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Persia is one of the few interesting non-westernized nations to play in Victoria 2, having a special decision, a relatively large starting population, and plenty of natural resources.
With its rich history, it is a great choice for a challenging, but not excessively punishing, westernization game.
Being located in the Middle East, it is far from most European great powers and surrounded by smaller, weaker states that allow for both diplomatic and military expansion.
The constant threat from the Ottoman and Russian Empires is bound to keep the run entertaining until the end date, and proximity to British India could end up in an unexpected tussle over the fate of the subcontinent.
Persia starts the game with a low, but not abysmal, literacy rate.
And finally, some reforms are already enacted: the way forward is paved, and westernization can be achieved sometime after 1850 with relative ease.
Road to Westernization
The main goal of a Persia game is achieving westernization as soon as possible. This will prevent the neighboring great powers from using their powerful casus belli against you.
Furthermore, you will be able to catch up with their industrial development before it’s too late.
You will need to pass enough reforms to achieve 100% progress towards westernization. These reforms cost a lot of research points. But fortunately, you gain a lump sum each time you annex territory.
Our goal here is twofold:
- We have to maximize our research points by increasing literacy (which incidentally also reduces the cost of reforms, so it’s a no brainer) and bringing the number of clergymen up to 4%
- We have to pass more military reforms and conquer our neighbors to access their resources and become a power capable of competing with Russia and the Ottomans in the long run.
Educating the People
As we are a non-industrialized country, we only have one national focus.
We will use it in our most populous state to Encourage Clergymen. This will help make our people more literate and increase our research points.
When we hit 10% literacy we can also enact our special decision, speeding up further the process of westernization.
Also, increase administration and education spending while raising taxes and tariffs as much as possible to keep a balanced budget.
Make Ready for War
The number of research points earned from conquest depends on the military reforms passed. While we wait for our special decision to be enacted, we should strive to implement “foreign training methods”. Patience is key.
In the meantime, let’s review our options for conquest.
Obviously waging war on one of the great powers is not an option, so we’ll have to look at our non-industrialized neighbors:
- Afghanistan is the obvious target, having a large territory and access to plenty of coal that will be very useful for factories later on.
- Makran and Kalat are easy prey. Most of their population is of Balochi culture, already accepted in Persia. However, they are best left for easy conquest after westernization because they are very small and yield fewer research points.
- Khiva and Bukkhara are on Russia’s doorstep, and it is definitely not a good time to provoke or anger Russia.
- Sindh is tough, but it’s also a populous state. Conquering it can bring huge benefits to our rising empire if done before Great Britain can get it into its sphere of influence.
- Abu Dhabi requires a naval invasion to be conquered, being on the other side of the Persian Gulf, but it does not have a large army and can be the gateway to Arabia, with Nejd, Hejaz, and Yemen possibly following. A large presence in Arabia could, however, result in more problems with the Ottomans or even with Egypt later on.
Persia starts with a modern army, so we can take them all, one at a time.
Let’s start with Afghanistan.
War with Afghanistan
Normally annexing Afghanistan would be an easy task: despite the terrible terrain and the ensuing attrition, we have a larger, better army.
However this is only the first of many wars we will fight to expand our influence, so preserving as much of our army as possible is a priority. Let Afghan troops come at you, let them venture into the Iranian plateau, and surround them by keeping your own troops on the mountains, where attrition isn’t quite as terrible.
Only when they cannot escape fight them, push them back with your superior infantry and cavalry and bring the fight to Afghanistan.
Keep your eyes on the diplomacy tab: the AI will rarely offer peace terms including its annexation before being fully occupied, but it may become willing to accept the same offer from you earlier. The fewer casualties you take now, the more you’ll be able to expand later.
Good future targets include Panjab, Sindh, and Abu Dhabi, but you may want to build a small fleet and sail for Atjeh, Johor, or Brunei instead.
Supplementing your armies with newly drafted soldiers from your conquests should not be a problem, as Afghanistan was probably the toughest fight of the run.
You can release the smaller nations you take as puppets to keep your infamy in check and avoid the dreaded twenty-five-point limit.
Westernization and Early Industrialization
After westernization, avenues of direct expansion will become more limited. Great powers will sphere smaller states, so gear up for a big fight against Russia, the Ottomans, or even Great Britain.
After enough wars and time, you will be able to westernize by enacting enough reforms.
The early industry should mostly rely on coal from Afghanistan: cement factories, and perhaps a few cloth factories if you have the capital to invest. Bide your time and do not be afraid of letting a great power sphere you: this will provide protection against the others.
With careful resource management, you should be able to grow while the Ottomans decline, and Russia gets entangled in costly, bloody European affairs.
As your economy grows, along with your population and your industrial power, you will eventually be able to face directly the Ottomans for supremacy in the Levant. Persia will relive its glory days because of your leadership, if only you will seize the right moment!