Friday, July 8, 2011

How to Min/Max Your Nation

I finally finished my first playthrough of Europa Universalis III. According to Steam, it took 329 hours, although having left it open overnight a couple times probably assisted in that total. Anyway, I of course have some things to say about the game. I'd organize them in some fashion, but I really don't want to. So you've been warned.

EUIII is a nation simulator which happens to take place between the years 1399-1821. You take the part of the leader of a nation, and I mean any nation. You have your various European duchies, counties, prince-bishoprics and the like, some of which you can attempt to build into the nations we have now, you have the various hordes of the Central Asian steppes, you have your various Eastern empires, and last, and possibly least, you can also choose to be several Native American tribes or one of the nations of mysterious Africa. So having loaded it up and checked out a couple of these tribes after the first play (I chose Novgorod, somehow never got around to turning it into Russia) it seems that they've weighted it against being able to have African tribal musketeers waiting for the conquistadores. Which is somewhat strange, given that it's not entirely given over to historical accuracy, but I suppose makes a certain amount of sense.

So let's talk about historical accuracy for a bit. They try to work in a certain amount of accuracy, such as their tech research. Putting a lot of cash into any one branch of research (gov't, production, trade, naval, or land) will result in getting to higher levels faster, however at a certain point it will make those higher levels more expensive to ensure you don't reach them too soon. In addition, the larger the empire you have, the more the tech is supposed to cost; even so with the largest empire I had the highest levels in government and land research. I suspect this is an inadvertent offshoot of having picked a Russian country myself. It probably also had something to do with the sliders, but I can't speak to that for certain, because I haven't gone through the manual.

Speaking of which, the PDF version weighs in at 148 pages, truly an example of tl;dr if ever there was one. I mainly used it as a reference guide when I remembered it was there to reference. One of the things I found in there that I did like was their position on doing things that they knew weren't technically or historically correct in order to make the gameplay better, a position that we here at Awesome Games wholeheartedly support. And make use of, more often than not. I do believe it helps to actually know said history, and I'm pretty certain these guys do.

Moving on, I'm going to talk about the post title for a bit. This game is really all about the min max. You have sliders that represent more or less every policy you can have, sliders that represent your budget, numbers that represent your relationships with other countries, and probably many more that I don't want to look for right now. It's not hard to go into information overload, or on the opposite end start making spreadsheets and databases to play this game. On the other hand, at certain points I could use a bit more information, usually when I'm attempting to form an alliance or secure trade rights. When you go to do diplomacy, you'll get a blurb that gives the likelihood of any of your diplomatic requests succeeding, from Very Likely to Impossible. What I want to know is why I get said rating, and how can I change it? When I offer an alliance to a nation in the same region as me, with the same religion, with whom I have max positive relation, I'd think they'd be amenable to it, but no. Is it my alliance with someone else, government style, what? (Sidenote: You have several different governmental styles available, dependent of course on your government tech level. I probably should have switched at some point, but the Merchant Republic I started with allowed me to form Trade Leagues. I'm not sure what, if anything, those did for me, but I really liked the idea and thus stayed with it.)

So of course, what else am I left to do but go to war with them. As much as I hate to admit it, this game makes you think before you go to war, which is generally a good thing. Failing that, it makes you need to set it up so you can constantly be at war without taking too many penalties. I was usually pretty good at that. Some of the things EUIII makes you consider before you go to war are: your stability score, which is more or less how happy your nation is, and will go down precipitously if you go to war with no reason, or against a nation with which you have good relations; who the nation is allied with, if anyone, your Casus Belli, assuming you have one (you don't need one, but it helps) and of course, the military strength of the nation. (that one's not in there, but you need to do it anyway) Which reminds me, in one of the many charts available in game, you can find that out. About any nation, not just the ones you know about, which seems somewhat strange to me. They have fog of war, but you still know how many troops are out there?

Assuming you win, you have to be careful here, too, as you generally can't just annex the nation into your empire. Again, there's a dizzying array of options available, but it generally comes down to Infamy, which if raised above a certain level will basically give every nation a free swing at you. This is generally raised fastest by annexing nations or taking big chunks of their territory, except for certain cases such as border disputes. It goes back down over time, but usually not fast enough to suit me.

At any rate, I figure I must be getting close to how much I can type here, plus I think that this is enough for now. If you enjoy moving sliders and filling bars while engaging in diplomacy and fighting wars, you'll probably enjoy EUIII. If not, don't say I didn't warn you.

No comments:

Post a Comment