|Government type||Absolute Monarchy|
|Ruling party||Nationale Partei (reactionary)|
|Primary culture||North German|
|Accepted cultures||South German|
|Tech school||Traditional academia|
Hesse-Darmstadt is a minor civilized country located in central Germany. It is in the Prussian sphere of influence and may form Germany if it raises strong enough. There is a similar country called Hesse-Kassel.
Hesse-Darmstadt starts as one of the many small German States, that are in Prussia’s sphere of influence. The country has some disadvantages but also advantages.
- The threat of being annexed by Prussia into the North German Federation, once Prussia gets Hannover, Holstein and Saxony into their sphere of influence. In most games, this will happen eventually.
- Hesse-Darmstadt is a land-locked country with no initial access to the sea.
- A high literacy rate of initially 80%
- Hesse-Darmstadt is not a one state minor. Hesse-Darmstadt consists of 3 provinces (Darmstadt, the capital, Giessen and Mainz). While Darmstadt and Giessen are in the state of Hesse-Nassau, Mainz is in the state of Rheinland. This allows the country to become a great power, if it earns enough points.
- the unique decision The 'Zivilgesetzbuch'
The first objective must be to become a great power as quick as possible. Once Prussia forms the NGF, it’s game over! Most points towards great power status will be gained from prestige technologies, especially from the aesthetic and philosophy trees of the culture technology section. But also the economic thoughts and critique tree from commerce technologies and medicine from industrial technologies (pressure chamber for thorax surgeries) can give prestige. Still, you will need a lot of luck to always get the maximum of prestige from any technology discovered.
The national focus should be used to promote clergy in the State of Hesse-Nassau. It will raise the percentage of clergy as well as the literacy rate. Both provide more research points. This allows Hesse-Darmstadt to research all technologies available in a very short time. Economically, raise taxes and tariffs to the maximum. Military and construction spending can be lowered to zero, while administration and education should be raised to 100%. These settings should allow a small but steady income of about £20 per day.
The RGOs of Hesse-Darmstadt are fruit in Darmstadt, cattle in Giessen and sulfur in Mainz. A winery and a fertilizer plant are good choices for the first factories. Once the first factory is finished, the national focus can be used to encourage craftsmen to fill the factory, then clerks to improve its efficiency and provide even more research points.
Hesse-Darmstadt starts with one small infantry brigade, but it can build two more brigades from the start. They will give additional points so build them at once. It also pays to switch the ruling party to the reactionaries, as they are jingoists as well as state capitalists. This will give more points for military units.
Raising to great power status
Most points for the raise to Great Power status will come from prestige.
Hesse-Darmstadt has a unique decision called The 'Zivilgesetzbuch'. It requires to research Ideological Thought and will give 5.250 prestige and research points. Note that it cannot be taken as another nation, so make sure to take it before forming NGF or Germany.
It is also important to prepare for colonial expansion. To conquer a colony, Hesse-Darmstadt needs a powerful ally. Prussia is the obvious choice, but they usually don’t have a big navy. Other promising choices are Netherlands, Austria and Two Sicilies. France might be possible too, although this path would be unhistorical. To get into an alliance, it is necessary to raise the relations with the future ally. Once an alliance is formed, it’s time to look for a target. Tunis, Egypt, Morocco or even Haiti are possibilities, depending on the political situation. Some of them might already be sphered or annexed by another power.
It is also necessary to gain access to the sea. The shortest way would be through Bavaria and Austria to the Mediterranean. Raising relations with both nations until they accept Military Access (they won’t accept an alliance, since Hesse-Darmstadt is in Prussia’s SOI) should do the trick. Also, military access from Frankfurt, Nassau or Hesse-Kassel and Bavaria is helpful to link up all provinces of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Conquering parts of Egypt
Egypt has some specific advantages: Taking the State of Sinai allows to build the Suez Canal and Upper Egypt has the province of Luxor and the Valley of Kings. Crete can be later released as a puppet for loss of infamy. Palestine allows that too. Once “Revolution and Counterrevolution” is researched, it is possible to make the decision The Balfour Declaration and release the nation of Israel. The setback is, that the Ottoman Empire has cores on Palestine too and will most likely attack, especially as long Hesse-Darmstadt still has a weak military.
The Suez Canal will open the path to future conquests in Asia and on the east African coast. Thanks to the high number of research points, it shouldn’t take too long to research all required techs.
Further conquests to raise new armies
To prepare for some big wars for the dominance over Germany, Hesse-Darmstadt has to raise a big army of at least 100k soldiers. The POPs can be found in various future colonies.
If Egypt is taken, Ethiopia to the south has fairly large pops and shouldn’t be too difficult to defeat.
In West Asia, Punjab has about 2 Million POPs. Together with Sindh, it can be a nice little colony. Be careful, Britain tends to sphere or conquer both nations pretty soon. Alternatively, one or Persian states might be conquered with the demand concession CB.
Oman can be an interesting choice if further colonization in Africa is planned.
In East Asia, Dai Nam, Korea and China have very high POPs. With a good lead in Army techs, these conquests shouldn’t be a big problem. Korea will also provide Hesse-Darmstadt with the essential RGOs of coal and Iron.
The crown from the gutter
An easy way to form Germany is to wait until German Nationalists overthrow a minor German nation and offer you the Crown from the Gutter. Since Prussia will most likely have a higher ranking than Hesse-Darmstadt, the offer first goes to Prussia. Unless Prussia has a liberal government, they will refuse the offer. Next, the gutter crown will be offered to Hesse-Darmstadt. Enacting the decision will give 10 Infamy and cost some prestige. But Germany will be formed. From there, the game follows the Germany path.
Forming the North German Federation
An alternative way to the Gutter Crown event is to form the NGF. Hesse-Darmstadt has the decision to form the NGF, once it raises to Great Power status. This requires to sphere all other states with cores on the NGF, including Holstein, Saxony, Hannover and Prussia. Prussia must also knocked down from Great Power status.
It is possible to steal the other minor states from Prussia by diplomatic action. But this will course most likely cause Prussia to declare a war for the dominance over Germany against Hesse-Darmstadt.
On the other hand, Hesse-Darmstadt has the same free CB against Prussia and Austria. Since Hesse-Darmstadt can’t form the South German Federation, there’s no need to anger Austria with a diplomatic war over the South German States at this moment.
To defeat Prussia, Hesse-Darmstadt will need an army of about 100k soldiers and a good advantage in army techs over Prussia. If fought defensively at the beginning, this war can be won quite easily. Most likely, several wars will be necessary to get all minor Northgerman states into Hesse-Darmstadt’s SOI and to knock down Prussia from great power status. The “Cut down to size”-CB, the “Humiliate”-CB and the “Add to sphere”-CB are very helpful here to add Prussia to your SOI.
Alternatively, it is possible to occupy all Prussian land and keep it occupied for at least a year. Keeping the state occupied will cause its factories to close down after a while. This will make Prussia loose lots of industry points and eventually loose great power status. Then, the “Add to sphere”-CB can be used to sphere Prussia and form the NGF.
From that point on the game follows the regular Prussia/NGF/Germany path.