Where the sidewalk ends...
The Egyptians don't show up immediately after the DoW. Without knowing their forces I don't want to risk leaving my home territory. I just send a single brigade to besiege Assab, where I'd have enough notice to defend or retreat. I still find awkward the 3k groupings (instead of the 1K EU3 units), was post-Napoleonic military organisation really able to treble the number of soldiers under the same officers' command?
It's in late July that a 24K force finally appears, heading directly for Gonder. I wait and defemd with all my forces (except the brigade in Assab), and the mountain bonus seems to work: the Egyptian losses are quite bad.
I chase them to Akordat and finally Massawa, where they are completely eliminated. I quickly retreat back to Ethiopia when I notice the horrible attrition levels anything above 1 brigade gets in these provinces...
Egypt sends another force of 9,000 men in November (defeated in Assab) and two or three lone brigades in early 1838. Assab falls this point and I feel confident enough to set a war goal and demand the state of Asmara (today's Eritrea) for my efforts (at the cost of 10 Infamy points).
That's not the end of the Egyptians, though, they send a 15K force in March which manages to capture Aksum in May. But again, I defeat them at my capital.
The rest of 1838 and early 1839 I'm left to occupy the rest of Asmara undisturbed, until I have enough warscore to get the state in a peace offer in April 1839 (I choose not to extend slavery to Asmara, since I plant to abolish it when I get enough support in the upper house.)
And with enough prestige from victory I can enact the Negusa Nagast! decision, which confirms the monarch as the one and only, absolute emperor of Ethiopia.
Now I can sit back and bask on my newly acquired position and prestige for a while, and keep researching and saving some money for when I have something to spend it on. In fact, I do have something to start spending... the state of Asmara is not very rich or populous, but it gives Ethiopia a new strategic factor to consider: access to the sea. I commission the construction of a transport and a frigate as a fledgeling Imperial Navy. I also use my diplomatic points to improve relations with the United Kingdom and the Ottomans whenever possible.
Finally in September 1843 the research of Freedom of Trade is complete! I select Post-Napoleonic Thought as second technology, in order to build forts and as another step to westernisation.
I can't emphasise enough what a massive difference Freedom of Trade makes in an uncivilised economy. But I can show the figures. Income a month before and a month after FoT:
Income from my two main wealth sources, coffee and cattle, has doubled, and with it the tax take across the board Outgoings, tariffs and daily balance, a month before and a month after:
So basically, I'm filthy rich! After the war with Egypt I had already been able to loosen taxes down to 40-35-40% and tariffs to 15%. Now with FoT I can lower tax further to the minimum allowed by my current government and reduce tariffs to 5%, while still keeping a decent surplus for the future.
And of course the future always comes sooner than expected, in this case May 1844...