Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
It’s no secret: we here at Start 2 Continue love our grand strategy games. If Paradox Interactive makes it, we’re probably fanboying over it. Heck, when Europa Universalis IV came out last summer, I was very tempted to retire from life. Just sitting in my room late at night, conquering any nation who stood in my way.
A few of my friends didn’t understand how I could just stare blankly at a map, moving little army and navy pieces around, reading the latest news of my empire and those abroad. But it’s the level of depth–the technology trees, the national ideas that customize your nation, the limitless possibility to rewrite history–that grabbed my attention so fiercely. Well, those and the reasons I’m about to list below.
The Grandest of Strategy Games
Like most of Paradox’s games (Victoria, Hearts of Iron, and Crusader Kings), Europa Universalis IV is a grand strategy game. A grand strategy game is, classically, defined as a strategy game with some hybridization between turn-based and real-time mechanics. For example, EUIV allows you to speed up or slow down the passage of time, with time stopping for important events or when the player needs extra time to plan his next move. Another example would be the Total War series that has players take turns on the strategic map, but have real-time full-scale battles.
What’s nice about the ability to scale how fast time goes is that EUIV becomes a game that requires little attention if you want to do other things. Often I’ll have the game run windowed on my other monitor while I write. Every so often, I’ll turn away from my draft to reorganize my troops, start construction on new buildings, or to address the latest complaint from the peasantry. What’s nice is that if I want to dedicate my full attention to it, I can pass time quicker and get more done.
With hundreds of countries to choose from (not including some of the extra mods that are available that add even more and/or extend the timeline of the game beyond its 1444 – 1821 limits), the sky’s the limit to how you bring your fledgling country to greatness.
Will you become a trading empire, monopolizing on the local routes and resources? Will you field the world’s largest army, its grandest navy as you annex all in your path? Perhaps you wish to build an empire of loyal vassals, granting autonomy in return for mutual protection and taxation? The choice is yours.
Now with the Conquest of Paradise DLC, you can randomize the Western Hemisphere, allowing you to truly feel the excitement of discovering a brand new world. If colonization doesn’t tickle your fancy, the Wealth of Nations DLC set to release Q2 2014 might prompt you to set your gaze to lands outside of the Occident. This isn’t even touching on the dozens of mods available too, to customize your experience as you wish. Speaking of that…
Steam Workshop Compatibility Makes Modding Easy
The smartest thing Paradox has done with regards to its grand strategy franchises is open the games up to modders. Prior to Steam Workshop, you’d have to browse on the Paradox forums to find mods and manually install them, but now the process is stream-lined with the ability to subscribe and favorite mods of your choice, ranging from simple unit reskins to full overhauls.
Fun with Friends
Fans of games like Axis & Allies, Civilization V, Dungeons & Dragons, and Risk, you’ll find a welcome home among the gamer crowd that surrounds EUIV. Just like your favorite tabletop games as a kid, you almost have to approach titles like this as virtual tabletop games.
You’ll spend literal hours planning and plotting. And I’m surprised by the variance of playing styles. Some focus solely on military conquest, gobbling up whatever they can. Some are more opportunistic, trying to collapse the larger, bloated empires through the use of espionage and funding revolutionaries. Some are peaceful nations, though well-defended. They might offer up their vast reserves of gold to poorer states, giving the latter money to shore up their militaries or infrastructure.
Whatever your play style, you’ll have fun. And as long as you keep your eye on the overall score (judged on categories of Administration, Diplomacy, and Military), you’ll do well. Just how you build your score is entirely up to you.
And after all, that’s what a game like this is all about.