China is an off-map power introduced with the Jade Dragon DLC. While the Chinese Emperor does not personally own any land, his General Protector is landed at most start dates, and acts as his sword in the CKII world. The Empire of China and the Western Protectorate never cease to exist, even if the Protectorate loses all of its territory. All lords within Chinese reach may engage with interactions with China, which may grant them both powerful bonuses and terrible sanctions. Knowing how to cunningly take advantage of the Chinese mechanisms is key to rise to power on the Eastern side of the map, in order to both destroy one's enemies and to ensure that the Emperor will never turn his armies to one's territories.
China, although an off-map power, can still evolve and alternate with phases of untold might and utmost misery. It is the ruler’s choice whether to take advantage from it or not, but he must be mindful not to anger the Dragon when he hasn’t the certitude to be able to defeat him.
Status is the present state of China, describing whether it is prosperous and peaceful or not. It influences the policy chosen and the trade benefits for rulers bordering the Silk Road. Status can change in a totally aleatory way, with one status rarely lasting for more than 10 years. However, ‘’Stable’’ tends to last longer than the others, and "Golden Age" normally lasts for more than 50 years.
|Stable||China is experiencing a period of internal stability.||
|Unrest||Civil unrest runs rampant in China, disrupting trade. China's armies are occupied with internal peacekeeping.||
|Civil War||Civil war has erupted in China, threatening the ruling dynasty itself.||
|Mongol invasion||The Mongol hordes of the north pour into China, disrupting trade and keeping armies occupied.||
|Jurchen invasion||Jurchen horse warriors from the northeast have descended upon China, disrupting trade and keeping armies occupied.||
|Famine||China is going through a Great Famine. Trade has been severely reduced and the armies are busy with relief efforts.||
|Plague||A Devastating Plague wracks China. Trade has ground to a halt and the armies are diminished by the disease.||
|Golden Age||China has reached untold power and wealth. Trade routes flourish and the armies are stronger than ever.||
China can only be conquered (through "Invade China" option) during Stable or Golden Age phases. See the sections "Take hostile actions against China" and "Invade China" for details.
Policy is the attribute describing the present foreign policy of the Middle Empire. It changes when an Emperor dies and is replaced by another, but the new Emperor is very likely to pick the one of his predecessor. During tough times, the Emperor will have high chances of choosing Open, whereas in a Golden Age he is likely to become Expansionist. Isolationism can be picked at any status, although it has a low chance of being selected.
All interactions with China depend on one new value of exchange in the game, namely Grace. Grace represents the favours China owes to one ruler, and can be both gained and lost in different ways. The Grace a ruler has is effective only with the ruling dynasty of China. Should a usurper or an invader take the Dragon Throne, all rulers will lose their Grace and have to start over again building good relations.
Grace can be gained in two ways: either by punctually delivering a great gift or service to the Emperor, or by demonstrating submission to the Emperor, which will give the ruler and potentially its descendants a steady monthly income of Grace.
Note also that the likes and dislikes of the Emperor play a significant role too in gaining Grace. In such ways:
- Having the same culture as the Emperor will grant a ruler 1.0 monthly Grace.
- The same goes if they are of the same religion
- Having a culture or a religion that the emperor likes will give you 2.0 monthly Grace (check the China table to see if you meet the criteria)
Gaining Grace through interactions
In order to earn Grace, a ruler has a set of decisions, that will require him to renounce a specific element of the game (i.e a courtier, a family member, money, artifacts...). The greater the sacrifice consented by the lord, the more Grace he will earn in return. Note that each decision or action can only be made once in every 25 years. The timer for making the decisions also resets after the death of the player's current ruler, allowing the player to make the decisions again. The decisions to earn Grace are:
|Send an artifact||Send an artifact to the Chinese Emperor. He will surely be pleased.||Any artifact:
||250 for level 3, 5000 for level 4, 10 000 for level 5||+50% if the Emperor likes you, -25% if he hates you||The artefact disappears in the hands of the Emperor|
|Send a gift||Give away a large amount of money to the emperor||Have the equivalent of 4 years of income in your chests||300||+100% if the Emperor likes money, +50% if the Emperor likes you, -25% if the Emperor hates you||The money is given to the General Protector, and then to the Emperor|
|Send a concubine||Send a concubine to the Emperor, to garnish his personal harem||Any courtier:
All modifiers stack.
|+100% if the Emperor likes your offer, +50% if he likes you, -25% if he hates you, -50% if he hates your offer||The selected courtier will permanently leave your court and go to China|
|Send a Eunuch||Send one of your courtiers to serve as an eunuch in China||Any courtier:
All modifiers stack.
|+100% if the Emperor likes your offer, +50% if he likes you, -25% if he hates you, -50% if he hates your offer||The selected courtier will permanently leave your court for China|
|Send a commander||Send a commander to the Emperor||China must be in a state of unrest, civil war, or facing a Jurchen or Mongol invasion
All modifiers stack.
|+100% if the Emperor likes your offer, +50% if he likes you, -25% if he dislikes you, -50% if he dislikes your offer||The selected courtier will permanently leave your court and go to China|
|Become tributary||In tough times, becoming tributary to the Chinese Emperor may be a necessity||*Is an independent ruler
||+ 2 monthly||None||Will become a Chinese Tributary, giving away 50% of your revenue, 30% of your Troop reinforcement rate to the General Protector, along with an obligation to join him at war and -4.0 Monthly Prestige|
|Send horses||While not a sign of total submission, sending horses might help staying on China's bright side||*Is a Nomadic ruler
||+ 2 monthly||None||Will gain a modifier, giving -15% reinforcement rate for your manpower|
|Kow-tow to China||A trip to China to demonstrate your recognition of the Emperor's domination might be humiliating, but it will in turn guarantee his favours and give you an occasion to discover the world||*Is a ruler
||Depending on the decisions made during the event chain, the Prestige, the rank, one will get a trait granting +1, +2, +4 monthly Grace (and -0.1 monthly Prestige)||None||During the trip, the ruler will get -0.5 health, and receive a number of events (details in dedicated section). At the end, a loss of 100/250/500/1000 Prestige is to be expected depending on the rank of the character (the higher, the more humiliated he will get)|
|Send a relief convoy||As China faces great difficulties, sending some troops and resources to relieve the suffering of the people will surely make the Emperor grateful||*At peace
||500||None||Will gain the modifier Sent a relief convoy to China, giving -10% global tax, -30% troop reinforcement rate for 10 years|
|Send a physician||While China is devastated by great epidemics, sending a physician might help to limit the damages caused by the illness in the Emperor's court||Any courtier:
All modifiers stack.
|+100% if the Emperor likes your offer, +50% if he likes you, -25% if he hates you, -50% if he hates your offer||The selected courtier will permanently leave your court for China|
Spending your Grace
Once a ruler has gained sufficiently large amounts of Grace, he may use it with a set of decisions with the Emperor. While the conditions to meet for gaining Grace are very restrictive, the ones for using it are not. A ruler can only ask for Chinese favours once in a year. The decisions are:
|Ask for a peace accord||Ask for a peace treaty with the Emperor, to ensure he will not attack you in near future||*Has more than 250 Grace
||250||The Chinese Emperor guarantees that his General Protector will not engage you with tributary wars or great invasions in the next 50 years. On the other hand, you will not be able to pillage China in the meantime.|
|Ask for a Chinese Physician||China has very effective ancestral practices. Recruiting one of its talented physicians could help coping with illness||*Has not already a Court Physician
||250||A Chinese physician with the trait Renowned Physician enters your court|
|Ask for a Chinese artifact||China has many wonders to offer. Perhaps the Emperor could spare one to you||*Not pillaging or invading China
||500||A random artifact from China of quality 1 to 3 is given to you by the General Protector|
|Ask for siege engineers||Over time, China has mastered siegecraft. You can ask for some of them to join your court for your own needs||*Not pillaging or invading China
||750||Three Chinese siege engineers with Way of the Leopard (+50% siege speed) join your court|
|Ask for a strategist||Chinese generals have become masters in warfare. Having one at your service might serve you well||*Not pillaging or invading China
||750||A Brilliant strategist from China joins your court. Once in a while, he will teach your commanders one Chinese leadership trait ( Way of the Leopard , Way of the Dragon , Way of the Dog , Way of the Tiger )|
|Ask for an erudite-bureaucrat||China has produced very efficient administrators. Having one at your service will greatly enhance your demesne||*Not pillaging or invading China
||1000||An erudite will join your court. As long as he will stay alive, you will have a modifier granting -15% construction cost and length|
|Ask for a master engineer||The Chinese Empire is home to many technological inventions. Hiring one of its engineer will make you leap forward technologically||*Not pillaging or invading China
||1000||A master engineer joins your court. Once in a while, he will grant your demesne counties a bonus of technology spread rate, tax income, or levy size and morale.|
|Ask for an Imperial marriage||The Chinese Emperor is a powerful protector. Securing a marriage with one of its family members would guarantee his protection||*Not pillaging or invading China
||1000 (750 if already have a peace deal with China)||An Imperial Prince or princess will marry the family member. You will gain 500 Prestige, a peace treaty with China. Whoever court he belongs to will be able to raise one imperial regiment when at war (With 500/1000/1500/2000 event troops according to the rank, disbanded after the war)|
|Ask for a commercial contract||The Silk Road starts in China. As such, a commercial contract with Chinamay attract its favours, and its merchants||*Not pillaging or invading China
||2000||A commercial contract is signed. For 25 years, all Silk Road trade posts in your realm will get +100% revenue.|
|Ask for an invasion||China is renowned for its mighty armies. Maybe the Emperor could help you to destroy a powerful rival...||*Not pillaging or invading China
||5000||The General Protector declares war on your target. If he is victorious, all realm and empire rank titles held by the target will be destroyed, leading to the dismantlement of its realm.|
Taking hostile actions
Any lord bordering the eastern edge of the map may take hostile actions against China. The options can be viewed by clicking on the sword icon below the portrait of the General Protector. There are three actions possible: pillaging, forcing to open and invading China. Only the invasion requires an armed conflict and leads automatically to war, whereas war can be avoided with the two others. Nonetheless, one should consider with extreme carefulness his options when making the choice to attack China, as the consequences of a failure can be very dire.
The common hostile action taken against China is to pillage it. This can be started only once every 5 years, as after stopping it the lord involved in pillaging will receive a modifier, Recently pillaged China, disqualifying him for any action with China, be it regular interactions or hostile actions, for the 5 years to come. Once a lord elects to start pillaging China, he will receive a negative modifier, Pillaging China, giving -10% levy size, -15% levy reinforcement rate, -15% manpower reinforcement rate, -25% commercial revenue and -10 monthly Grace. In addition, interaction with China will be impossible for as long either of the modifiers is active. On the other hand, every year, the pillaging will receive a booty equivalent to 3 months of income (minimum 15, maximum 75 gold), along with 50 Prestige. On the flip side, if China’s policy is Expansionist, the ruler will be a priority target for a Chinese Invasion
Several events can occur while a lord pillages China:
- Upon pillaging a border city, the pillaging soldiers may encounter an apprentice of a great Chinese siege master. They will bring him back to the lord, which will gain for free a general with Way of the Leopard , along with 75 Prestige and 125 gold.
- While burning down the house of a great Chinese noble, the troop might kidnap one of his children, typically one of his daughters. The unfortunate maiden will be brought back to the pillagers' court, where her excellent education and traits such as Attractive or Quick will make of her a prized wife and courtier.
- While pillaging a village, the marauders may encounter an artifact. Their lord will gain 75 Prestige, and 100 gold, along with a random Chinese artifact.
- While raiding trade caravans, one's soldiers may encounter a precious silk and porcelain loot. The lord will earn 150 Prestige and 200 gold
- On their way to another village, the pillagers may encounter a Chinese patrol. Unable to defend themselves, they will be massacred and their lord will lose 50 Prestige
‘’Note: Even without electing directly to pillage China through the Interactions screen, a ruler whose troops are set to Pillaging which sends them to a territory directly owned by the Western Protectorate will still have the -10 ‘’At War’' Monthly Grace modifier for as long as he will be considered Hostile by the General Protector (180 days + all the time the ruler’s troops spent pillaging his territory). This modifier does not stack up, allowing to both pillage the Protectorate and the Empire without further Grace maluses
Force China to Open
This action can be taken while China adopts the Isolationist policy, effectively ending all trade revenue for the Silk Road. One angered and powerful lord may try to end this, by negotiating with China or threatening China with military retaliation if it doesn't open up. If China is left unimpressed, it will result in a war. If the lord wins the war, or if China accepts to re-open via negotiation (usually demanding the lord to become a Chinese tributary, sending back one of his Chinese subjects, or destroying one of his trade posts in exchange), the policy will switch to Open, and Trade will resume in the Silk Road.
Also, if a single lord's realm (the player, mostly) controls over 25% of the trade on the silk road and controls a starting point of the silk road, the lord has the choice to directly force open China (by luring merchants out of the border) without needing to negotiate or fight wars with China. China will be displeased with this act and the lord will lose 1000 grace with China as a result. If China is force-opened this way during Golden Age, there is a 30% chance that the status of China immediately changes from Golden Age to Stable as a result.
As the ultimate proof of his power and glory, a lord can try to invade the whole Chinese Empire in order to place a Dynasty member on the Dragon Throne. If he wins, he will gain 10000 Gold, prestige from war contribution (up to 5000 prestige if 100% war score), 5000 Grace, +10 Monthly Grace due to being of the same dynasty as the ruling Emperor, (potentially +1.0 if same culture and another +1.0 if same religion), be favored on the silk road for 50 years (all Silk Road trade posts in the realm will get +100% revenue), along with four great quantity of level 4-5 Chinese artifacts (Jade Dragon, Dragon Amulet, Jian, Water Clock). He will also receive all the land and vassals the Western Protectorate owned, along with a 50 year Peace Treaty with the new dynasty of China. The new emperor will travel to china with all his immediate relatives (spouse, children, siblings) that are landless and not heirs to any titles. On the other hand, if the invasion fails, all Kingdom and Empire titles the lord owned are destroyed, thus releasing all of his Duke and above-ranked vassals and dismantling his country. He will also lose 3000 Prestige, three years of income as war reparations, and gain a -2 Monthly Grace and -0.1 monthly prestige modifier, "Angered the Dragon", for 50 years, making him a prioritized target for the Western Protectorate. The lord will also not be able to interact with China in the future. Moreover, the war to invade China is not possible to reach white peace, so the lord could only either win or lose the invasion.
Needless to say, taking this decision can have very dire consequences. Successfully placing a dynast upon the Dragon Throne is not a Steam achievement, due to the supreme difficulty of the adventure. As such, it requires very careful preparations, and well-rounded strategies in order to warrant success in this invasion. (For more detailed insights about how to make any starting state a world-class military power, see The Art Of War).
First, one should pay close attention to the current Status and Policy of the Chinese Empire. China can only be invaded during Stable or Golden Age status. Successfully invading a Stable China would require a well-developed mid to late game empire with large army and gold reserves, as the Protector General will immediately receive at most 172.5k (172250, to be precise) attrition-free Chinese event troops led by generals with Chinese leadership traits to defend the Empire. In addition to the initial event troops, China will also later periodically send in reinforcements if the war stays indecisive. Attacking China during its Golden Age will make you face Chinese event troops with significantly higher combat ability and even better generals.
Note that the number of event troops China spawns is normally scaled to the number of the attacker's army in order to outnumber the player's troops, and Golden Age China has a higher multiplier than Stable China in the calculation of event troops spawned. Yet, there is always a cap value of ~172.5k (172250 event troops) for the Chinese event troops spawned, meaning that the Protector General can at most receive 172.5k event troops both in Stable and Golden Age status, and the policy of China (Isolationist, Open, or Expansionist) does not affect this cap.
Thus, the Chinese Empire in its Golden Age is a properly enormous power (as to compare, Seljuk spawns with 60k event troops max, Genghis Khan with 100k, and the Aztec with their second wave reinforcements can at the very most have around 185k fairly weak event troops with low combat abilities). In addition, China will send its most talented commanders to face your armies, making the effective strength of the Chinese armies in average 30% stronger than the rough numbers.
Your own numbers should match the ones of the Chinese if you want a comfortable chance of winning, but having high Technology in key domains (Cavalry, Heavy Infantry, Military Organization for reinforcement limits) is equally important. You should also have the most talented commanders you’ll be able to find, maybe even Chinese ones in order to match the power of the Chinese armies, with preferably at least one Organizer or one Way of the Tiger as to escape unwanted battles.
The invasion of China should be a well planned attack. As defeat must be avoided at all cost, a large-scale rehearsal could be a regular war with the Western Protectorate. When feeling confident of your strength, declaring war on the Protectorate with regular CBs could let you assess your real chances and proof your strategy in the best conditions (though China will usually send an even higher number of event troops in a real invasion). The only consequence of defeat will be a one-time payment that will sink your treasury for one or two years at the most.
The terrain must also be mastered, as the Chinese troops will either spawn in the county of Samatata in de jure Kingdom of Bengal with equivalent amount of ships or in the county of Jiuquan in Hexi-Gansu Corridor (Both are on the eastern border of the map), depending on where your realm borders China or the Western Protectorate. Ideally, you should secure a proper area of supply in one of these two regions, since unlike the Chinese event troops, your troops won’t, for the most part, be event troops that escape all laws of reinforcement, be it attrition or reinforcement rates. You will have, in order to be able to gather enough troops to win your battles against the Chinese doomstacks, to maximize the supply capacity of your counties to make the fight the least unequal possible.
Once all the preparations and rehearsals made, the invasion can be initiated. Due to the high quantity of the Chinese troops, and their invulnerability to attrition, your main concern should be to avoid facing all of them at one time. Although the initial stack is systematically divided in sub-units of 20k-40k troops, the sub-units normally still have significant movement speed bonuses, and can band together and quickly support each other in battles.
Your first goal should be to break the initial momentum of this great quantity of Chinese troops. Gradually pull back your stacks (pay close attention to attrition), then after the initial stack has divided into sub-units of 25k troops and headed off into different directions, start conducting small skirmishes involving 1 or 2 sub-units at a time in order to start diminishing their numbers and disorganize the wave that comes to flood your lands. All the while, your troops should be left in several armies fitting the reinforcement capacity of their regions, with 1-2 counties of the Chinese armies.
While skirmishing in such way, your troops should then be concentrated in order to gain local superiority against the weakened Chinese units. This will be the time of the great battles, with several dozens of thousands of troops on each side, and equivalent numbers for the dead. It is the critical phase of your invasion, as you will need to win most of the skirmishes to cripple the Chinese advance, and to bring their enormous numbers to more decent levels.
Finally, once the event troops don’t post immediate threats, or while battles are fought, some of your troops should be spared and sent to besiege the Protectorate’s territory (especially the capital province) and retake lost counties in order to earn the occupation warscore required to finalize your invasion.
While following these steps isn’t necessary, it can help coping with the most dangerous aspect of the invasion, namely the initial wave you’ll have to face. As the Chinese will lead sub-units of 20-40k soldiers with very competent commanders, taking over your counties will be very easy for them and it will initially cost you a significant amount of warscore. Yet remember, in "Invasion of China" war, the maximum amount of warscore that the player can lose from occupied (or gain from occupying) counties is locked to -50%/50%, so occupied counties would not force the player to surrender. As long as you picked the right fights by picking off 20k-40k mini-stacks, sieged down Protectorate General's counties whenever possible (especially the capital, as occupying the capital and a significant number of other western protectorate directly-owned counties gives you a chance that the Protector General will surrender to you without reaching 100% warscore), skillfully arranged your regiments to avoid grim attrition, you will have a good chance to win against China and seize the dragon throne for your dynasty!
As signing a white peace is impossible during the invasion, there can only be two possible outcomes. While the risk to undertake is enormous, successfully invading China is the crown jewel of any CK2 campaign, and a very exciting challenge to face.
China at War
Although absent from the map at most start dates, China doesn’t just sit in its corner. The Western Protectorate can be very often at war, and slowly expand the Chinese dominions from the Jiuquan province up to mainland India, or even all the way to Biarmia. Due to the large amounts of troops it disposes of, China presents a very tangible threat to most nomadic Khanates but also to divided states in the Tarim Basin and the Tibetan region.
Most often, the Protector General will attack a state in order to make him an Imperial Tributary. An Imperial Tributary will lose 50% of revenue, 30% of Troop reinforcement rate to the Protector General, along with an obligation to join him at war and -4.0 Monthly Prestige. He will gain, as a compensation, the ability to levy an Imperial battalion for his defensive wars (similar to the one gained through Imperial Marriage.
This war follows the usual mechanics, and the Protector General will receive event troops scaled to the troop count of the primary defender to assist in his war, and call for the support of his Tributaries. Defeat is highly unlikely for the Protector General, as he attacks very often small states with few troops. Sometimes though, this war can still be won by the defender thanks to ticking warscore, as the General’s AI can sometimes forget to unleash its troops after an initial trampling, leaving enough time to the defender to recapture all of his territories.
Another although rarer war with the tributaries can occur when a Tributary feels confident and powerful enough to break free from the Chinese yoke. Just like in a war led by an Independence faction, the attacker benefits from the ticking warscore. Careful skirmishing and quick sieges can thus ensure a victorious campaign even without numerical superiority.
Even if relative power is the main criteria for the Protector General to attack a state, other factors play a significant role. A lord pillaging China is more likely to be attacked, whereas a nomad sending horses has fewer chances to be subjugated.
Sometimes, the General Protector can engage in more ambitious campaigns, making him a real threat to all rulers on the Eastern side of the map. These Great Invasions can be decided only if China’s policy is Expansionist, and if Great Chinese Invasions are enabled in the game rules. Once declared, the General Protector will attack any state bordering the East of the map or his territory, summoning along with him the double of the amount of troops he normally has (as China is set on Expansionist) and his Tributaries.
This time, the outcome of the war can be far more uncertain. As it is an Invasion, the defender is very unlikely to surrender anytime before -100% warscore, differing in this way with Tributary Wars that often conclude with a pacific submission. His chances depend directly of the amount of troops he has, as great battles are unavoidable this time, and the support of the neighbouring states, which can join his war. Invasions are often bloody for both sides, and lead to longer wars than the Tributary ones.
A Great Invasion, once concluded, can either lead to the victory of the Defender (which will gain significant Prestige and wealth), or the one of the attacker. In this case, all properties occupied are usurped, and the General Protector subjugates the defender. If he is king or below, he will only be vassalised, but if he is an Emperor all his Emperor-rank titles are destroyed before he is vassalised.
Losing a Great Invasion is a terrible fate for a ruler. He will become a subject to the Western Protectorate, forcing him to form powerful enough factions to break free. In the Confucian Bureaucracy, all religious or cultural opinion maluses with the liege are negated, making it difficult to form a cluster of rebellious vassals. The only hope for the defeated is to wait for China to become unstable, before declaring war as soon as possible and finding powerful foreign allies able to support their independence.
The factors taken into account when the Protector General decides who to attack is realm size, the greater the better, whether or not the lord is pillaging China, whether or not he has usurped Chinese Bureaucracy, and relative strength. Rulers with a Peace Treaty and Imperial Tributaries are not subject to Great Invasions.
Attacking the Western Protectorate for lands
You can declare war on the Western Protectorate with regular CBs for lands, such are holdings in the North-East of Tarim Basin at 769 start. This will deduct most if not all your current grace and remove interaction for the mean time with China. China will send event troops in Jiuquan or event troops with ships in Bengal Bay. Taking land from Western Protectorate does not require beating event troops. They might take a while to arrive in Tarim Basin. Completely occupying Western Protectorate will give 100% warscore. The Western Protectorate can also join holy war as defender for rulers of the same religion. This will lower your grace monthly and interrupt interaction, but China will not send event troops.