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Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

By Gonio   /   Mar 20, 2018     Guides
Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Ryukyu: The Three Mountains! World conquest guide without exploits for getting one of the rarer achievements in the game.

Starting as an one province minor by Japan, it is time to spread our Ryukyu green color all over the world. The extensive guide will have detailed starting steps to get you on your way. Also some basic tips about the game and gameplay included.

Other EU4 Guides:

The Three Mountains

Own or have a subject own the entire world as Ryukyu.

Short Version

1: Initial start: At start you have some units and a small navy with some galley’s. Most sell this stuff, but I keep them on for my initial expansion that will require some naval tinkering in battle. Train your units for extra modifiers from professionalism in battle. Put your traders in place to steer towards Beijing and collect there. Send your lightships there to protect trade as well and build lightships to increase your trade. The starting trait of the ruler must not cost you money in any form. Since it is a crap one it is key to make him go away as fast as possible. Make him the general training your units, and with some luck it might even be a decent leader. Royal marriage with Ming and keep those relations good. Use your diplomats to improve relations with the most nearby countries around Manila.

2: Main goal is to get a foothold in the rich spice island, move your capital to Manila and tech up admin asap to unlock the first idea group. Your other points (Military mainly) you save up to develop Manila to unlock the Renaissance. Your first target is a no CB war on Pangasinan before they have allies. You have some time before this. I think I queued up 2 light ships and then 2 infantry units (not certain anymore about the number of lightships before the units). Most dangerous is landing all your troops into a nearby provinces before the war. After that it is time to obtain Manila that you can get by declaring war on Maynila and allies once you think you can manage.

3: Once the foothold is there and you unlock your first idea group, you take Exploration and use this to prepare for gaining Colonialism around 1500. It is key to gain this yourself, so that you don’t fall behind in tech and have the upper hand in your region. Colonizing provinces is because of the cost not wise early on, but you can use this to get in range and claim the Maldives once you have strengthened your presence in the spice island. There is also the point here to switch to Hindu once you are a bit settled and deal with the early low unity. Because of the great trade income in the node, a decent developed Brunei is an excellent province for moving your main trading port in the rich Malacca trade node.

4: Avoid the mainland for as long as possible and slowly eat all of the Spice island countries to increase your wealth and army. If the possibility arises, mingle in the Japan area and gain a landing zone there and stop Japan from forming. Once you unlocked the 3th idea that gives more colonial range + tech 7 you should have enough range to claim and declare war on the Maldives. This is your stepping stone to make your entrance to the African coast by sending your explorer and claim a country where you have an opportunity to attack. This can all be done and reach the Aden region before 1500. Colonize South Africa asap to keep the Europeans out of the area for a while.

5: After 1500 is also the time that you might be ready to leave the safety of Ming when they are busy and go solo. Remember to ally yourself, because they will most likely declare war on you once they are not busy. Your first war with Ming is only about weakening them. You probably can’t match their numbers yet, so avoid battles and occupy for warscore by letting them chase their tails and be on the move. Win by smart warfare. Apart from Ming, the mainland including India is still nice and quiet for now. You can slowly expand in Africa, the middle East and Japan towards the next big thing and most likely the number 1 superpower at that time: Ottomans. Make sure to only make contact once you are able to do a similar weakening war like Ming. Other then that also save up MP again to use once Printing Press arrives. This will make the Manila province around 60 development once this is done. Colonizing in South America can still be viable + this brings opportunity to mess with the other colonizers.

6: With probably almost all the trade and provinces in Malacca belonging to you, you must be able to make it the most valuable node around 1600, so that you can gain Global Trade. Around this time, it was also the clash of clashes between Ryukyu and Ottomans. This is similar to Ming and is all about weakening them on their manpower and, if possible armies. Once you get them under control you have your openings to Europe and all is rinse and repeat, deconstructing large countries and gobble up land while managing your MP’s. Try to hold on to rivals as long as possible for maximum power projection, so that you keep the bonusses.

7: Rest of the world is just as it comes. Deconstruct large countries by splitting them up, take away fort provinces and keep on claiming. Especially in Europe keep your eyes open for good targets to gain beachheads, nice vassals to feed and break up the larger nations. You want to get your admin and absolutism up fast for the admin efficiency. Also, diplotech 23 is a goal to gain and unlock the advanced CB. Teching up is less important after this point but extra idea groups can still help. Now it is spending your time on rinse and repeat wars in a rotation of truces running out, slowly eat the world. Your expansion increases exponential near the end if you follow these steps. Despite a time pressure for certain steps, this does not apply for the end date of the game and you should have plenty of time left.

That's all there is to it. Keep reading (I recommend that) for a better in-depth look with more detailed steps and goals.

General Useful Info and Tips

1: For world conquest you must eyeball everything and fight multiple wars at a time, sometimes on different continents, especially later on. So, I overall play @ 3 or 4 speed, that also has less hiccups since the CPU has more time to process. No strange thing having like 5-6 wars @ the same time.

2: Also, a War Rotation is important especially when you have a reasonable force + reserves in MP and manpower. What this means is that you must play as efficient as possible with your resources and time your wars. If you put your wars in a rotation like: big enemy 1+ ally’s year 1, start a small war of at most 1-2 years halfway with enemy 2 and then finish all wars so you can regenerate resources/ lower War Exhaustion for like 4- 6 months. Then go on to enemy 3 and 4 and so on until you get a truce timer cycle with enemies, with some small pauses in between hammering specific enemy’s. Early to midgame it might be worth is to just wait some years for manpower to recover combined with MP's. With some decent micromanaging these are the only resources that limit your expansion. Combine this with fighting in different areas of the world, you can avoid coalitions.

3: Monarch points and tech: Most important for keeping the flow going in world conquest. So, the more MP the better. Early game I tend to focus mostly on admin in events and advisors. For Ryukyu you need to start with admin so you can unlock the first idea group for Exploration + gain MP for jumpstarting your institution spread in a province. Military is still the easiest MP to bank. Later on, it depends more on your needs and rulers. But with Worlds Conquest there probably comes a point you switch to diplomatic because of annexing subjects. Tech you want to keep up as best as possible. So, spend your MP wisely with expanding, tech and ideas. Obviously gaining institutions asap is very important. As Ryukyu you can gain Colonialism and Global trade fairly easy, what is needed to keep up on top. After this, it is just as it comes and you are so big it takes several years anyway.

4: Idea groups and national ideas: there is a lot of useful stuff but it’s always choosing between tradeoffs. It’s wise to adjust your national ideas with your idea groups, also look @ the bonus you get on completing a group and what policies you can get. Remember that completing ideas also decreases the cost for leveling tech. For my Ryukyu run the first will be Exploration.

5: Money: Early to mid-game money is a big issue sometimes, however once u get big and have grown it isn’t a big deal overall. Taking a loan now and then can be useful as long as you can pay it back. Raise war taxes is very useful early on since you are constantly @ war, but keep military MP reserves for generals and forced march. Don’t forget to save up a big amount for embracing institutions.

6: Manpower: super important, and you will need it much. If you are a bit of a micromanager like me you can get huge gains here. Being on or near 0 is almost impossible to avoid in the early game with near constant conquest, so be smart when fighting. If on 0 it was for me a good time to also build up some MP's, and have a break for like 6 -18 months. Use terrain to your advantage, and always have a leader assigned with big battles. Mix things up with infantry mercenaries really helps with this if money allows it and you don’t mind losing the professionalism bonus. Once grown I overall go to 2 attack force regiments with infantry that deal with the biggest hits and use normal groups for backup/(carpet)siege stuff/rebels. This really keeps the momentum going + helps with your own survival because you can finish wars faster. Later on, that will grow to 4 groups and so on, until you are big enough to also have siege stacks of cannons. Quantity or Aristocratic ideas help much. Personally, I rather have Aristocratic since I find it a more useful mixed bag overall for my run, and I can manage well enough without Quantity.

7: Related to both money and manpower are consolidating and mercenaries. These 2 things are huge factors that I use for almost any game I do.

7.1: Mercs is mainly about the manpower savings. Unless I would do no intended conquest for like ever, their costs are a worthwhile trade off. I only go for infantry mercs, while cavalry and cannons are normal units. However, for this run I had no money for mercs early on + I decided to go for the army professionalism bonusses instead. It is a bigger strain on manpower by doing this, but I am certain that I have enough time to solve this.

7.2: (Shift)Consolidating --- This is a game changer that is overlooked by so many, while it is a really easy few extra actions. Selecting an army that just came out of battle (assuming you don't get attacked in like 2 days again), consolidate and split of the low manpower units for regeneration while the main force keeps on going. Full units are way more effective than double units with half manpower = faster battles and better survival. This is a manpower savings but also a monthly cost reduction on its own. This cost reduction is achieved since fewer units have to regenerate @ the tick of the month. Of course, use shift + consolidate so you don't lose regiments, unless you want to ditch them anyway or are over your force limit.

8: Carpet siege = splitting your troops up to occupy as much provinces as possible at once. Less easy with the fort system, but still viable for faster and easier wars.

9: Stats: All is needed, but prestige is the overall negative event sink if there is no option for money. Other than that you want all as high as possible, but overall I try to get stability first to 2, preferable 3. However, as Ryukyu that won’t really happen for a long time unless you would get a positive stab event. The several steps you have to take will make your stab suffer in the early game, so it costs more MP that you actually need for other things. Don’t forget rivals, so you can build up Power Projection (PP). Prestige will also build up in time, and both prestige and PP help getting morale. You can use prestige very good for gaining/keeping low liberty desire with subjects and use it to get rid of your ruler/heir if you don’t like them. For me in this case trade related stuff gets second, unless it’s a big hit.

10: Warfare stats: same as above and all is needed, but if possible I prefer Discipline over Morale. Even 5% more can be a game changer and makes you stronger with less troops then your enemy’s. Army tradition = the higher, the better, and it will grow nicely because of all the wars. As Ryukyu I really want at least 10-15% discipline once I get into clash with Europeans.

11: Advisors: military/admin is usually my first choice and overall my preferences are in this order: Discipline, morale/maintenance cost reduction, better relations over time, unrest/inflation/reputation/missionary, then rest. Better relations is a winner early/midgame to avoid coalitions as long as possible. As Ryukyu however, it was a admin advisor first once money allowed it. It can be useful early on to hire a disc/morale advisor for a few months to help with the first quick battles and kick them once you can manage.

12: Use your diplomats wisely. Early game keeping relations good with nations that care is a must, so you avoid powerful coalitions. Also claim as much as possible before going to war(s) for the MP savings.

13: Buildings are important and only cost money. Go for more manpower first in this case, but mix and match if you have good gold reserve.

14: Religion: each one has his own perks, but in this case my goal is to go Hindu. By taking the Shiva deity, it helps with coring cost and AE. Shakti might be an endgame possibility for faster wars. Several Hindu nations close by, so that helps with early unity. Also, I took it because of the possible MP events for rulers, but that did not fire with all rulers in my game. Defender of the faith has nice bonuses as well, but because of the negative tech cost I would have postponed it a long time until I had real use for the missionary as well. For Hindu you don’t have defender of the faith.

15: Aggressive expansion: unavoidable, this is a huge influence on the pace of the game. Early on you must be very careful and still expand reasonable fast. Coalitions are dangerous but can also be useful if you can time your wars and use a rotation. Some wars are less about expanding and more to just keep your enemies under control. Winning locks several country’s so you can weaken allies of a strong enemy not in the coalition. Only to declare war on them halfway once the coalition war is under control. In certain situations, even a small loss can be useful to get a breather and come back with a vengeance. Also, if you can handle it declaring a fast war on a coalition member before too many can join the coalition helps to disassemble potential large coalitions. However, as Ryukyu I had no coalitions early game because of my precautions, time in between and picking the right targets.

16: Unrest and overextension: it is unavoidable, but I overall never go beyond 100% overextension. Reason for me is that it otherwise would cost me more manpower early on then I like + I need my troops on the battlefield. With later expansion once you have enough armies, this is no longer a big concern and less of an issue, but I still avoid it in general. Unrest I keep a close eye on to make sure I have troops close by for rebels this is usually also a good time for some army training. It might be easier to increase the autonomy early on if that is enough to stop an uprising at an inconvenient location/time. Once absolutism kicks in I will decrease instead to get it as high as possible asap.

17: States: obviously you want the richer states. Since I won’t fully core all provinces in every state, swapping is easy. For the full benefit you want it fully cored however, so avoid swapping these states since you want to spend MP wisely.

18: Estates: So many nice options they bring. It is a min/maxing game to keep them just under 80 influence for the best bonusses without disasters. It is no problem to have it higher for a while as long that the ticks don’t get up to 100. I choose to keep them happy instead of getting early MP at the start. The bonusses they provide are more useful in the long run and needed for your cashflow and reserves. Getting leaders/ministers are obviously very handy. Early to midgame with lower tradition the leaders are a great if no other option + a good MP saver. The cheap ministers are obviously great, once you can afford it.

Notable Countries and Regions

1: Ming. One of the new things I liked was that you start as a tributary of Ming. That is a huge deal with the early expansion when you still need protection. There comes a time once you are big enough that the yearly costs aren’t worth it anymore. But until that point, it brings protection for a possible Japan or other larger countries in the spice islands like Brunei. Until you reach that point keep them on good terms. Bonus early on is getting your first royal marriage for an heir asap, so you can get rid of your crap starting ruler. Once you are big enough you can leave and prepare for the moment to strike them down hard enough to keep them in a negative spiral until you can go at them again. After that you can easily keep them in check.

2: Asia mainland and Japan. It’s just big. Once Ming is no longer a concern, I started eating away here and there if I saw an opportunity rising. Having a vassal to eat land is handy. Japan can be a reasonable force if you let them form. But as long as the daimyo keep fighting them self, Japan is actually a nice place to expand to once you are big enough. I waited until there were like 3-4 larger powers left with decent liberty desire and then kicked in the door to get a beachhead. Only completely destroy the army of the shogun so that they stop assisting. Grab Kyoto in a second war and after that no more worries and you can gobble them all up trough time. Another thing is a northern route towards Russia and if possible cutting them off from reaching the coast.

3: Spice islands. The place you want to go asap and thus your first expansion direction. Now with several small countries around Manila and some larger ones like Brunei further south. Rich, yummy and a large culture group makes it an excellent place to be. The strong natives can be your worst enemy or best friend in the early wars. While you are still small be careful of Brunei, so pick your targets correctly. With several Hindu nations present you can start your religion swap relative early.

4: India and Persia. Persia can be a reasonable force, but obtaining them as a vassal is really handy with all their claims. They are also an excellent buffer on that side with the Ottomans expanding in that direction. India region is big and rich, and also a handy Hindu buffer in between once you are expanding rapidly. It can help to keep religious unity a bit in check. Besides a stepping stone from the Maldives I had little interaction and expansion there until I was further in the midgame.

5: Ottomans. Portal to mainland Europe, they are a large and very powerful force. They can expand very fast without issues and by the time you should encounter them their (amount of) units are still imba. To tackle them I used the same method as I did with Ming. Once the time is there for the first war, goal is to destroy their manpower reserves and most of their armies if possible. Their large country (in general) makes that last part a bit tricky the first time, since running around after them is very inefficient. But 100% occupied provinces is not needed to give them that first push down the slope.

6: Muscovy/Russia. Long wars ahead if you let them grow and colonize, but can be used as a ally against Ottomans. Attrition sucks so use mercenaries as much as possible in wars if you don’t go for army professionalism. Cut of their advance in Siberia early on makes this a containable strong force. This can be achieved by getting a stepping stone by colonizing and if possible snatching cheap provinces from horde countries to get a Siberian Highway that also doubles as a barrier for Russia.

7: Africa. Several large countries formed in my game, but Mamluks and Morocco are the largest. In my games Mali also gets big, but as an teched nation the rest of Africa is overall not a huge deal. Only issue overall is the Berber traditions that make coring and annexing expensive.

8: Austria and HRE. Very strong combined with being emperor and also good ideas. Fighting them can be difficult early on because of the mountain terrain, many allies, and their big chance on personal unions. If not friendly, keep them small and occupied with wars asap. As Ryukyu however, it is wait and see how Europe looks once you are nearby. Keep an eye on nice opportunities. Because of alliances, many smalls countries and things like trading leagues, you could find wars that would benefit greatly towards gaining a stronghold. In my game I could snipe Genoa and Venice as single provinces, by declaring war on the Knights that was in the same trade league. Despite the drawbacks of going over the diplomatic relations limit, this is well worth it later on by (re)conquest provinces in the end nodes that join your country fully cored after annexation.

9: Poland/Lithuania/Commonwealth. East Europe’s powerhouse that can be useful allies. Similar to France with as upside they are 2 countries @ start that might break up. In my game they formed Commonwealth after Poland won the succession war from Russia. Monarchs aren't overall as good as France, but still reasonable. Potential useful allies against Europe, Ottomans and Russia.

10: France. No explanation needed, they have it all: good rulers, ideas, forces, provinces, economy and colonizing. Very useful ally, or an big enemy. Try to block them as much with colonizing by being the first to have a colony in a region. Tend to go for Caribbean, Brazil and Africa colonies first. For this run, they are most likely a large enemy that gets easier after the first defeat.

11: Castile/Spain/Portugal. Very strong/rich nations, sticking together and they are the earliest colonizers. Keeping them out of south Africa early on with colonizing is rewarding and also gives you a stepping stone to South America and Brazil. Middle and north America is another story however in this run. The sooner you meet, the more you can contain them. Getting them separate by breaking their alliance goes a long way. But in this run I was also lucky. Portugal gained Spain as a junior partner that they couldn’t hold because of 100% liberty desire. Notable is Castile forming Spain and their high chance on personal union with Aragon/Naples. Snatching their colonies away in wars can be very useful. Annexing them fully while they still have colonies, makes you the new overlord. More bonusses ahead if you make use of this.

12: Aragon/Naples. A very notable force if not subject or being annexed by Castile, especially once Naples gets integrated. Was integrated by Castile in this game. Can be a strong enemy navy force, but luckily, they don’t colonize.

13: England/Great Britain. Large and rich countries, busy early on conquering Scotland and Ireland region before they clash with France. Very powerful and large navies can make the first wars difficult, but once you have access no big deal. Convert to protestant usually, but in this game the stayed catholic and even became defender of the faith. Good thing in my wars against Portugal/Spain and France who they overall hate.

14: Brandenburg/Prussia. In my games the one that overall mostly forms Prussia if it forms. But was no issue in this game since they were almost gone by the time I got to Europe. I sniped them away to be a vassal, that has many cores around them that I can take in a reconquest war. Their bonuses are very strong (loads of discipline and morale) and if they are big I find them a bigger threat then France.

15: America. Mostly depends on how colonies evolve, but in this game, it’s key to cut of others asap if possible. So, taking their provinces in their war goes a long way, since they don’t add to over extension unless they are conquered native provinces. Only thing about the natives is that America is big, but other than that the natives are a useful bank, and nice trade goods income. As Ryukyu you are a late party crasher however, so you might still have a shot at south America. The rest is just how it comes.

Ideagroups and National Ideas

Despite the less then ideal starting position, the Ryukyu ideas and tradition bonusses are kind of tailored for the achievement. There are no real military upgrades however, so you will need ideagroups for those. Having more ideas of a type also helps lowering costs for that tech to level up. The big one national idea is of course the decrease of AE impact that can be obtained first. This helps much with avoiding coalitions if you spread your conquest over multiple regions. The rest are all useful in their own way, and the tech bonus is also nice. Completing it all gives less prestige decay

With world conquest there are several useful ideas that help, but it also depends on what point you can achieve them in game. Some of my choices may be obvious and some less, but all in all it works best for me in this situation with my playing style.

1: The first is very crucial and sometimes also hard to choose. With all this conquest, being on top with military is in general a good idea. However, Exploration is the obvious choice in this run. You can claim most of the rich spice islands for yourself + you need it to gain Colonialism and extend your reach quickly to settle in south Africa. This will keep the other colonizing countries away for a longer time. Native countries are also very useable as bank. And you can unlock the policy that gives an extra diplomat + reputation. Exploring helps a bunch by pumping up prestige and naval tradition. And colonizing helps a lot with growing big and rich.

2: Religious is up next, mainly because of the Deus Vult CB that saves a ton on diplo power. Reaching the advanced CB takes a long time, so this will fill the void in between. Remember that you need to really neighbor the enemy province. Combine this with claiming gives you a good run on the MP cost, while you can use the diplopoints for annexing vassals. Since switching to Hindu you only have no use for the CB in the Indian region with some countries. The rest of the group are also useful bonusses and help you with keeping your unity high. With less available missionaries however it is a good idea to go for the holy city of the religion you have for the extra missionary.

3: A military group was needed but also needed a extra diplomat. So Aristocratic it was, with plenty of useful bonuses so early in game. Cheaper and better cavalry is useful, and since manpower is a real deal breaker if on 0, serfdom is also very nice. The army tradition decay, the extra diplomat, extra siege pip, free leader and the very useful less military tech cost is great. I prefer this group over Quantity since Quantity is basically cost reductions and increase of reserves only, while Aristocratic still has 33% manpower increase and army tradition but also some other bonuses for a better mix. Combined with exploration you can unlock a policy for an extra diplomat, what is very useful.

4: Quality time. With military points stacking up fast, a military group was needed. Since I crave discipline either Quality or Offensive was the next choice. Because of the policy of 5% discipline from Quality combined with Economic ideas and better troops it is an easy choice. Rest of the ideas are also useable, and the army tradition is again a nice bonus. Since I was so for ahead in military it was kind of mandatory to take a military idea group + I encountered more countries with higher discipline.

5: Economic ideas was my second admingroup. In my opinion more money = more and faster growth on all kinds of aspects. Especially with buildings only costing money, in the long run this really helps keeping things going. Who cares you can also buy stuff cheaper if you have enough money anyway :). The decreased maintenance cost is a no brainer, and less building cost, inflation reduction and monthly autonomy decrease make this an ideal group. Also combining this with quality gives a nice 5% discipline policy, and I want that very much.

6-8: At time of creating this guide I have only 5 groups so far. The next group will probably be Influence in the diplomatic idea group. I prefer to have this sooner but choices have to be made. Very much needed group for large scale conquest and vassal integration + the 2 diplo reputation is also very useful for managing liberty desire.

For an admin idea group the choice will be Administrative. Main reasoning behind it is that in this game admin power is the biggest influence on your pace of expanding. 10% less admin tech cost and -25% core creation are great to have.

Offensive is a logical military group, although it most likely does not really matter @ that point anymore what I choose. Good group on its own, it does not have a priority for my game. But I take this one for 1 reason in the late game: the siege ability. Rest are just nice bonuses.

The choices I made for groups did fit my game plan well with World Conquest as goal. But the situation might change depending on MP income, ruler stats, and to some degree also on your national ideas as well. In cases where economy would be less required and/or naval is no part for you, Quality might be dropped for Offensive or Defensive ideas. Quality is a situational idea group in my opinion and there are other more effective standalone groups. But if you use it combined with a related idea group for some of the very useful policies like economy, it's very useful.

More Detailed Steps of My Game

From here I will describe the very beginning in detail. This way you can do the hardest part for yourself and know what to expect + the basics. However, as in game time advances I will shift focus more on major goals instead of detailed expansion. You have no real use for this later on anyway, because in your game the world will have evolved different. So, my opportunities do not have to apply and vice versa. But this is no real issue. Because besides the start, world conquest is only rinse and repeat once you have a good solid base to work from. There is one thing however I need to mention here if you are going to do this. The logistics are a huge part of your advancements. So even timing when and where you end a war can be used as a tool to setup your armies and navies for the next war. With rotating wars and regions to avoid initial coalitions you have much movement all over the world. And this also means transporting troops for as long that you don’t have enough forces to be everywhere + having the needed transports for overseas areas. Creating landing zone’s and beachheads is a logistical challenge (maybe even a nightmare for some) early on. By eating highway’s in the form of land connections you will help yourself. In some cases, this can be used to cut off or even isolate certain areas.

1: Initial start: At start you have some units and a small navy with some galley’s. Most sell this stuff, but I keep them on for my initial expansion that will require some naval tinkering in battle. You can mothball the transports if you want every coin to bank up, but take care of losing out on sailors because of your usage being higher than the monthly tick asap. Train your units for extra modifiers from professionalism in battle. Put your traders in place to steer towards Beijing and collect there. Send your lightships there to protect trade as well and build lightships to increase your trade. The starting trait of the ruler must not cost you money in any form. Since it is a crap one it is key to make him go away as fast as possible. So, make him the general training your units, and with some luck it might even be a decent leader. Royal marriage with Ming and keep those relations good. Use your other diplomats to improve relations most nearby countries around Manila for once your expansion starts. Almost any heir/consort would be better than your starting ruler.

2: Main goal is to get a foothold in the rich spice island, move your capital to Manila and tech up admin asap to unlock the first idea group. Your other points (Military mainly) you save up to develop Manila to unlock the Renaissance. Your first target is a no CB war on Pangasinan before they have allies. You have some time before doing this. I think I queued up 2 light ships (could be 3) and then 2 infantry units (not certain anymore about the number of lightships before the units). Most dangerous is landing all your troops into a nearby provinces before the war without a native uprising. During the war you can drag peace out for banking on war taxes. After the war start claiming in Tondo and Maynilla. You now have your beachhead to work from.

3: Before it is time to obtain Manila + some extra provinces that you can get by declaring war on Maynila and allies, you have to recover from the negative impact of the no CB war. Once you think you can manage, make sure you are standing ready with both army and navy. This will most likely be the hardest war in the entire game, so besides smart tactics you need every edge you can get. For me this was around 1452 having obtained military lvl 4 for an edge in battle. I also had a disc advisor. For your army it is pretty straight forward, occupy Maynila and the Tondo provinces asap. Destroying their armies right away might be to much asked, but at least they run away south what gives a nice barrier with the natives. I choose to not go all out on Tondo to keep Butuan out of the war, making it less difficult. This made me peace out Tondo to let them rot on Mindoro to save some admin points up first. But of course you could opt to go all out and eat them all.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

After that would come a dreaded journey trough native provinces to the remaining allies further south. Luckily, they also have a hard time with natives, so combined with crossings you should make use of this. Best thing ever would be seeing them land in the provinces with an uprising, move in during the battle and finish them off once they are done. But besides all this you have to keep a tight eye on your navy. You keep everything near Okinawa so that you can attack in an inland sea tile for the galley bonus for the secret navy sauce. The last thing you want is the AI grouping up navies, but you can count on them coming with transporting armies. So, it will be a ping pong style of navy battle where you damage your enemy as much as possible, drive them away before they can actually land troops and repair before more navies arrives. Once you thinned out enough navy, you can start blockading and possibly cut off armies by crossings. This method helped me sieging down those southern provinces without being overrun by remaining armies and keep them split up. If you see a chance to crush an army you should.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Result: I peaced out allies asap once possible. Maguindanao I used as vassal to save admin points on their high development province, but sadly Brunei also declared war on them before peacing out. A war with them would be a mistake, so I had to fully annex them instead and release them afterwards. Tondo I took all but Mindoro. Sweet Manila is obviously the place to be once peaced out, and while recovering you can start developing your new capital for the Renaissance. Also don’t forget to accept cultures in the spice islands for the much needed resources and income.

4: I waited a decade and integrated Maguindanao. Manpower still had to recover anyway and MP is needed for development of Manila. I saved up as much MP as possible, so that once I embraced the Renaissance I could tech up and get the first 2 ideas for Exploration. Remember that any amount above 999 will be lost from that MP after the first amount of it is spend. Because of the need for money I did not build colonies yet. But you can use colonist to gain cores where you have no connection yet. Also start exploring what is in range. Next step for me was to obtain the surrounding countries. At this time I still avoid Kutai and Brunei and want to keep them out of wars, but the rest are good to gobble up. Because of the religion difference they didn’t band together, so these are overall swift wars. First was Madyas with Butuan.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

After that straight on to Tondo and Cebu. Once gained I don’t convert, since I will change religion later to Hindu.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Now the road lies open to go at Kutai that I will have as vassal. By this time, I also started to colonize. War taxes are so handy and worth it, war is my main source of income in this game. Especially the free war taxes once you unlock it through age objectives is a nice bonus, saving you MP aswell.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Once done recover and prepare to make your entrance to the Malacca trade node by taking over Brunei.

5: Brunei is too big to gain at once and might cause issues with AE for being Sunni, but you can get the Brunei province for an excellent trade upgrade. Moving your trade capital here will allow you to collect in the rich Malacca trade node. Allied with Sulu and Siak, I gained Sulu as well. Siak was good for their money.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Around peace time I was ready to switch Hindu having saved up enough MP to regain some stability. Meanwhile my explorer had uncovered the nearby area and revealed Makassar, Buton, Tidore and Ternate. Before declaring war, I started integrating Kutai. You can feed them a province here and there during annexation to save you admin MP as long as they have enough time to core it. This way you spread your expansion between admin and diplo MP + let your vassal deal with most of the negative effects. By this time you have a good stronghold in the spice island.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

6: By now it is almost time for gaining Colonialism and set your eye on new regions in the world. With diplotech 7 you should have enough reach for your colonist, thus you can obtain the last requirement for Colonialism by exploring around north America. Exploring by Australia does not count for the requirements, so it has to be north America. Obtaining Colonialsm is important for the run and sadly you are not without competition from the other colonizers. But your chances are good to get it. You also can now expand into the direction of east African coast. But you need a stepping stone for range. Here comes the excellent spot from the Maldives around the corner. You have enough forces and transports to overcome the landing penalty and get your presence near India.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

I let India mainland alone for now, since I rather have a few larger enemies then many smaller ones. But if you would come across a good opportunity it is good to go for. The provinces are mainly Hindu, but there are many Sunni sultanate countries. Very useful to increase your religious unity. With your second ideagroup you take Religious ideas. Although the last idea these days, the Deus VUlt CB is great to have and an excellent diplopoint saver. So, this will be the main CB until you unlock the advanced CB. Only thing is that you need to neighbor a land province (sea tile doesn’t count), and it must be another religion. As Hindu countries are only a few, this is great news. For those you will do it the old fashion way.

7: With the Maldives as stepping stone, the east African coast is first in line to be honored by the Ryukyuan presence. Main goals here are landing zones near Aden and Madagascar, gaining access to Ivory for the trading bonus, have range to colonize south Africa and take over as much land before the Ottomans go down south. It depends a bit on how the coast evolved but Kilwa is a good bet to look at first. For the Ivory Kilwa is great and will be in general still present in a reasonable size. Making them a vassal is then a good opportunity and in my game it was an excellent opportunity. They seem to have lost provinces on Madagascar that can be returned. They were allied with a one province Malindi (good for a landing zone in that area), and they were in turn allied to the one province puny Warsangali. At least I thought one province, because during the war I found out that they also had a landlocked province in Ethiopia. A small set back by an unplanned extra vassal, but they have cores for reconquest on the upside. So, totally worth it. Also once you have a decent size, demanding provinces of countries by threatening war comes in handy. Africa is very suitable for that action, since it is no major obstacle and can slowly be integrated over time.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Back in the home area the Sunni countries are the upcoming targets in the next decades, so I can become the major presence. So, that means a second war with Brunei to clean them up and make Siak my vassal. Nearby are also Sunda and Majapahit keeping themselves busy.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Last but not least is the nearby Japan area where there are only a few daimyo left and a vulnerable Shogun. Since I prefer to not have Japan around, it is excellent to pick a fight with the Shogun in a few decades before the claims run out. Because of the age objectives completed you should be able to pick the Transfer Subject bonus that allows you to make claims bordering a claim. From Okinawa you can claim towards Kyoto and make a complete beachhead for the area there. Doing this claiming just before 1500 gives you some time to wait for a good opportunity.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

More Major Steps and Notable Situations of My Game

I will have several public screenshots of my expansion that are not in this already extensive guide. It is already long enough, but if you want you can check those out. The guide will now go on with the general directions and notable situations.

1: Here we are at 1502 gaining Colonialism plus some extra nice MP that will come in handy.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Besides the already mentioned initial steps that I will take in the early decades after 1500, now follows a great example of an opportunity. Sulwa took over Java, but Majapahit released in time and came back with a vengeance during my war with Brunei.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Leaving Sulwa with one province but having cores on most of the Majapahit provinces, this is a golden chance to gobble it up for Ryukyu. So, having claims on both it is time to make Sulwa my vassal. Once their peace is done, I reconquer the rest for Sulwa + some for myself.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Having more and more tribute to pay and now a substantial force + vassals, I also decided around this time that Ryukyu was going to leave the shelter of Ming and go solo. This marked the entry of Ryukyu entering the great power stage. Remember that Ming will turn their eye on you, so prepare for the situation that they declare war on you. Besides vassals a decent ally is a good idea.

2: The Japan area still has some claims for a beachhead. So, it’s time to pay them a visit and stop Japan from forming. This can be done by taking over Kyoto, but I did this only in my second war. The combined forced for the Shogun can be broken easily by destroying the army of the Shogun only. The larger daimyo will stop assisting because of high liberty desire, so a fast shock attack is needed to win the war easymode. This will spiral down the Shogun during the truce, until you come back for another run and finish it off. After that you can just gobble it up in time.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

However, my vassals that I forced all to Hindu banded together and thought my (relative) low manpower to be a good time to declare independence. Pro tip: being low on manpower is certainly something to be watched carefully but can also be used to draw out a war. Also, there are means of gaining a manpower boost from estates and professionalism. Inconvenient at most, it is great they did. Although prestige was good, lower liberty desire on 4 vassals is not doable with almost all on 100%. And I did not integrate anyway to give them some time for converting. And now I can stomp them in their face, save my prestige, keep them Hindu and they will love me for it anyway. Yay!

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

As a bonus I used my needed presence in Africa to expand on the coast and border my first larger enemy and rival: the Mamluks. Great timing, since they will now soon be sandwiched between Ryukyu and Ottomans. And this is giving me access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

3: With Printing Press coming up in 1550 that you can’t obtain directly, you should start saving up MP to jumpstart the institution in Manilla. The following institution is Global Trade and should be easy to gain. Around 1600 your trade in the Malacca trade node should be the highest in the world, with near all trade there belonging to you. The remaining institutions you can gain, but the chance is rather small because of requirements that can be met by many. By this time, it does not really matter anyway. You are so big that it takes several provinces before you even reach the minimal 10% for embracement, and you will have spread in provinces anyway because of buildings.

4: Late 1554 I started a war to get Oman as a vassal. Since they had many cores for reconquest, they would be handy to feed them the middle east. Quickly after the start Ming gazed its eye on me and declared war. Although not extremely low on manpower and a superior navy, they have much bigger numbers then my own armies. Pro tip: Only count on yourself to do the hard-lifting work and never expect your allies and vassals to do something useful. Keep this in mind and you should be ok in any game.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

That’s why I left troops in the home area ever since I did go solo. But even with all my forces there I would not match their numbers. So, meeting them in battle is no option unless you are sure that you can finish battle and run away before reinforcements arrive. This is doable if you can quickly enter and meet far away alone armies. But in this case that was no option, because I had to walk from Malacca. Even if my transports would be there from day one, a landing would most likely fail. But since they weren’t and I had to deal with their large navy first, a long walk to Ming started while my transports bring in the other half of my forces that are overseas in a war. A war like this I classify under the superior enemy wars, either by numbers and huge lands or army quality or even both. So how do you tackle a war like this then? By smart warfare and let them run around following bait, while you slowly occupy their lands. Goal of these wars is to get them in a negative spiral, if possible deplete them of manpower, their armies and other resources like money and provinces. So, my goal for this war was to occupy and end the war with money and a landing zone. The landing zone is important so that I can prepare for the next war and take the initiative in the next run. I found out quickly that going for their armies was no option even with all my forces present.

The following screenshots give a good picture of how it works:

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

What you see is me having walked trough Dai Viet towards the coast and try to obtain a first landing zone near Canton where my incoming reinforcements from Africa can possibly land. At this time Ming’s troops are not yet fully banded together, but besides 1 large early battle and a few new created units, there was no opportunity in this war to go for their manpower and forces. I had 2 main armies at the start that split up a bit but stayed close together. Once in Ming territory I started occupying, even do a small carpet siege if I felt safe. The hardest is to get your first fort sieged, but for now it is the need of a landing zone for extra troops. After a while, I had some provinces on the coast around Canton but no fort yet. The AI will almost always focus on the player armies, so Ming has banded together in the meantime. Time for some ping pong then. I started shipping my armies away, while I baited Ming south onto the island that I had occupied. The first army I would use to quickly siege Fuzhou, bringing the remaining armies also around there for early deflection of the first underway Ming armies. Gaining a distance and time, I brought the last army to Beijing. This starts a series of areas where I can land, while Ming’s major force went towards my relative close by armies and split up some forces to regain provinces.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Now there is time for more sieges, and if it would be dangerous I can quickly ship troops away to start far away without unit losses. Ramping up war score, this resulted in my first push down the slope for Ming, gaining resources and provinces that I would release as Min. This creates a beachhead and a vassal to help eat Ming in the next war. This next time I will start out with the focus on their manpower and armies. My armies should have grown enough by then and I have the advantage of a pre-emptive strike where they haven’t banded all together.

5: With Ming under wraps and Ryukyu growing slowly but steady, the middle east delivered a nice opportunity by a crushed Persia that was up for grabs. This is an excellent vassal that can be used to serve as a barrier, has many cores for reconquest and also permanent claims in the area. Combined with a war that involved the Mamluks this made me also cut off the Ottomans, leaving only the north direction open for their conquest. And I am totally fine with them crushing Austria, Poland and Lithuania.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

This also made me ally Russia, since I need a deterrence for attacking me during such huge upcoming wars where I have a 2:1 unit ratio as disadvantage. I have no interest in war with them anyway for now. The first war with Ottomans I approached in a similar fashion as I did with Ming, but since I declare war it is mostly about destroying their forces and completely box them in near the middle east. Also, it will serve as a start for a land route towards Europa and easier times shipping armies from Asia into that direction.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

In the first war completely destroying their forces is costly for your own manpower, a hassle and very time consuming because of their huge size and crossings under their control. So, I did find it enough when I drained their manpower and destroyed most of their armies and had 99% warscore. The following wars is all about keeping them weak, preferable without allies and slowly split them up. The second war also made me grab Constantinople that helps a bunch for being an awesome landing zone. As an extra bonus in a later war, they were somehow allied to a one province minor Brandenburg with many cores for reconquest. Totally worth it as vassal to go over my relations limit. As time and wars go on I will keep the Ottomans weak, but I will go soft on them to keep them viable as a rival. There will probably be no more options after them, what means my PP will drop one day. Because of the MP and useful bonusses I want to keep that at least above 50 for as long as possible.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

6: After the Ottomans there is Europe. Here it is wise to look for opportunities. Colonizers like Portugal is such an opportunity. They are a nice seized country that you can fully annex in 2-3 wars to gain their subjects. This saves a ton of work in America, gives several bonusses and spreads out liberty desire over multiple subjects in a single region. America is not the biggest issue to conquer yourself, but it saves you time and resources if some one else does it for you. In my run Spain has a lot of north Africa as provinces. This means that it has no Berber traditions yet, so I fully intend to make use of this for cheaper coring. Trade leagues are also good to check. The Knights where in one that involved Genoa and Venice that have cores for reconquest in the end nodes. Awesome to have, it also gives nicely spread landing zones.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

Expansion in Europe is hurting your relations badly and with many. So, trying to spread it a bit over time is wise, until you can overrun it easy mode with numbers. Vassals go a long way in this. The emperor and possibly defender of the faith can make wars large, so not involving them directly is a good thing to consider but it might be used against them as well. Talking about faith and religion, don’t forget the holy Hindu city in India for an extra missionary. The Hindu provinces there are useful for a small breather on your unity as well. Another thing you want to do is cutting off Russia in Siberia. You can use this also to gain a Siberian highway that acts as a barrier for their expansion to southern provinces.

Europa Universalis IV - How to Get the Three Mountains Achievement

7: Although still plenty to conquer, there are several things that speed conquest up besides related ideas. Foremost this is in the form of administrative efficiency. This helps both with coring and vassals, so the more you have the better it is. The 3 steps from tech are nice, but a relative easy way to gain a decent amount is absolutism once this same named age kicks in. Because of our expansion goals, you can make good use of the methods to gain your max absolutism relative quickly. Besides that, it also gives other useful bonusses. Other than the administrative efficiency, you want to get on diplotech 23 asap for the advanced CB that will speed up conquest even more. The world is just a big place then, but with rinse and repeat of wars there is plenty of time to eat all of the world. And that’s basically all there is to world conquest and to reach the end before 1821.
Written by Gonio.