Beginning position in Asia
The Ming Empire lasted from 1368–1644. It declined due to the little ice age –> years of natural disaster –> peasant rebellion plus Manchu invasion. Hence, this challenge is to play and save the Ming Empire from internal chaos and outside threats.
Background history: In Nov 11, 1644, the Manchurians already had conquered most of Northern China and has Korea as vassal. This means your Ming’s year 1444 best friend is gone. As Shown, Ming is in a losing war with Shun (and Xi as Shun’s ally).
In the East, Japan’s Tokugawa had united most of Japan and Netherlands has a small colonial nation in Taiwan. Japan can be a good ally when it rivaled Qing. Also I have to admit that I used Netherlands’ protectorate system quite a lot of times when I tried to save 20% of points before westernizing and trying to avoid wars.
In the North, Russia had taken most of Siberia and Qing is very likely to conquer Khalkha, Zungaria (just like in history). With the expansion idea on, Russia is going to be very aggressive to expand in the far east. It is like after survived and defeated Shun and Xi, there are a big boss and a much bigger boss waiting for you.
In the West, the Mughal Empire had taken most of North India. At the moment, Yarkand and Khoshuud won’t be a threat. Kham can be a weak ally but there aren’t much friendly nations around.
In the South, there are Taungu or Ayutthaya and Lan Xang and at least one of them is going to be Ming’s rival. Although it is possible to ally the other and some Viet state, it still can be annoying some time. They can be distracting to Ming’s main objective of reconquering lost territories.
In addition, Spain and Netherlands already had some colonies in the spice islands.
Meanwhile in Europe, It seem like Ottomans, France, and Russia are the biggest power. Well, it is before the battle of Vienna of 1683. England and Scotland are suffering some rebels, France took some Spanish land (seem like the Spanish colonies are going to be freed)
Meanwhile in the new world, all of the Incan and Aztec tribes were conquered and Spain took over Latin America. North American tribes still can live for a while before the other superpowers going to colonize all of them.
It took me a couple tries to win because rivals are everywhere! Not just Qing, Xi and Shun, but also Southeast Asian nations. Or even worse, western tech colonial nations which got their independence with expansion ideas are going to declare war on Ming. It can be annoying because their it takes a long time for their ships to land and I have to wait for them to land, defeat them then ask for peace. Of course, paying money to tell them to get off can be an option too.
This is the beginning position, the central part of China is being occupied. My regiments were scattered around your new capital Yangzhou. Good thing that I can reclaim some provinces that aren’t controlled by a fort. Although Ming has low manpower in the beginning, but it has unlocked administrative idea on, so it’ll be fine on hiring mercenary with such powerful economy.
Also, beware of rebel pop up events such as peasants inspired by Li Zicheng.
PS: if you want a harder challenge on Ming, try Zheng Chenggong’s Ming at 1662. It only has Sakam in Taiwan that had been taken from the Dutch. Qing had taken most of the China and the rest is controlled by its vassal Wu Sangui.