Title: Guide to the Ottoman Empire
Author: Heavy Weapons Guy

Guide to the Ottoman Empire Download the pdf version here

This guide works for version 1.3.1 of Empire: Total War. Will update the Guide shortly.

The general strategies still work and are worth a read for new Ottoman players.

When you start an Ottoman campaign, you'd expect a 12-regions Empire to have a great income and huge experienced armies defending its hostile borders against the Empire's historical enemies. But you'd be surprised to find the situation is quite the opposite:

The economy is terrible, giving you only 2900 each turn to develop your empire and recruit your armies, your armies are basically made up of Militia and Mobs, your enemies have armies on your doorstep and your subjects in the European part of the Empire are in rebellion against your rule and religion.

That's the situation in 1700, but we hope that our tips will help you overcome these shortcomings and have probably the most challenging campaign in Empire.
Our experiences will be definitely different from the ones you will have, but you will be facing very similar scenarios and dilemmas as will be shown below. Use the following as a Guideline to your strategy, and you should try to experiment a little bit and see how the dynamics of the game will change your experience, and ultimately the history books forever.

First Turn

The decisions you make in the first turn will set the path of your Empire in any campaign, but this is even more critical for the Ottomans. If you make any mistakes here, they will be compounded in the next few turns, so take your time to assess your choices.
These strategies were tested and based on Hard campaign difficulty. Other difficulty levels would require small adjustments, but the overall strategy should be the same.

You start as an Absolute Monarchy ruled by the worst Monarch in the game supported by a cabinet of inefficient Ministers. The Sultan (Mustafa II) will remain as head of your Nation till around the 1740's unless you dethrone him through a revolution.

However, you can fix up your cabinet immediately to get a decent one. Move the ministers around and replace the bad ones from the pool of available candidates as follows:
Head: Hafiz Halim
Treasury: Carthaci Hamdi
Justice: Abdulhamid Hayreddin
Army: Sakizli Hoca
Navy: Haci Hayreddin

Once you have this cabinet, you will notice that unrest in your empire has dropped and your tax income has improved slightly.


The regions you start with are underdeveloped and will require lots of money for them to start producing sufficient income to justify the costs of armies to defend them. For that reason, it would be a sound strategy to sell some of your starting regions to prolong the tensed peace you have with your immediate neighbors. You also need protectorates to help you in your wars with your common neighbors and enemies.

1. Exchanging Regions

The first step is actually a profitable exchange. Venice controlled "Morea" makes 1660 in income, while your "Bosnia" makes 450. For some reason, if you offer Venice an exchange, they would accept immediately.
There are four effects to this exchange. The first is that you only have to defend you Empire to the north. If you don't make the exchange, you will have to defend Greece to the south against Venice which would force you to recruit and upkeep quite a big number of troops that is no longer necessary in this case. You get more taxes in the short and long runs as Morea is a wealthier region than Bosnia. You will have peace with Venice for a prolonged period of time and they won't raid your trade lanes.
The only negative effect is that you will lose two potential naval trade lanes since you'll lose the commercial port in Bosnia, but this won't be a big issue as you have enough commercial ports to keep you trading with whomever you wish.
You can suggest an alliance with Venice, but since you will want to retake Bosnia back from them once your economy is up and running, that will result in you getting a huge diplomatic penalty.

2. Selling Regions

As stated in the beginning, your starting regions are investment sink-holes that will drain your income and require defending. The regions we would recommend selling are your northern most regions, namely Serbia and Moldavia. The first trade will be with the Prussians. The Prussians will share your enemies few turns into the game (Austria, Russia and Poland-Lithuania), so they will make good allies and they are far enough in the beginning to prevent them from back-stabbing you.

You'll basically give them an offer they cannot refuse. In the screen shot you see that the offer consists of a trade agreement, military access and military alliance. You will have to offer them Improved Grenades technology and a region in return for Plug Bayonet and a single payment of 8000. The region you offer makes no difference as long as it is one of your northern most regions, but we would advise you to make Serbia, as that will create a huge defensive post against Austria.
Now you still have a region to offer. You can offer the French the same deal you offered the Prussian, but in return for Physiocracy tech instead of Plug Bayonets. Any other nation willing to pay 8000 in return for Moldavia will be acceptable, and this includes any nation you want to be your allies in the long run. Don't select Austria, Russia or Poland-Lithuania as they will take the region and still declare war on you a few turns later.

3. Protectorates

This section is about the Protectorates-for-Money negotiations, where you offer single-region nations to join your empire for money. These are the protectorates you need to help you fight your common enemies, and you want them to be strong but not strong enough to back stab you. With those nations you don't want to get trade agreements as that would make them rich quite fast. Additionally, they'll not have that much money since they are giving half of their tax income to you. This all means that they will have a bit smaller armies and fleets than usual. These are Dagestan, Georgia and Knights of St John.
Dagestan and Georgia are needed to defend your eastern empire from the north against Russian incursions. And if you have them as protectorates at turn 1, they will join you in your war against Persia once the Persian declares war on you. This will allow you to concentrate on Esfahan while they concentrate on the northern regions of the Persian Empire. You can get Dagestan as Protectorate for 1000 and Georgia for 1200.
Knights of St John might seem a weird option as they are the biggest enemies of the Barbary States. However, they have superior fleets, and when they join your wars against Mediterranean nations, they will make sure that your enemies' fleets are always destroyed before they are able to blockade your ports. Austrian fleets will be in great hazard before they are able to reach your ports. You can get them as protectorates for 1200.
An exception to the Protectorate strategy is Bavaria. Bavaria starts the game allied with Spain and Austria and owns one of the richest Germanic states. Getting them as protectorates is a good idea, but you want Bavaria to be strong in order for them to be a danger to Vienna in case Austria declares war on you before you are ready. You can get them as Protectorates for a cheap price of 1200.
You will notice at this point that your income for the next turn has increased despite giving away 2 regions. This is due to the higher income of Morea and to the fact that 4 nations now are paying you half of their income.

4. Alliances

If the Ottoman Empire is the Sick Man of Europe, the Mughul Empire is the sick man of India. They have quite a huge empire, but just like you, they have an underdeveloped economy and armies. Get an alliance with the Mughul Empire and keep giving them all the techs you research and any money you can spare. These measures will serve two purposes, the first is that they will join your war against Persia festering them on their eastern borders and secondly that will delay Martha's dominion over India until you are able to face them when you build up your economy.

Morocco will declare war on the Barbary States on turn 1, dragging you into war if you want to keep Barbary States as your Protectorates. Morocco is able to control quite big fleets early in the game, so it will also be profitable if you can convince Spain to be your ally as that will make them Morocco's enemy too, forcing Spain to deal with them.

5. Trade Agreements

Get trade agreements with the biggest empires in the game as that would give you high returns and enhances your relations with those nations. If the AI refuses an offer for trade, try to bribe them with a limited military access if you don't share a border with them. If this also fails try to offer them money. The AI usually accepts to trade if you offer it an amount ranging between 800 and 1500.

Universities and Research

You start with a university in Anatolia get your Scholar there and start to research Ring Bayonets (We have explained how you get plug in previous part) It will take 6 turns.
Destroy the Brothel in Luxor, Egypt and the Small Madrassa in Mosul, Mesopotamia so that you can build two additional universities there on the next turn.
If you have the money to spare, start to develop the cultural structure in the four-slot-capital regions so that you can build Sultan's Observatories there, giving you a big boost to research rate. These regions are Greece, Anatolia, Syria, Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Armies and Fleets

The first step you must do is upgrading your barracks in Mesopotamia ASAP as you will need to recruit quite a bit of troops to invade Persia.
Move your Moldavian army next to the Crimean Khanate's capital to defend it against the incoming Russian army. When it is repelled successfully Crimea will be safe for the next few turns. Replenish your troops and keep your army next to the Crimean capital to aid them against future Russian invasions.
Start to Train Israelys in Istanbul to create the core of your major European Army. You should also train some units in Anatolia and move them to Armenia to counter any possible backstabbing from Georgia and attacks from Persia.


Use the remaining money to develop your farms and factories as the more money you invest early on the game, the higher the return on your investments will be. Concentrate on farms first as you will also need the extra population growth they will offer.

Second Turn

Many factions should have declared war on you already, if not then except it in next turn(s).
Russians are making their army in Ukraine which will reach the Crimean capital in the Winter of 1701.

Recruit Azzars in Mesopotamia and Greece. Keep training Israelys in Istanbul. They will be needed against Austria and Poland-Lithuania as stated earlier.

Upgrade your economical Buildings in Empire as you will need a big income to support the armies necessary to defend your Empire and to get some early decisive victories. Make sure you build up all of the farms as that will increase the population growth in your regions. Also build schools in Mosul and Luxor to get three universities running ASAP.

When Morocco declares war on you, call for your allies' help, Spain can destroy or damage their fleet. If the Spanish destroys the Moroccan fleet, send a single ship to block the Moroccan port preventing them from building more fleets. However, if the Spanish fleet gets destroyed then the Moroccan fleet will start raiding your trade routes. To counter this, move your Mediterranean fleet there and destroy the remains of the Moroccan fleet, then blockade their port with a single small ship of yours. Send the remains of your fleet back to Greece and repair it and protect your ports and trade lanes.

Third Turn

Georgia and Dagestan

Georgia should have betrayed by now, in that case call for your allies' help. Dagestan will most likely do nothing about Georgia, but it is worth to try. Don't attack Georgia yet, make your army bigger in Mesopotamia. Kill Georgian General with your assassin he always succeeds in it. Dagestan will not betray you until you share borders.

The Russian Army should have entered Crimea, wait till they come and besiege Crimean Khanate's capital then you will destroy them with the aid of the Crimean forces.

Persia also should have declared war on you, but don't attack them yet. You'll need to have some force before you can start your Persian conquest.


Fourth Turn

Armies and Active Wars

Austria and Poland-Lithuania soon will declare war on you or they would already have done so, but stay on the defensive to them until you have enough forces recruited in Istanbul and Greece. Once you have enough forces in those two regions, start moving your armies to the northern parts of your regions to intercept any raiders and to be prepared for invading nearby hostile regions.
Destroy the Russian army besieging the Crimean Capital and try to preserve your forces since you'll need them after the battle. Replenish your troops and move the army to Ukraine where you will find very little resistance. Ukraine will be the key in your strategy for the region: Use as it a spring board for your wars against Russia, give it to Crimean Khanate so that they can fight the Russian war for you or even give it back to the Russian in return for peace, money and tech.

Your universities should be ready in Luxor, Egypt and Mosul, Mesopotamia. Start one school on researching Empiricism, and the other to research Land Enclosures.
Your barracks are ready in Athens and Baghdad, so start recruiting Israelys in those regions.
Keep on upgrading your economical structures to support the number of troops you are recruiting.

Fifth Turn

Keep developing your regions and recruiting armies for your future expansions.

Sixth Turn


Your marching armies should be entering the Armenian region uniting them into a considerable force. This will enable you to invade Georgia and win a decisive victory on the next turn.
Keep recruiting and training an army in Baghdad which will be used to invade Azerbaijan.

Your army that was in Crimea should have reached Ukraine with fully replenished regiments, allowing you to invade Ukraine with little difficulty. If you have your hands full with the wars against Poland-Lithuania and Austria, sue for a peace treaty with Russia which they usually would accept. However if your wars with Austria and PL are under control, prepare the army in Ukraine to go deeper into Russian territory, namely against Don Voisko and Astrakhan.

Seventh Turn

Ring Bayonet should be already researched at this point, so research Military Syllabus next to get Janissaries. They will be needed to stand and fight against European Modern Armies. Your current Line Infantry, the Israelys, cannot counter European Line Infantry while Janissaries are superior to the average European Line Infantry regiments and will be a key in your warfare against your enemies.

Georgia should fall now and Dagestan will most probably declare war. Replenish your army and march against Dagestan.

Go for Azerbaijan with your army from Baghdad, if you take it then stay there till your army who destroyed Dagestan comes there. Then you can go to the Persian capital and invade Esfahan.
Esfahan will serve you well. If you plan to invade India, then Esfahan will be a spring board to recruit troops and send them by land or sea to India. If you plan to deal with your European "friends" first, then use Esfahan as a border region: Build capital defenses, build a couple of forts on the borders to the east, keep small stacks of mobile units around the border region to face raiding forces, etc. This will make your eastern border smaller and easier to manage, making Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Azerbaijan safe to the east, and allows you to concentrate your forces to the North.

Tips and Hints

Universities and Observatories

What your empire lacks can be made up for easily by beating your enemies to new discoveries. Try to get 5 universities running by 1710 so that you can dedicate one for military research, two for industrial research and two for enlightenment research. This will make you a superpower pretty fast and your starting situation will turn into a blessing.
Try to upgrade the culture structures in your four-slots-capital regions into Sultan's Observatory to get the extra boost to research. Having 6 starting regions with such capitals is a great opportunity for the ottomans to get a lead on research.
Don't build a Sultan's Observatory in Istanbul, as the upgrade of "Gardens" branch will give you a Unique Ottoman structure that will improve the Prestige of your Empire greatly.

Also don't forget to build a university in Istanbul (Rumelia). Ottomans are the only nation that starts without a university in the capital region, but you need one because only the university in your capital region can be developed into the last tier-university which is the Modern University. Modern University opens for you the research of the last few Enlightenment doctrines which are necessary for your economical development.


First priority should be getting Beylik Musketeers along with the other Janissary regiments, so get the plug bayonets from the Prussian, and hurry to research Socket Bayonet and Military Syllabus. After you do that, transfer your research facilities into industry and economy.

The last 3 economy techs will increase your wealth greatly, so these should be your priority to achieve ASAP. These are Wealth of the Nations, Free Trade and Classical Economics.


The Ottoman Empire's biggest disadvantage is its huge border which requires lots of troops to defend. To support such an empire you'll need lots of money. So make sure that you invest a lot of money into building your economy. Try to be patient and be on the defensive as much as possible to allow transferring money from your war machine into your economical development.

Build all of your new ports into commercial ports to increase wealth growth. Bulgaria which starts as a poor region can become an economy powerhouse if you build two commercial ports there.


You start with troops that are inferior to your neighbors', so you have to rush to recruit Janissaries ASAP. The Beylik Musketeers (Janissaries) have great stats and additionally they offer morale boost to nearby troops, making them a valuable asset to have.

Until you can recruit Janissaries, you will have to rely on your swordsmen to prevent European Line infantry from getting more than a single volley against your troops before you force them to engage you in a melee where you will have the advantage. Azzars also offer a great variety of tactics to deploy as they act like light infantry and have decent stats as long as they are not forced to get into hand-to-hand combat.

The biggest advantage you'll have over other armies is the ability to recruit Hand Mortar regiments. These are Grenadier units that have a range of 70 as compared to 30 for the rest of the nations. Russians can deploy these Grenadiers too, but they have a cap of 6 regiments, but Ottomans can recruit unlimited number of them. Make sure to have a couple of those in your big armies. You can deploy them just behind your Line Infantry and let them decimate the enemy to pieces.

The Nizam-I Line Infantry may seem a good unit (and they are), but your Beylik Musketeers can fill the gap. Beylik has better stats than Nizam-I Line Infantry, and they only lack in the morale department, but again, that's no big deal. Beylik have resistance to morale shock (doesn't shatter easily) while Nizam units don't have this feature, making the one point morale advantage of Nizam almost non-effective. So don't rush to research Nizam infantry, your research points will have better return if you spend it on industrial and economy research early in the game.


Ottoman cavalry is inferior to those of European Nations and they cost as much to recruit and upkeep. You can benefit from the fact you can recruit camel units. These are still inferior to European Light Cavalry, but they scare horses which will give you a morale advantage when fighting against other cavalry units.

The only Heavy cavalry you get is the Sipahis Lancers (the only heavy lancers in the game) which will be able to compensate for the lack of light cavalry due to the high charge bonus they have, but they become recruitable quite late in the game.


The Ottomans has the coolest guns in the game although lacking Horse Artillery and rockets. The first one is the infamous Organ Gun, which is expensive to recruit and upkeep but worth to have one or two in your armies. Having a single battery of artillery delivering a salvo of cannon balls is the biggest advantage you can have in the early part of the game. You can devastate entire regiments with 2 volleys of an Organ Guns. They are also especially effective against cavalry.
They also get the 24-lb Howitzer artillery at the same technology level that other nations can get the 12-lb Howitzers, allowing you to have greater fire power earlier than your enemies.

Last but not least is the massive 64-lb Fixed Cannons. Have you seen the size of those? They are not very effective since they are fixed artillery, but their range and firepower makes them extremely devastating if used properly.


Your starting position is far away from the jump zones to the other theaters, so it would be strategic for you to invade Morocco and establish a naval base their to repair and deploy your fleets faster in the trade theaters. Make sure that at least one of the ports in Morocco is a commercial port so that you can send Dhows (trade ships) to the trade theaters faster.


The official religion of the Ottoman Sultanate is Islam. This will incur a huge religious unrest penalty against your when you invade Christian nations. So make sure that you research Secular Humanism ASAP so that you can remove 50% of religious unrest. Also build Mosques/Madrassa in your troublesome regions and send Imams to convert the populace to Islam before you invade new territories.
Also having a good Justice Minister will help reduce general unrest in your regions. Also getting ministers with the trait "Pious" reduces religious unrest factor by a certain percentage which will also help.

Special Structures

In Istanbul, you will get the option to develop the cultural structure into a faction-unique structure that will give a huge prestige rating to your empire. So make sure you don't build a Sultan's Observatory there. Your Admiralty also can be upgraded into a faction-unique structure, and this one will give you 5% reduction to upkeep costs of your fleets, which can be several thousands.
Palestine is the only region in the game capable of building a Pottery factory. Nothing special about it except for the face it is unique for this region.


Your starting Monarch is one of the worst monarchs in the game, giving you a 10 point penalty to diplomatic relations and 1 point penalty to prestige each turn. You will need to get rid of the old man as soon as you can.

You can overthrow him and replace him with another Monarch while maintaining an Absolute Monarchy, or better yet, you can convert your government type into a Constitutional Monarchy or a Republic depending on your preferences
Also sack your starting cabinet as shown earlier and keep an eye on the new candidates as sometimes you may get a super minister.

Written & Copyright 2009 by GSC and DarkSideHome

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(I'm GSC)