We all have our goals. Some want to be pilots, others want to create a drug to cure cancer. Still others have a desire to spend their lives playing video games all day and getting drunk at night. Yet at one point or another, we all have had a desire to take over the world. The trouble, though, is that it always seemed just out of reach. This guide is for these people, those who want to become Supreme Leader of Earth, yet cannot seem to be able to figure out how to do it.
There are four main paths you can take to conquer the world. First, there is the oft-tried method of taking control of an empire and expanding it until you control 100% of the Earth's surface. Proponents of this idea include many historical leaders such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Josef Stalin, who have each tried it to moderate success. The main advantage to this plan is that once you manage to wrest control of an able nation, your initial expansion should be moderately easy. However, once other states begin to notice, the climb steepens drastically. You need to be able to justify your actions while continuing to expand. Once a coalition of the remaining nations cannot take you down, you're golden. Just make sure you don't get too overconfident while mopping the last remaining vestiges of external opposition.
The problem with conquest is that it is time-consuming. True, people have managed to forge massive empires in a period of a few years, but you soon face the problem of diminishing returns. Your armies will eventually get weary, and the distance required begins to add up. In addition, there will always be those who are opposed to your cause, and after a while, they will make themselves very well known. You can suppress them, but more will rise up to back their cause if you do so. Also, it is a very costly method in terms of human life, which may or may not be a problem for you. Finally, if someone else tries to take over the world at the same time as you, he can just treat you as just another country that he get to dominate. Use this method if you know how to use your military and you don't mind a few dead bodies lying around.
The second method of world domination is to take the world hostage. That is, manage to take control of one vital aspect of the Earth and negotiate control of the planet. This has not been successfully attempted yet, but it has been portrayed many times in the media, most recently by Stewie Griffin. This is probably the most imaginative way to take over the world, but at the same time it is extremely difficult to begin. Examples include creating a weather control device (as was done by Sir August de Wynter of Avengers fame), or by taking control of a nation's supply of nuclear missiles. How you do this is completely up to you, but it will probably take a lot of stealth, as if you are discovered you are rendered powerless. However, once you manage to take over, say, the world's communications systems, the process all of a sudden becomes much easier. Let all the major governments know that you're going to cripple the Earth unless hey make you ruler, and there you go.
Popular reaction to your takeover shouldn't be too harsh, depending on how you structure your government. No lives were lost (not directly, at least), and there was little time of crisis. In addition, more people might even respect you for uniting the planet under one leader. The only major complaint would be a loss of power by the former rulers and possibly a loss of personal freedoms. The main thing to consider is that you should still keep that red button that activates your superweapon handy just in case. Also, you should be able to take over no matter the situation, unless your opponent is dealing with mind control (see below) or another superweapon. If that happens, prepare for a standoff, along with a lot of sabotage attempts.
The third, and perhaps the most far-fetched, way to take over the world is by use of mind control. There are a few instances when people have tried this method, the most famous real-life example being Grigori Rasputin. Others who have attempted this include The Brain in many of his failed attempts and Yuri Molotov of Red Alert fame. Such a mind-control device would have to affect the victim at a long distance, not wear off over time, be able to work on multiple people at once, and be quick to use. The most likely candidate that matches all these requirements is a beacon of some sort that would force everyone in range to agree to whatever you happen to suggest. How one would make that is unknown at this time, though most theories involve radio waves or microwaves of some sort. Although it would be very difficult to produce such a device, the biggest boost to the theory of using mind control is that there is absolutely no chance of revolt. Everyone will agree to you as their leader and they will never quarrel with you, as they do not have the necessary free will.
Instead of trying to enslave the entire planet to your whims, you could instead try to control the necessary political and religious leaders and have them cede the world to you. It allows for a more personal approach in that you only need to dominate a select few minds for a limited period of time. All of a sudden, you have vastly increased the number of potential mind control devices that you could employ. You will have to face resistance, but it will be similar (if not less) to that if you threatened to nuke the Earth if you aren't handed over the planet on a silver platter. The viability of mind control is going to go up as new technologies are discovered, so you may want to consider it for the future. In addition, if someone else tries to conquer the world at the same time, then just give him a personal demonstration of your technology.
One other way to conquer the world is to lead a rebellion and take over the existing planetary government. Naturally, someone would have had to succeed before you, but at least they're doing all the dirty work. The theory is that over time, people will become dissatisfied with the current leader, and will want a new one. At a certain critical point when dissent is high enough, egg on a revolution. However, there is one critical thing to consider: you should never lead the first revolt. The first group to take over will find themselves in the midst of chaos, and as a result will not last very long. This is what befell the Jacobins of the French Revolution and the dvoevlastie system of the Russians in 1917. Once the new leaders start to crumble, only then should you actively join the fray and lead a group to success. By that time, everyone will be sick of chaos and will want to settle down, which should lead to a period of stability for your new government.
This is perhaps the easiest method to take over the world, but it is somewhat risky. First, someone else has to have taken over first. Then there has to be sufficient dissent, which may not actually happen. After that, there is always the possibility of fragmentation during the revolution, splitting the planet into multiple nations once again. However, if you do succeed, then your people will love you for a long time, as you helped overthrow the tyranny of the old government, even if you're much worse than your predecessor.
Once you take over the world, you can basically do whatever you want. There's no one (except for your respective religious deity) who is above you. You could ban cars or you could ban the use of the letter 'a'. It's all up to you. Just make sure you don't get too overconfident, as there's always some guy that knows the way around the ventilation ducts in your Imperial Palace who just so happens to want to kill you. All you have to do with regards to them is to switch .Main Control Centre. with .Garbage Disposal Room. on the map or something similar. If you can stop people like them, you'll be golden. Finally, when you do conquer the Earth, make sure to reward those who helped you get to the top. We would appreciate it.