Europa Universalis 4

Ding ding!

Pin this one @ooomalley, learn to love it and use it. This is the single best way to track coalition danger.

And always give it a peek before any peace deal you suspect could cause trouble.

As for Russia, beware. Even at empty manpower their National Ideas mean they gain manpower quickly. So don’t assume they are impotent. However if you can knock out Norway quick enough, that may not be a concern.

Also beware, if you vassalize Norway, they may hate you. Be prepared to push hard to improve relations. One thing I love to do in the peace deal vassalizing someone with high negative penalties from taking land is the following:

Since you just took provinces from them, don’t core them. Instead when you vassalize, give them back to Norway.
Try and get them to revoke cores in a peace deal before vassalizing them. Any provinces you’ve already cored of theirs will put you at a steep penalty unless you do this.
Take money in the peace deal, max it even. Then give them gifts of money that you took from them. ‘Free’ relations.

Given their size this may require two wars. One to set up (revoke cores, take money, break alliances) and another to vassalize. However another path is potentially open.

Don’t go to war with them. Try and diplo vassalize them. Improve relations, give gifts, roayl marriages. If AE isn’t too high (and using the diplomatic relations advisor to burn it faster) you may be able to achieve the same end result through peace.

Also Defender of the Faith is often a trap. The tech penalty alone is enough to ward me off many times. It is beneficial if you can take advantage of the CBs. The best case for it is Orthodox Russia using it to give extra ability and reason to punch around the Ottomans due to the Balkans. But the ones that would involve me in more HRE squabbles I usually avoid, unless I am actively looking to intervene with electors.

It is a good way to help push against Austria if you are Protestant, for example.

I wish the map filter wasn’t just shades of red. I usually pull up the peace screen shortly after declaring war, pick what I want and then preemptively send diplomats to improve relations of potential coalition targets. If war exhaustion is manageable and you have occupied everything, you can also sit on a peace deal for a little time while you reduce coalition members by improving relations.

So I’m trying to get into EU4, but I can’t get past the idea that as a historical simulation, it fails at simulating the way nations can’t just take over the world. I’m glad to hear they’re changing mechanics to make expansion harder, but ultimately, if you’re not looking for the next territory to conquer – there’s just not much to do. I think this is perhaps the brilliance of CK2. There’s enough happening outside of plain conquest that you can just go tall - and that includes mostly character-based stuff - instead of wide. There doesn’t seem to be any such option in EU4, which renders the point of simulating the world moot IMO.

Well, the point of the game is to expand the size of your dominion… But I think it’s very unfair to say that directly conquering territory is all that there is to do. The diplomacy system is so great, there’s a good rebellion system, there’s a good trade system, religious division, colonisation, and a bunch of other layers of mechanics.

It may be that the full scope or depth of many of these systems don’t become apparent until you already have a fairly sizable country.

For a ‘map painter’ type of game, it is chock full of interesting systems other than war. But yes, you have to be willing to accept that the game is about expanding your territory. CK2 is a brilliant piece of game design, can’t argue with you there, but the reason I have 2-3x more hours in EU4 is that the core gameplay loop is just so addictive.

Play as a horde or an American tribal nation, and try and survive to westernize. Play as a colonizer. Play as Japan or Manchu, and see their unique government types. Play as Austria and try and fully reform the HRE. Play as a merchant republic like Lubeck or Venice and build trade posts and become an economic powerhouse.

There are other ways to play, and going tall is viable. I mean, yeah, if you are Muscovy going tall isn’t the way to play, but many other options are available.

Now unlike CK II you are a nation, not a family. Which gives a different focus. Now players, with the foreknowledge of history and clarity of strategy across centuries, can overcome the obstacles to expansion. They are there, they do follow historical limits, but they are systems. As systems they are manipulative. You can use the mechanics to plan and work around these limits.

I see your point. I remember how at some point was disenchanted with Paradox games because of similar things. But it’s not a bad thing. Yes, you can use a relatively superfluous strategy, just eat everyone small around you. But this way you’ll only get so far. Eventually, you see that a lot of mechanics are already aimed at making an expansion for expansion’s sake not optimal. Granted, having an additional land is always good (even if you get some rebellious and contested lands it’s almost worth it) but spending time on wrong expansion limits you.

In thoughtful strategy game, there’s no tall or wide strategy per se, there’s a variety of uses for your resources. There are factions that are considered to be “wide”. Like Muscowy (or any other Russian principality uniting Russian lands) gets a natural way of expanding into Northern Asia: it’s full of hordes that you want to beat anyway cause they won’t ever be good allies to you, and the trade “flows” from Siberia into Novgorod so expanding there is natural. But at the same time Russia is ill-suited for expanding into Europe: this land is much better but Europeans will almost always be more developed than Russians for the first half of the game; it’s easy to befreind and Royal Marry many of them fellow Christian nations; even if you capture those lands they aren’t integrated into Russian trade system - to get proper benefits you’ll have to move your capital or Trade Capital into Europe and this will devaluate your core Russian lands. If you play something like England then trade winds bring ships from America, Africa and Asia to you. Conquering, say, Baltics or Germany or Italy gains almost nothing to you. You can say that England has to play “tall” but in reality it means that its situation doesn’t provide natural expansion: you conquer Scotland and Ireland just because you don’t want them allying some foreign powers and attacking you, but then you heavily develop your isles letting them get great benefits from trade, and then you very deliberately colonize and buy land around the world just to support trade routes bringing you money. Later your core lands become so advanced that conquering whole foreign countries in India or China becomes viable and natural and then you might call your playstyle wide. But you still will rarely have any reason to get any land in Europe cause it means directly competing with other powerful nations for the land that worth much more to them than to you.

So of course if you’re skilled and experienced player you can conquer the world as any nation (but so you can in Crusader Kings 2). Your point is probably that you’re pushed into the expansionist mindset. And I say it’s fine. Those missions and events give context to your expansion. Economic system makes expansion much more thoughtful than it seems.

Disaster has struck! But first…

I managed to get to war with Norway when Muscovy was weak (and unwilling to enter the war) so I had a pretty easy vassalization of them. When I did so, I was then at war with Scotland, which was trying to reconquer some Norse islands somewhere. Make hay when the sun shines, and all that, so I made Scotland a vassal, too.

With that out of the way, I finally felt like I was hitting my groove. Without blowing a bunch of points on coring and other misc stuff I was able to catch up fairly quickly on tech, and even invest in some ideas. I was kind of boxed in by the HRE–I couldn’t reclaim the last Danish province (nor Shlewig-Hotstein… someday I’ll figure out how to spell that) because Austria and Brandenburg (my ally, too) would jump in, so I made what was almost certainly a sub-optimal move and took an expansionist idea (I think that was the name of it) to get a colonist and set off for Greenland. (Sure, it’s way up north, but how bad could it be? They call it Greenland, for Pete’s sake!)

While that was going on I managed to annex Norway, which was just as well because they were rather pathetic by that point. (I still had to give them money to make them like me enough, but I had plenty by that point.) I thus picked up Vinland as a colonial dependency and am now figuring out how to do that (I guess you have to keep them happy enough so they actually give you money).

I reached the tech level so I could found the almighty state of Scandinavia, which didn’t seem to make much of a difference besides changing the color and the flag and getting me all confused thereby.

I spent some time getting more land for Vinland with my lonely colonist (and army of 5k or so that seems to be necessary to put down rebellions and actually land a colony). I wanted Kola (rightfully part of Scandinavia, currently occupied by the Russians) and I figured by this point I could probably handle Muscovy, myself–but they allied with England, which would have swallowed up my Scottish vassal trivially and probably sank my navy, too.

But it turned out that almighty France would deign to be my ally, so I figured they could hold off the redcoats while I waded into the steppes (together with the Bohemians, who should help to speed up that process a bit). They should also help if I ever wanted to get that last Danish province from HRE member Mecklenberg. The issue with that was that this “imperialism” thing happened and France was basically never at peace, so that “-30 already in a war” seemed to always be present. Ugh.

Finally, though, it happened. I declared war, with France and Bohemia, on Muscovy, England, and–as it turns out–Mecklenberg. Mecklenberg was right on my doorstep, of course, so things started off pretty exciting as they (and England) sank half my fleet and scattered the rest, and marched through Denmark and into Sweden proper (turns out that un-upgraded forts from 200 years ago fall pretty quickly). I force-marched half my army back to retake Skane, though, and once the English fleet was pulled off to deal with their colonial issues with France I retook Denmark and moved into Mecklenberg itself. I eventually managed to get a separate peace with them, retaking the last Danish province and Schlesvig-Holstein as part of it. So that ended up being the best possible outcome.

The Russian bear must have been hibernating–I got Moscow without even seeing any troops, though eventually an army of 45k or so showed up. I beat it off with an army of 60k, plus 10k Bohemian reinforcements, and it never reappeared. Go figure. So I set about besieging as much of the vast steppe as I could. (I guess there’s a bunch of forest there, too.)

All the while there was a whole bunch of back-and-forth in the new world between the British and the French. I didn’t really pay too much attention to it, but Vinland had some initial success against the Thirteen Colonies until the real British army arrived, and a whole bunch of stuff happened in South America, too.

Eventually my manpower drained (from all the sieges, I guess, though I tried to be careful about supply limits) so I called it and took the (single) province I wanted. I also gave some territory to Vinland, some to Florida, some to some random people on the other side of Russia because I couldn’t get any more gold from them, and made the Thirteen Colonies release an indigenous nation in what is now central Maine, because why not.

So now I’m sitting pretty, and I even colonized a region in the Ivory Coast and conquered an indigenous nation next to it–seemed like the thing to do. (Though one of the provinces produced slaves, which is, shall we say, distasteful, even if historically accurate. At least I was able to abolish slavery shortly thereafter.)

And now the disaster.

At this point I noticed that my ruler was getting on in years, and somehow his heir is only four years younger than him. I don’t really know how this is possible, but I’m sure you EU4 vets see where this is headed. The ruler kicks off, and I get a 65-year-old dude with no heir (really? he couldn’t do anything in those 65 years?). I desperately try to get as many royal marriages as possible, but to no avail. Soon enough France and Austria are fighting the War of the Scandinavian Succession and though I’m technically allied to France I just sit it out. I’m too dumbfounded by the whole thing, and I don’t really like France much at all right now, thank you very much.

So now the mighty Scandinavia (still in 6th place!) is a junior partner to France. I’ve almost got as many troops as them (thanks to the quantity idea group finisher), but they’re allied with Morocco (which has much of Iberia) and the defender of their Protestant faith is Tuscany, which has most of Italy, so declaring war on them is going to be dicey. What’s more, my liberty desire is only around 35% or so, despite having 80% of their strength, as apparently we like France (who do you mean we, kemosabe?) and they have a Diplomatic Reputation. This means we can’t declare independence while they’re at war, which I think is really my only hope.

So what do I do now?

Hey, you’ve come around full circle! The Swedes once more chaffing under foreign rule. :)

Same things that applied to Denmark should apply here. When you come to blows with France, you have a major advantage in that you just need to protect your capital to gain ticking war score. And France being France, they’re often involved in wars that put a continuous drain on their manpower and treasury.

Can your navy handle theirs? If so, it’s a looooong march from Paris to Stockholm.

I think I can probably handle their navy, yeah. I’ll probably have to scrap some of my transports (or even frigates) for the big ships.

I’m more worried about my various colonies and vassals getting hammered. There’s no way Vinland or Nova Scotia could hang on, so they’d just sit there being occupied, and I’d probably lose my African holdings to a separatist uprising.

How can I get my liberty desire up? I really can’t imagine doing this when France isn’t already at war.

I love reading about other people playing EU4 as much as I like playing EU4… and i really like playing EU4

Increase your power relative to theirs, so building up development and forcelimits. From the wiki:

Does this mean province development (tax base, production, manpower)? But my precious monarch points…!

Yep, it’s a ratio of what your province development is vs what theirs is. Since you can’t declare war and expand that way, you may need to build up through internal development. Look to expand your forcelimits as well. This will naturally occur by raising development, but you also want to build Regiment Camps everywhere you can. You want to field as large an army as possible compared to France. Looking like you can go toe-to-toe with The Man will make the people agitate for freedom and push the liberty desire up.

Second try for Norwegian Wood. Staying Catholic and stopping Reformation as Norway proved to be too much for me as I had trouble attracting strong allies. I restarted and flipped Protestant this time. Had to no-CB an OPM elector to force them Protestant to start league war. I was able to DoW Austria on day one of league war when it was just me vs them. After declaring Protestant as the one true faith, it was still a slog to get enough authority to revoke around 1659. I am not sure I will have enough time to complete now. The new world should be easy as I ate England already for authority and Portugal is under my PU, so just need to really deal with Spain. Ming imploded and Ottomans mostly focused on eating Hungary. Russia is big, but is rarely a challenge.

Wow. That’s so far beyond what I could imagine doing.

In my current game, I’ve taken Denmark and have conquered (or annexed) the entire Baltic coast, most of the British Isles (England still exists… barely), and am about to start eating my way down into the HRE. I own extensive colonies in the Americas (including all the gold mines), Australia, and Trading companies in Africa, India and the Islands. Trade pretty much flows to Lubeck now (via the Carribean). I have powerful vassals in Novgorod and Gelre, while Bavaria and the Palatinate (both of my dynasty) are major allies in the HRE. And I don’t think I’ve done anything particularly exploit-wise (monthly profits is only at about 100 ducats - could probably have got it a lot higher if I min-maxed properly).

This is where I usually hit the wall in EU. At this point, there isn’t much left to do but eat away at the world (should probably let Spain grow and colonize, so I can gobble up more of their colonies rather than have to do all the colonizing myself), and see how much of it I can conquer before the remaining 150ish years of the game are done. I usually quit, though - there’s just not much interesting to do, and too much microing at this point in the game.

Sounds like the perfect time to end the campaign and start a new one.

Yeah, I just wish there was more going on at this level of the game. Time-wise, the game is just entering one of the most dynamic and pivotal periods of European history. Game-wise, that period is always the first 100 years.

I only started the hard achievements last year after putting in close to 1500 hours before that. Not Florryworry level of time, but enough to handle the harder starts.

There’s always the option to not start in 1444 :)