A short tract on the Byzantine Idea Set (I.E. Suggested Overhaul)

A short tract on the Byzantine Idea Set (I.E. Suggested Overhaul)

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What better way to start off the year than making a thread on the nation everyone loves to hate?

Now, before I get a kneejerk reaction of 'Byzantium doesn't deserve developer attention' or the like: I ask that you please hear me out.

I’ll forgo any preamble and address the pertinent subject of this thread: that Byzantium’s NI set is one of the worst in the game from most perceivable metrics (before someone brings up their powerful religious bonuses: I’m referring less to a meta-game balance sense and more to an ontological sense). The first and most glaring issue is one that I have actually not seen brought up on the forums before: Byzantium’s NI set is just the Generic NI set that’s been recalibrated to force you to go Religious. Perhaps listing out both NI sets will help demonstrate my point:

Byzantine:
Traditions: +3 Tolerance of Own, -10% Advisor Cost
Regulations of Mercenaries: -25% Mercenary Maintenance
Repopulation of the Countryside: +10% National Manpower Modifier, +5% Goods Produced
State Administrative Reform: +10% National Tax Modifier
Delegated Power: -10% Stability Cost
Byzantine Merchant Class: +10% Global Trade Power
The New Imperial Army: +5% Discipline
Restore the Ecumenical Patriarch: +3% Missionary Strength
Ambition: +1 Prestige

Generic:
Traditions: -10% Stability Cost, -10% Advisor Cost
Preserve our troops: +2.5% Discipline
Tax Reform: +5% National Tax Modifier
Regulated Contracts: -10% Mercenary Maintenance
Contract Law: +5% Global Trade Power
Peasant Levy: +5% National Manpower Modifier
Mercantile Status: +5% Trade Steering
Strengthening Land Tenure: +5% Production Efficiency
Ambition: +10% National Tax Modifier

As you can see, three of the Byzantine Ideas (Advisor Cost, Tax and Stability) are just values that have been directly grafted from the generic set onto the Byzantine one. Four Ideas (Merc Main, Manpower, Global Trade, Discipline) are ones that have been multiplied before being transplanted: that number increases to five if we double dip and include Tax as well, seeing as how it shows up in Generic twice. Either way, that leaves either seven or eight of the eleven Byzantine Ideas as being directly transplanted from the Generic set: if we wanted to be especially cynical (and flexible) and say that +5% Goods Produced was +5% Production Efficiency that was just mutated into Goods, that number further increases to eight/nine.

Regardless, this is the highest correlation to the Generic NI set of any Country-unique NI set in game, and it shows, with the only redeeming factors in this incredibly strewn-out NI set being the very powerful +3 Tolerance of Own and +3% Missionary Strength, that combined with -10% Stability Cost and +1 Prestige, offer incredible synergy with Orthodox-Religious. However, while excellent on paper, none of these ideas are actually very helpful for the majority of Byzantine players (that +3% Missionary Strength comes last is a further hinderance). Why not? Simple: these Ideas are mop-up Ideas. They don’t actually help a Byzantine player progress, they just help one persist. Orthodox land becomes facile. It is much easier to make more Orthodox provinces. And Stabilty is cheap, which helps both keep provinces further under control and make more Orthodox provinces. But none of these actually help a player survive as Byzantium or gain new land as Byzantium.

Now, I know the obvious counter to this is ‘Byzantium only lasted for nine years ingame and is usually gone before even that and so doesn’t deserve good NIs’. In response to this, here’s a look at the NI sets of a few other states that historically were abolished relatively quickly after gamestart, and almost invariably don’t last as long either:

Albania, fragmented in 1450, crushed in 1468, and all resistance defeated in 1479. Usually doesn’t last a decade ingame:

Traditions: +10% Manpower recovery speed, +20% Fort defense
All Lands Under Skanderbeg: +20% Land force limit modifier
Land of Ambushers: +1 Land leader maneuver
Kingdom of Albania: +1 Yearly prestige
Hit and Run: +50% Cavalry flanking ability
Land of the Eagles: −10% Stability cost modifier
Albanian Tolerance: +1 Tolerance of heretics, +1 Tolerance of heathens
Break The Power Of Princes: +15% National manpower modifier
Ambition: −1% Yearly army tradition decay

Athens, conquered 1458, usually annexed whenever Byzantium is, which amounts to usually less than a decade:

Traditions: +4 Tolerance of heretics, +10% Fort defense
Dominus Athenarum: +1 Yearly legitimacy
Athenian Openness: +1 Max promoted culture
Athenian Pragmatism: +1 Diplomatic reputation
Revive the Latin Greece: +1 Yearly prestige
Latin Contracts: −1 National unrest
Preserve Archbishop of Athens: +1% Missionary strength
Athenian Army Reform: +5% Infantry combat ability, +5% Artillery combat ability
Ambition: +10% Morale of armies

Corfu, a fictional state that is almost always gone by 1470:

Traditions: −20% Galley cost, +20% Galley combat ability
Frankokratia: +10% Morale of armies
Castles of the Angels: +20% Fort defense
Settling the Islands: +10% National tax modifier
Gate to the Adriatic: +10% Trade efficiency
Naval Expansion: +25% Naval force limit modifier
Entrepôt of the Eastern Mediterranean: +10% Trade power abroad
Ionian Academy: −15% Culture conversion cost
Ambition: +1 Merchant

Cyprus, dissolved in 1489 due to finances, but has varied life spans due to the AI having a past aversion to conquering islands:

Traditions: −20% Galley cost, +4 Tolerance of heretics
King of Jerusalem: +0.5 Yearly legitimacy, −25% Cost to fabricate claims
Frankish Crusaders: +1 Yearly army tradition
Commandaria Wine: +10% Production efficiency
Lusignan Diplomacy: +1 Diplomatic reputation
Cypriot Fortifications: +25% Fort defense
Repel the Corsairs: +20% Galley combat ability
Raid Turkish Commerce: +10% Embargo efficiency, +15% Privateer efficiency
Ambition: +33% Naval force limit modifier

I could go on all day – bringing up Naxos, the Knights, Serbia, Karaman and Candar, or even Granada, nevermind that Trebizond and Greece both have significantly better NIs than Byzantium – but I believe I’ve made my point: all the NI sets for OPMs or other small, precarious nations (Provence, Granada, etc.) that usually don’t last more than a decade or two in game are anywhere from good to uber. This is largely consistent across the board, and brings up a vital point: the reason why so many of these sets for doomed nations are so good is because it has been the design philosophy of Paradox to reward players for playing well with these nations. If someone has the skill or determination to ‘win’ as one of the nations, then they should be able to enjoy playing as them as they get onto the world stage. Byzantium is really the only outlier in all of this; and between having a DLC that’s been mocked for having the T5 Byz models on flying carpets, its own achievement, and making it onto the list of top 20 most played nations a while back; it is not up for debate that Byzantium is a popular nation to play, and likely the most popular of the doomed nations. However, the only claim to fame their NI set can afford being that it’s good at converting stuff and keep the converted stuff under wraps.

Except – and this brings me to my next point – the Byzantine NI set doesn’t even reflect Byzantium well. Now, this is a somewhat convoluted issue to tackle, but I’ll do my best by dividing it into two categories: up first is that the NI set is, frankly, lazy. Not only lazy in the sense of being largely grafted from the generic set, but also lazy in the sense that it doesn’t really capture Byzantine history – especially contemporaneous history. Most of the NIs either deal with the basics of what a resurgent (or growing) empire would need to do to actually remain relevant, and most of them don’t feel particularly unique to Byzantium; you could easily graft half of them back onto the Generic set and they’d fit just as well. Whereas nations like Granada, Candar, Karaman, Provence and even Trebizond have NI sets where the flavor text feels largely unique to them and covers aspects of their history.

This leads me to the second half of the issue: high Tolerance of Own doesn’t even mesh with Byzantium in its last days. Late Byzantine politics were mired by the conflict between the Unionists and the Anti-Unionists; the Councils of Florence and Basel (the later itself a byproduct of Counciliarism) saw a superficial reunion of the church: John VIII and all but one of the attending Orthodox prelates, including the Ecumenical Patriarch, accepted the union, with them both acknowledging Papal Supremacy and a few other theological issues in question (though a live-let-live compromise was reached on filioque). The union was officially proclaimed in Constantinople half a year before the city’s fall (though it had unofficially been active for a decade before that), and Constantine XI and three generations of Ecumenical Patriarchs remained firm Unionists (and the Unionist movement itself can be well traced back to the prior century with John V, with his conversion to Catholicism in 1369). Now, the motive and sincerity of this can be debated till the cows come home, but the underlying fact remains that, by game logic, Byzantium should start out with its state religion as Catholic, ruling over a bunch of Orthodox provinces (which would represent the internal dissent quite nicely).

However, as that will never fly and I doubt Byzantium will ever get historical flavor events – even one that, by all rights, would affect and shape the course of Byzantine diplomacy and religious policy for decades to come, especially in a resurgent Empire – I suppose this is a long way of saying that Tolerance of Own, one of the only two stand out ideas, is not fitting for a Byzantine set. Especially considering the Emperor had effectively surrendered the state caesaropapism only a handful of years before start date, that many monks refused to pray for the Emperor in protest, that two pro-union Ecumenical Patriarchs would be chased out of their offices due to pressure (albeit they would remain legitimate to the Greeks living in Latin controlled areas of Greece), and that an endless series of court politicking was launched over it. Not only that, but giving one of history’s most turbulent and, uh, byzantine Empires an ability to better contain revolts as a tradition… doesn’t make much sense.

All of this brings me to my final point, and the actual conclusion of this: a rework of the Byzantine NI set to make it feel actually unique, historically accurate, and make it far more rewarding – without making it OP or over-the-top. I would like to present it below, and I’ll leave commentary when necessary in parenthesis:

Redone Byzantine NI Set:

Traditions: +10% Land Morale, +1 Yearly Legitimacy
(Legitimacy speaks for itself: claiming to be the inheritors of Rome was all the rave in Europe, and Byzantium’s claim carries a little more weight than most. As for Morale – the Empire never gave up. They held off numerous attacks on Constantinople by the Turks, and continued to reconquer imperial territories from the Latin princelings of southern Greece across the decades of the early and mid 1400s.)

City of the World’s Desire: +1 Yearly Prestige
Desc: Constantinople was once the center of trade in the world, and carried with it all the architectural and intellectual grandeur that such a role would demand. The Constantinople of today is a shallow memory of those days past, but not all is lost: the name alone is enough to draw prestige, and should our empire flourish once again, it doubtlessly shall too.

Grand Tour of Manuel II: +1 Diplomatic Reputation
Desc: Faced with an onslaught of the treacherous Turks, Manuel II set out on an unprecedented tour of Europe in 1399 to raise support for the Empire; his four year trip took him from familiar Italy, to France and Germany, and even distant England, Iberia and Denmark. Being the guest of honor in so many European courts reinvigorated Latin interest in the Empire, and even now we can make use of such contacts.

Unionists and Anti-Unionists: +3% Global Missionary Strength
Desc: The Council of Florence superficially mended the great schism by acknowledging Papal Primacy and a number of Latin positions on theological issues: its effects are still felt widely today, with widespread disagreement and infighting amongst the clergy over it. Regardless of what side we come to favor, we must do so decisively and ensure that there is only one creed in our churches.

Latin Volunteers: -10% Advisor Cost
Desc: Our continued contacts with and pleas to the west have been answered time over, often in the form of small contingents led by capable men. Most of these are either adventurers, independent captains, or even travelling engineers and clergymen; granting them titles and permanent employment will see their talents put to proper use.

(While Giovanni Guistiani is properly remembered as the most famous western commander in the Siege of Constantinople – even being awarded the title of Protostrator – he was far from the only one. Venetian captains Dolfin Dolfin and Gabriele Trevisano were both given command of garrisons, engineer Johannes Grant organized the very successful counter-tunneling measures, Archbishop Leonard of Chios worked with Cardinal Isidore of Kiev to lead another garrison, and Orban approached the Byzantines before turning to the Ottos. Nevermind that anywhere from a third to a fourth of the defenders at Constantinople were Latins.)

Formalize Succession Laws: -10% Stability Cost
Desc: While the title of Despot has appointed one as the heir apparent of the Empire for centuries, there still has been no formal line of succession, and the endless court intrigues over it have thrown our Empire into civil war on more than one occasion. However, for centuries past the Palaeologus have managed to rule the Empire undisputed; now more than ever in our history are we in a position to establish laws mandating a clear line of succession to ensure that we will not have to suffer the intrigue of ages prior.

Reinstitution of the Pronoia: +10% Infantry Combat Ability
Desc: As the Empire continued to lose more land and revenue, the Pronoia system that once helped form the backbone of our army fell into unsustainability. However, with our borders resurgent, we can finally reinstitute the practice of small-scale, taxable land grants. This will grant our army a pool of professional – and more importantly, reliable – self-equipped units to draw from.

(The Palaeologus made a few reforms to the pronoia system that made the Empire more ‘feudal’ [much as I detest that term], with pronoiars being hereditary and being able to hand out grants of their own. As we’re now getting into the theoretical ideas, there wouldn’t be much of a reason why a resurgent Byzantium wouldn’t try to reinstitute this system, especially between continued debt – as pronoiars paid for their own expenses and doubled as tax collectors – and the fact that the empire’s dependence on foreign mercenaries was its undoing at multiple occasions.)

Repopulation of the Countryside: +10% National Tax Modifier, -10% Culture Conversion Cost
Desc: Nonstop warfare, Turkish raids, overtaxing and migration have all contributed to the depopulation of our Empire’s heartland. With our borders secure now, however, we can begin to change that: inviting numerous Albanian and Serbian tribes to settle within our borders, while granting incentives for native Greek clans to resettle along the borders will not only help rebuild our tax base, but ensure that we can more effectively control it.

(Resettling has always been a favorite strategy of the Byzantines, and it continued into the Empire’s last days; Theodore I of Morea invited a number of Albanian tribes to settle in the peninsula to help repopulate it. Then, of course, there was the large-scale return of Greeks to Asia Minor, made possible as the Ottomans made travel and resettlement largely safe due to their conquests – similar conditions would have easily arose under a stable Byzantine government [nevermind the guilty pleasure of every BYZ player being converting Asia Minor to Greek]. Tax or Manpower would work equally well with this one, but as Restoring the Theme System gives you +25% Manpower, Tax would be more prudent in my opinion.)

Ambition: -10% Core Creation Cost
(This is really just the most fitting ambition for Byzantium, especially given all the cores they've lost since release.)

---

All in all, this is my proposal for a redone Byzantine NI set, and thank you for taking the time to read it and the reasoning behind it.
 
Last edited:

Zephyrum

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The first of much Byzposting that I'm expecting this year, yo. Very mild and good, really like the descriptions.

Gameplay wise, well, it's a nerf, so no excuse this time Jake :)
 

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The ideas do look interesting. But what I always have a problem with is manpower with Byzantium until I reach a point and even when taking quantity ideas, many wars especially in the caucasus and levant are really hard to win with the lack and loss of manpower. Maybe instead of the stability modifier give like a 20% manpower modifier,
 

Zephyrum

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The ideas do look interesting. But what I always have a problem with is manpower with Byzantium until I reach a point and even when taking quantity ideas, many wars especially in the caucasus and levant are really hard to win with the lack and loss of manpower. Maybe instead of the stability modifier give like a 20% manpower modifier,
Reestabilishing the Theme System grants you +25% national manpower modifier.
 

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Reestabilishing the Theme System grants you +25% national manpower modifier.
In addition to that, max PA gives your orthodox provinces +33& Manpower, and you can tack on the Icon of St. Michael for +10% Manpower Recovery.
 

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What better way to start off the year than making a thread on the nation everyone loves to hate?

Now, before I get a kneejerk reaction of 'Byzantium doesn't deserve developer attention' or the like: I ask that you please hear me out.

I’ll forgo any preamble and address the pertinent subject of this thread: that Byzantium’s NI set is one of the worst in the game from most perceivable metrics (before someone brings up their powerful religious bonuses: I’m referring less to a meta-game balance sense and more to an ontological sense). The first and most glaring issue is one that I have actually not seen brought up on the forums before: Byzantium’s NI set is just the Generic NI set that’s been recalibrated to force you to go Religious. Perhaps listing out both NI sets will help demonstrate my point:

Byzantine:
Traditions: +3 Tolerance of Own, -10% Advisor Cost
Regulations of Mercenaries: -25% Mercenary Maintenance
Repopulation of the Countryside: +10% National Manpower Modifier, +5% Goods Produced
State Administrative Reform: +10% National Tax Modifier
Delegated Power: -10% Stability Cost
Byzantine Merchant Class: +10% Global Trade Power
The New Imperial Army: +5% Discipline
Restore the Ecumenical Patriarch: +3% Missionary Strength
Ambition: +1 Prestige

Generic:
Traditions: -10% Stability Cost, -10% Advisor Cost
Preserve our troops: +2.5% Discipline
Tax Reform: +5% National Tax Modifier
Regulated Contracts: -10% Mercenary Maintenance
Contract Law: +5% Global Trade Power
Peasant Levy: +5% National Manpower Modifier
Mercantile Status: +5% Trade Steering
Strengthening Land Tenure: +5% Production Efficiency
Ambition: +10% National Tax Modifier

As you can see, three of the Byzantine Ideas (Advisor Cost, Tax and Stability) are just values that have been directly grafted from the generic set onto the Byzantine one. Four Ideas (Merc Main, Manpower, Global Trade, Discipline) are ones that have been multiplied before being transplanted: that number increases to five if we double dip and include Tax as well, seeing as how it shows up in Generic twice. Either way, that leaves either seven or eight of the eleven Byzantine Ideas as being directly transplanted from the Generic set: if we wanted to be especially cynical (and flexible) and say that +5% Goods Produced was +5% Production Efficiency that was just mutated into Goods, that number further increases to eight/nine.

Regardless, this is the highest correlation to the Generic NI set of any Country-unique NI set in game, and it shows, with the only redeeming factors in this incredibly strewn-out NI set being the very powerful +3 Tolerance of Own and +3% Missionary Strength, that combined with -10% Stability Cost and +1 Prestige, offer incredible synergy with Orthodox-Religious. However, while excellent on paper, none of these ideas are actually very helpful for the majority of Byzantine players (that +3% Missionary Strength comes last is a further hinderance). Why not? Simple: these Ideas are mop-up Ideas. They don’t actually help a Byzantine player progress, they just help one persist. Orthodox land becomes facile. It is much easier to make more Orthodox provinces. And Stabilty is cheap, which helps both keep provinces further under control and make more Orthodox provinces. But none of these actually help a player survive as Byzantium or gain new land as Byzantium.

Now, I know the obvious counter to this is ‘Byzantium only lasted for nine years ingame and is usually gone before even that and so doesn’t deserve good NIs’. In response to this, here’s a look at the NI sets of a few other states that historically were abolished relatively quickly after gamestart, and almost invariably don’t last as long either:

Albania, fragmented in 1450, crushed in 1468, and all resistance defeated in 1479. Usually doesn’t last a decade ingame:

Traditions: +10% Manpower recovery speed, +20% Fort defense
All Lands Under Skanderbeg: +20% Land force limit modifier
Land of Ambushers: +1 Land leader maneuver
Kingdom of Albania: +1 Yearly prestige
Hit and Run: +50% Cavalry flanking ability
Land of the Eagles: −10% Stability cost modifier
Albanian Tolerance: +1 Tolerance of heretics, +1 Tolerance of heathens
Break The Power Of Princes: +15% National manpower modifier
Ambition: −1% Yearly army tradition decay

Athens, conquered 1458, usually annexed whenever Byzantium is, which amounts to usually less than a decade:

Traditions: +4 Tolerance of heretics, +10% Fort defense
Dominus Athenarum: +1 Yearly legitimacy
Athenian Openness: +1 Max promoted culture
Athenian Pragmatism: +1 Diplomatic reputation
Revive the Latin Greece: +1 Yearly prestige
Latin Contracts: −1 National unrest
Preserve Archbishop of Athens: +1% Missionary strength
Athenian Army Reform: +5% Infantry combat ability, +5% Artillery combat ability
Ambition: +10% Morale of armies

Corfu, a fictional state that is almost always gone by 1470:

Traditions: −20% Galley cost, +20% Galley combat ability
Frankokratia: +10% Morale of armies
Castles of the Angels: +20% Fort defense
Settling the Islands: +10% National tax modifier
Gate to the Adriatic: +10% Trade efficiency
Naval Expansion: +25% Naval force limit modifier
Entrepôt of the Eastern Mediterranean: +10% Trade power abroad
Ionian Academy: −15% Culture conversion cost
Ambition: +1 Merchant

Cyprus, dissolved in 1489 due to finances, but has varied life spans due to the AI having a past aversion to conquering islands:

Traditions: −20% Galley cost, +4 Tolerance of heretics
King of Jerusalem: +0.5 Yearly legitimacy, −25% Cost to fabricate claims
Frankish Crusaders: +1 Yearly army tradition
Commandaria Wine: +10% Production efficiency
Lusignan Diplomacy: +1 Diplomatic reputation
Cypriot Fortifications: +25% Fort defense
Repel the Corsairs: +20% Galley combat ability
Raid Turkish Commerce: +10% Embargo efficiency, +15% Privateer efficiency
Ambition: +33% Naval force limit modifier

I could go on all day – bringing up Naxos, the Knights, Serbia, Karaman and Candar, or even Granada, nevermind that Trebizond and Greece both have significantly better NIs than Byzantium – but I believe I’ve made my point: all the NI sets for OPMs or other small, precarious nations (Provence, Granada, etc.) that usually don’t last more than a decade or two in game are anywhere from good to uber. This is largely consistent across the board, and brings up a vital point: the reason why so many of these sets for doomed nations are so good is because it has been the design philosophy of Paradox to reward players for playing well with these nations. If someone has the skill or determination to ‘win’ as one of the nations, then they should be able to enjoy playing as them as they get onto the world stage. Byzantium is really the only outlier in all of this; and between having a DLC that’s been mocked for having the T5 Byz models on flying carpets, its own achievement, and making it onto the list of top 20 most played nations a while back; it is not up for debate that Byzantium is a popular nation to play, and likely the most popular of the doomed nations. However, the only claim to fame their NI set can afford being that it’s good at converting stuff and keep the converted stuff under wraps.

Except – and this brings me to my next point – the Byzantine NI set doesn’t even reflect Byzantium well. Now, this is a somewhat convoluted issue to tackle, but I’ll do my best by dividing it into two categories: up first is that the NI set is, frankly, lazy. Not only lazy in the sense of being largely grafted from the generic set, but also lazy in the sense that it doesn’t really capture Byzantine history – especially contemporaneous history. Most of the NIs either deal with the basics of what a resurgent (or growing) empire would need to do to actually remain relevant, and most of them don’t feel particularly unique to Byzantium; you could easily graft half of them back onto the Generic set and they’d fit just as well. Whereas nations like Granada, Candar, Karaman, Provence and even Trebizond have NI sets where the flavor text feels largely unique to them and covers aspects of their history.

This leads me to the second half of the issue: high Tolerance of Own doesn’t even mesh with Byzantium in its last days. Late Byzantine politics were mired by the conflict between the Unionists and the Anti-Unionists; the Councils of Florence and Basel (the later itself a byproduct of Counciliarism) saw a superficial reunion of the church: John VIII and all but one of the attending Orthodox prelates, including the Ecumenical Patriarch, accepted the union, with them both acknowledging Papal Supremacy and a few other theological issues in question (though a live-let-live compromise was reached on filioque). The union was officially proclaimed in Constantinople half a year before the city’s fall (though it had unofficially been active for a decade before that), and Constantine XI and three generations of Ecumenical Patriarchs remained firm Unionists (and the Unionist movement itself can be well traced back to the prior century with John V, with his conversion to Catholicism in 1369). Now, the motive and sincerity of this can be debated till the cows come home, but the underlying fact remains that, by game logic, Byzantium should start out with its state religion as Catholic, ruling over a bunch of Orthodox provinces (which would represent the internal dissent quite nicely).

However, as that will never fly and I doubt Byzantium will ever get historical flavor events – even one that, by all rights, would affect and shape the course of Byzantine diplomacy and religious policy for decades to come, especially in a resurgent Empire – I suppose this is a long way of saying that Tolerance of Own, one of the only two stand out ideas, is not fitting for a Byzantine set. Especially considering the Emperor had effectively surrendered the state caesaropapism only a handful of years before start date, that many monks refused to pray for the Emperor in protest, that two pro-union Ecumenical Patriarchs would be chased out of their offices due to pressure (albeit they would remain legitimate to the Greeks living in Latin controlled areas of Greece), and that an endless series of court politicking was launched over it. Not only that, but giving one of history’s most turbulent and, uh, byzantine Empires an ability to better contain revolts as a tradition… doesn’t make much sense.

All of this brings me to my final point, and the actual conclusion of this: a rework of the Byzantine NI set to make it feel actually unique, historically accurate, and make it far more rewarding – without making it OP or over-the-top. I would like to present it below, and I’ll leave commentary when necessary in parenthesis:

Redone Byzantine NI Set:

Traditions: +10% Land Morale, +1 Yearly Legitimacy
(Legitimacy speaks for itself: claiming to be the inheritors of Rome was all the rave in Europe, and Byzantium’s claim carries a little more weight than most. As for Morale – the Empire never gave up. They held off numerous attacks on Constantinople by the Turks, and continued to reconquer imperial territories from the Latin princelings of southern Greece across the decades of the early and mid 1400s.)

City of the World’s Desire: +1 Yearly Prestige
Desc: Constantinople was once the center of trade in the world, and carried with it all the architectural and intellectual grandeur that such a role would demand. The Constantinople of today is a shallow memory of those days past, but not all is lost: the name alone is enough to draw prestige, and should our empire flourish once again, it doubtlessly shall too.

Grand Tour of Manuel II: +1 Diplomatic Reputation
Desc: Faced with an onslaught of the treacherous Turks, Manuel II set out on an unprecedented tour of Europe in 1399 to raise support for the Empire; his four year trip took him from familiar Italy, to France and Germany, and even distant England, Iberia and Denmark. Being the guest of honor in so many European courts reinvigorated Latin interest in the Empire, and even now we can make use of such contacts.

Unionists and Anti-Unionists: +3% Global Missionary Strength
Desc: The Council of Florence superficially mended the great schism by acknowledging Papal Primacy and a number of Latin positions on theological issues: its effects are still felt widely today, with widespread disagreement and infighting amongst the clergy over it. Regardless of what side we come to favor, we must do so decisively and ensure that there is only one creed in our churches.

Latin Volunteers: -10% Advisor Cost
Desc: Our continued contacts with and pleas to the west have been answered time over, often in the form of small contingents led by capable men. Most of these are either adventurers, independent captains, or even travelling engineers and clergymen; granting them titles and permanent employment will see their talents put to proper use.

(While Giovanni Guistiani is properly remembered as the most famous western commander in the Siege of Constantinople – even being awarded the title of Protostrator – he was far from the only one. Venetian captains Dolfin Dolfin and Gabriele Trevisano were both given command of garrisons, engineer Johannes Grant organized the very successful counter-tunneling measures, Archbishop Leonard of Chios worked with Cardinal Isidore of Kiev to lead another garrison, and Orban approached the Byzantines before turning to the Ottos. Nevermind that anywhere from a third to a fourth of the defenders at Constantinople were Latins.)

Delegated Power: -10% Stability Cost
(Nothing I can do to this one.)

Reinstitution of the Pronoia: +10% Infantry Combat Ability
Desc: As the Empire continued to lose more land and revenue, the Pronoia system that once helped form the backbone of our army fell into unsustainability. However, with our borders resurgent, we can finally reinstitute the practice of small-scale, taxable land grants. This will grant our army a pool of professional – and more importantly, reliable – self-equipped units to draw from.

(The Palaeologus made a few reforms to the pronoia system that made the Empire more ‘feudal’ [much as I detest that term], with pronoiars being hereditary and being able to hand out grants of their own. As we’re now getting into the theoretical ideas, there wouldn’t be much of a reason why a resurgent Byzantium wouldn’t try to reinstitute this system, especially between continued debt – as pronoiars paid for their own expenses and doubled as tax collectors – and the fact that the empire’s dependence on foreign mercenaries was its undoing at multiple occasions.)

Repopulation of the Countryside: +10% National Tax Modifier, -10% Culture Conversion Cost
Desc: Nonstop warfare, Turkish raids, overtaxing and migration have all contributed to the depopulation of our Empire’s heartland. With our borders secure now, however, we can begin to change that: inviting numerous Albanian and Serbian tribes to settle within our borders, while granting incentives for native Greek clans to resettle along the borders will not only help rebuild our tax base, but ensure that we can more effectively control it.

(Resettling has always been a favorite strategy of the Byzantines, and it continued into the Empire’s last days; Theodore I of Morea invited a number of Albanian tribes to settle in the peninsula to help repopulate it. Then, of course, there was the large-scale return of Greeks to Asia Minor, made possible as the Ottomans made travel and resettlement largely safe due to their conquests – similar conditions would have easily arose under a stable Byzantine government [nevermind the guilty pleasure of every BYZ player being converting Asia Minor to Greek]. Tax or Manpower would work equally well with this one, but as Restoring the Theme System gives you +25% Manpower, Tax would be more prudent in my opinion.)

Ambition: -10% Core Creation Cost
(This is really just the most fitting ambition for Byzantium, especially given all the cores they've lost since release.)

---

All in all, this is my proposal for a redone Byzantine NI set, and thank you for taking the time to read it and the reasoning behind it.
I have some suggestions/personal revisions.
For Delegated Power, I would keep the effect of -10% Stability Cost, but change the name and description. Byzantium, like the past Roman Empire had no clear or defined succession laws. The Emperor could name anyone as a successor, but even with a named successor it was very common for them to be usurped. The issue was not the autocratic power of the Emperor, as the Delegated Power idea implies, but rather the fact that their were no legal safeguards against usurpers. So my suggestion would be to rename the idea to "Establish Laws of Succession" or something like that, and for it to have a description similar to the Mamluk idea "Reform the Succession."
As for the Reinstitution of the Pronoia idea you created, I have no problem with the name or description, but given that cavalry were also a very important and often more important aspect of the Byzantine army than infantry, I would keep it as a +5% Discipline modifier.
 

Grand Historian

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I have some suggestions/personal revisions.
For Delegated Power, I would keep the effect of -10% Stability Cost, but change the name and description. Byzantium, like the past Roman Empire had no clear or defined succession laws. The Emperor could name anyone as a successor, but even with a named successor it was very common for them to be usurped. The issue was not the autocratic power of the Emperor, as the Delegated Power idea implies, but rather the fact that their were no legal safeguards against usurpers. So my suggestion would be to rename the idea to "Establish Laws of Succession" or something like that, and for it to have a description similar to the Mamluk idea "Reform the Succession."
I'll write up something on that later, thanks for the idea.

As for the Reinstitution of the Pronoia idea you created, I have no problem with the name or description, but given that cavalry were also a very important and often more important aspect of the Byzantine army than infantry, I would keep it as a +5% Discipline modifier.
Not for the Byzantine Army of the 1400s, which favored Infantry-dominant defensive tactics (not like they had much of a choice) and I doubt Cavalry would be more important in reconstituted Byzantine army during the age of gunpowder, both from a tactical and logistical sense - additionally, Inf. Combat is also used to further draw some continuity to the Greek NI set.
 

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@Trin Tragula

Slight update: rewrote Delegated Power into Formalize Succession Laws, complete with a new description. I'll consider this set complete now.
 

Grand Historian

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I love these. Perhaps one of the DLCs this year might be focused on the Balkans?
I doubt there'll be a dedicated DLC for the Balkans, but it's more or less a forgone conclusion they'll get something.
 

PurpulaPhoenixum53

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I doubt there'll be a dedicated DLC for the Balkans, but it's more or less a forgone conclusion they'll get something.
I still hold hope for “immersion packs”.
 

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Since the Byzantine culture group is 1 of the smallest in the game wouldn't they need a bit more culture cost reduction say like 15%-20% possibly even 25%? but aside from that these ideas are pretty good and historical. [albeit a bit on the weaker side]

Would also be really nice to get some more flavor events for them like the caesaropapism or a special disaster for them similar to England's war of the roses [unionists vs anti-unionists]
 
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Since the Byzantine culture group is 1 of the smallest in the game wouldn't they need a bit more culture cost reduction say like 15%-20% possibly even 25%? but aside from that these ideas are pretty good and historical. [albeit a bit on the weaker side]
I think that would make it too strong (remember that it's double plus ungood to want a buff for Byzantium), but I would personally favor a split up of the Greek culture group - Morean and Aegean/Cypriot & Cretan all have good cases for being added as separate cultures.