I've been playing the Europa Universalis
series off-and-on for ten years, now. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up the latest expansion, Europa Universalis III: Heir to the Throne
. The complete package costs $25 on Steam or Direct2Drive.
For those unfamiliar with EU, the emphasis has been on evolutionary change in the game towards better historical realism. In this expansion, they've also done a lot to make it a more enjoyable game
, while still improving realism.
You are the power behind the throne of a nation from 1399 to 1820. You can start any year, and most any country, but most of the action is in Europe. The sheer number of facets that the player can effect are pretty intimidating -- so many ways to screw up. You have: war, diplomacy, trade, economic production, religion, culture, national ideals, great men, royal marriages and succession, historical events (like the Reformation), papal influence, the Holy Roman Empire, alliances, colonization, piracy, rebellion, espionage, manpower levels, military and exploration leaders, national stability, national prestige, national reputation (bad boy rating), and others I'm forgetting.
The biggest difference between this game a something like Civilization IV, besides the fact that it is played on a historical map, and everything is modeled more accurately, is that you can't just attack other countries that are weaker than you without consequences. If attack another country without casus belli
, you will destabilize your country and hurt your relations with other nations.
This week, I started playing Holland in the year 1399. At that point, Holland was just two provinces, Holland and Zeeland. Now it is the year 1495. (Only 325 years left!) My current ruler is Floris VI of the Habsburgs. Just for fun, I worked out his full title, restricted to things he has legitimate claim to in the game:
Floris, by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Holland, King of New Holland, of the Azores, and of Loango, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Brabant, Limburg, and Gelderland, Count of Flanders, Holland, Zeeland, Artois, Hainaut, and Liege, Lord of Frisia, Breda, Antwerp, and Utrecht
Here is his Europe in 1495:
As you can guess, I'm a little worried about France. Their national focus is, quite simply, to have the biggest army. I fought them to a draw in one war, but they were also fighting Castille at the time. They're still fighting Castille, and you can see the results. Still, they couldn't keep a hold of Normandy and Britanny.
Britain (England and Scotland unified maybe 20 years ago) is also a problem. They own the Jutland peninsula and Mecklenburg and have an invincible navy. It took me years of war to get them off my eastern border, too. One of your jobs as Holy Roman Emperor is to keep non-member powers (like England) out of the Empire, and they've been all up in my business.
At the beginning of a new century, things are good for Holland. The King is Emperor and Defender of the Faith. Holland dominates every trade center in Europe (as well as Alexandria and Samarkand), and has explorers looking for new ones in the East. Holland was first to establish colonies in North America (Newfoundland and Cape Breton islands -- Delaware and New Jersey didn't work out). We have begun a program of reforms of the Holy Roman Empire. Our prestige and reputation surpass every other nation.
What could possibly go wrong in the 16th century?