans are fortunate to have the Caucasus Mountains covering their right flank and a narrow stretch of land the only way into their right. The terrain of Anatolia is mostly mountainous and easy to defend, and they have a row of satellites to shield the border with Austria.

Events to Remember

  • Abdul Meijid I's Reforms (1100)
  • Egypt Claims Syria (1101-1103)
  • The Russian has incited Nationalism in the Balkans (1104)
  • The Crimean War (1111)
  • The Hatt-I-Humanyun Reforms (1107)
  • Russia meddles in our internal policy (1105)
  • The Bardo Treaty (1303)

How to play

1836-1838

The early years of the game are by no means easy. You have two years before you have some serious choices to make, so take the opportunity to expand. Nejd is a good target, but Montenegro should be your first choice. The tiny civilized country on your northwestern border, Montenegro may not look much, but it can quickly get you some prestige.

Set up your military for an invasion, and when you declare war, waste no time in occupying the tiny country. But do not annex it. Rather, humiliate and satellite them in the peace treaty. This will gain you a good deal of prestige at the cost of only the two badboy points it took to declare war. Be careful, though, as Montenegro often makes an alliance with Russia at the beginning of the game. If they do, go for Nejd, but annex it; humiliation does not give you nearly as much prestige when inflicted on uncivilized countries.

If you are playing Revolutions, declaring on any of the neighboring countries will yield a nefty -100 prestige simply because they have not gone bankrupt yet. The best strategy would be to conserve as much money as you can until the war with Egypt.

You may also consider selling a few hard to defend and overall troublesome places (like Bulgaria or Serbia), but you can also use them as leverage of war later on. Personally, I would suggest putting your military spending at minimum for the next two years while keeping the defence spending high so that your manpower grows and when the war comes, you can simply reinforce all your divisions to full.

Also, begin by raising your taxes to 50% or maybe even higher. You'll lower them later, but for now you need all the money you can get. Put education, tarif and defence slider to the max, crime fighting somewhere 60% of the way, the rest doesn't matter.

If you conserve the money, by 1838 you should gather 10 000 or even more to be able start a major build up of defences along the caucausus mountains. But first you need to do lots of research. Go with industrial and commercial research first since you can't fight wars with present state economy.

1838-1853

By the beginning of 1838, make sure your military is in place along the Egyptian border, because you are in for a war.

The first event you should receive is Abdul Meijid I's Reforms (1100). This should fire very early in 1838. First, pause the game. Make certain to select the first choice—“Liberal Constitution and Prussian Advisors”. This choice will give you 10 research points, 10 prestige, and 8 free military units. Deploy these units directly to your Egyptian border; do not deploy them to home. To deploy the units to specific provinces, click the small button with the arrow, directly below the unit’s icon, then select the province to which you want to deploy them. Set up these units in position to invade Egypt, because that’s exactly what you’re going to do.

By the way, I recommend saving, and not using, the research points you got with the event.

Declaring war on Egypt right after will nullify their event that gives them basic units, but will also mean that conquest will be a walk in the park. It's up to you how you want to fight that war. Egypt gets about 10 or so irregulars and are quite easily overwhelmed by your more organized forces. Use your cavalry for blitzkrieging into the provinces to which enemy army is retreating to give them no chance for reorganization. I suggest taking the entire Egypt, or at least up to the point where you get +100% and then taking Massaua, which is the SE province in Egypt. It produces precious metals and will give you an early boost of about 3 pounds a day. Do not annex it though (the badboy rating will be 48 and Russia will declare on you much sooner). I suggest demanding Massaua and Sinai from Egypt and then making them a satelite state. That way you'll have all of the Palestine and Lebanon along with Sinai and Mussaua and they're unlikely to refuse. Making them a satelite will most likely ruin their economy and that way you don't have to worry for another attack from them, but if they do declare, it's almost impossible for them to take Sinai, so you have little to worry about and need very little defence there. You can also attempt to reunite your Libyan lands through a strip of Egyptian land, but it's optional and won't increase your economy by much. Egypt has a total of about 7 million Arabs living there, which could add a significant army to you and they are also your national pops so you can convert them, so further conquests of Egypt are also recommendable. Unfortunately you can only have colonial units with Arabian armies, which means they'll have a penalty of 15 organization, but they are good for overall defence and I used them to hold Russian in the Caucausus and beat enemy irregular forces. While the Turkish army in my empire was elite guard divisions (i.e. janissaries) which I used to break enemy lines.

Remember those research points you were saving and that country with which you built up relations? Well now it’s time to use them both. Make sure your relations are at least +170. If they are, open up relations and try to get four techs (you can go for five, but it’s pushing the RPs a little far, in my opinion). In exchange for these techs, you should offer the European country the provinces of Cyprus and Crete. If you can get 1 for 1, great, but if you need to use all five provinces for four techs, that’s OK too. All that matters is that you get techs.

Try to get your hands on Mechanical Production, Experimental Railroad, and any commercial tech that increases your tax efficiency. If you’re very lucky, you might be able to get Interchangeable Parts, but that’s unlikely to happen. Hopefully, this will allow you to begin industrialization and the collection of large amounts of revenue for your population.

As you are industrializing, check on the neighobring uncivilized countries and see if you can conquer them without much prestige loss. If they have -200 prestige (i.e. went banrkupt) you can declare on them. Taking Tripoli will give you a huge province to work with and will add significant Arab manpower. You also have core provinces in Yemen and a small country North of it, so take them both and annex whenever you can. I used a single cavalry unit to annex both.

Najd is also a good place to go to eventually, but it'll be a while before Najd, Dubai and Oman will get low enough prestige, so work on your industry.

Politics

Politics is quite important for the developing economy and I personally prefer to turn Ottoman empire into laisse faire liberal country for the first few years. You can choose to have elections, but it won't make you a democracy, you'll still remain a constitutional monarchy (HM Monarchy with multi party system) where people will probably vote for the wrong thing anyway (like the pacific party during times of war).

It's probably worth it changing the party to anything with Full Citizenship for a little while, especially after you have some factories going in Bulgaria, so that you can assign Greeks and Bulgarians and any remaining Armeanians to work them, but the change in militancy might not be worth the risk (you get +1 militancy for all pop when you change the party)

As soon as you save up enough money, start producing capitalists from 10000+ pop units in every province and watch their funds go up. Put little or no tax on them (you'll lose money but it'll pay off) and they'll get rich within a year and start building up your economy. With laise faire policy they can start building after they've acquired 500 pounds which means about half a year time after you've created them or even less (depending on unit size, 90k pop will acquire it much faster, but is a waste of manpower I think).

Young Turk party is overall an excellent choice for Ottoman goverment. They have jingoism policies, laise faire and free trade which means you can have a big military to protect yourself, make lots of money and have capitalists build your country real fast. They don't have Full Citizenship, which hurts because a lot of the population in the Balkan region is non-national, but you can't have it all and technically you can live without it or switch the party to Full Citizenship temporarily after you've built some factories in the Balkans.

If you set rich taxes to low, capitalists will produce railroads (make sure you have a new railroad technology researched before doing this) and factories everywhere, so if you don't want a factory somewhere, don't make capitalists there. As soon as you've had a few factories built and all your railroads are updated, increase capitalist tax to 50% or even higher to get a huge profit from them while you don't really need their services. When you've researched a new railroad or need more factories, simply decreases taxes again. Early on, up until you have level 10 techs in industry, factories are not very profitable, so you might want to limit yourself to steel/cement ones and if capitalists build something else, just close/delete them so they build somethign else insetad.

The Crimean War

The next task is to prepare for the Crimean War. This is the most important scripted event you will experience as the Ottoman Empire. This war will make or break you.

If you chose to go with State Capitalism and not interventionism/laisse faire, try to focus on building up heavy, profitable industry using any machine parts you can scrounge up off the world market. Regular clothes are a good commodity; avoid too much steel as the factories are expensive to build in terms of cash.

If necessary, buy small arms and canned food off the WM in order to increase your military size. Your taxes and tariffs should be enough to support a slow expansion. If you have extra cash, and you haven’t used up your explosives stockpile, try building some forts along the Russian-Ottoman border in the Caucasus Mountains. Don’t waste money on a fort in Constanta.

By 1850, you should have a sizeable army (it doesn’t have to be larger than Russia’s) and, hopefully, an ally out of Prussia or Austria. At about 1852, sell the province of Constanta to Wallachia (or even Austria) for as much cash as they’ll give you. Yes, sell it. By doing so, you leave the Russians only one way into your territory—the fortified Caucasus border, in the mountains, with your entire army dug in.

When the Crimean War fires, you should be able to hold off the initial Russian assault. Try to hold your ground in the mountains. Do not call in your allies. Yes, do not call them in. Why? Because if you do, Russia will be able to move through Moldavia and Wallachia, which we want to prevent. This means you’ll probably have to fight the war almost entirely on your own. Do not invade the Russians by the Caucasus route, whatever you do. Instead, you can use amphibious landing to descent on the motherland somewhere in the Ukraine and take one of their provinces. Having done so (and as long as England and France are doing something destructive as well), you can try to negotiate with Russians. Offer them a piece of your land (pleading for peace, not demanding it), something completely useless for you. Part of Cyprus or a tiny state near Persia with population in thousands should do. If they accept, it'll be considered that you lost the war and this will trigger an event which will give you a tremendous boost.

When you get this, which should be very soon after you “lose” the war, make certain to pick “Great Reforms”. This spectacular event will give you 4 free random techs, increase your literacy rate by 2%, and on top of it all, give you an astounding 50 research points.

Using these research points, you should be able to come close to making up some of the tech lead the other countries have acquired. If you continue to covert clerks at a high rate, expand industry, and research commercial techs, you should quickly achieve world power status. And if you’ve kept up good relations with the UK, they’ll even guarantee your independence.

I suggest buying most of your tech from the UK because I don't think they ever declare on you. I tried to buy them from France and even had +190 relations for years and it so happens that France had a secret alliance with Russia who declared on me and brought along their whole alliance for a ride (Germany and Sardinia), which almost destroyed my entire country. So the lesson from all this was: don't trust the French. Put a few extra divisions to protect the border of Tunisia and make sure you watch them closely because they can attack you from both sides and even land anywhere.

Navy

There is something else I consider to be quite important for Ottomans. Although normally the navy is considered to be underpowered, I think with Ottomans having a strong navy will mean winning or losing a lot of land. If you manage to build up a tremendous fleet that is somewhat on par with at least Germany, you can use it to prevent any amphbious landing on your soil. That way you won't have to bother reinforcing every little piece of coast (and there are many) and instead can just put a 5-6 ship fleet in every coastal province and send reinforcements from other fleets whenever they come under attack. If you choose to go with a strong navy, you can then concentrate your army advance on the tiny strips of land in Africa or even Europa.

By the end of the game I suggest building 4+ fleets with at least 15 ships consisting of 3-4 dreadnaughts, 3-4 battlecruisers with torpedo boat attachments, 3-4 light cruisers with destroyer attachments and 2-3 submarines. That way your fleet will be able to take on most things any major country throws at you and if you happen to have a war with England going, you actually stand a chance of sinking a lot of their vessels before all yours are gone too. Dreadnoughts offer a tremendous power on the sea, but need reinforcement from smaller ships (since enemy torpedo boats can easily sink them). Having lots of torpedo power is important when fighting enemy large ships.

Overall, depending on who wages Great war on whom and whose side you remain on (though I personally prefer being with England), it is very important for you to be able to hold Suez Canal and Straits of Gibraltar from any possible enemy naval invasion and also have one major fleet searching the Mediterrenean for Italian, Austrian, Russian of French fleets if you're at war with them.

Finally, one should understand the significance of having a large fleet rather than spending a lot of money on infantry. There are many advantages such as huge bonus in army score from having large ships (you get +3 military score for a single dreadnaught and +1 prestige I believe) and although the initial cost of producing one is high and costs as much as 4 infantry divisions with attachments, the maintenance cost is very low compared to land forces. A single dreadnaught, which has the highest maintenance cost, costs less to maintain than an infantry batallion with nothing attached.

Conclusion

If you’ve played wisely, this is all I should have to write. With only a small deficit in techs, you ought to be able to really get into the colonization of North Africa, the conquest of Persia and Austria, and possible even Russian land.

You are likely to have war going on every 5 years or so (the period for truce between two countries) and everyone bordering you will try to take a piece of your land. Russia and Austria are probably your main concern, France and Italian kingdoms are next.

Germany sometime might join in as an ally with either of them, but usually only sends navy to interfere. Their navy is always up to date and many, so beware of them (best way is to try to meet them head on with your full navy force in the straits of Gibraltar and hope to destroy it all).

Remember that a lot of North Africa and Saudi peninsula are all Arabic and that means they're your national POP and will not even have high dissent if you annex them. So if you ever declare on the French and decide to march through the plains of Africa Rommel style and even take Morocco you'll be rewarded with a huge population increase and tons of possibities. There's also some oil wells there and plenty of uncolonized land for taking south of Tripoli in south sahara. The downside is that there' a lot of coast to protect, but if you build up a strong enough navy, you don't even need to invest into that much land technology because you can repel any amphibious assault before it happens. The other downside to taking the French land is a huge badboy hit from taking so much territory from a great power (I think it's in the 60s), but since but taking all of it and assuming you control the Mediterrenean and have England as your friend means you can have anyone declare on you and you won't care much. taking all of north Africa including Egypt as part of your territory will increase your population by about 25 million. Most will be your national POP too, so that means little dissent and lots of workers.

Also having The Great Brittain as your close friend and ally will give you protection and tons of rewards such as techs that you can purchase from them overtime. Overall, achieving a place in first three is doable, getting any greater than that will mean you have to take on the Brittish or annex Germany - it's lots of work, but more than doable since by the time you're ready you can hit them with a huge multicultural force and enter their lands or at least lands of Austria through one of your previously inactive satelites.

Just play slowly, methodically, and wisely with regard to the events, and you can win as the Ottoman Empire.