Top 10 Most Interesting Buddhist Nations in EU4

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Buddhist nations might not make up a big percentage of total nations in EUIV, but they compensate for it with their unique flavor and starting situations.

Despite geographically limited to essentially Tibet and Indochina, the three sects of Buddhism in-game offer many a good options for campaigns.

Having received a ton of flavor lately, Buddhist nations offer some of the most satisfying campaign experiences. In fact, many of the nations on this list have given me some of my favorite moments in the game!


10. Lan Xang

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Lan Xang begins the game in control of all but one of the Lao-cultured provinces. A big part of your early campaign will be wrestling control of that one independent province and overshadowing the Viet to your east.

Later, the road to unifying Indochina and forming the nation of Siam is open to you. Opportunity might arise in the north as well.

If you sense weakness in the Celestial Empire, do not hesitate to claim the mandate for yourself.

Your unique mission tree gives some of the best buffs aimed at cavalry gameplay.

Well, in this case, Elephant gameplay! If you ever wanted to field large, elephant-based armies then Lan Xang is a nation you must try.

The national idea set of Lan Xang is inferior to that of Siam. When you form Siam, simply choose to change ideas to the new set.


9. Pagarruyung

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Pagarruyung (along with Pahang in the Malay peninsula) are the only two Malaysian nations following a Buddhist faith.

Pagarruyung is isolated in Sumatra, surrounded by Muslim and Hindu nations on all sides.

Your unique national ideas are rather lackluster, but this can be alleviated by forming some other nation down the line. Pagarruyung also has access to the generic Malaysian mission tree, which offers some pretty spicy modifiers (pun intended).

Truthfully, Pagarruyung gets its place in the list due to its unique starting situation as a Buddhist nation in Sumatra. If you want to be the underdog and convert the archipelago to Buddhism, this should be your next campaign.


8. Dai Viet

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Dai Viet is one of the most unique nations in the game.

The nation has a culture that has been changing culture groups from patch to patch, and follows one of the most obscure religions in the game. Mahayana Buddhism is followed only by Dai Viet and an OPM in the Malay peninsula.

Dai Viet’s unique and powerful national idea set (seriously, who else gets culture conversion cost reduction?) and unique mission tree will give you distinct and flavorful gameplay.

The game nudges you towards the Celestial Throne in China. Gather your power, wait for a weakness in Beijing, and strike the soonest.

With an early event allowing you to embrace Confucianism, the Great Project in Hue, the national idea providing mandate growth, and the option to move your culture to the Chinese culture group, you have all the tools at your disposal to claim the Mandate of Heaven and rule China from the South!

The unique achievement “Disciplines of Enlightenment” offers a fun challenge and forces you to play the early game differently.


7. Pegu

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Pegu represents the last remnants of the Mon culture. Controlling one of the richest regions in the game, the Irrawaddy delta, Pegu can dominate trade from early on.

Out of the five provinces you start with, two have Great Projects in them.

Two of the best Great Projects in the game, in fact.

Your national ideas are strong, but not anything extraordinary.

What distinguishes Pegu is its mission tree. While not vast, it offers a unique approach to gameplay. Vassalizing neighboring rival kingdoms changes their name to the traditional Mon name and gives them Mon as a primary culture.

Pegu has two unique achievements tied to it, something that not even all major European nations can claim!

One of my favorite campaigns was playing a tall game as Pegu, gunning for the two achievements. I recommend trying it at least once. Just be aware that the early game can be difficult depending on the alliance webs forming.


6. Tsang

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Tsang represents the Tibetan, Vajrayana sect of Buddhism. Everything said stands true for the other couple of Tibetan nations. They all share the same Tibetan ideas, which are quite strong in fact.

The small and compact Tibetan mission tree hides in it one of the most powerful events in the game. This being the infamous “Meeting with the Khans”. Completing the mission gives you the option of turning into a horde!

However, even if you don’t go that route, continuing to play as Tibet you can establish a Buddhist vassal kingdom in Bengal and eventually claim the throne of China for yourself.

A campaign different from what you’re used to for sure.

Utilizing the Himalayan terrain to your advantage and annihilating armies outnumbering you 10 to 1 is always a fun experience.


5. Khmer

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The Khmer empire has entered its dark age a few years before the game’s start.

Beset by the Tai people migrating south, the former great Khmer empire has been reduced to a shadow of its former self.

Unique national ideas and mission tree offer a great deal of flavor to the nation. However, most early game flavor is offered through a unique starting disaster that you must work towards ending.

This disaster will dictate your early game for the most part. After consolidating the core lands of the empire, you can look outwards towards reclaiming the lost legacy of Cambodia and establish hegemony over the entire Southeast Asia.

Very much recommended to any of you who love comeback stories!


4. Kale

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Kale has been chosen to represent the disparate states of the Shan peoples largely because of its unique achievement.

Oh boy, and what unique achievement that is.

Arguably the hardest one in the game, it requires you to conquer all grassland provinces in Asia before the Age of Absolutism.

Kale’s generic Shan ideas are nothing particularly interesting.

However, like all Shan states Kale has access to a unique mission that allows you to inherit all other Shan states. Yes, just like that.

You just ally them, press a button, and poof. Congratulations, you now control most of Burma.

If you picked Kale, you probably want the “Eat your Greens” achievement. I‘ll save you the trouble and give you the best way to go for it:

Tibet. Form Tibet and become a horde through their mission tree.

And one more hint: Siam doesn’t have the requirement “Is not a Horde”. You can form it if your primary culture is in the Tai group.


3. Kandy

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Kandy, along with its overlord Kotte, start as the only Buddhist nations in India.

Kandy is chosen over its overlord because it has an extra unique achievement, on top of the one they both share.

On the island of Sri Lanka, relatively isolated and without many options of expansion, your early game will be tough. Allying Bahmanis and going against Vijayanagar will be your only effective option of expansion after you break free and annex your rival in the island.

A refreshing experience in India for sure.

Playing as anything else other than a Hindu or Muslim nation without heathen tolerance modifiers is a unique experience in the subcontinent.

Do you have what it take to help the Buddhists strike back and re-establish Buddhism as the main religion in India?


2. Taungoo

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Taungoo is the archetypal rags to riches campaign.

Starting with only one province and as a tributary of the powerful Ava to the north, Taungoo can barely claim to be independent. However, they historically rose to be the largest empire in Indochina and even defeated the mighty Qing dynasty at its height!

Despite its looks, Taungoo has unique events, missions, and is the primary nation of the Burmese culture.

The extensive mission tree leads you towards a path of subjugation and conquest in Indochina, culminating with the invasion of China.

Taungoo has a unique achievement, one that used to be arguably the hardest in the game.

It wants you to conquer your entire culture group by 1500. The Burman culture group has been significantly cut down to size since then, making the achievement a breeze.

Can you recreate Taungoo’s historical success and claim overlordship of all Indochina and beyond?


1. Ayutthaya

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The kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1444 is undoubtedly the strongest power in Indochina.

Surrounded by its own vassals and weaker rivals at all sides, expansion in the early game will be easy.

Well, subjugation, not expansion.

Like most mission trees in the region, Ayutthaya’s mission encourages setting up vassals around you and developing your already controlled core lands. This is complemented by the mandala government bonuses and your national ideas.

Ayutthaya can form Siam with different conditions than other Tai nations, giving them access to an even more powerful set of national ideas.

In fact, it can turn them into the most powerful cavalry-focused military in the game. Sorry Poland, your winged hussars will have to wait for the next DLC!

An easy unique achievement is also available to Ayutthaya, giving even more incentive to try the nation. Generally, if you want a chill campaign in Indochina to get the feel of the region, Ayutthaya is the option for you. Especially if you like trampling your foes with elephants.

Combining flavor, power, fun, unique gameplay, and an achievement, Ayutthaya deserves its spot at the top of the list.

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G. Tsechilidis

Born and raised Greek citizen. His love of history, geography, and all things map-related, are certainly a contrast to his pursuit of a master in civil engineering. An avid gamer from a very young age, he found the perfect match in Grand Strategy Games. If not for a good chess match or a round of carambole billiards, you'll certainly catch him firing up EU4 or a Total War game to spend the evening.