Bahmanis is a Shia sultanate located in Southern India. In 1444 it is a medium-to-large power in India, dwarfed only by Vijayanagar. Bahmanis starts with cores on Gujarati and Vijayanagari provinces, allowing them to access the sea. Bahmanis' primary culture, Kannada, belongs to the Dravidian culture group and Bahmanis can form 印度斯坦.
Bahmanis can form 印度斯坦 as a Dravidian nation.
In 1444, Bahmanis is in one of the stronger positions in India, holding a central location on the sub-continent, allowing for multiple paths of expansion. At this point, Bahmanis' is matched only by Vijayanagar, in terms of land and manpower.
Bahmanis' religion is Shia. While allowing for alliances with neighbouring Muslim countries (such as 古吉拉特, or 德里, 章普尔 or 孟加拉, which are Sunni), Bahmanis' land is entirely Hindu. Vijayanagar does not have these religious unity issues, but do not have at its disposal as many potential strong allies as Bahmanis.
This generally places Bahmanis in a favourable position for expansion, given that it does not succumb to religious rebels. As it is the case with other countries of the Indian technology group, the player may want to rely on a large proportion of cavalry as part of its unit mix (up to 100% without penalties). In addition, Bahmanis has a good income, which allows fielding this cavalry.
The player should also check for the initial web of rivalries. Even though Gujarat makes a natural ally, it is possible that it will rival Bahamanis at game start.
Taking on Vijayanagar Early
Vijayanagar holds several of Bahmanis' cores at game start and thus stands as a somewhat obvious expansion target. Vijayanagar controls most of the Ceylon node, a rich node given the relatively high concentration of high development provinces. This means that they will usually have a sizeable income, allowing them to use mercenaries when their manpower runs out.
This suggests that a quick attack after game start could hinder them from recruiting up to (or even past) their unit limit, given that the player managed to make some allies among the neighbours. One should be wary of 奥里萨, as they tend to rival Bahmanis and/or ally Vijayanagar.
An alliance with any of the neighbouring Sunni countries or Gujarat might deter Vijayanagar from an early strike, although they might not want to help in an offensive war.
To ensure the quick defeat of Vijayanagar, the player needs numbers to simply overwhelm Vijayanagar's forces. Luckily, Bahmanis' income allows the player to go over the force limit and hire mercenaries. Most of Vijayanagar's forces should be stationed at their capital and this stack makes a good first target.
Hiring the army morale advisor might help getting a stack wipe without burning too much manpower. The player should make sure that the best general used and as such it can be advisable to recruit the heir, or if they're not happy with his stats, the ruler. Their heir is older than the ruler, so odds are the player won't even see him on the throne.
Depending on the state of the player’s army after defeating Vijayanagar’s, it might be advisable to ensure that it is no longer a threat by taking back all Bahmanis cores and releasing a few countries that the player can then vassalize or annex.
Returning cores to existing countries should be done with caution, as these countries ( 奥里萨, for example) could use Vijayanagar’s weakness to themselves expand and ultimately pose a threat to Bahmanis.
A more defensive strategy could consist in containing Vijayanagar, mainly by expanding in areas where it would naturally expand and using strong allies as a deterrent. This strategy rests first on deterrence through allies, which the player should secure with Muslim countries that are not rivals. For that strategy, the two Hindu OPMs ( 昌达 and 巴斯塔) make obvious targets.
If 古吉拉特 rivals the player, a good defensive move is to wait until war is declared between Gujarat and Vijayanagar, the latter generally declaring if Gujarat stands somewhat isolated. AI Gujarat tends to be more opportunistic and could itself declare on Bahmanis or Vijayanagar if the two are fighting.
As for greater scale expansion, 奥里萨 or its vassal 迦贾德 makes a prime target for that kind of strategy, as it finds itself usually isolated between a Muslim Bengal and a hostile Vijayanagar. Note that Orissa might ally Hindu 尼泊尔, which does not pose much of a threat as long as it does not expand.
摩腊婆 and its vassal 冈瓦纳 are also another choice for defensive expansion. However, although Malwa will generally rival Gujarat, it may be allied, due to it being Sunni, to other Sunni countries in the area, which might make it more difficult for an early strike.
Once the player has expanded around Vijayanagar, either towards Orissa, Garjat and 孟加拉 or towards Malwa and Gondwana, it would be advisable to strike Vijayanagar, in order at least to snatch the non-primary culture cores back (Chaul, South Konkan and Goa) as these cores expire in 1494. The core at North Kanara expires in 1594, leaving a bit more time if the player is otherwise stretched in terms of manpower or budget; it will take more than one war to defeat Vijayanagar.
After the first war with Vajayanagar, the player can guarantee the small Hindu minors in the South to hinder Vijayanagar’s expansion and that way, Bahmanis should stand as the first power in India, leaving all possibilities open to the player.
Given also the piety bonuses of the Shia religion, the Religious idea group allows for a fast expansion, with the Deus Vult casus belli that allows the Religious War against heretics or heathens, which is most of Bahmanis' neighbours (except 古吉拉特, also Shia).
On the other hand, the Shia impiety bonuses to technology, combined with the initial low religious unity and Bahmanis’ unique ideas and traditions may orient the player on the path of Humanism instead, depending on the playstyle and the long term goals of the player.
It is to be noted however that taking an Administrative idea group while planning expansion through direct coring of territory may not be optimal. Depending on the player's strategy, Religious or Humanist may be better suited to form the second idea group rather than the first.
The Sun Never Sets on the Indian Empire