Honours Blog #8 – Intro to EU4 and Paradox Interactive

While we’re on the topic of introductions, I thought it’d be best to give any readers a quick rundown of Europa Universalis IV (shortened down to EU4), the game that i’ll be making my Fantasy Mod for!


Europa Universalis IV (released in 2013) is the fourth installment of the Europa Universalis series by Paradox Interactive, a Swedish developer/publisher known for their Grand Strategy games. Other recent notable Paradox games include the medieval dynasty simulator Crusader Kings II (2012), the World War II strategy game Hearts of Iron IV (2016) and the sci-fi 4X game Stellaris (2016). Paradox has also published many notable games such as Mount & Blade (2008), the Magicka series, Sim City successor Cities: Skylines (2015) and Obsidian Entertainment’s recent RPGs Pillars of Eternity (2015) and Tyranny (2016).


Paradox focuses more on the niche and hardcore genres which all started with the first Europa Universalis all the way back in 2000. However they have recently taken a step back on the hardcore aspect and tried to make their games easier to understand and accessible, putting accessibility on the forefront and part of their core game pillars.

This was seen first in Europa Universalis IV which was its predecessor in a new graphical coat, less byzantine systems, less micromanagement, more quality of life mechanics and more intuitive UI. The real star in the Accessibility pillar came in the form of Stellaris which sold 200,000 copies, becoming Paradox’s fastest-selling game ever.


Paradox follows the Long Tail Business Model, which basically means that their main line of games have a very long shelf life: its games as a paltform This is done via constant patches as well as multiple DLCs every year that come with a slew of free content for everyone.

In addition to continued support for their games, Paradox is also very mod-friendly, with their entire system easily edited with Photoshop and Text Editor alone. They also have their own Usermod Coordinator which helps push and deliver features that will help the modding community in the long run. This very open support for modding alone increases their games’ longevity even more. A good example of this was Crusader Kings II’s Game of Thrones mod, which gained a lot of publicity from the press at the time, and which was what persuaded me to buy the game and enter Paradox’s sphere of games for the very first time.


EU4 In Brief

Europa Universalis IV is a grand-strategy game encompassing the entire world, where you can play as any nation from the years 1444-1821. After selecting your country you will control them throughout several periods of history, and witness events both specific to your country but also to your age such as the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration and Colonization of the Americas, the Protestant Reformation to the Revolutions of the 1700s and the Age of Imperialism shortly after. The game itself becomes a sandbox when you hit play: its not a guarantee that Spain will colonize most of South America or if Britain will even turn Protestant, or if France will even undergo a Revolution – there are some events that may guide countries to slightly follow their historical trajectory but that’s pretty much it.

You can play ANY of these blobs

So a very popular strategy game out there is Civillization, so when talking about EU4 it can be easier to just compare and contrast:

  Civillization Europa Universalis
Complexity Simple and intuitive Very complex, a lot of things to keep track of
The Setting Randomized Map, flat start: everyone starts the same World Map, everyone starts differently (one country is huge, another is small)
Who you can play Selected Civillizations (eg Germany) Any country in the timeframe (eg the Duchy of Austria, or the city of Hamburg instead of ‘Germany’)
Flow of Play Turn-based

4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate – you go through this linearly and you’re done)

Realtime (but you can pause whenever you want!)

Grand Strategy (There is no linear process of flow, there’s no overall goal, its sandbox)

Scope of Management City-based, its all about building and expanding your borders Empire/country-based, its all about managing your empire both in and out
Diplomacy Very simple, pretty much declare war or denounce – once you war you dont stop until they are wiped out

Only a few major nations and the rest are small city-states, diplomacy is mostly competing with the major nations

Very complex, must have a valid reason to declare war and being a warmonger will cause a coalition to shut you down (not wipe you out the map but make you lose a lot of provinces)

A lot more independent nations with their own agendas means a lot more diplomacy overall (eg having an intricate web of alliances that makes WWI blush)

Warfare Tactical, a lot of units with different abilities Simplified, just two 3D models representing armies fighting – usually the one with the higher numbers (aka troops) wins
Technology Very detailed branching tree from the dawn of civillization to now Linear progression, technology unlocks new buildings, interactions or adds new modifiers (eg your Trade Range is increased by 10.0)
Sense of Space A lot of empty space waiting to be colonised, making new cities is up to the players Every space is filled and inhabited by their own players. The Americas can be colonised similarly to Civ but is also filled with native countries you can play or fight against
Sense of Scale Small. Cities represent a very large region that would be inhabited by many other cities in real life

You will encounter every other nation in the game in your playthrough (eg to get a Domination Victory you need to control everyone’s capital)

Large. Provinces are the capturable city aspect of civ – cities are irrelevant

You will not encounter every other nation in the game in your playthrough

In short, Civ is all about empire-building and dealing with external conflicts.

Europa Universalis is all about empire-management, dealing with external conflicts is just one of the many things you can do.

In EU4 your situation vastly differs not only due to abilities but depending on who you play and where you are:

  • -as France you are competing with a lot of powers like Spain, England and the Holy Roman Empire (all those little states that make up Germany): will you fight and push your way inland? Will you colonise America and compete for naval domination?
  • Your game will be full of huge continent-spanning wars with the biggest and largest powers around


  • -as Austria you are right in the edge of the Holy Roman Empire, everyone to the north and west of you is part of the Empire like yourself – will you carve your way into Germany to unite the Empire knowing you’ll make a lot of enemies? Will you go east to and fight Poland and Russia? What about the Ottoman Muslims to the south, will you take on the mantle of the Christian protector of Europe?
  • Your game will involve a lot of diplomacy and fighting on different fronts


  • -as Muscovy you are landlocked: the ocean is not an option to you like France or Spain. Everyone around you are Nomadic Muslim hordes and descendants of Genghis Khan
  • Your gameplay will revolve around uniting all of Russia and fighting back the hordes of the east, only then will Western Europe know your wrath.


  • -what if you’re Genoa? You’re a very small Italian city-state surrounded by a lot of big neighbours. You’re small so you’ll need to play it safe and build a lot of allies before you expand. What if France invades, maybe you should make friends with him instead? But what if Austria invades then, maybe he’s a better ally? What about the seas, can you make money and grow your power there instead?
  • Your game will be one of patience and opportunity, befriend bigger countries and dominate the seas


Countries and Diplomacy

Each country has a ruler which their own stats (which we’ll cover in Technologies and Ideas) and depending on the government type an heir and a consort (Republics of course don’t get heirs and consorts as they are an elective position but Monarchies do).

Each country also has its own religion, government type and types of cultures it accepts (more on that in Provinces)

Court Screen

Interacting with countries is done through the Diplomacy Screen, where several options can be chosen such as Improving Relations which makes the country like you better, sending money, asking for permission for your armies to walk across their lands or simply declaring war.

Diplomacy Screen

Every country has their own wants and desires, as well as opinions on other countries. This will affect their attitudes to the specific country, for example because England desires a lot of your provinces you aren’t going to be friends any time soon.

Red is who I’m at war with, Blue is my allies (who are not participating in the war)


Technologies and Ideas

Improving your country can be done in two ways: increasing technology or obtaining ideas.

Technology Screen

Technology is linear in EU4 so everyone researches the same thing but not everyone will be on the same level.How often you can improve your tech is determined primarily by your ruler’s stats. Each ruler has a stat in Administration, Diplomacy and Military which builds up every month (known as Monarch Power). For example: A ruler with 2 Administration will generate 2 Administrative Power per month.


Ideas Screen (the Green/Red Bar means how many Monarch Power you need to move to the next idea – so a fully green bar means you have enough to unlock the next ability in the Defensive Ideas slot)

Another way to spend your Monarch Power is via Ideas.Each country has their own unique set of ideas (seen in the top row of ideas right below French Ideas) as well as generic idea slots they can unlock. You must spend the respective Monarch Power (so the Swords means Military so you spend Military Power for Defensive Ideas) to move onto the next bonus of the idea slot (so here the player has unlocked Military Drill but must spend more points to get the next ability along). Unlocking generic ideas will build up progress to unlocking your country’s unique set of ideas.

As you can see France has completed all Economic, Offensive and Exploration ideas and because of that they’ve unlocked all their own French Ideas. However they are halfway through the Defensive Ideas


Provinces and Trade

All of Paradox’s games (bar Stellaris) is built up on a foundation of Provinces. Provinces make up a country but each province has its own little stats attached:

Provinces Screen

So here is the province screen for Paris. Each province has (from the left):

  • -A type of terrain (so Paris has Farmlands as seen in the large picture at the top)
  • -Economic stats (Tax and Production)
  • -Cores & Claims (who the rightful owner is, so if someone takes Paris France will still have it as a core province and will be able to fight for it back without any extra hassle)
  • -Culture (so Paris is of the Francien culture, if a non-Francien accepting culture for example the English take over, Paris is more likely to have Unrest)
  • -Religion (same as above)
  • -Buildings (so to the right we see Paris has a level 4 Fortification)
  • -Trade Goods (near where it says Champagne there’s an image of red cloth, Paris produces Cloth with determines the Production output)
  • -Trade Power (dictates the strength of keeping Trade Goods and Production local, more below)
Trade Map

This Trade Map is a new addition to EU4 and simulates the flow of goods around the world, for this example we’ll be talking about the Champagne and English Channel areas (Red and Orange).

If we look to Champagne there is a large red box with the number 8.0 and a coin symbol: this shows us the Trade Value in the Champagne region.

We will also see smaller boxes with other numbers in as well as lines with arrows. These show the flow of trade. So for example the 5.61 lies (not very clearly!) on an arrow leading to the English Channel trade area: this means 5.61 worth of gold is being pushed forward into the English Channel from Champagne. The little Netherlands flag below it shows us who’s responsible of pushing it forward – this is probably because the Netherlands has some provinces in Champagne that have enough Trade Power (mentioned before) to push it to their desired direction.

Earning Trade Value depends on the Trade Power in the area. Above we can see the English Channel area in which England has 38% of Trade Power, meaning they will earn 38% of the 18.9 gold up for grabs there.

But why is this system good?

  • -Because it allows another way to grow your nation. A country like Venice may be small but they may have special modifiers or strong provinces that can allow them to push the trade in the Mediterranean back to an area where they are strongest
  • -Because it makes colonization interesting: see all that line coming from the left? That’s from North America. You may want to keep colonising there (inhabiting provinces and thus creating trade value) only to push it back to your home port and profit!



(Left) Besieging a Province, (Right) Combat

How warfare works is pretty simple:

  • -You move an army to besiege a province, every month there’s a percentage chance to capture it and if you fail it increases. Eventually the province will be captured and your army can move on
  • -Combat is when two armies meet, the core of it is dice rolling against each other with several stats in mind eg the amount of unitys, the discipline of the army (how much damage the army deals and takes) and their morale (how long they can withstand damage) – the first army to break Morale loses the battle and flees, with losses taken via discipline taken off how many units they have left


War Resolution Screen

Winning wars is done by War Score (the percentage on the bottom right of the screenshot with the English flag). Gaining War Score is done by capturing provinces and winning battles.

The more War Score you have the more you can take from a war, so in the example above you’d need 10% Warscore for England to agree to cede Alencon.

You can also ask for other things aside from provinces such as annuling their alliance treaties, releasing smaller nations within their country, war reperations over time or just cold hard cash.

You can never ask for more than a 100% worth of stuff so you won’t be able to wipe out large countries in one go, you also have to make sure you aren’t being too much of a warmonger. Constantly warring and taking provinces builds of your Aggressive Expansion stat, and if that goes to high many countries will rally against you in a coalition (lets just say Napoleon had a very high Aggressive Expansion that made everyone in Europe coalition against him… several times)



That was quite long wasn’t it?

If you’re interested, quill18 does a much better job in explaining it all in his series here.


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