|Government type||Absolute monarchy|
|Ruling party||Royal Faction (Conservative)|
Đại Nam, otherwise known as Việt Nam is the most populous of the Southeast Asian nations in 1836, ruled by the ambitious Nguyen Dynasty. Historically, Vietnam was swallowed up in chunks by France until it finally ceased to exist as an independent state in 1887. However, like Siam, Dai Nam has the potential to modernize quickly and become fairly powerful, and possibly dominate Southeast Asia.
Dai Nams starting situation, while not great, is far from unenviable: a culturally homogenous nation with a reasonable (1.58 M) population base, a small but reliable ally and no immediate threats, it has the ability to thrive and make it to 1936 in good shape. Doing so will depend on your success in the fields of diplomacy and military matters, though. There's hungry foreign powers to be kept at bay, and rivals to be conquered. To the north, the empire of China: indifferent, but not unfriendly. An alliance with them may greatly advance Dai Nams designs. To the West lies the United Kingdom and their British Raj: the crown jewel of Britains empire, one which it seeks to expand. To the South and East lie the possessions of the less vibrant, but not harmless empires of the Netherlands and Spain. Across the Pacific lies the rising power of the USA, which seems to have an interest in East Asia as well.
Most of your first moves will be the standard ones: stabilising your budget, setting your National Foci as you desire and throwing around some diplomats. Britain will probably not attack you directly, but keeping relations with them over a 100 will not take up too many of your diplomatic points (you'll probably have an excess of them anyhow). It is better to be safe than sorry. Britain will probably move to attack and conquer Burma, so forego any alliance with them. The Chinese Empire will probably accept your Alliance offer: if they send in troops, your wars will be a lot easier. You'll probably want to conquer Luang Prabang, and take a region of Siam: both are fairly defeatable, and the gained Research Points from conquest will speed up westernisation nicely. Though the stronger one, Siam should probably also be your first target: once United Kingdom reaches Friendly influence with it, your chances of conquest are essentially gone.
Beating up Siam (and others)
Warfare in Heart of Darkness strongly promotes the use of large stacks (about 8 to 10 regiments) for sieging. Using Cavalry will make sieging even more efficient. You might want to let Siam invade your territory, and strike them when they're weakened by attrition. Alternatively, you might want to take a position in the mountains and trick them into attacking you: whatever you choose, try not to engage them on equal ground: if you lose, you're done.
Another feature in Heart of Darkness is that you gain Research Points by taking States from other Uncivs. The amount of RP increases with how many of the first Military Reforms you have, so it's probably better to get those first for added RP. The catch, however, is that waiting might allow a Great Power(specifically Britain) to put Siam in its Sphere of Influence depriving you of your precious conquests. When to attack will depend on Britains attitude to Siam.
Siam, of course, isn't your only target, simply the most convenient one. You might also want to move against Johore(same story, beware Britain), Brunei(same thing with the Dutch), Bali or Atjeh. And there's also Luang Prabang, of course, but they're rarely sphered until late in the game, and can be easily dispatched. As Conquest CBs are expensive in Infamy, it's probably best to keep them until last. You might even want to go on a very gamey path(as the previous authors of this article did) and take Korea or even States off Japan! Finally, if there's a revolution in Cambodia(or Dai Nam itself), it will no longer be your puppet and an easy target.
Clearly this is your first main goal: apart from the Research Points gained from your various wars, there's nothing specific to Dai Nam in this regard. Apart from Japan(if you seek to do so) there's no high literacy areas around.
Optimally, you've westernised ahead of some of your neighbours. At any rate, your country doesn't seem immediately well-positioned for industrialisation: no Coal, no Iron, no Cotton. The only thing you have going for you is the Rubber in the South (and Cambodia!). The thing is, China will eventually westernise as well. Not soon later, they'll include you in their Sphere of Influence (some other nation might do this as well, in which case the next may well apply as well). This means you'll have access to their Common Market, which means you get to pick up whatever scraps their domestic industry isn't using. (There might also simply be excess production on the World Market, check the Trade screen). With your Rubber(to which, even in a Sphere, you're still entitled to 50% as first pickings) and access to Iron(Glass is nearly always in overabundance by late game) you can try to build up a profitable Electric Parts industry. Make sure to be up to date in Commerce and Industry techs, though. Again, based on the excesses on the World Market, other branches of production(like Liquor and Regular Clothes) might also be interesting.
Depending on the situation in Europe, you might also want to take over some of the colonies of the European devils: especially the sometimes beleaguered Dutch empire can be dismantled with a dedicated buildup of armed forces.