This can be considered a sister question to this question.

The Beginning

Outside of Ser, the world was a chaotic and dangerous place. Ser was the only neutral country in a world filled with violence and devastation. In 1515, there were at least 8 wars going on and nobody had any alliances. All trade was cut off.

The country Ser, led by an aging Empress Ana, was self-sufficient and had access to plenty of resources. She said:

Let them fight, die, or whatever it is that barbarians do with one another. There is no need to intervene, so long as they do not cross our borders.

A New Emperor

In late 1519, the Empress died from illness and her son gained the throne. He had a much different opinion of the world:

The world is crying. Who will wipe its tears? Who is there to aid when all are possessed?

The Dominance Declaration

In 1521, he declared war...upon everyone. He stated that he intends to rule all people and in order to do so he must unite all countries into a single government. It was a seemingly impossibly foolish move that would probably cause the destruction of the entire country.

As of this moment, the Ser Empire will begin to liberate the people in the world burdened by their oppressive governments, who forfeited their right to yield power when they abused it. We will extend our hand in leadership towards these victims and one by one, we will unite all of mankind. This will be the last war.

Unified Enemies

In response to this, nearly all of the countries that were all once enemies of one another forged temporary ceasefires in order to defeat the Ser Empire, whom they viewed as foolishly arrogant. They called themselves the "Truth Bringers."

You are no God. We will bring to you this truth.

Winning the War

In only four years, the Ser Empire managed to conquer all enemy territories while simultaneously defending their own from all attackers in every direction.

Here comes the question part: The next section details how I explain the basic strategies of the war. I want to know just how realistic it is, or whether the Ser Empire would have actually been completely annihilated.

During the war, the Ser government utilized the wars of other countries to its advantage, slowly gaining allies by promising regulated trade and by watching as the countries with temporary ceasefires turned on one another.

For example, they deliberately conquered the region of Ferockana early on in the war because its government was already involved in four wars of its own, and this gave the Ferockana militia an incentive to fight alongside Ser in order to defeat their own enemies.

In addition, Ser settled the disputes of conquered nations by offering compromised trade so that former enemies could fight together in newfound peace. With an exchange of goods or land that they previously denied each other, each nation profited significantly from the arrangement.

Ser's main strategy involved conquering and negotiating. Basically, they show the enemy that they can't win. Then, instead of destroying the enemy, they said "Join us, and we'll do this for you." Not only that, but the Ser Empire promised to intervene in the conquered nation's affairs as little as possible, in addition to giving them access to resources that they otherwise would not have been able to get.

They deliberately went after the countries that had the most to gain from joining them first, such as Ferockana which was in 4 wars of its own.

Join us, and those four countries won't stand a chance.

They also went after the country that had advanced herbal medicine and medical technologies first, which in turn helped keep the soldiers healthier than the other invading armies.

How feasible is this strategy for world domination? Is there anything I am missing to make this work?

Technology Clarification: Ser also had more advanced technology than the surrounding countries. The world was living similar to the 1500s, but the technology of Ser was probably similar to the 1700s.

Guns that used gunpowder were not widely in use at the time but were still available. The Ser emperor pushed for the development of better weapons. For example, muskets were in use but were improved to allow quicker reloading and better aim. Ser also developed the first gun capable of shooting multiple projectiles simultaneously: it was originally called the scattershot, but was later called the shotgun.

  • $\begingroup$ You start by stating during initial stage "all trade was cut off and nobody had any alliances." Then you go on to state "During the war, the Ser government utilized the wars of other countries to its advantage, slowly gaining allies by promising regulated trade" and state that Ser and Ferockana had an alliance. It looks contradictory. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ A technological difference that large alone is unbelievable. also the shotgun was invented in the 1500's so everyone has them according to your tech description. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Willk Before the war, there were no alliances. They gained allies during the course of the war. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @John Why is it unbelievable? They kept to themselves. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @overlord the flintlock shotgun was called the blunderbuss and it was invented at the same time as other flintlocks. multi-projectile guns have grown up right alongside single projectile guns. the first gun capable of shooting multiple projectiles was invented at the same time as the first gun. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:59

4 Answers 4


I think that if you want things to work this way, you need more time between Ana's son ascending to power and him declaring war on everyone.

If you give the empire just 2 years, not much will really happen. The peaceful, turtled up empire will struggle to transition to the war machine it needs to be to conquer the rest of the world.

But with more time, maybe during Ana's illness to start with, the country can turn its old millhouses into weapon factories and training camps, start researching new technology to wage war (maybe an important breakthrough, like steampower (which seems appropriate for the time period you're talking about), would help propel them far in front of the neighbouring countries) and, most importantly in my opinion, start spying on the the other countries. This recon operation would allow them to gather important info on the terrain they're going to invade, field out the political situation and find rebellious (anti-war?) groups that could be potential allies.

This period would probably have to last 10-20 years in total. It's fairly common to see a period of change start while the current ruler is ill and unable to control everything in their land. This could be a good starting point for Ana's son even before her death. But anything before 1527 would seem rushed to me.


You're missing the fact that leaders of opposing nations will recognize existential threats. Declaring war on everyone at once is a great way to bring this to their attention.

Most times in history, especially in European history, if there is one major power that's clearly getting bigger and more successful in wars than any of the others, then all of its neighbors will band together to beat it back down to size. Not to annihilate it completely, mind you, but to just kick it back to the point where it is no longer a global threat to the entire continent. This is balance of power politics.

Now it is possible that Ser could entice away one or two foolish rulers from a large coalition to join its side in the beginning, but if Ser was really making serious progress on dominating the world, any reasonable ruler would recognize the threat and throw in with the coalition.

Also, getting nations to "join" Ser is not dominating them by any means. Especially if Ser promises them local autonomy; this would almost certainly have to include independent local military forces. If Ser "conquers" the world in this way, then these other nations could band together, declare themselves independent, and throw off Ser's pretensions of rule anytime.

Countries that actually grew large and powerful in history did it by declaring war on neighbors one at a time. While being allied to other neighbors. This process usually takes centuries. Growing too quickly is also likely to trigger a coalition as a political backlash.

  • $\begingroup$ You make a good point. But you also have to recognize that centuries have already gone by...centuries of war, that is. The centuries you say that are required to build allies are the same centuries that caused those countries to hate each other. Ser has a history of not being in any large-scale conflicts. So the other countries' hatred of each other would negatively all parties, causing chaos that Ser uses to its strategic advantage. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That doesn't change the fact that these other countries will recognize a threat when they see one. They wouldn't be alive after centuries of warfare if they could not. And if they've been at war for centuries and Ser hasn't, then they are likely much, much better at fighting than Ser is, and their generals and war technology are probably much better as well. $\endgroup$
    – Priska
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ @overlord You do realize centuries of war describes literally all of history up until the invention of the UN. It was the norm. And alliances were rampant after all the easiest country to invade is one anther country is already invading, that is how you gobble up territory with little risk. "hey we see your attacking frussia, we share a border with frussia lets form an alliance so we both can attack frussia ( and that way we get some territory too)" $\endgroup$
    – John
    Oct 8, 2019 at 15:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Try the Habsburg approach. Just marry into it. $\endgroup$
    – Priska
    Oct 8, 2019 at 16:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ While that happened often enough, there are plenty of examples of explosive aggressive conquest that didn't meet enough resistance. Golden Horde, Timurid Empire, Alexander the Great were brought down by internal, not external reasons. $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    Oct 9, 2019 at 13:43

This is much more likely to work if Ser is playing both sides against the middle.

Winning a game where you only control one side is hard. Your enemies do things you don't expect, or things that you did expect but didn't have any means to counter, or sometimes they just get damned lucky. Winning a game against multiple other sides is even harder, because you have to manage, predict and counter their interactions as well as their individual actions.

Instead, consider the early 1500s. Bob, Ana's son and heir, is smitten with commoner Carol, who has a backstory that hopefully sets her at least a little apart from basic Cinderella, but is nonetheless not suitable marriage material for a future Emperor. Empress Ada, defying the trope that she is supposed to spurn the match and thereby turn her son against her, is secretly supportive.

Carol is inducted into an obscure branch of the Sel military, and given training in combat and strategy. In 1519, shortly before the death of the Empress, she flees the country. A few months later, a remarkably talented sellsword Claire joins the army of Les, a nation slightly away from Sel, engaged in many of its own wars and eager to have the manpower.

In 1521, Claire happens to be part of a patrol along the borders of Ferockana when Bob's declaration is made. In the following blitzkrieg-style invasion of Ferockana she distinguishes herself in protecting Les's interests, displaying a brilliant grasp of the optimal strategy on the battlefields against Sel forces. Ferockana falls, but the invasion is halted. Claire is thrust into the limelight.

In times of conflict, military strength is political strength. Over the following months and years Claire excels herself, holding back the forces of the 'Great Enemy' Sel, whose technological and infrastructural superiority keeps them on the offensive, slowly expanding but not totally dominating. A grand coalition of Nations Against Sel slowly forms; it would have formed anyway and is far from united, but thanks to Claire's brilliant leadership it slowly fuses together coherently. Nations who do not join either Sel or Nas are ruthlessly crushed and subsumed by Bob's forces.

Over a relatively short time, Claire's position as leader of the Nas armies (and increasingly their civilian structures) becomes absolute. Generals who advocate controversial tactics like attacking Sel's infrastructure, food production or supply chains, or trying to disrupt their coalition of alliances, either die tragically or are disgraced when their plans fail due to ambushes and counter strategies.

Les is not an autocratic nation, but inevitably becomes one as the cost of war mounts. Who could be a better, safer choice than Claire to take the title of first Empress of Les?

In the end, the war has consumed most of the major nations, and peace negotiations between Sel and Nas begin. Of course the best way of defusing future conflict is to join the thrones of the two nations in marriage. Bob and Claire both know it is their duty to marry for political advantage, not love. Once the alliance is made and the world has a short time to sort itself out again, a quick series of mopping-up actions against any unaligned small nations clears the board. Yes, technically it has two colours on it, and all the plebs can convince themselves that 'they' were on the winning side.


Of course, since it is your universe, you can set it up however you want. But some things that want to be explained.

  • Why was there constant war? It doesn't really seem plausible that nobody came up with the idea of diplomacy before Ser. Perhaps there's been a recent shakeup? Maybe there was some external force preventing war for a while, which allowed grudges to build, and that external force was removed? You could look at the strife that sometimes occurs when colonial empires leave, maybe.

  • Why was Ser able to avoid this battle royale? Sounds like they are pretty well off, and surrounded by angry neighbors. Ok, they have a huge tech advantage. Where'd they get it from? Why weren't they invaded when they were 10 years ahead of everyone else, rather than 200.

  • Why is Ser good at war? They have a tech advantage, but no experienced generals, all their tech is untested in actual battle, they haven't developed tactics. I'm assuming Ser is some sort of peaceful, enlightened place (given that they've managed to stay out of all their neighbors' wars). I think they need some significant internal strife, so they can have practice using their tech in wars.

Some thoughts about solutions:

  • The existence of a big previous power would probably modify your world pretty significantly, so it might be a dead end. But it can go a long way in explaining "how'd this unnatural state come to be." Maybe they administrated the region is Ser sized blocks, and decided that Ser was their R&D center.
  • How cut off does Ser need to have been? Is it possible that, while they were a peaceful internally, they loaned their dudes out as high class mercenaries? This way they'd have some combat experience and local contacts.
  • I'm not really sure what the advantage of shotguns would be. Multi-projectile personal weapons aren't really used often in war outside of niche cases, IIRC. Why do they need to be shotguns? Assuming we're doing pike+shot, you have blocks of dudes with guns shooting at each-other. You are already producing a shotgun mechanism. Even more shots, but less energetic and smaller, doesn't seem like a huge perk. Instead give them rifling. Now they are really scary, because they can accurately place shots from way outside the range of their enemies. Also, longer ranges = classy high tech army in stories, usually.
  • $\begingroup$ The rifle idea is one that I might actually use. I just wanted something "impressive", something that could really help balance their lack of war experience. It does not have to be a shotgun; that was just what I thought sounded good at the time. $\endgroup$
    – overlord
    Nov 6, 2019 at 21:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rifles would be the way to go in that case. They are really used in war, and rifling is, relatively speaking, a "fancy" thing. Little grooves inside the barrel, to make the bullet spin, improving stability 1) require more advanced manufacturing 2) are not obvious why they'd be useful to someone who doesn't know physics. $\endgroup$
    – Zwuwdz
    Nov 6, 2019 at 21:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If your army is mostly fighting lightly armored melee guys, though, it probably wouldn't hurt to put some shotguns here and there in your formations. Being somewhat ahistorical is acceptable given that we didn't really have, like, existential wars that require heavily optimized armies, against enemies with 200 year tech gaps. $\endgroup$
    – Zwuwdz
    Nov 6, 2019 at 21:20

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