Europa Universalis 4 (EU4) Guide: Ottomans Made Easy – Mid Game

After your initial victories, the race is on to make the Ottomans the only power remaining in its corner of the world. This guide shows you how you can use the Age of Discovery to outsmart Hungary and the Mamluks to become an uncontested powerhouse. Welcome to the second part of this Ottomans guide for EU4: The Ottomans made easy!

Europa Universalis 4 (EU4) Guide: Ottomans Made Easy – Mid Game This is part 2 of the Ottomans made Easy EU4 guide. The first part of this guide covers starting moves and the first 15 years, as you deal with the Anatolian beyliks of Candar and Karaman, the remainder of the Byzantines, Greece, and part of Serbia. This part is for those players who are wondering which moves to make next. If you’re stuck anywhere in the Age of Discovery, this part of the guide is also for you.

In case you joined the guide series here, welcome! To prevent you from having to read basic info in just the first part, I’ll repeat it quickly here. This EU4 Ottomans Guide is for patch 1.33.3 and with all DLCs installed. If you don’t have all the DLCs, make sure to at least get the Cradle of Civilization DLC. The guide also assumes that players know the basics of the game, such as constructing buildings, managing armies and finances, and conquering new territory. Another very helpful DLC for the Ottomans is Rights of Man, which will keep you from ever having to worry about heirs ever again.

Find the first and third installments of this guide here:

Europa Universalis IV - The Rights of man, Release Trailer


Act III – Races in the Balkan and the Levant

Next up in this EU4 guide: it’s about 1460 and we are revving up the Ottoman engine. Some countries are already a little annoyed. The Mamluks are about ready to form a coalition, and they’re pretty big and scary. So let’s turn west first.

Racing Hungary and Venice for Influence: Serbia, Bosnia, and Wallachia

Although some states are definitely upset with us, they’re not ready to be the backbone of any massive coalition against us. Perfect timing to expand our hold on the Balkans.

Note that this Ottomans Guide is here especially based on opportunities. Your EU4 run might give you other opportunities. There’s almost always an opening – in my case, that opening existed in the form of the severely weakened Bosnia. In my scenario, they’re a one-province minor, willing to be vassalized by the Ottomans, with active rebels in Hungary. If we vassalize Bosnia and declare a war on Hungary to retake Bosnian cores, we can severely weaken our greatest Balkan adversary very early on. So it’s time for the diplomatic offensive! Ally Bosnia, guarantee it, improve relations, give it money and use your influence. Anything to get to that +190 relations so they agree to vassalization.

Save Bosnia from annexation, and they'll be your best friend!

Save Bosnia from annexation, and they’ll be your best friend!

When you take cores that belong to a vassal, it’s easier to acquire them and costs less aggressive expansion. So once you’ve vassalized Bosnia, it’s time to declare war on Hungary. Make sure to improve relations with Dulkadir while you’re in this stage – we’ll be vassalizing them soon. You can now also complete the mission Acquire Subjects

As you’re fighting and beating Hungary, your truce with Serbia might run out. If they have no strong allies, declare war on them once you’ve sufficiently neutered the Hungarian army. We’re not going to take too much from Hungary since we don’t want them to get weak too fast or upset too much of Europe. Our gaze now turns southeast. Let Bosnia retake its cores and take Nándofehérvár, better known as Belgrade, for yourself (if you border, give it to Bosnia otherwise). Also, force them to give up their claims on Wallachia. If you can fully annex Serbia, do so. This way, you can complete the Conquer Serbia mission. This grants you permanent claims on all of Wallachia. When you’ve cored all the land, you can also complete the mission to Conquer New States.

With the Hungarians losing their claims on Wallachia, there’s no imminent threat that they will end up in their sphere of influence. You can revoke your guarantee of the country to save some diplo power.

Around this time, you might get another event popping up. This is the reason you don’t want to have all your armies tied up. You can get a powerful march for free – the Crimean Khanate. 

The Fate of the Crimean Khanate

As if the Ottomans weren’t already powerful enough, they can gain a powerful ally to the North: The Crimean Khanate. The Crimean Khanate has some stability issues at the start of EU4. Its Khan decided now would be a great moment to stop living, plunging the Khanate into a succession crisis. One of the claimants makes a drastic decision. Offer the Ottoman Empire to make the Khanate a march in exchange for support.

It states the following: With the death of Haji Giray the young, the Crimean Khanate must for the first time find its feet without it’s dynamic founder. Nur Devlet I has managed to secure the Crimean throne but his position is very weak. Ambitious siblings have not given up on claiming Haji’s legacy for themselves and to the east and west hungry neighbors are eyeing the Crimean lands greedily. In order to stabilize the situation Nur Devlet I has sent a plea for our help. He offers the servitude of himself as well as direct ownership of a number of Black Sea ports if we are willing to protect Crimea from her enemies.

This is literally free real estate for the Ottomans, the likes of which are very rare in EU4 guides. Accept the offer, which turns Crimea into a March. You have to deal with their rebels, but they shouldn’t give you a challenge. However, you might not get this offer. The Crimeans might decide to go their own way. In that case, you can press your claim for a subjugation casus belli. Declare it within ten years to make the Crimeans your march anyway. They may be a little disloyal, but oh well, Nothing a good old iron fist can’t fix.

Boom, we just got ourselves a brand new march!

Boom, we just got ourselves a brand new march!

Take out the AQ and the Byzantine Leftovers

With the west dealt a slap, we’re going back east. The AQ could still be there, and we could really use their land when we go to war with the Mamluks and the Qara Qoyunluu (QQ). When the truce expired, declare war. Oh, but first integrate Dulkadir. You can make the entire annexation and vassal management process easier by going to your estates and giving your Ümera both Strong Duchies and Ümera Integration Policy. While you’re doing so, start a spy network in the Mamluks to claim Antakiya.

Meanwhile, when we got rid of the Byzantines, there were technically still some Byzantine holdouts. This place, called Trebizond,  is still independent, and we want it as part of our Empire. Fortunately, you can get it early. There’s a good possibility they’ll have an alliance with Theodoro, on whom you just so happen to get a claim after you subjugate the Crimean Khanate. Declare war on Theodoro and take both it and Trebizond for some quick, wealthy land.

My, isn't this a convenient alliance to take down!

My, isn’t this a convenient alliance to take down!

Around this time, your truce with Aq Qoyunlu should be up, and you can declare war on them. That is unless they happen to be allied with the Mamluks, which they in my case very much were. If you can break the alliance, great. However, don’t sweat it too much. We’re going to war anyway, but we’re going to need all the help we can get.

Beating up the Mamluks

This will be our toughest war yet. First, put your units in place. If you can make an additional 20-units army, excellent. Now’s the time to do so. 

Once you’re ready, declare war. If you’re facing many units, don’t be afraid to call in allies such as Tunis or Ajam, and play defense first. I focused on taking down the AQ first, so I could peace them out and deal with the Mamluks after. This war is important – you’re gonna want to deal them a serious blow. Declare the war in a way that makes sense in your game (so you can gain the most with the least effort) and engage.

I first took out the AQ and played defense. Use your fleet to take out the Mamlukean one – with the Free Oarsman naval doctrine and an admiral to lead it your fleet should triumph. Around this time, you’ll be able to unlock your first-era ability. Pick the Ottoman-unique ability The Guns of Urban. This gives you a ridiculous +33% siege ability, which in this time is a huge boost. As you siege down the Mamluks, be careful when sieging the fort at Al Karak. This is a powerful mountain fort, meaning that if you siege it and the Mamluks attack you, they’ll gain some serious boosts. If you are sieging down this fort and see a Mamlukean death stack coming, best to retreat to a more defensible position.

After you won your first engagement with the Mamlukean navy, the rest should be peanuts.

After you won your first engagement with the Mamlukean navy, the rest should be peanuts.

You may be able to call in Tunis. If you do so, make sure to set the province of Benghazi as a vital interest province. We’re going to want that. However, if you can beat the Mamluks on your own, no need to call them in just yet.

When you take land from the Mamluks, make sure to at least grab Antakya and Benghazi. In the peace, I claimed some land on the Red Sea coast down towards Sudan and Ethiopia to enable future expansion there. Moreover, that splits the Mamluks in 2, which is always nice. If you lack money, spend the rest of your peace treaty demanding it from the Mamluks. If you’re peacing out the AQ as well, simply take all of it.

We'll spread ourselves thinly, but we can afford it for a while.

We’ll spread ourselves thinly, but we can afford it for a while.

Introducing: Syria

Now we’ve got serious overexpansion, so we’re going to want to chill for a bit. But first, we took Antakya for a very important reason. When you own it, you’re able to release the country of Syria from it as a vassal. Syria has cores on the land surrounding it, making taking more land from the Mamluks in future Ottoman conquest. Take note of this strategy: we will use it a lot throughout this guide.

Release Syria for a bunch of cores on their surroundings.

Release Syria for a bunch of cores on their surroundings.

In your spare moments of peace…

Soon, we’re going back west to deal with the remnants of the independent Balkans and fight a naval war with our biggest maritime rival, Venice. For now, it’s time to chill a little. Gather some money to purchase the institution if you haven’t yet. Upgrade your centers of trade and your monuments to increase your stability and prestige. When you’re ready for your next government reform, go for Centralized Bureaucracy. We’re an Empire of Levantine cultures, so 90% of our country is already an accepted culture, anyway.

Act IV – Cleaning and Consolidating

Before you go through this segment, look at the damage control chapter. The game is subject to RNG, which means your situation may be very different from mine. I don’t want you to be in the position where I tell you a place you need to visualize no longer exists. When you feel like events in your game make this EU4 Ottomans guide impossible to follow, look there.

Back to Europe

Ah yes, back to Europe. When the country is stable, why not, right? It’s not like there are no cores to be gained; Herzegovina, if it still exists, is a Bosnian core and ripe for the taking. Wallachia will likely still be there – heck, in my game it even got guaranteed by the Hungarians after I revoked my guarantee. And of course, there’s Albania and the Venetian possessions that are up for grabs. My personal preference is to take down Herzegovina first. You’re a land-based army, and Herzegovina is small. Most importantly, your puppet has cores on it. So, declare war, take the land and get a few extra ducats. Just like that. In my case, they were allied to Wallachia, which I took the liberty of taking some land from since outright vassalization was too expensive.

Let's improve our position in the Balkans!

Let’s improve our position in the Balkans!

Once you’ve wiped Herzegovina off the map, you can complete the mission to Conquer Bosnia, giving you cores on Dalmatia and Hungary. By this time you can select a second idea set: take Influence ideas.

Beating up the QQ

In my game, the Mamluks decided to knock down the QQ a peg. No worries – it allows you to swoop in and take some of your claims. It also possibly allows you to take Sinjar. In my case, the Mamluks took it – we’ll get it back from them. Declare war on the QQ and take your claims to keep the truce timer lower. You can probably take a second era ability – take Justified Wars. After taking Bitlis and Van, you can declare war on a possibly independent Armenia to consolidate your holdings. However, I took everything, because I could. That’s the attitude you sometimes have to take with the Ottomans.

Take any opportunity you get to expand! Don't be afraid to expand into lands you don't have claims on yet.

Take any opportunity you get to expand! Don’t be afraid to expand into lands you don’t have claims on yet.

Doing so will let you complete the mission Safeguard Anatolia. Thanks to our earlier work, we can also complete the mission Conquer Trebizond.

Start building a spy network to fabricate claims on Beja or any province that borders your recent Red Sea land grab, which lets you block Mamlukean expansion in Africa.

Introducing: Iraq and going into Africa

Around this time, you may have been able to take Sinjar. From this province, you can release the country of Iraq, which has tons of claims around it. We can be short about this. Release it and take land from it in the following wars against the QQ and the Mamluks.

In the meantime, the Age of Discovery might be ending with the Reformation kicking off. Make sure to claim a Golden Era before the era ends to gain some useful boosts for the following 50 years.

You’re also in a great position to head into Africa now. Ethiopia has a lot of gold mines, which will help your economy massively. Moreover, you’ll be limiting the room for the Mamluks to expand, which is always great. I did so by first diplomatically vassalizing Makuria to feed them some land to. I also took a little more of the coast of the Horn of Africa to consolidate my position there. Note that this aspect of the EU4 Ottomans Guide is entirely optional. Getting some coastal land here will make future conquest easier, but it’s not essential for your later game. If you’re having problems consolidating in Syria, Iraq, or Europe, focus there.

At this stage, your truce with the Mamluks should expire. So, it’s time for war. But not with the Mamluks. First, we go to Albania.

Conquering Africa is far away from many angry nations - and it's a great way to put pressure on the Mamluks!

Conquering Africa is far away from many angry nations – and it’s a great way to put pressure on the Mamluks!

Cleaning up the Balkans and the Bothersome Knights

The Ottomans start with cores in Albania. However, we waited a while to reconquer them, since they aren’t under threat at the start of the game. In my case, they allied with Venice, and Hungary couldn’t get to them. However, as cores expire 50 years after you got them, which in this case is 1444, it would be a shame to let them go to waste. Position your armies and declare war. With luck, you’ll pull in Venice and, even luckier, the Knights. Make sure you gain both Albania and Rhodes and take lands off Venice as long as it won’t give you a major coalition.

The Venetian navy can deal a lot of damage. However, your navy is battle-hardened, and it can deal a serious blow, too. When you engage, try to engage smaller fleets. If a battle is going south, retreat from it to repair and try at a later date.

Once you’re done, annex all the Venetian holdings around Greece except Crete, annex the Knights, and annex Albania.

The Mamluks Revisited and Dominating Mesopotamia

No rest for the weary. The Mamluks are back, and I’m sure you’re itching for a fight – as well as a chance to connect your territories. Let’s be real, in any EU4 Ottomans guide you can’t have the Ottomans not declare war on the Mamluks at every opportunity. Station your armies in the north, near the border with Syria. The Mamluks and their allies will first be busy sieging down the strip of land you carved through them. If you want to tie them up a little more, enact defensive edicts in the African states that you already own. While they’re busy, you can sweep through the Levant, taking important fortresses for yourself. Siege down Halab, Damascus, and El Karak to gain a lot of war score very quickly. You may also be able to select your second idea slot around this time: take Influence ideas.

By declaring a reconquest war, you can take more land for way cheaper.

By declaring a reconquest war, you can take more land for way cheaper.

After you’ve established yourself in the Levant, retake your holdings in Egypt and siege down the Nile Delta. Be watchful for large stacks of Mamlukean forces catching you off-guard. Although your units are stronger, you can still face losing battles due to terrain bonuses or forts. Defeat smaller stacks of the Mamluks and white peace their enemies, so you minimize the time you have a truce with them. Once you reached near 100 warscore, give Syria its cores back and connect your African land to the rest. Importantly, make sure to also take Sinjar, if you haven’t yet, to release Iraq.

Look at that amount of land we're able to take! All thanks to Syria's cores.

Look at that amount of land we’re able to take! All thanks to Syria’s cores.

Before we move on, make sure to break your alliance with Tunis and diplomatically vassalize Fezzan if it still exists.

With Iraq, you’ll gain a bunch more cores in Mesopotamia. At this point, your game may look radically different from mine. It could be that there is still a strong Qara Qoyunlu, but there might also be a powerful Mushasha or a mighty Persian state, like Ajam or, in my case, the Timurids. Declare war on whatever nation holds Iraq’s cores and retake them. If you can, take the province of Wasit to release Basra and use its cores to expand. Once you’ve conquered all of Iraq, you can complete the mission Conquer Mesopotamia.

With Iraq as a vassal, we can use its cores to expand rapidly.

With Iraq as a vassal, we can use its cores to expand rapidly.

Back to the Black Sea

As we just aggressively expanded our position in the east, let’s shift back west. Hungary is probably itching for a fight, and if you’re lucky, they’re not yet under a PU with Austria and the Polish-Lithuanians haven’t swooped in and taken some key lands. Moreover, there’s still some Wallachia left for conquest.

Depending on your situation, this war can be extremely easy or a little tricky. However, you won’t need much land in any case. I opted to take things a little slower to increase my stability and wealth. I fought this war against Wallachia, Hungary, and Lithuania. Ideally, you’ll find a way in which you can fight both Wallachia and Hungary in one go with as few other nations as possible involved. Also, start adding small stacks of artillery to your units to siege faster (by now the Age of Reformation might’ve started, getting rid of your +30% Guns of Urban siege ability) and take down Wallachia first. After I sieged down the provinces it had left, I sieged down the eastern portion of Hungary and took Budapest to piece them out for a single province: Királyföld.

An Ottoman Empire all set to wreak more havoc in the 1500s.

An Ottoman Empire all set to wreak more havoc in the 1500s.

This province doesn’t just have the famous Bran castle on it, you can also release a brand new spooky vassal: Transylvania. When you piece out, don’t forget to annex Wallachia to complete the mission to Conquer Wallachia. I also took Temesvar, since it has a nice fort on it that’s best owned by us.

And with the Wallachians vanquished, we come to an end to the second part of this EU4 Ottomans guide. We’ve used our solid base of the past 15 years to aggressively expand into all directions and make ourselves an unignorable presence. Next up, we’ll be turning this already mighty empire into the mightiest version itself: The Caliphate. Did you find this guide helpful, or did you run into trouble anywhere? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and I’ll see you in the next part of this Ottomans guide for EU4!