Introducing 1.29: Manchu!
Think always of your ancestors,
and cultivate virtue.
Always strive to accord with the Mandate,
and seek for yourself many blessings.
Before Yin lost their multitudes,
They were in accord with the High Di.
Look to Yin as you would a mirror,
The great Mandate is not easy to keep.
- The Book of Odes
The 1.29 Manchu update will include not only the long-awaited 64 bit upgrade, but also a hefty chunk of free content for North-East Asia. Over the next few weeks I’ll be laying out what you can expect from the Manchu update; our focus is of course on Manchuria itself, but the update also has a huge impact on Mongolia, China, Japan, Korea, and parts of Central Asia.
Before we get to that, I’ll say a word about how Manchu came to be. Early in the year we set our programmers to work on tech debt (explained here by our own @MatRopert ), while @Groogy and @DDRJake were busy laying out the design for next years’ European update and expansion. With the design for the future at such an early stage it didn’t make sense for Team Content Design (at the time consisting of myself, @Ofaloaf, and @Caligula Caesar) to begin working on Europe just yet. And so we decided to use this time to create a free content update. We had originally planned to release Manchu somewhat earlier in the year, but various factors beyond our control prevented this from happening and we’ve finally secured a September release. While Manchu will contain some bug fixes, it won't contain the quality of life features we've been talking about lately - those will come with the Europe update next year. So to reiterate: the time we spent working on Manchu did not take any time away from our work on the European update.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about China!
Many players, including myself, haven’t been happy with the balance of Mandate of Heaven’s Emperor of China mechanics and the way they affect the experience of playing in East Asia. What we typically see in 1.28 is a perpetually stagnant Ming and by extension a stagnant East Asia. Players are averse to taking the Mandate of Heaven even as Qing because it is seen (somewhat justifiably) as more trouble than it’s worth. Players starting as Ming are offered very little challenge in their campaign.
We decided to use the Manchu update as an opportunity to revisit these mechanics. We want the Mandate to be desirable while still presenting a unique challenge and gameplay experience for both Ming and those who would usurp the Mandate. What follows is a list of the changes we’ve made to Mandate of Heaven’s Empire of China system:
- Neighboring non-tributary nations no longer cause Mandate loss.
- This prevents Mandate loss from bordering large nations such as Russia.
- It also means that nations that take the Mandate from Ming no longer experience crippling Mandate loss from non-tributaries.
- The Empire will still gain Mandate from having tributaries, so it is still rewarding to surround the Empire with Tributary states.
- For each 5 loans the Empire loses -0.03 Mandate per month. Bankruptcy causes a -0.05 Mandate loss per month.
- The Emperor is expected to bring prosperity to China, not poverty and ruin.
- Opponents of the Empire now have the option of target the Chinese economy in all manner of creative ways in order to reduce its Mandate.
- Passive Meritocracy decay has been increased to -2 per year
- In 1.28, simply having low skill advisors is enough to maintain maximum Meritocracy at all times, so there is no need to ever worry about low Meritocracy.
- This makes Meritocracy a more scarce resource that will take more time to accumulate.
- For each 5 Corruption, the Empire loses 0.05 Mandate per month
- Speaks for itself. A corrupt Empire is not a healthy Empire.
- -100% Mercenary Availability at 0 Mandate changed to -200%
- At 0 Mandate Ming shouldn’t be able to hire mercenaries. With Ming’s huge forcelimit, any positive modifier to Mercenary Availability (e.g. Administrative Ideas) allows them to hire a large mercenary army.
- Low Mandate now has a scaling Global Manpower penalty, up to -50% at low Mandate
- Ming has a gigantic Manpower pool. Wearing it down is difficult, especially when they take Quantity ideas (which again they often do). Their sheer numbers can help them overcome opponents that they historically struggled to defeat.
- Dynasties in periods of economic or political decline struggled to raise large or disciplined armies. This was another indicator that the Dynasty was at risk of losing the Mandate.
- High Mandate now reduces monthly War Exhaustion, up to -0.03 per month
- This rewards a strong Empire with the ability to sustain itself in wars for long periods of time. It broadcasts that attacking the Empire at a time of strength may be unwise.
- When a dynasty is perceived to clearly and firmly possess the Mandate, the people are assured that the hardships of war will pass and the Emperor will be victorious.
- Two new Ruler Personalities have been added, exclusive to the Emperor of China. Humane gives a bonus to Mandate while Petty reduces it.
- Based on the Confucian concept of ‘ren’. A morally virtuous Emperor is the center of a harmonious Empire.
- Not owning and controlling Beijing, Nanjing, and Canton reduces Mandate by -0.05 per month each.
- This adds new tactical and strategic elements to both playing and fighting the Empire. You can damage the Empire’s Mandate by sieging key cities, and even further by taking them in a peace deal. The Emperor must take care to defend these key provinces.
- The Unguarded Nomadic Frontier disaster will now account for the development of the subjects of Horde nations
- It is no longer necessary for a Horde that wishes to challenge the Empire to directly control massive swathes of land. Vassals and Marches can be used to increase your power for this purpose.
- Low Meritocracy now causes Corruption, up to 0.1 per year at 0 Meritocracy. High Meritocracy reduces corruption to the same degree.
- A player-led Qing or Ming will likely be expansionist. This reduces the impact of corruption from territories. And can be a means to reduce Mandate loss from high corruption.
- Meritocracy represents the efficiency of the Confucian bureaucracy. Corrupt bureaucrats (which in Ming was extremely common) did not administer efficiently.
- The Empire gains 0.05 Mandate per month while using the Unite China CB, and new Emperors gain +0.05 monthly Mandate for 20 years. Countries that seize the Mandate begin with 60 Mandate and 60 Meritocracy.
- This helps countries that have recently gained the Mandate an early source of Mandate, a common issue when playing as Qing or Yuan.
- We’ve rebalanced a number of Chinese historical events. I won’t go into the details now but an important focus was adding Mandate effects to many event options.
In addition, we’ve designed two new highly impactful event chains to shake up the Chinese world.
The Mandate is not easy to keep;
May it not end in your persons.
Though the Ming dynasty was ultimately defeated by the Manchu conquest, its collapse had already begun before the invasion. Disaster and mismanagement within the Ming dynasty were the catalyst for a major peasant rebellion in the 1630’s led by Li Zicheng. Li Zicheng was extremely successful; his forces won many battles against the Ming armies and he captured Beijing in 1644, proclaiming himself Emperor of the Shun Dynasty. Only then did the newly-united Manchus invade, initially under the pretext of defeating Li Zicheng’s rebellion. We’ll talk more about the Manchu invasion next week, for now we’re interested in Ming’s internal crisis.
The Crisis of the Ming Dynasty is a new Disaster that will challenge Ming players and very often lead to the collapse of an AI-controlled Ming. The Disaster can begin any time after the Age of Discovery if Ming has low Mandate or has lost the Mandate entirely. When the Disaster hits they’ll immediately receive penalties to Land Morale, Technology Cost, and Global Unrest, as well as taking a flat hit to their Stability, Mandate, and Corruption. Events will periodically spawn Peasant rebels. This is going to be a very difficult time for Ming. Ming must restore their Mandate by any means necessary or face dire consequences. If rebels manage to occupy 10 provinces in a single Chinese region (North China, South China, and Xinan), an event will fire that immediately spawns breakaway nations. In Xinan the Yunnan Protectorate (represented by the nation of Dali) will demand self-rule, which can be accepted at the cost of Mandate or denied at the cost of a bloody war. In the South, local governors will take matters into their own hands, defying the authority of the Empire and raising their own armies to restore order. Wu and Yue will be spawned on the map, and once again the choice to accept their independence or fight against them will be presented. In North China there will be no such choice. Rebels will seize power in the region and declare that Ming has lost the Mandate of Heaven, proclaiming the Shun Dynasty and immediately declaring war on Ming for the Mandate. The southern revolter states can play a role in the rise of the Qing later in the game, representing the Three Feudatories which we’ll talk about more next week. Ming players must now guard their Mandate jealously lest they fall into ruin and despair.
In this playthrough Esen Taishi managed to get himself killed in battle, but Kundelung Kirghiz has taken up his mantle.
Another challenge to Ming rule came much earlier in our time frame. By 1444 the Oirats had consolidated their power under the ambitious warlord Esen Taishi (more about the Oirats next week). In 1449 he led an invasion of China, captured the Emperor in battle, and came close to winning the siege of Beijing. These events are known as the Tumu Crisis, and they’re now an event chain in EU4. As the Oirats begin the game refusing to pay tribute to the Ming Emperor, they often find themselves in an early war. When this happens Ming receives an event informing them that the Emperor has decided to lead his armies personally, converting the Yingzong Emperor into a (very inept) general. If the Oirats defeat a Ming army commanded by the Yingzong Emperor in a battle an event will immediately fire granting the Oirats combat and siege bonuses, while Ming receives an event reduces their Mandate and Stability, as well as forcing them into a temporary Regency Council. From here the goal for the Oirats is to capture Beijing before the Emperor dies and before Ming appoints a new Emperor to the throne. Should the Oirats succeed the rewards are great: they’ll immediately occupy every province in the North China region owned and controlled by Ming, resulting in a huge amount of warscore which they can use to secure an advantageous peace deal. The capture of Beijing will also cause huge Mandate loss for Ming, though their beloved Emperor will be returned safely to the throne. By pursuing the goals presented in this event chain an Oirat player can make a powerful opening move in their campaign, potentially paving the way for a restored Yuan dynasty.
We’ve had a long time to observe the impact of our work in this region and we’re very satisfied with the results. In 1.29 Ming survives “intact” to the end of the game in less than 1⁄3 of hands-off tests, with the remainder of cases having a variety of results such as a powerful Qing dynasty, a perpetually shattered China, the rise of a new Chinese dynasty (Shun and Wu are the most common), and opportunistic European conquests that exploit China’s internal troubles. I’ve even seen Mughal China a couple of times. The result here is a much more dynamic and much less predictable political situation in East Asia. In the hands of a player Ming is still by far the most powerful nation in the game, though it faces new challenges to its dominance.
It’s great to finally have the chance to talk about 1.29 Manchu after so many months. I’ll be back with more over the next few weeks building up to its release in September. Our next development diary will hone in on the 3 M’s: Maps, Manchus, and Mongols!
Manchu will be a free update to EU4 with new content and the 64 bit upgrade. The European Update and DLC will be coming in 2020.