Letting them Go Edit
One way to deal with rebels is to simply leave them alone. There are several situations where this might work, which we'll examine below.
Attrition Will Kill them Anyway Edit
Sometimes rebels will appear in a place where their siege rarely, or never, will complete. For example, in the north rebels can rarely capture a province because they lose 30% per month in the winter, which is 4 months or more; this knocks down any stack by 75%. After a few winters, rebels will be gone.
Sending Rebels Out of Your Country Edit
Although rebels typically tend to stay in the country they appear in, there are circumstances where they won't. See the section on rebel goals in the Rebels article.
If you know a group of rebels will move out of your country, you can handle them cheaply by letting them complete their siege and move on. And then you can move in your troops and retake the city.
Getting Rebels Out of Mountains Edit
One situation where rebels are particularly difficult for the player is when they've popped up in mountains. In this case, all of your attacks against them get a -2 DRM, and that's very hard to overcome.
It can often make sense in this case to let them go. Then, when they move on, they will often select a province where you can fight them with good odds. Then you can siege the mountain city to get it back, while you kill the rebels in battle in the plains.
Fighting Rebels Edit
When human players engage rebels, rebels are given the same morale and land technology level as the player has. This makes them tough opponents, particularly if they have a terrain advantage. You do have one advantage against them, though: time. They are slow, always stopping to siege, and they are rarely in a position where you must win a battle against them.
Get Positive DRMs from Domestic Policy Edit
Although rebels get your land tech and morale, they have their own domestic policy and their default leaders are always (2/2/2/0). (In a civil war, non-default leaders can defect and become rebels, but otherwise all rebel leaders are default leaders.)
Thus, it is very helpful to have the +1 shock DRM for having offensive at 9 or 10 when fighting rebels at low land tech (before 9). Once you get a fire phase (at land 9 for infantry), it is even more important to have the +1 fire DRM from having quality at 9 or 10. (Because the fire phase comes first, the fire DRM is more important if the rebels have a fire phase.)
Hitting Rebels with Low Morale Edit
Rebels are generated with low morale, and you can usually beat them if you can get there in the same month that they are generated. Most normal rebellions happen on the first of a month, so they give you the most time to respond. Rebel morale will increase to mostly full after their first month-end, so they can often, but not usually, be beaten in their second month.
Using Attrition Against Rebels Edit
Rebels are the perfect target for attritional warfare, so read the article on How to do Attritional Warfare in Europa Universalis II. You can often make it much cheaper to kill a rebel stack by knocking it down to a fraction of its original size, without a single full day of combat.
Once you get a rebel stack down to a manageable size, you'll want to start probing it to get a good attack. See How to Win Battles in Europa Universalis II for discussion of probing, and the section on Attritional Probes in How to do Attritional Warfare in Europa Universalis II
The Maintenance Trick Edit
One very useful trick in fighting rebels exploits these two facts about morale:
- that rebels set their morale from yours, including the effects of the land maintenance level.
- that morale never rises at month end for armies that are in combat.
So, send an advance force capable of surviving a single day of combat against the target rebel force. Depending on the era, this could be as little as a few hundred men. Carefully calculate the land movement time necessary to get the advance force to arrive on the 30th, and send it then. With a large main force, send it to arrive on the 1st (typically, you send it one day after the advance force). Then raise your maintenance slider from 50% to 100%.
When the advance force arrives, battle is joined. Rebel morale is set from the morale of the advance force, which was established with 50% maintenance. And since the forces are in combat at the start of the month, the rebel force (and the advance force) don't get their morale raised by the raised maintenance. But the main force is still moving at month's end, only arriving on the first; its morale is raised to full by 100% maintenance. Thus, you end up in battle with substantially higher morale than the rebels have, and will usually win an even battle.
The maintenance trick can be combined with probing, by sending forces correctly timed.
Allow the AI to Engage Rebels First Edit
When the AI engages rebels, the rebels have the morale and tech as in the old rules from before v1.08. That is the rebels have their own tech, DP sliders, and morale as any country. If you are advanced in tech, the rebels are likely lagging in tech. Your AI allies may help you fight rebels and the AI will definitely be fighting rebels if they are in their own territory. You can watch the AI; as soon as the AI advances troops to fight rebels, send your troops timed to arrive after the AI troops. When your troops arrive, they join a battle against rebels that likely have less morale than they would if you had engaged them. However, it is unclear if rebels then get your tech or if your troops fight at lower tech as the AI troops lead the battle.
Just Fight at 50% Maintenance Edit
If the rebels have fully charged their morale and you are not using the tricks above, then it is best to fight rebels at 50% maintenance. It is a common misconception for players to expect 100% maintenance to give an advantage when fighting rebels. There is no advantage because rebels have your same morale. Fighting at 50% maintenance is better because rebels have less morale; their morale may be more quickly reduced to zero. At higher maintenance, the battle is more likely to last longer. A longer battle just means more casualties on both sides. Usually you prefer to have less casualties. In some cases, you may be reducing rebels to less than a cover force and need to do that quickly and surely to prevent fortress capture or another year of looting. In that case, you may want 100% maintenance to ensure the greater casualties in battle before perhaps being forced to flee.
Using Nationalist Rebels Edit
So-called "nationalist" rebels are rebels that are sieging a city which is owned by one country, but controlled by another. When rebels capture such a city, they immediately return control of the city to its owner, and they vanish in the same day.
If you're in a war, and the enemy has captured some of your cities, then you can sometimes use nationalist rebels as cheap auxiliaries. Just be careful not to make peace expecting them to stay helpful.
Of course, as a player, you're much more likely to have to deal with nationalist rebels in enemy lands, attempting to recapture cities that you have captured. There's a neat trick you can use in this case, which exploits the rules on siege evolution resetting. Sieges don't get reset until the end of a month, even if the city is captured, whereas nationalist rebels vanish immediately when they capture the city. Thus, move a force of at least cover size (and ideally, siege size) into an adjacent province. Watch the rebels to determine which day of their month is their siege advancement day. So long as it is not the last day of the month, you can be sure of taking over the siege when the rebels complete it. Early in each month, give move orders to your force, calculated to make your force enter the sieged province after the rebels' siege day but before the end of the month. (See land movement times.) Then watch the rebels and pause on the siege day (their cannon fires): if the rebels recapture the city and vanish, do nothing. Your men will complete their move, and take over the siege fully advanced, as the rebels left it. If the rebels don't capture the city, then stop-move your men, and do the same thing next month.