Teach me how to play...Europa Universalis III

Ok…so, I picked up a copy of this game last weekend. It was on sale and I had heard it was a really good game…lots of strategic depth. I’ve played through 2 games so far…and need some help on the strategy for actually PLAYING this beast.

Tell me how YOU play, what your strategy is for the things I’ll list below…basically what you do and how.

Here’s the things that I would like some advice on (feel free to provide any OTHER advice you think important too…as well as feel free to discuss any aspects of the game at all):

What government type do you usually strive for and when do you go for it? I’ve just been going with whatever government everyone else seems to have…usually an Administrative Monarchy. What do YOU like, and how do you go for it?

How do you arrange your slider bars for domestic policy…or do you just leave them alone? I have NO idea what is good or not. Usually when it gives me the option I’ve been moving the bar between Mercantilism and Free Trade toward Free Trade…and the one between Innovative and Narrowmindedness toward Innovative. Also, I played a bit with the moving towards Free Subjects. The usual result seems to be I start to run out of money or provinces revolt when I screw with the bars though.

How the hell do you do trade? What I generally have been doing is finding the trade center that seems to be worth the most and then throwing all my traders at it over and over again. It seems that every couple of turns they all get kicked out (or something…gods know) so I just keep doing it. This can’t possibly be the optimal strategy though.

What National Ideas do you like…and why? I’ve just been picking them pretty much at random…though I go with the ones that seem to be for trade mostly.

Do you mess with the slider bars for money and technology…or just leave them alone? If you mess with them, whats your strategy? The only one I usually screw with is the one for the treasury if I’m running a deficit…but I have no idea if I should put more in Naval, Land or whatever.

How do you play the whole colonization thingy? Which do you go for? At first I just started grabbing any in the new world as they were explored (no idea WHO is doing that exploration either :))…but I don’t think this was a very good strategy. I also grabbed (or tried too grab) a bunch of territories in the south Pacific…though it takes forever. What do you usually go for and how much effort do you put in it?

What (if anything) do you do with religion?

How do I fix my Tax Rate and Inflation? In the last game I played, it claimed my Tax Rate was 125%(!!) and my inflation was something like 69%(!!)…but I don’t see where you can even SET the Tax Rate. In addition, despite this seemingly ruinous rate, I still had what looked to me like plenty of money coming in…and no major revolts on my hands (except when I would screw with the bars :)).

Advisors…whats your strategy? I’ve been simply picking the ‘good’ ones whenever they come up and in the mean time I usually just pick a diplomat, trader and colonist if I’m in that phase of the game…if not I either leave it blank or go with maybe the spymaster type. Should I just leave them open if there isn’t anyone good?

Wars…do you bother? Every time I went to war it was a long drawn out slogfest…and usually I lose. Even when I take a territory it doesn’t seem I GET the territory unless there is a peace and they cede the land to me. If I leave everyone alone (I played England) everyone seems to leave me alone (the exception being the stupid Welsh that keep trying to win back their home land by revolting).

Those are my basic questions ( :wink: I know…not so basic or easy)…if you can think of anything else that you do to play the game let me know. It DOES seem to be a pretty cool game, but its one of those that figuring out how to play is the easy part…figuring out a winning strategy seems much more difficult.


Oh yeah…and what buildings do you usually build in your provinces. How many of each type, whats your strategy on building, etc? I’ve tried to just build everything in every province (though if you build a University you can’t build other stuff), but no idea whats good or bad…just guess work.


I always stick with the monarchies because then that allows me to make royal marraiges.

I’ll usually change my sliders at the beginning of the game when stability is cheap to regain. It all depends on personal preference. If you leave your cursor over the left or right arrow for a second the benefits of moving will be shown. You have to be careful though. You go a lot of land, naval units become more expensive. You go full innovative, you won’t get any colonists. And of often you can move a slider depends on the government you have. About the losing money, everytime you move a slider you’ll lose a stability point. Stability determines your tax efficiancy and revolt risk. Not really determines, but it plays a big part in.

You trade by sending merchants to different Center of Trades (COT). Every merchant you send has a compete chance. I send at least two merchants every time. If it works like I hope, one to compete the rival away and another to take its spot. Your chance for competing away a rival merchant depends on your technology level, national ideas, and your badboy.

The first idea I usually go for is the National Bank idea. It really helps against the inflation. Inflation in this game can be a killer, which I will go into below. Like with a lot of things in this game, it all depends on what country you’re playing, and more importantly, your goals. Picking trade ideas are really good if you want to be an important colonizer, go with naval sliders, and you aren’t an aggressive country. Like I said above, badboy decreases your merchants chances, so the national ideas won’t help much.

I usually play a continental power so I spend more on land than I do naval. One you really want to spend money on is government (more national ideas faster) and production (allows you to build better buildings. Build a workshop whenever possible). Stability’s a big one also. The rest are up to you. I rarely bother with trading (too busy annexing weaker countries) so I spend that money on land tech.

You want to mint money as little as possible. The more you mint (meaning the higher that goes into your treasury), the faster your inflation goes up. For example, you have 10% inflation, your 2.5% bonus for chosing the national idea of “Scientific Revolution” goes out the window, and everything cost about 10% more. The best thing to do is be patient. The monthy income is not nearly as important as your yearly. Your yearly automatically gets added to the treasury without causing inflation.

Portugal and Castille are big colonizers. The reason you’re getting explored provinces is because another country discovered it 50 years ago. After 50 years the land is reveal to other countries. This is simulating that you couldn’t keep it secret forever. In order to discover on your own, you can choose the “discover new world” national idea, then you can buy a conquistador (land) and an explorer (for ships). You’d attach them to your units as you would any leader.

I personally stick to the Carribean. Those sugar plantations can bring in a lot of money once you get them to town size. I wouldn’t bother getting slave provinces yet because they’re not working the way it’s supposed to. Slaves are supposed to bring in more money the more plantations are used (cotton, sugar etc), but it’s bugged right now, hopefully it gets fixed in the next patch.

I usually leave it alone. If you’re European chances are you’re going to start off Catholic. Towards midgame Protestant and Reformed religion usually starts popping up, mostly in Germany and such. Just adjust your tolerance levels and you should be good. If you are Protestant while someone else is Catholic, they can declare war on your without a stability hit because you are different religions, and vise versa.

A province of a different religions adds more the stability cost, lower tax efficiency and a higher revolt risk.

I mentioned inflations above. Your tax rate depends a lot on your technology levels and what buildings you have. Other than that, you really can’t control it.

I usually don’t bother with Missionary or Colonist advisors, unless I’m colonizing. But if an advisor comes along that boosts my tech, no matter how low I will pick him. Technology is key in this game.

Wars can be fast if you overwhelm them. Other than colonies, you have to besiege the enemy province. You can storm the fortress, but you’ll lose a lot of men for that, even with cannon. With colonies you can either keep them (as long as they’re under 1000 people) or you can burn them down. I usually keep them, but burning would be a good idea if you know you can’t hold on to it.

Anywho, back to regular warfare. Every province you take is worth a certain number of war score. A capitol is worth a lot. In the peace menu you can ask for land, ducats, order them to become vassals etc. Every piece of land you take is worth a certain number of badboy also. This can be seen as your reputation. Getting a very bad repuation is bad because you’re upsetting the balance of power. You do that then everyone will declare war on you. I sometimes like when they do that because that means I don’t have to declare war. Time lowers your badboy slowly as does releasing vassals (the latter lowers it by a lot).

During a war you have to really be careful of your manpower. It’s very easy to get distracted and it run out. I’ve had to settle for less than my goals because I didn’t watch it closely enough.

A University and the like are manufacturies. You have to be careful where you place then. They get progressivly more expensive, but over time they offer a lot of help. For example, the Weapons Manufactury, if placed in a province that has iron, offers 12 (doubled from 6), ducats, although I can’t remember if it were a month or a year. But more importantly, it gives 5 ducats worth into your Land tech. They have a Manufactuary for every tech group.

I always build Workhouses. If you place your mouse over the picture, it’ll tellyou what it does. Some you have to be careful with. If I have problems with a provice, I won’t place a tax collector(?) there because although it raises taxes by 5% in that province, it also ups the revolt risk by +2. It all depends on what’s imprant to you. If I have an aggressive neighbor, I upgrade the walls on the border, no matter the cost. I also have at least a level 1 fort on each province. Without it the enemy doesn’t have to seige, and it makes it harder for me to be on a defensive. Tax assesor is a must, it lowers your inflation, which in the later game is very important.

You’ll have fun with this game. It takes a bit to get used to, but to me that’s a good sign. Fairly easy to learn the basics, but it takes a while to master. Paradox Plaza is very good with their customer support. They are constantly patching games to make it better. And Johan, the lead developer and others are active on their forums, and customers complaints, suggestions etc are usually taken into consideration. And they’re always working with modders.

Here is there forum.

Hopefully in all that writing I did I helped in some bit.

To answer many of your questions, I recommend going into “country guides” at http://www.europa-universalis.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page This helped me through the learning phase of the game (I played Castille and Portugul mainly while learning)

But to address specific points:

If you are a small country without much land, go for a government with +% to trade income. If you have lots of land and resources, go for +% to production. You know how it’ll say furs sell for 20.4g (or so)? Well, you only get your production % of that. So if you have 50% production, you really only get 10.2g income from that. You get the idea.

If you intend to explore and settle the gray unsettled territories on the map (mostly African, East Asian, and the Western Hemisphere) then bump up everything that gives you more colonists. You need 10 successful colonists (1000 population total) sent to an unsettled territory to make it become a full province, so you need about 4 million of them by the end of the game. After that, focus on anything that increases you production % or trade % (see above for which to focus on). Don’t worry about the negative +% to technology. It costs quite a bit to begin with, and another 1% won’t make much difference in the long run.

Read the trade strategy on that website I linked above, it gives a great tutorial on the how and why of trade in this game. I think it is under ‘core concepts’

I tend to go with vast land-based empires with as much territory as I can manage. I focus on conquering my neighbors by overwhelming troop numbers, and at the same time exploring and settling new territories. Therefore, I favor production well over trade. In order, my national ideas generally are Deus Vult, Quest for the New World, Smithian Economics, National Bank, Viceroys, Bureaucracy, Bill Of Rights, Shrewd Commerce Practice, National Trade Policy, Military Drill.

In general, try to keep a little going into your treasury as you can. Money going into your treasury leads to inflation. While not really noticable at first, after about 100 years you’ll have potentially doubled the price of everything. Try to get by on just your end-of-year income (I know, not always feasable, but do your best). One of the buildings, Constable I think, increases this end-of-year income by 50%, so build those as soon as you can.
Otherwise, keep all research at an even keel as they are weighted to not outpace each other too far. If you are in desperate need of stability points, by all means throw everything you can into stability until it gets back on track.

It depends on the country I am playing. If you are a European power, get to the new world as fast as you can. Colonize the Caribbean for some quick cash and profitable land. The New World is easily 5x as rich as mainland Europe. South America is very nice to colonize, as is Southeastern North America. Just keep pumping out colonists as fast and often as you can, and as many as you can afford. Heck, it’s territory without war, which is hard to come by.

Oh, I suppose I should explain how to explore. Once you get the “Quest for the New World” national idea, you will be able to build Conquistadors (for land) and Explorers (for boats). These can be found on the far right tab next to generals. It takes 1 colonist to create a conquistador or explorer. Select a unit (say a boat). See where it says “no leader” in the boat’s window? While in a friendly territory, click that button and select an explorer. Now you can move that boat into the previously white “Terra Incognita” areas. The same process applies for land units.

Territories that have a different religion than your main one pay significantly less taxes and are more likely to revolt. Pick a religion (recommend Catholic for european nations) and stick with it. When you can afford it and the % chance get fairly high, send missionaries to your territories with different religions to convert them.

Regarding the religion sliders, I tend to go all or nothing. Obviously you want full tolerance on your main religion. Put the sliders to full for any other religions that are active in territories you own. If you are intolerant of Islam, for instance, your Islamic provinces with be significantly more likely to rebel. Get these converted as quickly as possible to your main religion (see above).

You don’t set your tax rate. It is based on many factors, such as relion in each province, national ideas, whether there is a land connection to a territory, etc. Each territory screen has the tax in the top right corner. This works the same as production or trade %. If you have a 90% tax rate, you get 90% of that number for that territory.

For inflation, try not to bring in money to your treasury each month if you can help it. Get the National Bank national idea, and build Tax Assessors as soon as you are able. It’s damn near impossible to keep inflation at 0, but you can manage it if careful. If it makes you feel better, my first game I didn’t know this, and had an inflation of 124 by 1600.

I go for colonists above all else, followed by researchers and stability managers. I don’t use trade, but if I did I assume I’d want merchants. Balance these the best you see fit. Would you rather have a 3 star colonist or 5 star researcher? Go with what you need most at the time. If I’m given the choice of all 1 star advisors, I try to at least fill it with a colonist because they are usually my limiting factor in expansion.

Go to the first tab. Under your prestige there is a summary of your reputation. Probably “You have a respectable reputation” to start. Hover over this to get a numerical number. These are known as Badboy points, the most important number to watch in the game. You gain points for being, well, evil. You get 1 point for declaring war, 6 for annexing another country, a couple for getting ceded territories, etc. This number slowly goes down depending on your leader, usually .4 to .8 per year. Yes, year. It takes a damn long time to gain respect back. When you declare war, you better make sure you do it right.

Best strategy for war: Calvery with annihilate infantry. Infantry can take forts by force. If you want to take a level 1 fort with 1000 troops inside, bring 8000 infantry and storm the place. You will now ‘occupy’ that territory. When you try to talk about peace to a country you are at war with, they have a rating for what they think of you. It is the large white number when you first send a diplomat. This can go up to a maximum of 99%. The higher the number, the more likely they are to settle for peace in your favor. To get this number higher, you’ll need to take a couple territories.

Let me give an example. Say I am France in a war on Castille. I want Navarra. I can’t just stand troops around in Navarra. The world at large still things of it as a Castille province with me invading. I need Castille to agree that it is mine. So I take a huge army and rampage across the Castille countryside occupying his provinces. Make sure you leave a few thousand men behind in each to protect it from counterattack. Once Castille is suffiently pissed off, demand that he give you Navarra in exchange for peace. On the peace offer screen, Navarra will be given a numerical value. The higher the value, the more it is worth, and the more reluctant that Castille will be to give it up. Trial and error are best for learning how far you can push a country into giving up its territory.

Just remember, for war: Overwhelming odds, calvary for battles, infantry for sieges. I don’t bother with cannons because, well, I build ALOT of infantry and calvary.

Another thing about war: If you can afford it, recruit a general for each army. This gives them modifiers to their attacks that give you a large edge against the enemy. Recruit generals the same was as Explorers above.

PM me or post to this thread any more questions you may have. I learned of this game originally from a thread here (I’ll see if I can find it) where someone posted a great story of his rise with Mecklenburg, and it just tickled the strategy-game gene in me in ways it hasn’t been tickled since reading The Worthing Sage by Orson Scott Card. I haven’t quit playing this game in weeks.

I hope for a multiplayer patch that allows someone to join a game in mid-session. Imagine the possibility of 20 straight dope players each picking a country, setting the game speed to the slowest possible, and everyone logging in once every day or two to issue orders to their prospective country. I’m sorry, but to me that sounds phenominally awesome.

I don’t bother with the bottom row of expensive buildings, as I usually don’t have the money.

For the rest of the buildings, I generally build everything that will give me more money, followed by all the stability helping ones. Regimental camps are a must once army sizes get above 7000 on a regular basis, as these allow you to keep sometimes up to 26000 troops on one territory without attrition.
Oh, and here is that original forum post: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=405249&highlight=europa

Thanks for the link and the great advice guys! Let me try some of this stuff out in a new game and I’ll post back more questions if I have them. I ended up playing through with England until the end (1799 I think), and while I wasn’t number one I guess I didn’t do badly. The advice you guys gave here ought too boost my next game by a huge ammount. :slight_smile:

(its hard to believe that a game that looks this bad, and doesn’t have any combat except some numbers scrolling up can be this addictive. I didn’t think I’d like it after the Total War games, but I stayed up until nearly 2am playing a game…and that was before I read your replies and knew anything about what I was doing :wink: ).

Thanks again!


Sad to say, but there’s been virtually no dev presence in the mod forums since release.

But yes, I can’t imagine trying to play a Paradox game without reading the official forums. They are an invaluable source of information.

Once you get bored of just playing, I’ve found that modding the game is actually quite easy. Alot of the necessary files are in .txt format in pseudo-code so it is easy to understand and write events and change values. I feel as I have barely touched the surface, but my next project is to create some fresh maps and countries.

You think you’re playing a lot now, just imagine how addicting it becomes once you realize you can form other countries. My favorite was when I started as Brandenburg and formed Germany. So awesome. I might do that again…

I’ve also formed Great Britain, but I’m still working on Italy. That’s my next goal actually.

No, your next goal should be to form countries you shouldn’t. I managed to turn Mali into Spain once, that was not easy and required quite a bit of ‘strategery’.