The EU4 world map in terrain view.
EU4's terrain map up close
The map (or Main Map) is the main "stage" of the game during play, and is what the player will be watching most often for ongoing developments and changes to the world. The map comprises most of the Earth, apart from the polar caps.
Graphically the map is very similar to Crusader Kings II's map, with some enhancements. Most importantly, the passing of the seasons is simulated: as the months progress snow will spread across the map and then recede as spring comes. Much of the map becomes greener in summer as plants bloom. These seasonal changes affect game play, for example in winter supply limits change for land forces, and some parts of the ocean freeze, making them impassible to ships.
- See also: Downloadable content#Cosmetic packs
- See also: Unit models
The map is populated with a wide variety of 3D models, or 'sprites', that represent various things:
- Armies and navies
- Trade vessels and wagons, which can be hovered-over for information on specific shipments
- Culture-specifically designed cities, and their recruitment, construction and development progresses
- Trees and other terrain:
- Coniferous trees
- Deciduous trees
- Tropical 'palm' trees
- Savanna 'scraggy' trees
The map also features unique, or location-specific sprites:
Some of which are geographically accurate wildlife:
- Alligators/crocodiles in Africa, Florida, and South American jungles/marshlands
- Bears in Scandinavia and Canada
- Buffalo on the North American plains
- Elephants in India
- Llamas in South American mountains
- Moose in Sweden and Russia
- Kangaroos in Australia
- Seals in South American coastal regions, Western Isles (Scotland), South Africa and Norway
- Seagulls and eagles/vultures in various regions
- Whales in the Western Pacific and North Atlantic
- Zebras in South Africa
- and other unreported sightings
In addition, there are also some nation-specific landmarks (National Monuments I and II DLCs):
- Angkor Wat (Angkor)
- Buddhas of Bamiyan (Bamyan)
- Cologne Cathedral (Köln)
- Forbidden City (Beijing)
- Giza Pyramid Complex
- Hagia Sophia (Constantinople)
- Parthenon (Athens)
- Machu Picchu (Abancay, next to Cusco)
- Mayan Pyramid (Sotuta)
- Moai/Easter Island Statues (Rapanui)
- Mount Fuji (Kai)
- Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris)
- Old Faithful geyser (Bannock/Apsáalooke)
- Petra (Ma'an)
- Saint Peter's Cathedral (Roma)
- Stonehenge (Hampshire)
- Tenochtitlan (Mexico)
- The Kremlin (Moskava)
- Tower of London (London)
- Windmills in the Netherlands Region (Holland, Liege)
- Himeji Castle (Harima)
How to tell the owner of an army
Blue: Subjects; War allies; Aligned rebels
Grey: Neutral, even for allies
Red: Rebels (Not aligned); Nations at war with self
- Main article: Province
The land portion of the map is broken into provinces. Some provinces border sea areas, and are considered coastal provinces. These permit building and basing ships and conducting ocean-going trade. They may also be blockaded, or invaded by fleet-transported troops. Other provinces are landlocked and cannot support ships; they are also safe from blockade or invasion from the sea.
Regions and areas
- Main article: Regions
Each province belongs only to one area, which belongs to one region and which itself belongs to one super-region (also referred to in-game as sub-continent). Besides being used as scope triggers for other mechanics the system is also used in the Regional Naming mechanic. If a nation owns land which is disconnected from its capital, it will display the nation's name following the location's name (the name of the location depends on its size).
- See also: Colonization#Discovery
Unexplored areas of the map are known as Terra Incognita (from Latin, ‘unknown land’) and shown as blank, white patches.
Terra Incognita provinces must be explored before they can be traveled across. This can be done by an army led by a conquistador (land) or a navy led by an explorer (sea); units led by these two military leaders can traverse and reveal such provinces. Armies can walk into enemy terra incognita if they are at war, even without a conquistador. However, the same is not true of allied nations, even when at peace, as armies cannot walk through allied terra incognita. Ships sailing past terra incognita will often reveal it if they are led by an explorer. With the El Dorado DLC enabled naval exploration becomes semi-automatic and land exploration can also be done automatically if done in the new world using Search for the Seven Cities option (RotW land exploration still needs to be done manually).
Undiscovered land provinces have a chance per month to be discovered by owners of adjacent provinces - typically taking 3–5 years (Russia, however, has an idea that makes this discovery instant). After a certain period of time, an exploratory nation's discoveries will be revealed to other nations. The time between discovery and spread of information is influenced by culture. Generally, a nation that travels near an area often, is in the same culture/tech group as another nation or has good relations is more likely to discover the area.
Random New World
- Main article: Random New World
Random New World is an option that can be selected in the nation select screen. The option replaces everything west of the Azores and Iceland, and east of Eastern Siberia, Wake Island, and New Zealand with new landmasses.
Players can chose to generate a New World similar to the existing one or one with fantasy "what if" elements in it. In addition, the RNW is highly moddable and allows players to share their own user-created tile-sets with each other.
Some parts of the world are simply too remote for the technology of this era to ever have reached them effectively, such as the glaciers of Greenland, the Himalayan plateau, the mountainous forests of New Guinea and the depths of the Sahara. Other wastelands, such as the Alps or Carpathian Mountains, exist for strategic reasons. These areas can still be discovered, but are known as Wastelands and cannot be colonized or traversed. They will also show up on the Main Map, so there won't be any holes in the world as the game progresses and the map expands. Once discovered wastelands will remain colored grey, unless the terrain in uncolonized video option is turned on. If the terrain in uncolonized option is on and a single nation owns over 50% of the provinces bordering a wasteland tile, the nation's color and name will also spread over the wasteland (this option can be turned on/off - on by default).
Fog of war
Generally it is only possible to see activities in one's own provinces, allies' and subjects' provinces, provinces directly bordering yours, and provinces containing or next to your troops (except exiled troops) or ships. Docked ships will show you the province they're docked in and the adjacent sea zone. Beyond this it is not possible to see any unit movements or any province changes on the map. The map becomes shaded as if being shadowed by passing clouds (made more apparent due to the clouds moving shadows). This area is covered by what is known as the Fog of War (FoW). At Diplomatic Tech level 30 the player unlocks the covert action to infiltrate a foreign nation's administration, which will lift the fog of war from that nation for a duration of 5 years. AI nations banded in war against a common foe have a "combined" line of sight for that nation ().
Note: FoW is very different from Terra Incognita. It is possible to send forces through provinces to see what is within the FoW without needing explorers or conquistadors.
The minimap is located at the bottom right of the screen. Clicking anywhere on this little map will jump to that location on the main map. The white box shows what part of the world is currently displayed on the main map. The buttons along the top of the minimap can be used to access different map-modes that change the view of the main map. On wartime allies' and the country's military units will glow green dots on the map, and enemy units will glow red dots, it is possible to disable this feature on the game settings.
The main map supports a number of different views, allowing players to see the world in specific ways. The player can customize different map-modes as primary-maps which can be easily accessed by clicking on them or with the keys Q to P (the top row of a QWERTY keyboard). The different map modes are categorized into four main map-tabs (blue buttons on the upper right side of the mini-map). To bind a map-mode as a primary map, right-click one of the desired positions (red buttons above the mini-map) and left-click the desired map-mode. Each primary-map can be set to bind further map-modes accessible by cycling said primary-map again (for example: press Q twice to get to its 2nd map-mode and so on).
Note: While it isn't noted below, most map-modes also show information regarding owner, terrain, fort level and fort ZoC.
Diplomatic map modes
- Coalition – Colors nations according to the size of the aggressive expansion opinion modifier towards the selected province's owner (or the player's country if no province is selected). Hovering over a province will show the owner's opinion (and value) towards the selected nation's aggressive expansion.
- Diplomatic – Colors provinces according to their owner's diplomatic relations with other nations. Green stripes inside the country's borders indicate non-cored provinces, while green stripes outside the borders indicate non-owned cores and yellow stripes indicate non-owned claims. Hovering over a province will show its diplomatic relation towards the province's owner and fort level.
- Federations – Colors (native) nations according to the federation they are currently in. Hovering over provinces will give a break-down of the federation members.
- Opinion – Colors nations according to their opinion towards the selected province's owner. Hovering over a province will give a break-down of the opinion and attitude of its owner towards the selected province's owner.
- Players – Colors only player controlled nations and their subjects in the player's nation color. The players names are displayed above all their controlled territory (their nation and their subjects).
- Rivals – Colors nations who are rivals of the player.
- Victory cards – Colors areas which been set as a victory card for the selected nation (if there are any; multiplayer mechanic). Hovering over a province with a card will show the score for that card.
Economic map modes
- Buildings – Colors the player's provinces according to available building slots. Hovering over a province shows the number of available building slots.
- Colonial – Colors provinces according to their colonization potential. Also shown are ocean trade winds. Hovering over a province will show the player's colonial range and the effective distance from the nearest province with a core.
- Development – Colors provinces according to development. Hovering over a province shows a development break-down into tax, production and manpower.
- Local Autonomy – Colors provinces according to their autonomy level. Hovering over a province will show its autonomy level.
- Loot – Colors provinces of nations the player is at war with according to their remaining loot levels. Also shown is the amount of loot.
- Manpower – Colors provinces according to the manpower they provide. Hovering over a province shows its manpower value.
- Technology – Colors nations according to their technology levels. The extremes are chosen by highest and lowest levels in the world at the time. Hovering over a province shows a break-down of its owner's level in each tech category.
- Institutions - Shows provinces where institutions have spread or that they are spreading to. More detail can be found by opening each institution's tab while having this map mode open.
- Trade – Colors provinces according to the trade node they belong to. Checkered provinces indicate nodes outside the country's trade range. Also shown are trade node values and direction of trade routes (with nation flags who steer that way under the route). A merchant under the trade node indicates presence of the player's merchant and red route indicates the direction of player's trade steering (if not set to collect). If not zoomed out too far, it also shows various trade modifiers (center of trade, estuary etc.) and ocean trade winds. Hovering over a province will show the province's local trade power, it's percentage in the trade node and the trade node's effective distance from the nearest province with a core or fleet basing rights.
- Trade Goods – Colors provinces according to the trade goods produced there. If zoomed in an icon of the trade good will also be shown. Selecting a province will color only provinces of the same trade good and will place stripes over provinces that has a chance of generating them (in uncolonized provinces with unknown trade good). Hovering over a province will show good produced, trade value, trade power and modifiers applied to goods production.
- Trade Value – Colors provinces according to their trade value. Hovering over a province will show its trade value.
Geographical map modes
- Areas – Colors provinces according to the area they belong (a province will belong only to one area). Selecting a province will only highlight provinces of that area. Hovering over a province will show a break-down of its area, region, super-region and continent.
- Climate – Colors provinces according to their climate. Hovering over a province shows the type of climate.
- Fort Level – Colors provinces with forts according to their owner's diplomatic relation with the player and the fort's level. Hovering over a province will show it's fort level or nearest fort ZoC.
- Overseas provinces – Colors provinces if they are regarded to be as overseas for the selected province owner. Hovering over a province will show its overseas status towards the selected nation.
- Regions – Colors provinces according to the regions they belong (a province will belong only to one region). Selecting a province will color-code only the areas belonging to its region. Hovering over a province will show a break-down of its area, region, super-region and continent.
- Simple Terrain – Colors provinces according to their terrain type. Blue borders between provinces indicate they are separated by a river crossing. Striped provinces indicate provinces which are not controlled by their owner. Hovering over a province shows terrain type, weather, fort level or nearest fort ZoC.
- Territories and states – Colors provinces according to their area's status for the selected province owner. Striped provinces indicate areas not fully owned. Hovering over a province will show the number of provinces (from that area) under the nation's control, their total development and state maintenance cost.
- Supply Limit – Colors provinces according to their supply limit. Hovering over a province will show the supply limit of the province (and supply weight of army if chosen).
- Terrain – Displays the landscape terrain of the world accompanied by the various sprites and graphical effects (such as rivers, change of seasons, city sizes etc.). Striped provinces indicate provinces which are not controlled by their owner. Hovering over a province shows terrain type, weather and fort level or nearest fort ZoC.
- Colonial and Trade Regions – Colors provinces according to where regional colonial nations can be emerged and trade companies can be established. Hovering over a colonial province will show colonial claims by the Treaty of Tordesillas (if there are any). Provinces with established trade companies are colored in their owner's nation color. Hovering over a trade company province will show the owner's trade company.
- Weather – Colors provinces according to what type of winter/monsoon they are usually experiencing. Hovering over a province shows the type of winter or monsoon.
Political map modes
- Accepted Cultures – Colors the player's provinces according to their status within the nation and displays the names of those cultures. Hovering over a province shows culture and culture group.
- Culture – Colors provinces according to culture groups and displays the names of each individual culture. Selecting a province will color-code the sub-cultures in the same culture group as the selected province. Hovering over a province will show culture and culture group.
- Dynastic – Colors provinces according to their owner's dynasty.
- Estates – Colors the player's provinces according to which estate controls them. Hovering over a province will show its contribution to its estate's influence and that estate's current effects.
- Government types – Colors provinces according to their owner's government type. Hovering over a province will show its government and owner.
- Imperial – Colors provinces that are part of the HRE according to their owner's imperial status. Striped provinces indicate HRE territory held by non-member states. Hovering over a province will indicate their imperial status and fort level.
- Political – Each nation is colored with its specific nation color. Striped provinces indicate provinces which are not controlled by their owner. Hovering over a province will show terrain type and fort level.
- Rebel types – Colors provinces according to the most likely rebel type to spawn there. Hovering over a province will show the rebel type.
- Religious – Colors provinces according to their religion. Striped provinces indicate a province religion that is different from its owner's state religion. Also shows Centers of Reformation if there are any, and progress bars for provinces being converted. Hovering over a province will show province religion and state religion (if they are different).
- Trade league – Colors provinces according to the trade league they belong to. Trade league leaders can also see which nations will or will not join their league; red striped provinces indicate no while green indicate yes.
- Unrest – Colors the player's and the player's subjects' provinces according to local unrest levels. Stripes indicate a province controlled by rebels. Hovering over a province will show exact unrest percentage, the most likely type of rebels, and a list of all the unrest modifiers of that province.
Note: Many of the map-modes use scaling of color to value. The colors in the table below represent the milestone values (meaning they can be lighter/darker according to province value in-game).
||(0 >ae> -70)
||(-70 >ae> -140)
||(-140 >ae> -200)
||Nations may join coalitions if accumulated -50 AE
||neutral (60 >o> -40)
||low (-40 >o> -120)
||negative (-120 >o> -200)
||very low (10>d)
|very low (0% - 20%)
||low (20% - 40%)
||medium (40% - 60%)
||high (60% - 80%)
||very high (80% - 100%)
||very low (200>m)
||very low (2.5>t>0)
||Lighter shades indicate lower fort levels. Striping indicates zones of control. Note that friendly and hostile zones of control may overlap (shown as hostile).
|States and Territories
|very high (s>28)
||very low (10>s)
|Supply Limit (weight)
||Shown in Supply Limit when choosing an army
||Yellow stripes mean the owner is a non-member. Orange stripes mean the owner is a subject of a non-member.
||very high (u>18)
Advice and strategy
Because of the complexity of the game and the massive amount of information accessible to the player through various means, map modes being one of the primary ones, tailoring the selection of map modes, grouping them into manageable portions, and using the hotkeys to quickly retrieve relevant data can greatly affect player decision making and ease of play.
One method would be to put related modes on a single hotkey, for instance, placing Simple Terrain, Fort Level, Supply Limit, Loot, and Devastation onto one hotkey so that any and all information about conducting warfare is available by repeatedly pressing the same key and cycling through the modes. Other groupings with this method could involve relations, economics, provincial stats, trade, and many others. Ensure that the preferred map mode for viewing the world (typically political) does not get buried in a large stack of related modes, but is easily accessible, either having its own key, or sharing the key with at most one other important mode.
A second method could be instead of grouping the modes in related stacks on one key, spreading them out. For instance, using the five modes listed above, placing one each on 'Q' through 'T' and when warfare is the most important consideration in gameplay, cycling each appropriate hotkey so that the 'warfare' modes are uppermost and selecting them is one key away, rather than cycling the same key repeatedly.