It has been at least a decade since the grand strategy game, Europa Universalis, was released. Paradox is now on its fourth iteration of the product, and it just keeps getting better. I had pre-ordered the game on Steam so I could get the bonus DLC. The past few weeks have been rather busy, so I only recently got to sit down and give it some serious play time.
Venice. I am always drawn to Venice. Something about its location and the fact it can be an economic powerhouse. So it is no surprise I chose them for my first game. Since EU4 starts around 50 years later than EU3, Venice actually has more holdings in Europe than I was used to. My first order of business was trade, of course.
Trade. The trading system in EU4 is quite a bit different than previous editions. It is much too complex to fully cover here though. Basically Trade is separated into Nodes, which flow into other nodes. You can assign merchants to nodes who can either collect money or steer it to another chosen node. Owning provinces within the node area increase how effective you are, as does the present of Light Ships.
The Trade Nodes and paths are all static though, so you have to work with what is there. As Venice, I had a lot of Trade Power in Venice which allowed me to make some decent coin right off the bat. I sent merchants out to Ragusa, Alexandria, and Constantinople to direct trade back to Venice. I also worked on acquiring territory, like Cyprus, to increase my Trade Power in those nodes.
War. What's a grand strategy game without war? Not much to really say here, as the system feels just like previous games. I spent a good amount of time fighting the Mamluks and Hungry so far, both victories for me.
Navy. Navies are much more important this go around. Since Light Ships provide Trade Power, you will see larger fleets roaming the sees. Blockades also provide a good bit of victory points when going to the peace table.
Engine. EU4 uses the same engine as Crusader Kings 2. It feels very slick and polished. Tooltips with detailed information are everywhere allowing for a much better understanding of what's happening and why.
Flavor. The addition of unique National Ideas for most countries give them a different feel. As if there wasn't enough replay value already.
Overall. I am quire pleased with EU4, it is an excellent game. I cannot wait to see what they do for future DLC/Expansions. If you like strategy games, it is definitely one to pick up.