|Government type||Absolute Monarchy|
|Ruling party||Absolutist (Conservative)|
|Tech school||Traditional academia|
Serbia is an extremely challenging (and extremely ahistorical, depending on playstyle) nation to play, but also very satisfying if one succeeds. Playing her is quite hard and is not advised until one has played a few games and are quite familiar with the game mechanics. Serbia also requires some luck (in fact, it requires tremendous luck) to be successful with.
What do we have?
Serbia starts off as a civilized country on the Balkans, and the only Slavic one besides Montenegro (a One-Province-Minor). Let's see what does she have:
- Only one region, Northern Serbia. It is surrounded by Austria, the Ottoman Empire, and has a small border with Wallachia.
- An adult male population of 202k. At least they're 100% Serbian.
- A small army (2 infantry divisions) with the possibility to recruit two more.
- 10% literacy.
- No money.
- Several years behind in technology. (comparable to South-American nations)
- Cores on Austria (Slavonia) and the Ottoman Empire (Southern Serbia and North Macedonia).
- She has a good place in Ottomans's SOI. Until one leaves it, The Ottomans will gladly come to aid. (In Vanilla Serbia is in the Russian sphere instead)
- Aside from Austria and the Ottoman Empire, regional rivals like Bulgaria and Romania will probably never come into being, and Greece most likely will remain as it is 1836.
- A unification event to form Yugoslavia. However, this decision requires Serbia to be a Great Power, and one has to control many, many regions owned by Great Powers.
- Serbia is an Absolute Monarchy, so one can avoid liberals (or other parties with Lasseiz-faire) seizing power, and messing up spending/industry.
- Serbia has a whole bunch of cores that can be used to start a crisis.
Basically, Serbia weak and surrounded by two huge, populous warmonger nations. Sounds fun! But as one can see, Serbia has potential to become at least a regional Great Power, and with a little effort and luck, she and Mother Russia can easily dominate Austria and the Ottoman Empire (especially the latter).
- Industry: Early in the game, one do not have sufficient funds to even afford the smallest industry, and technology does not help Serbia in any way. It is best to just not consider industry for some time to come.
- Budget: It is hard to find budget for everything, and one might have to put heavy taxes and tariffs on the population.
- Military: It is possible to recruite two more regiments, which should be handy.
On the road to Yugoslavia!
Historically, Yugoslavia was formed on December 1, 1918, after the Austro-Hungarian Empire has collapsed. Yugoslavia was originally a monarchy (it was abolished after the Axis powers invaded in World War II), and was called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929. After WW2, it annexed Istria (which previously was a territory of Italy), became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and finally collapsed in 1992, amidst the Yugoslav Wars.
The Ottomans will accept an alliance right from the beginning. It can be used to attack Egypt, Persia or any other target, that the Ottoman Army can actually reach. Ottomans cannot beat Austria initially so one have to wait a little bit for ones cores.
Sooner or later the Ottomans will lose its great power status and thus there sphere of influence. Then the alliance with The Ottomans will be useless. One should seek out another GP ally. Germany/ Prussia or Russia seems to be the most obvious as one do not have future conflicts with them and they too have potential conflicts with Austria.
One can consider to attack Montenegro as they have no allies and no army. For the prestige and a possibility for an extra province or a vassal. The benefits of forcing a vassal is that Serbia can annex it later, when one creates Yugoslavia and it costs less infamy. The benefits of annexing it is that one have two provinces, which is needed for becoming a great power and of course the extra resources and population. A third possibility other than annexing or puppeting is to repeatedly attack them, with a humiliate casus belli, for a continuing source of prestige.
Industrialization and available resources
Northern Serbia has coal, which is a nice foundation for an industry. Southern Serbia has both timber and iron, Slavonia has timber, and Northern Macedonia also has timber. The bad literacy will however be an obstacle, and one might decide that it is not worth the investment early on.
- Budget: Lower tariffs if possible. Always keep Education and Military spending as high as possible while neither gaining nor losing money.
- Expansion: If you aren't desperate for sea access, in which case you should get Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro are the way to go. Both have a healthy Serb population and useful resources (Bosnia has coal, while Montenegro has iron).
While the Ottoman Empire is a constant danger, for a while, you must avoid liberating the Balkans. These wars cost manpower and infamy. Later, you can pursue these goals, but for a while, concentrate on yourself. If Germany/ Italy have formed, not only you get a possible powerful ally, but it's also much easier to wage war with Austria, since it'll lack the support from German/Italian minors (it may not seem much, but they still count). It's also a good idea to wage war against Austria amidst an Austrian-Prussian Brother's war, since Austria'll be occupied with dealing with Prussia. However, since 1.2, these wars seem rare, if there are any.
- Technology: Ideological thought is full of inventions that raise plurality so go for it first (will finish in early 1839). Your overall priorities are tech speed and literacy for the entire early game (~25 years)
- Politics: Not much to do here for now, but switching to Nationalist party (reactionary) might be good since they are jingoist, which will improve your CB acquisition speed
- National Focus: Go for bureaucrats until they reach 100% (~ December 1837), after that focus clergy until they are at 4%. Clergy will reach 2% sometime around 1840 but keep them focused until 4% for maximum education speed
1836 to 1845
- Budget: Keep the settings from the start until you acquire South Serbia through a crisis then you can max all sliders
- Technology: After Ideological Thought finishes stockpile RPs throughout 1839 and when 1840 begins go for Idealism. This philosophical technology will improve research speed (as well as add some much needed prestige)
- Politics: Stick with Conservatives or Nationalists whichever you picked from the start. Note that due to the low amount of upper class POPs and an appointed Upper house Serbia can often get 100% reactionary Upper house, and remove reforms. In particular Serbia can switch to 'ruling party only' Upper House, which would give total control over the politics.
- Focus: When clergy reach 2% check if state admin fell below 99% due to bureaucrats converting to clergy. If so then focus bureaucrats briefly until admin is 100% then switch to clergy until they reach 4% after which you could attempt to start a crisis for South Serbia if the situation is favorable (Ottomans ranked #8 or lost GP status, GPs not at war etc.) or focus soldiers until the opportunity to take South Serbia presents itself (usually happens ~1845)
- Diplomacy: boost relations with Great powers for the South Serbia crisis. Russia has better relations with you at the start (125), but you want United Kingdom to be your backer in a crisis because few other countries will join on the Russian side. During the South Serbia crisis GB will almost certainly oppose Russian influence in the Balkans and so will Austria. On the other hand, if GB is your primary crisis backer then Russia will support you too, since they despise the Ottomans and are not really hostile to GB as much as they are to Austria or Germany. With GB and Russia both on your side Ottomans will certainly cave in and give you South Serbia.
- Military: Around June 1836 you will have fabricated a cause for war on and can begin with or without the help of The Ottomans.
After relations with GB hit 200 your next diplomatic focus is improving relations with the Ottomans. While they are at this point the sick man of Europe they are by no means the dead man of Europe and will easily defeat you and retake South Serbia if they are not placated. Do not get greedy and start another crisis for Bosnia or Macedonia, as this will certainly mean war with the Turks. Remember, if your relations are above 100 they cannot DoW you. Try to keep them at 190+ throughout the early/mid game.
After Idealism is finished your next pick should be Basic Chemistry followed by Medicine (finishes early 1843) for the much needed population growth inventions. Once you have Medicine, if the Ottomans have lost GP status (along with their sphere of influence) or another country (usually Russia) removes you from their sphere then go for 3 education techs. If the Ottomans are strong and you are firmly in their sphere then your budget will be going into the red and you should go for the Tax technology (5%+1%+1%+1% tax) so you can have a positive balance before you go for the 3 education techs.
1845 to 1855
Not much excitement here except for the crisis for South Serbia.
Once you are out of Ottomans sphere you will be making good money, but beware other nations trying to sphere you (Russia and GB). Once they have played their part and given you your lands back, if you notice them building up serious influence in your country consider decreasing relations with them to 75. This usually makes them less interested in sphering you.
Don’t try to industrialize during this time. Your literacy is still low and your growing population is filling up the RGOs. Once literacy goes above 45% is a good time to build some industry. This means ~1860 for North Serbia and ~1865 for South Serbia.
Serbia in Vanilla
In Vanilla Serbia is in Russian sphere instead of Ottomans. This will make it a bit easier as one does not have cores on Russian land, and does not need to seek conflict.