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The Russian region starts poor, but it can be enriched by trade and production flowing down from Asia. Your starting trade node of Novgorod can become a prosperous hub at the end of a vast trade network.
Your economic objectives should be to secure the trade nodes and regions that can divert trade back to you. The important ones are, by order of rough priority:
To achieve these trade areas and thrive, you need to play wide.
Russia excels at this because of some unique features, like:
- Fabricating claims on entire areas
- Permanent claims on most of Eastern Europe and North Asia
- “Siberian Frontier” national idea
- “Russian Government” abilities:
- Reform Sudebnik: -10% autonomy from every province
- Support Oprichnina: -30% progress from all rebel factions
- Raise Streltsy: -2 war exhaustion and provides free Streltsy infantry units
Note: You need the “Third Rome” DLC for these.
To form Russia, you must meet these requirements:
- Primary culture must be Muscovite, Novgorodian, or Ryazanian
- Admin tech 10
- Own these core provinces:
- Ryazan or Smolensk
- Tver or Yaroslavl
- Vladimir or Nizhny Novgorod
- At peace
Muscovy is the easiest nation to do this as they already control most of the required provinces. They also share the same mission tree as Russia, so you can get the permanent claims on your neighbors early.
You’ll get Admin tech 10 around the year 1518. That’s about 70 years from the start of the game.
During that time, you’re stuck with the “Russian Principality” tier 1 reform, which restricts you at the Duchy government rank.
This limits your governing capacity, which is one of the problems you’ll face in the early game. Each point over your governing capacity comes with these penalties:
- +1% Stability cost modifier
- +1% Advisor cost
- -0.50% Improve relations
- +0.20% Core creation cost
- +0.50% Aggressive expansion impact
Every province you own will count to this cap, so you’ll need to be careful in your expansion.
Once you form Russia, you’ll become an Empire and get the “Tsardom” tier 1 reform. These will boost your governing capacity by 650.
Tip: You can also add 20 to your governing capacity by using the “Expand Administration” button in the “Government Reforms” tab. It initially costs 20 reform progress but each click increases that cost by 20%.
Kazan has only one downstream node: Novgorod.
Eliminating all collectors in this node means trade will automatically flow down to your main trading city.
There’s also a gold mine in the Bashgird/Zlatoust province. It’s the only one in your subcontinent.
Gold directly goes into your treasury instead of adding trade value to a node. It’s the best way to make money in the early game, since you haven’t reached any of the profitable trade nodes yet.
Note: Gold mines have an annual depletion chance, which reduces its base production by half. This is more likely to happen with a higher base production. The exact values are:
|Base Production||Annual Depletion Chance|
Tip: The recommended base production for gold mines is 10. It’ll yield 6.6 ducats per month, while still having a low annual depletion chance.
Astrakhan, Kazan, and most of North Asia are owned by nomadic hordes.
You need to be smart when fighting them, because they have these combat modifiers:
- +25% shock damage on flat terrain
- -25% shock damage on non-flat terrain
Astrakhan is mostly steppes and plains, and hordes also have the best starting units in the game.
Your strategy should be to lure them back to the forests of Russia instead of engaging them on their home turf.
You should also dismantle your forts in Moskva, Ryazan, and Yaroslavl.
Forts cost 2 ducats to maintain every month, and those three provinces are all flat, which makes them useless.
It’s better to build a fort in Yuriev. It’s a woodland province, and it also gets a +15% defensiveness bonus from producing salt.
While Astrakhan is enough to funnel Asian trade back to Novgorod, contesting Crimea is important to undermine your eventual nemesis, the Ottomans.
They control Constantinople, a rich node that doesn’t connect back to your main trading city.
This makes Crimea crucial because it can steer trade west to Constantinople or north to Kiev and Novgorod.
Crimea is split between three subcontinents with several provinces that have trade power modifiers:
|Subcontinent||Province||Type of Modifier||Trade Power Bonus|
|Eastern Europe||Azov||Don Estuary||+10|
|Eastern Europe||Yedisan||Dnestr Estuary||+10|
|Eastern Europe||Bessarabia||Danube Estuary||+10|
|Eastern Europe||Kaffa||Center of Trade||+5 / +10 / +20|
|Levant||Trebizond||Center of Trade||+5 / +10 / +20|
|Persia||Tbilisi||Center of Trade||+5 / +10 / +20|
|Persia||Odishi||Center of Trade||+5 / +10 / +20|
The provinces on the Levant and Persia side can be added to a trade company.
Trade company provinces enjoy a +100% bonus to their local trade power and can get trade company investments.
You’ll get an additional merchant if that node’s trade company has at least 51% trade power.
In addition, Crimea is a coastal trade node. This means you can send light ships on a “Protect Trade” mission there. This boosts your trade power, letting you steer more money back home.
Lastly, Crimea is home to a few small Orthodox nations:
They’re likely to accept a diplomatic vassalization offer from you, which you should do before they die to the Ottomans.
The first three are Duchies and can be diplo-vassalized even if you’re still Muscovy. The other three are Kingdoms, so you’ll have to become Russia first before they’re willing to become your vassals.
Tip: Improving the Winter Palace great project in St. Petersburg/Neva can give you a +15–30 bonus to vassalization acceptance.
Siberia is mostly uninhabited land. You’ll get the ability to mass colonize the region once you’ve unlocked Russia’s second national idea: “Siberian Frontier”.
To establish a Siberian Frontier:
- Click on an uncolonized land next to any owned province.
- Click the button on the top right, the one with the bearded frontiersman.
This is a special colony that:
- Costs 20 diplo mana (which can be affected by power cost modifiers)
- Doesn’t need a colonist or have any colonial maintenance
- Will grow by 5–15 settlers per month
- Won’t trigger native uprisings
This is only doable in uncolonized land that:
- Is adjacent to any owned province
- Is connected by land to your capital
To speed up your expansion through Siberia, you can conquer your way through the Tartary hordes. You can annex provinces that are adjacent to uncolonized land, allowing you to establish multiple frontiers all at once.
You won’t have vision on the Tartary subcontinent at the start of the game.
You can get one conquistador from the “Colonize Western Siberia” mission, but you’d have to manually order him to explore individual provinces.
It’s faster to use the “Request to Share Maps” diplomacy action. You’ll instantly reveal large portions of the map by spending only 15 prestige.
Persia has a lot of silk- and paper-producing provinces, two of the most valuable trade goods in the game.
It also has seven centers of trade plus one estuary. You can easily build up your trade power in this region, especially when using trade companies.
Another point of interest is Bam province. Its Bam Citadel great project can give you:
- An additional merchant
- +10–40% global bonus to caravan power
Increasing your trade power in this region means you can pull trade from India, which is a highly developed subcontinent with several prosperous trade nodes.
Once you’ve secured Persia, you may want to start building manufactories.
These are special buildings that give a flat +1 goods produced bonus to their province. They cost 500 ducats to build and will take 60 months of construction time.
The value of a node is based on the amount and the price of the trade goods produced in its provinces.
That means that increasing your production will also increase your trade income.
With the cost and time to build manufactories, you’ll want to have them on the trade goods that are actually worth it.
Here’s a list of notable trade goods that are within your reach and their manufactories:
|Trade Good||Price Range||Strategic Bonus*||Provincial Bonus||Manufactory||Manufactory Availability|
|Fur||2–3.5||+0.5 Yearly Prestige||+10% Trade Power||Trade Station||Diplo Tech 14|
|Copper**||3–4.5||-20% Global Recruitment Time||-20% Recruitment Time||Weapons Manufactory||Mil Tech 11|
|Iron**||3–4.5||-5% Recruitment Cost||-20% Construction Time||Weapons Manufactory||Mil Tech 11|
|Silk||4–5||+1 Max Accepted Culture||+2 Trade Power (flat increase, not percent)||Textile Manufactory||Admin Tech 11|
|Cloth||3–4||-15% Mercenary Maintenance||-10% Development Cost||Textile Manufactory||Admin Tech 11|
|Paper||3.5–4.725||-5% Admin Tech Cost||-10% State Maintenance||Mill||Admin Tech 16|
*You get the strategic bonus of a trade good if you’re trading in at least 20% of its global supply.
**Copper and Iron will swap prices after the “Development of Ironworking” event in the 1620s.
Prices can change at certain points of the game. To check the current price of all trade goods:
- Open the ledger. It’s the second button below the mini-map, or just press its hotkey (L)
- Click “Trade” from the table of contents
- Go to “Trade Goods”
The Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea trade node is downstream from Novgorod. You can potentially earn more money if you move your main trading city there.
You’ll also be able to create a trade company on the Swedish side of the Baltic.
However, you’d be fighting against Sweden. Their armies are of better quality than Russia’s, and they’ll be backed up by their union partners in Denmark and Norway.
Kiev receives trade from Crimea and can distribute it between Krakow and Novgorod. It can also become prosperous despite it being made up of mostly grain and livestock provinces, which aren’t that profitable.
It’s because the AI likes to build farm estates. It’s the earliest manufactory that you can build at Admin tech 6.
This isn’t cost-efficient because of the low price of grain and livestock, and the money required to build manufactories.
That said, allowing Kiev to thrive under Lithuania is recommended.
You’ll even profit from their expense since your trade power in Novgorod is enough to pull trade forward. You can just assign a merchant in Kiev to direct the flow back to you.
Future Money Making Opportunities
From here on out, you’ll have several options to further expand your trade network:
- You can continue conquering the trade nodes in India and China.
- You can hop over to Alaska after reaching the coasts of East Siberia, and then fully colonize California and Mexico. Both nodes can steer trade back west to Asia.
- You can colonize the Moluccas. This is the only place where you can find cloves, which is the highest priced trade good in the game.