Ainu is a Siberian Clan Council located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Ainu is playable from 2 to 1679; in 1679 they are annexed by Japan. Between 1767 and 1868, Japan and Russia will both have cores on Hokkaido, and if the player starts between those two dates, Japan and Russia could get into a war over the disputed island.
It is highly recommended, to play this nation, to start at the earliest date possible, which is January 1st, 2, if you want to even stand a chance against the other Japanese powers. Also inadvisable is Iron Man mode; save scumming is recommended so that you will not have to start over the potential dead ends that will be explained further.
This guide will be about forming Japan as Ainu.
Starting position, development and military Edit
Ainu start at a very real disadvantage over even the Japanese generic minor of the Classical Era, which are Izumo (Izumo starts with a fort, a valuable asset against its enemies), Kibi (which starts from its own island), Nakoku (which lies on the other side of two straits controlled by the same sea region) and Hayato (that only has Nakoku has its neighbour).
Ainu is also disadvantaged over his major enemy, Emishi, which lies on the other side of the Tsuguru Strait and has more deployable regiments. The real threat of the game for any Japanese faction, however, is the Yamato Empire, which is only one province away from forming Japan, and said province belongs to his weaker rival, Emishi. In almost any game, Yamato will form Japan, becoming the main rival of Han for Extreme-Orient Supremacy.
Ainu has a very weak development compared to his southern cousins. With 4 1-1-1 provinces, it has 12 development, making it harder to muster its maximum force limit of 10 to 6 regiments depending on the difficulty, making it a pebble in the way of the Emishi army, containing usually 14-16 regiments at base development.
The only advantage, which is also a weakness of its own, is the Tsuguru Strait, which can effectively protect Ainu heartlands from any invasion if it can keep its 8 to 5 starting galleys. However, expect Emishi to guard the Strait just as efficiently.
Ainu starts usually with 4 to 8 regiments depending on the difficulty, with a common mix of 1/4 cavalry and 3/4 infantry.
Due to cultural ties, the first provinces that Ainu will discover won't be its neighbouring seas nor Nanbu, on the other side of the Tsuguru Strait, but both Northern and Southern Sakhalin and the Kurils. Both are useless until almost a millennium and a half later.
Ainu is a very challenging minor to play as in this mode. Expect to start all over again about twenty times to get through the first twelve years.
First Year (Year 2 AD) Edit
Dead Ends will be indicated between [ ] and will necessitate starting over or loading back.
First thing you need to do ro go in the "Mission and Decisions" panel and to pick the leadership policy. Select your main army, and assign your chief to become its leader. Observe his stats.
The very first war you'll wage WILL be a war of speed and cunning. You WILL need maneuver on your leader, much more than either shock (which is very important in pre-vanilla warfare) and fire (quite literally useless pre-vanilla)
If your chief doesn't have maneuver stats or is below maneuver 3, consider engaging another general. If you're running with Cradle of Civilization, I highly recommend not drilling the army and simply lowering your maintenance to the maximum. Do not buy any regiments for now. You WILL need what would become their salary otherwise.
Next up is your fleet. Disband anything that isn't a galley, and then set your maintenance to the lowest.
You should now be making something between 0.80 and 1.10 ducats/month. Debase your currency to the maximum possible. Keep your corruption fighting maintenance where it's at by default.
Begin to advance time. Notice that you will discover seas adjacent to your provinces.
It is absolutely crucial that the Tsuguru Strait (South of Ho'rep'asi'un'kur) be discovered by the end of the First Year. [Failing this means that it will take more time to discover Nambu, if it isn't discovered beforehand]
Notice that some other seas, like the Coast of Honshu and the Soya Coast, might be discovered before you discover the Strait. While not a dead end in themselves, discovering those before both the Strait and Nambu will make it longer to discover one or the other, which can sign your death warrant if the are discovered too late to make a claim on Emishi.
Second Year (Year 3 AD) Edit
Debase your currency again.
Optimally, during the second year, you will have discovered both the Tsuguru Strait and Nambu. When both are discovered before December of 4 AD, I'd recommend saving if you aren't in ironman mode. When discovered immediately start building up a spy network to build a claim. About two or three month after the discovery, you should be able to make Emishi your rival, which would speed that process.
Do not raise development. It is a waste of good monarch points for later. Do not raise stability either. You will be conquering Animist, same cultural group provinces, so your unrest will be minimal.
Third Year (Year 4 AD) Edit
Debase your currency.
December of 4 AD would be your deadline for discovering Nanbu. [Failing to do so will result in Ainu not making a claim on Nanbu fast enough to go to war on February 1st, 6 AD, and would be a death flag for your nation]
Fourth Year (Year 5 AD) Edit
Debase your currency.
August of this year will mark the building of your new regiments to fill your force limit to the max. You want to minimally have two regiments of cavalry with the rest being infantry.
On December of 5 AD, move your army to Ho'rep'asi'un'kur and raise maintenance to the max. Your fleet should also be stationned in the Tsuguru Strait at max maintenance. Recruit an admiral, in case Emishi wants to control it also.
Go into the "Missions and Decisions" panel and take the rest of the military policies. If it hasn't been made already, pick a general with maneuver 4 at least.
Advance time again until you hit January 1st, 6 AD.
Fifth Year (Year 6 AD) and War of Nambu Conquest Edit
Debase your currency.
You will notice that your morale has raised because of the end of bankruptcy.
[If Nambu isn't claimed, and if the Tsuguru Straits isn't discovered (essential for controlling the strait), reload or start over. You will not win this war anyway you try.]
Advance time until February 1st, 6 AD. Stop time, and declare war.
Check on the Tsuguru Strait. Usually, the enemy will only have posted a single patrol galley there. Your fleet will easily dispatch it. [If the enemy has posted his whole fleet there, consider reloading earlier, or starting over. It will only cost you time to fight them all out, and even victory, other wise.]
Move you troop across the strait. Do not bother to capture Nambu, and rush to the province of Musashi. Help yourself with a map on this wiki, if necessary. [Emishi troop, startled by both you and the neighbouring Yamato, will usually stay in capital, or follow in your step without attacking. If they directly attack, consider restarting the game, as their A. I. ruler might be more aggressive than usual]
Musashi is crucial to your efforts. It can be your sole leverage against the Yamato Empire (since they need it to change to Japan, same as you), but its proximity to enemy territory can raise death flags. [If Yamato has claimed and declared war directly for Musashi, consider starting over. They will inevitably reach it before you, and since it is the primary war goal, they will send their entire army to capture it, beating any Emishi trying to save it.]
When you've reached Musashi and captured it, look at the southwesternmost of the Emishi province visible through the Terra Incognita. Is it captured by Yamato? If yes, consider rushing the Emishi's capital, so that the Yamato can't have the fort [if the Yamato have both the fort under siege and one or two provinces neighbouring their border, consider loading or starting over again], which is the most important part of the warscore. If not, capture it, and repeat the same process with the last one. If you're lucky, none of those provinces are in Yamato's hands, and you can easily deny them any expansion beyond their own territory, effectively ending the war in your favor.
Do not let any of the province bordering Yamato to be captured by Emishi again, if you did capture the three. [Especially Musashi; letting this province fall will lead to Yamato capturing it, annexing it at the end of the war, and being crowned Shogun of Japan, dooming your nation]
If you captured those three provinces, rush the fort. If you're lucky, Yamato isn't there already. Capturing it will prove easy enough. If not, help Yamato win the siege. You have already ended the war on their side with a status quo.
If you have captured the fort, consider capturing province so that you can link Ho'rep'asi'un'kur to Musashi, and end the war with that province. You can also wait for Yamato to tire of this war and take the whole cake for yourself. I highly recommend waiting for Yamato to end the war; you will then capture whatever province you want, and they will have no army left to oppose you.
If the fort is in Yamato's hands, wait for their war to end. You can then send three regiments siege it while taking back the rest of these provinces.
The peace deal should allow you to take all of Emishi's province minus one. Consider taking all of them except one that you would effectively landlock. If you can, take some ducats too, you will need it. Your corruption, the fact that you are the same religion, and the fat that you share acultural group, should reduce penalities massively.
It is imperative that in any difficulty higher than normal Yamato declare war on Emishi. [If it does not do so (Because it hasn't discovered Emishi, most likely), you will be hopelessly outnumbered (and economically outmatched) by Emishi troops and slaughtered, ending the war with, at best, a status quo.]
With the war over and you possessing Musashi and the development of northern Japan, you are now in a much more comfortable position, but not yet secure; Yamato is still to the South, and still desires the same province as before.
I'd recommend saving if you're not in ironman mode at this point. The hardest is behind you, but the Yamato is another type of battle entirely.
Preparations for the War of Crippling Edit
Your next goal is to destroy Yamato utterly. Unifying Japan come as a secondary objective.
Lower your overall maintenance (including corruption) and start making claims on Yamato lands to your southermost border as soon as you discover them. Debase currency as much as you can, every years until the war starts.
You should have a higher income as well as a higher force limit. Consider, four month before your planned declaration of war, to build forces to have at least one regiment more than Yamato. Do not hesitate to take loans.
I would suggest waiting for Izumo, Kibi, or both if they are allied, to attack Yamato (or He attacking them) before going to war against them. Even on numerical highground, the Yamato have the advantage of terrain and economy.
Two months before you go to war, raise your maintenance. Again, do not hesitate to take loans or debase currency as much as you can; you can always get it down later.
War of Crippling Edit
When you declare war, rush the Yamato capital. Use a four regiments army to siege (one cavalry, three infantry). Let the rest capture a province in the proximity to use as a mercenary training ground. If they are at war with Kibi, Izumo, or both, consider helping your "allies" to utterly destroy the Yamato army instead; fighting separately and using them as your meatshield will result in Yamato coming back for you once they're done with them, as they are much stronger than those thanks to Shinto religion and their discipline tradition (without counting the offensive policy they might have taken).
If you've rushed the capital, Yamato will send its troops to destroy you. If they have the advantage, recruit mercs in the province you've captured beforehand. [Losing this battle will mean that the Yamato will have unmatched superiority over your broken morale troops in higher difficulty, and even in lower difficulty they will take provinces invaluable to your economy. Failure is not an option. Commit seppuku if you lose.]
If you've won the battle against the Yamato army, keep your four regiment army in Kyoto, and send the rest of your army to relentlessly hunt down the Yamato army. Their low morale and morale recovery (since they were defeated) will insure you are always victorious, and when your four regiment army is done taking the capital, they should divide and take any province remaining.
Once you've taken every province (the destruction of the Yamato army seems unlikely, and you cannot conquer their whole territory, so unnecessary), end the war in a way in which you end up with Kyoto and maximum-warcore number of provinces. We will come back on the after war status after exploring the war with "allies" further.
If you've decided to go to war at the same time as Kibi, Izumo or both, help them destroy the Yamato army, as stated above, while having a four regiments army sieging Yamato. Without the fort, Your "allies" will have no choice but to settle for less territorial gain than you. Consider also capturing Kyoto, so that you can annex it at the end of the war. If one of you "ally" has it, you will have to go to war for it against them, and I would not recommend it if you haven't unified Japan.
Ainu Shogun Edit
Once the war is over, and you have Kyoto, Unify Japan. I'd recommend keeping your Ainu ideas; wouldn't make sense to trade them if you've come this far, as Japanese ideas can be obtained with Emishi and Yamato if they unify Japan. If you do pick the Japanese ideas anyway, consider seppuku.
You are now the Ainu Shogun of Japan. Not only have you reached Empire Status (which grants you more States and the Estates mechanics), but you are also a feudal monarchy, almost a millenium before any other country can match your government type, including the Han. That's right, at half the development, you get more troops than the Han, and you still manage to make ducats on top of it, without the nasty tributary system.
For now, stabilisation comes before expansion. Consider maxing out corruption maintenance. If necessary, remove four units under your force limit. Raise autonomy in provinces that want out of your glorious Japanese Empire, raise stability to three (don't be afraid to focus on administrative points), and take the religious policy to begin converting Shinto provinces. If the event about the shrine of Amaterasu pops, I'd recommend sticking to Animism for later on, though Shinto has some immediate perks.
Do not convert to Buddhism. Do not convert to Hinduism. Do not convert to Confucianism.
Once your Empire has been stabilized, you can expand. Remove Emishi from the map, and conquer the rest of Yamato. Consider conquering Izumo to make use of their fort. Conquer Kibi (discover the strait leading to the island first), then Nakoku, and then Hayato.
By now, you should have discovered Han. Raise relation, become their tributary. Claim a province in Korea, either conquer it or vassalize it if it's too far, conquer the rest of Korea, then the Gureyo's, and then conquer Xiongnu.
Once Xiongnu is conquered, you have a choice; either begin to slowly but surely chip away at Han, or to conquer the Steppes to the West, and the rest of the Chinese tributaries.
I do not recommend taking the Mandate of Heaven, as you need to accept chinese cultures or shift culture, as well as forcing or negotiating tributaries, and removing a load of troops from your armies, as your force limit will weaken. You are already an Empire, and you are not tribal, making it redundant.
When you finally reach christian lands in the West, consider converting to Catholicism. The papal points that you will gain by converting your provinces can make you massively raise your mercantilism stats, making you the supreme trading world power by the time the vanilla Europa starts off. Also, you will gain access to the protestant reform, and can make you implicated in the Holy League or Protestant League (if there's a Holy Roman Empire, which is unlikely).
World conquest will also be one step away, and you will have the monopoly of the Western Coast of America to colonize.
Ainu Ideas and Traditions Edit
Ainu currently is the only country in the game to have double the amount of national ideas due to a bug, thus making Ainu ideas twice as powerful.
- Chasi:+20% Fort Defense
- Riches of the Sea: +10% Goods Produced Modifier
- Southern Traders: +15% Provincial Trade Power Modifier
- Heirs of Jomon:+1 Yearly Prestige
- Hunters and Warriors:+1 Attrition for Enemies
- Yukar:+2 Tolerance of the True Faith
- Fierce Resistance: +10% Infantry Combat Ability
- Hunter Gatherer Society:+10% National Tax Modifier
- Wajin Contact:+10% Trade Efficiency
- Iomante:+1% Missionary Strength
- Resistance to Wajin Authority:+10% Morale of Armies
- Ezochi: +1 Attrition for Enemies
- Yukar:+1 Yearly Prestige
- Kotan:-10% Development Cost