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Westernization allows a country not in the western tech group to remove the penalty on technologies. However, Westernization is an expensive process and will severely disrupt a nation for decades. To begin Westernization, at least one Western neighbour must be ahead in technology by 8 total levels. It also requires a fairly large stockpile of monarch points.

Should I deliberately fall behind in technology straight away, or wait until a later period in the game?

How does playing as a nation with a smaller penalty (such as the Eastern or Ottoman group) or a larger one (such as Mesoamerican or South American) affect the "right" time to begin?

Is there a particular date or technology level (based on which technology group I belong to) where it is a good idea to begin to stop coring, vassalising and spending points on technologies, and instead save them up to begin the process of Westernisation?

In a nutshell: When is the optimal time to prepare for and carry out Westernization?

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Here's a couple of pointers from my personal experience.

  1. Falling behind in technology right away doesn't really work. You need some technology advances to get access to buildings that are essential for your economy and to idea groups
  2. I tend to start "lagging" in technology when I have two idea groups activated. That way you can spend your monarch points in a meaningful way instead of advancing technology
  3. Watch out how fast you grow your empire. The amount of power you can spend per month (and thus the totalduration of the transition) depends on the total base tax value of your nation. This makes it extra hard to westernize if you expand agressively
  4. Make sure that you have a religious unity and cultural untiy close to 100% before starting to westernize. This cuts down the rebelliousness of your provinces significantly

I have tried both strategies and have found so far that the process is not worth it for Ottomans and Russia. The only thing you gain is a lowered technology cost, while your sub optimal unit types remain. I have always had the better results using the monach points to build a strong economy, allowing the purchase of level 3 advisors.

It's quite possible that westernizing is a good iea for Asian or African nations though.

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This is a very, very large question, and I doubt there is a short answer to it.

First off, if you can keep up with Western nations (e.g. because you're playing Ming), then you don't need to switch. In general though, I would recommend to do it sooner rather than later. Very early switches may throw you too far back initially, but if you are 8-10 levels behind (regardless of your penalty), that should be good enough.

Also note that non-Western nations often have an initial advantage of some kind. If you switch too early, you cannot use it fully.

During Westernization:

You will need to plan ahead, as, strategically, you will be unable to participate in global politics much for more than 10 years, provided that you can pay monarch points quickly enough. During this time, your army will be bound to internal rebel suppression, and your MP will be low.

If a war happens in this time, you might be screwed. You will want to have strong allies nearby, so you they can defend you in a war. Conversely, if they go to war, you'll only be able to send few units, so let's hope they can deal with it themselves.

Before Westernization:

This requires even more farsight. When you spot a Western nation nearby, plan territorial actions accordingly, so you become neighbours soon. Cease teching and store MP accordingly, so both are finished at the same time. Superfluous MP can go to national ideas, coring, etc.

  • I'm afraid that, while this may be helpful for beginners, it doesn't really answer your question, as these are just simple and basic ideas you doubtlessly already know. – mafu Jan 8 '15 at 12:59

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