Difference between revisions of "Beginner's guide"

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* '''''"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I'm at war with France!"'' (Or any other Blob)'''
 
* '''''"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I'm at war with France!"'' (Or any other Blob)'''
This can be one of the harder things to deal with. It is almost impossible to beat France man to man, as they have far far more than you will. If you are stuck in a war against France and no significant allies to speak of try to give the French what they want so that you can live to fight another day. Stay in the mountains and huddle your troops together, don't bother about siegeing their lands. Your goal in this war is to drive their war exhaustion through the roof. This will drive their war enthusiasm to a low and allow you to peace out in a better deal. Bogging down the French, whilst causing as many casualties as you can can cause the French to reconsider if your country is really worth the effort. Hopefully if you have followed my steps above the French will be at a high war exhaustion level. This can cause other countries to attack them sensing an opportunity.
+
This can be one of the harder things to deal with. It is almost impossible to beat France man to man, as they have far far more than you will. If you are stuck in a war against France and no significant allies to speak of try to give the French what they want so that you can live to fight another day. Stay in the mountains and huddle your troops together, don't bother about besieging their lands. Your goal in this war is to drive their war exhaustion through the roof. This will drive their war enthusiasm to a low and allow you to peace out in a better deal. Bogging down the French, whilst causing as many casualties as you can can cause the French to reconsider if your country is really worth the effort. Hopefully if you have followed my steps above the French will be at a high war exhaustion level. This can cause other countries to attack them sensing an opportunity.
  
 
==Different starting points==
 
==Different starting points==

Revision as of 20:18, 15 November 2013

Getting into Europa Universalis IV can seem overwhelming for new players. Yet Paradox has put more effort and infrastructure into making the game newbie-friendly than ever before.

New player's Guide

Europa Universalis IV (EUIV) is a game in which you explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. But before you do any of that, you need to get a few basics down. It's a good thing you're here because learning how to play EUIV can be a daunting challenge. The most important thing to realize is that you are playing as an omnipresent leader of a country in which the peoples and armies within it will follow your every command. As long as your nation exists you may continue playing till the end date of 1821.

Choosing a country

One of the first things you will need to do is figure out which country to play as. Unlike in CK2 (Crusader Kings II) in which you would want to pick a smallish nation with little to do with the rest of the world, in EUIV you want a largish nation. This is because other nations like to gobble up small nations, as you will start to learn later on. A good choice in this game is to try either Castile or Portugal. Both of these nations are on the periphery of Europe, and although they can get drawn into wars in the distance, their large navies usually means you can be free of having to worry about combat.

Tutorial states

Certain countries have been labelled by the community and/or developers as particularly educational, fairly easy and stable, making them excellent tutorial states for new players:

  • Ottomans
    ... which in 1444 is a military powerhouse in the Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and Middle East, with many opportunities to expand militarily with leeway for mistakes due to its sheer stature.
  • France
    ... which in 1444 is in an excellent position to vassalise and integrate its surrounding minor states, can easily beat back England and expand in Europe due to a high-quality army.
  • Castile
    ... which in 1444 is arguably the dominant state in the Iberian peninsula, yet without any major rivals save the southerly Berber states of Granada, Morocco etc. Castile also has interesting missions and events, quick short-term goals to form the Kingdom of Spain and the Reconquista, easy long-term goals such as colonization, whilst domestically it is almost entirely religiously and culturally unified.
  • Portugal
    ... which in 1444 borders only Castile, with whom they share good relations. If diplomatically managed, Portugal can focus purely on trade and colonization, leaving the messy politics of Europe to sort itself out.

Managing government

The most important button in this game is at the top left hand corner of the screen. It will look like a shield with the flag of your nation on it. When you press on this button you will see many different tabs at the top come up, and a screen showing your king and his stats as well as spots of vacant advisors. Before you go along and and fill them up, you need to worry about the currency of the game. Go to the second tab and it will show you the economy of the nation. Most nations start the game with an economy that is making money every turn. You should check back periodically to make sure that your nation is always profitable. Now is time to go back to that first menu and hire some advisors. If you are making less than 3 ducats per month you shouldn't hire any advisors. If you are making less than 30 ducats per month you should stick with an advisor with a level of 1. This is because advisors increase in cost quadratically according to their rank. It doesn't really matter what kind of advisor you pick for now, as long as you find one for each category. If you read the description on them you can tell what sort of advisor they are. Later on you can pick them for a specific need, but since all of them are relatively useful, just go for the cheaper ones.

Territory & armies

Now that you have selected your advisers and are still making money, it is time to look at your nation. Your nation will be composed of multiple provinces. There will always be a capital province in your nation. These are typically where the capital of the country is today. London is the capital province of England and so on. You should notice some figures on your province. These are your units that you will use to fight wars with. Building units takes quite a while, so you should always have some units on hand. If you go to the interface screen that you were at earlier and go to the military tab you can see how many land units you have as well as your force limit. The force limit is a soft cap which means that you can go over, except that each additional unit will cost more and more. By drag clicking you can select your units and move them around the provinces.

Other countries

If you look around you will see provinces with a different color than yours. They aren't yours - yet. They belong to a neighbouring country controlled by the computer. They aren't dead weights though; they will negotiate with you and other computer controlled nations to fulfill their goals. Speaking of goals, your nation has some too, if you're interested in following them - although EUIV will attempt to point you in the right direction, you can do basically whatever you want with your nation.

Budget

Let's now head back into the economy screen. You should notice some sliders on the right hand side. This allows you to pay more or less for your troops, missionaries, ships and colonies. As a good rule of thumb, your missionary and colony sliders should always be maxed out to the right. This ensures that they take the least amount of time and can be done in a reasonable amount of time. Next in line is your naval slider. You can afford to let it go down to 75% or even 50%. This will significantly reduce the cost of your navy but come at a cost of trade steering from light ships and a lessened morale. I usually always keep it at maximum because directly at the onset of wars your fleets that aren't in port can get sunk fairly quickly. Also I like to get as much trade power from my ships as possible because it can create a huge sum of cash for me, usually offsetting the cost of the entire fleet! Also, your navy usually will be one of the more minor cost factors. Lastly is the land morale slider. This one is the most adjustable, and in peacetime it can be safely dropped down to the 50%-75% range. Units with this will have much less morale and will not replenish as quickly but unless you have rebels or a neighbour eyeing your land, it's usually okay. Others might recommend dropping it even further, but until you get the hang of it, don't let it go past 50%.

Common questions

  • Why am I losing money and what if I go below zero?

Events, advisors, military maintenance and reinforcements can cost you money. Occasionally you will find yourself with a negative amount of money. Once this happens the bank will take a loan out for you. You will need to pay this loan back in five years as well as pay the interest on the loan. Taking a loan or two is nothing to worry about as long as you can pay it back. Taking a loan to hire mercenaries or pay for a nasty event is a perfectly reasonable action to take. When trying to pay a loan back try to lower your military maintenance so that you can pay it back sooner.

  • How to colonize and why?

Europa Universalis is all about the colonization of the new world. To colonize you must have a colonist. To do this you have to unlock either the expansion or exploration idea group. For all intents and purposes for early colonial growth the exploration idea is superior, as it allows you to explore the strange new seas. The purpose of this exploration is to find lands to settle. You will get much less taxes from these provinces and instead of production you will get tariffs. The upside of this is that you can get valuable trade goods which can bring in buckets of money through tariffs and trade.

  • What is trade and why should I care, plus how to get involved early

Trading is vital to any superpower, the placements of your merchants and your trading fleets is the most important thing to bringing the riches from the new world and the orient to your capital.

  • "Ahh, I'm at war!"

Fighting a war can be a difficult proposition. The most important thing though is numbers. This is a game about logistics and thus the one with the most units usually wins. Having a general can also be a good way to stack the odds in your favour. When fighting an enemy that is your size or greater it is almost always advised to play a defensive war, so that you can receive terrain bonuses to the battles.

  • "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I'm at war with France!" (Or any other Blob)

This can be one of the harder things to deal with. It is almost impossible to beat France man to man, as they have far far more than you will. If you are stuck in a war against France and no significant allies to speak of try to give the French what they want so that you can live to fight another day. Stay in the mountains and huddle your troops together, don't bother about besieging their lands. Your goal in this war is to drive their war exhaustion through the roof. This will drive their war enthusiasm to a low and allow you to peace out in a better deal. Bogging down the French, whilst causing as many casualties as you can can cause the French to reconsider if your country is really worth the effort. Hopefully if you have followed my steps above the French will be at a high war exhaustion level. This can cause other countries to attack them sensing an opportunity.

Different starting points

There are a few different types of newbies to the game:

  • Total Newb: Those who have never played a 4X game (never played anything like this before).
  • Paradox Newbie: Those who have experience with 4X games from publishers besides Paradox Interactive. Examples: Civilization series, Total War series, etc. (played something like this, but from another publisher)
  • New to EU: Those who have played other Paradox Interactive titles (Crusader Kings II, Victoria II, Hearts of Iron 3), but never played any version of Europa Universalis before (have experience with some common core Paradox mechanics, but need to understand how EUIV differs from the other games).
  • EU4 Refresher: Those who have played earlier versions of EU, such as EU3, but need to understand how the new version differs.

Where possible, this guide will tailor its presentation to highlight points for these different audiences.

Understanding EUIV

What's the goal?

  • Audience: Total Newb, Paradox Newbie

Europa Universalis IV is a grand strategy game that will take you on an epic adventure through an alternate history of Earth. You are controlling a nation which has armies, navies, military leaders and civilian specialists at your disposal. Though each of the game starts is set up to be as historical as possible, as soon as you unpause the game, history will veer off its rails and become an alternate Earth, where you will have power to influence the destiny of nations.

You are not playing a specific person, because the span of the game is centuries-long. Your nation's current leader will eventually age and die, and a new successor will take over. You are more of an abstract controller of a country. Your job is to make sure your country flourishes, or, at least, survives until the end of the game (which occurs January 1, 1821).

During the course of its history, you have to make sure your nation is not annihilated or annexed by other powers, and that your succession remains intact (your ruler has an heir lined up to take over in future generations).

There are no specific "victory conditions" of the game. Though Paradox has introduced a way to see a "score" at the end of the game, you are free to take history in whatever direction you want. You can take a small one province minor power, and turn it into a powerhouse to rule the world, or you can take a powerful nation and see how easy it is to drive it into the dirt.

How Does Gameplay Work?

  • Audience: Total Newb, Paradox Newbie

The general flow of the game works as follows:

  • You select to begin a singleplayer or multiplayer game
    • Most new players will begin with a single player game.
    • If you have a friend who wants to give you a walkthrough and show you how to play using the multiplayer features (possibly using some sort of voice or video chat to help you along, or playing side-by-side on a LAN), you can start a multiplayer game.
  • Select a country and a historical start date to play and begin the game.
  • Study your initial position and, if you wish, spend your initial treasury and make some strategic choices before you unpause the game, such as hiring advisors and dispatching your envoys, like merchants and diplomats.
  • Once the game is unpaused, time will flow and days will pass, either quickly or slowly as you see fit. (You can control how fast time passes using the + and - keys on your keyboard. And you can hit the spacebar to pause or unpause the passage of time.)
  • You may move your armies and navies, and the AI will move forces under its control.
  • You can build more armies and navies, and also construct buildings in provinces you control.
  • You can manage your economy, which is comprised of taxation, production, and trade income. Depending on how much you are spending, you may also have to take out loans.
  • You can interact with other nations using the Diplomacy interface.
  • You can also manage your technology development, spending your Monarch points to unlock new capabilities and bonuses for your nation.
  • Events will pop up on your screen, which may present you with choices to make, or may just tell you the good, bad, or mixed news facing your nation.
  • Eventually, warfare will break out between nations. You can send your forces into swift and deadly land and naval battles, or conduct longer-term sieges and naval blockades. In the end, depending on who is getting the upper hand in the war, peace offerings will be made by one party or the other, which can result in exchanges of territory, money, and other concessions.
  • After a war, you may need to take a respite with your nation to allow it to reinforce its war-battered regiments and damaged ships, recover its manpower, and recuperate its treasury. You may also need time to recover from any overextension of your nation or improve your reputation with neighbors. If you seem too aggressive, the AI may even form alliances or a coalition to oppose you. So every now and then, after a war, a peace breaks out.
  • In due time, you will learn to expand your borders through colonization, expand the reach of your state religion through missionaries, expand your control of trade through merchants, and the reach of your influence through diplomats.

This is how most of the gameplay works. There isn't any "twitch factor" as you have in First Person Shooter (FPS) games. The fastest reaction you might need to have is to pause the game in case an interesting event or game opportunity pops up. ("Woah! They just declared war on my neighbor... I got to see what I can do about that...") You may also need to pause the game if you have a lot of money to spend while you are building forces, or you have to balance your budget before going into debt with automatic spending, or have many armies and navies to move all at once. Basically, at any time you don't want time to slip away, and to avoid getting confused or overlooking something.

Like an intense game of chess, Paradox wants the game equilibrium and the strategic and tactical player choices to be the fascinating part of the game. There are no flashy video "cut scenes."

Much of the game play is simply monitoring all the dials and knobs of the machine of your nation. You are the disembodied master tinkerer with the fate of your people.

What This Game Is Not

  • Audience: Total Newb, Paradox Newbie

This is not a pure wargame. For players looking to simply send their forces off into heroic combat without worry or care of long-term consequences, you will be sorely disappointed. Although there is a great deal of emphasis put upon the military side of things in EUIV, there is a lot more that needs to be managed. If you just rush blindly into wars, you will find your regiments shattered, your economy bankrupt, and your neighbors collectively enraged. Even the most bellicose of rulers must pay heed to the finesse of diplomacy, and the pragmatism of economics.

This is not a roleplaying game. There will not be heart-to-heart chats with your advisors, and you will not see rival heads of state looking to engage you in dialogue. Though you can have royal marriages between your country and the ruling dynasty of another, it is mostly an abstract decision. Don't expect to see any sort of romantic interludes.

This is not a tactical combat simulator. Though there is a battle interface, where you can see the your forces engaging the enemy, you can't really control your troops on the field. The game is focused on strategic decision-making, not battlefield command.

This is not a turn-by-turn game. The calendar ticks away equally for all nations of the world. Yet because the game can be paused and the passage of time can be controlled, it is not precisely correct to call it a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game either.

Tips for the Total Newb (and Others)

Tutorials

  • Audience: All

If you have never played a game like this, or even if you are a diehard EU3 player, take the time to play through the tutorials, which you can find at the Main Menu. They will introduce you to the major game concepts, such as how Paradox has implemented standard strategy game systems like combat and economics and also highlight what features are entirely unique and new to EUIV.

Tooltips

  • Audience: All

Tooltips are small popups that show up when you hover over certain areas of the interface. They usually provide more details about the game. Though often technically written, once you understand the lingo, you'll see that they are showing you some pretty neat details of how the game works.

Hints

  • Audience: All

The game also has a series of in-game hints. These are pop-up windows that will appear when you first encounter certain aspects of the game. The hint window will explain basic concepts of that game feature, which can then be dismissed. Hints may be disabled entirely if you are tired of seeing them, or they can be turned on again if you felt like you dismissed a screen a bit too quickly and didn't have a chance to read it through.

What Scenario Should I Start?

Audience: All

Paradox gives players the chance to begin the game using one of 11 preset "bookmarks" or "scenarios". You can always start the game by choosing the default 1444 campaign, or choose from one of the other bookmarks. Plus, you can also choose any date in the timeframe covered by the game as your starting point.

If there is a specific period of time you love more than others, feel free to choose that bookmark as your starting point. Note that in the later start dates there are some different nations available, many nations may have significant changes to their border over time, and each of the nations will have upgraded its technology to be contemporary to the scenario. Otherwise, you can start with the default 1444 scenario.

What Nation Should I Start As?

  • Audience: Total Newb, Paradox Newbie, New to EU

A lot of players, when they first come to a Paradox Game, often make the mistake to start with a single small one province minor country. DON'T. It may seem like your easiest way to learn the ropes since you have very little to manage, but, in reality, what it means is that you are playing under an extreme handicap. You have limited options in terms of economics, military power and diplomacy. If you make a wrong move you will find yourself annexed in a heartbeat.

Generally, it is better to take one of the larger nations. You will have more spending money, toy soldiers and boats to play with. You also have more strategic options and can play around with less worry. If you do mess up (and everyone does in their first game), you can lose a disastrous war and even a few provinces and not be entirely out of the game.

In the scenario start screen, the game will make suggestions of some of the larger powers available during your current scenario. In the designer's view, these are the nations that are most interesting to start with. Once you learn the ropes, you can go back and pick a smaller nation to fine tune your skills. For now, "go big."

Even just limiting your choices to the big nations, you have a lot to consider in determining which one. Should it be a mostly land-based power to field massive armies (and not have to worry about learning naval mechanics), or do you want a coastal nation to play with fleets and colonization?

  • Opposing Viewpoint: If you do want to start as a one province minor, you may be able to get a handle on your nation pretty easily, and you might be able to find one in a hopefully out-of-the-way location. Also, if you do start with a large nation, you may get overwhelmed with all the possible choices and challenges ahead of you.

Another suggestion for totally new players is to stick to European powers. There are technological handicaps and some special rules for nations outside of Europe (such as the choice as to whether to Westernize or not). Until you learn how to handle the challenges of technological development, it is probably best to stick with a European nation.

What options do I have?

  • Audience: All

As a totally new player, under the Options menu, consider setting the Handicap to "Player" (which will give you extra economic, diplomatic and military bonuses) and the AI Difficulty to "Easy" (which will make the AI less aggressive).

Before you unpause

  • Audience: All

Even before you unpause the game, and allow time to start ticking, you should do a few things. Check out the map. Look at some interfaces and really understand what you have in front of you. New players will need to get an orientation to the interface, because there are a lot of choices to make and controls at your disposal. Experienced players of EU3 can learn a lot by looking at the game and soaking in all of the changes from what they are used to.

  • Pan around the map, and see what you can see. What land provinces do you have in your nation? What are the nearby sea zones? What trade nodes are within your borders or close by?
  • Click on the shield to see details of your own nation. What's happening with your economy? What is your ruler like? What form of government is your country? What is the predominant national religion? What national decisions do you have to work for ahead of you?
  • Learn more about your neighbors using the Diplomatic interface. They could be your allies, rivals, or enemies.
  • Check out the Information Bar and Alerts Zone underneath it, and make sense of what the interface is telling you about your nation at game start. Find the balance of your Treasury. Find out what your national Stability is at when the scenario begins.
  • If you have some spending money in your Treasury, consider building some land forces, called regiments, or some ships using your disposable income. Otherwise, keep it as a war chest for now. Just make sure you don't spend more than you have, or you will have to take out expensive loans.
  • Click through the various map options to see if you have core provinces on any neighbors. If so, those might be some of the first targets for conquest. Also click on your neighbors and see if they have any core provinces within your borders. If so, those will be a point of contention between you. Also see what the status is of the religion of your provinces. Are they all of your same religion, or might you need to dispatch missionaries to convert these people to the One True Faith? (Yours, of course.)

Beyond the Game

Outside of the game itself is a large array of support, such as this Wiki.

Manual

  • Audience: All

RTFM - "Read the Fine Manual" (ahem) is an age-old adage. Yet in this busy world many people do not take the time to do so. To make it as easy as possible, Paradox released the EUIV Manual online for free as a PDF download.

EU3 to EU4 differences summary

  • Audience: EU4 Refresher

For experienced EU3 players who just want to catch up on the differences between the two versions of the game, Paradox published a free 44-page downloadable PDF manual that describes, at a high level, the major differences between these major releases.

Developer diaries

  • Audience: New to EU, EU4 Refresher

Paradox also put out dozens of Developer Diaries and videos that discuss many details and design decisions that went into the new game. Paradox clearly aimed these at their core audience of die-hard EU3 players, and, to a lesser extent, players of Crusader Kings, which shares much of the underlying engine and infrastructure of EUIV. Players of other Paradox strategy titles, like Victoria II and Hearts of Iron III may also be able to grok much of the discussion. Less-experienced players may appreciate reading through these, familiarizing themselves with the patois of EU, though they may fail to understand many of the finer details of the statistics and interfaces discussed.

Check the forums

  • Audience: All

The EUIV Forums are your best way to get in touch with the community of experienced players and their good advice. Register your game and start posting your questions. You can also find a lot of good "Walkthrough" or "Let's Play" videos, and read After Action Reports (AARs) posted by other players.