I own the base game for Europa Universalis IV for about 1.5 years now, but I still haven't done much more than the tutorial because it's my first Grand Strategy I ever played and I'm lost in all the different options.

I have read the beginner guide from the Wiki and played the tutorial, but I find that neither really explain what the important stuff is that I should focus on, especially at first. I have no idea how to start my empire or how to keep it afloat. I get lost in the 3 dozen different maps, the dozens of buildings and units I can build and the multitude of countries I can start with. Even when starting as a suggested beginner nation like Castille or Ottomans, I get overwhelmed by the options.

What is a good strategy to start the game with? Assume that I'm playing one of the suggested beginner nations, so either Castille or Ottomans.

  • 6
    For the person who submitted a close vote as "opinion based": I assumed this was okay to ask because there's a similar question for Civ 5. Also, opinion-based (i.e. subjective) is not necessarily a problem as long as they're constructive (as explained in the "what to avoid asking" help page).
    – Nzall
    Oct 20, 2015 at 20:16
  • It is fine if there is opinion behind it, the problem is if your asking for support from opinion. That said, without having played this game, a "beginners guide" is not necessarily opinion. There is always a clear 'what you should be doing at the start' with RTS games, even if there are different options. I do think that a "beginners guide" might be a bit too broad, though. I can see you are putting restrictions on where your effectively beginning from, perhaps you could make these constraints a bit clearer?
    – user106385
    Oct 21, 2015 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


I was in the same situation as you currently are a year or so ago, so I do get why you would feel lost in the numerous options you have in front of you when playing EU4.

You have to realize that we can't possibly provide you with a single strategy that would help you win this game, because it depends on too many factors to list them here. And you'd end up more confused anyway by the amount of information you'd get. However, there are steps you can take to help you learn, and eventually master, this game. Here are the best advices I can personally give you:

Beginner's Tips

  • Start a new game without any specific performance expectations. Try different things, watch what the other nations do, especially your neighbors. It can help if you start with one of the "best" nations (France, Castille, Portugal, Austria or Ottomans). Keep in mind that in order to build a winning strategy, you need to be familiar with the most important game mechanics. So your first game(s) should serve to that purpose: learning the mechanics. Make sure the game timer is set to a low speed (2 or 3), so that you have enough time to react whenever something happens.

  • Watch "Let's Play" videos on YouTube. I haven't watched a whole lot of them, but I enjoyed shenryyr's and Arumba's videos, both for the entertainment they provided and for the knowledge you can gain by listening to their thought process while they are playing. If you do watch those videos, it would be more beneficial if you watched a game that uses the same version of the game you own (including the expansions), since the expansions add new features, and sometimes they modify some mechanics of the vanilla game.

  • Watch introduction videos on YouTube. Arumba has very nice and detailed tutorial videos covering lots of stuff in the game (war, trading, diplomacy, etc.).

General Tips/Observations

  • In EU4, you can do just whatever you want. You can start with Castille, and try to convert to Protestant, declare war with Portugal and never colonize the Americas, or start with some Indian nation and colonize Australia like there's no tomorrow. You decide what you want to do at all times, the game does not force any sort of goal upon you, which leads to a state of confusion when you first start this game.

  • You mentioned the quantity of maps confused you. Keep in mind that only a few of them will ever be useful to you. Most of the time you can stick to the map that shows only the countries (can't have access to the game right now, to the map names eludes me :\ ). Eventually, you'll find the maps that gives you the information you need at that specific time.

  • If you play a nation that is not part of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE), don't mess with any nation that is part of the HRE unless you know exactly what you are doing. There's an HRE map that shows which nation/province are part of the HRE, it can help you visualize this danger zone.

  • There's a lot of useful information that can be obtained by hovering the mouse over the information presented on the screen. For instance, you can have an explanation of what a map mode shows to you if you hover the mouse over the mpa mode button (and wait for a second or two). If you look at an information and wonder what it means, hover the mouse over it, more often than not you'll get additional information.

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    I accidentally poked the HoRnEt's nest in my first game as France. DoW DoW DoW "How does this tiny province have so many allies?" DoW DoW DoW DoW DoW DoW DoW "Oh, %@&#$!" Reload Oct 20, 2015 at 22:35
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    @DavidHarkness Not to mention how massive the army of the emperor can be with their insane force limits - you attack a two-province country just to find out they have 60k soldiers. Ouch.
    – Luaan
    Oct 21, 2015 at 14:14
  • I learned a lot my first time by playing as Burgundy due to their potential to align with either England, France, or Austria, but now that they have a bunch of personal unions instead of actual holdings, it's probably not advisable anymore, I guess. Nov 2, 2015 at 19:21
  • technically speaking the new Burgundy is a powerhouse because instead of their own limited manpower pool, they now have their manpower pool and several others of similar size to draw from. This is what made pre-CS France such a beast in the early game, their vassal swarm. They're still strong due to their ideas but not absolutely insane like previously as their manpower pool is actually quite limited. Dec 28, 2015 at 12:47

My answer is inspired by Wiz's reply on the forums (he's the project lead of EU4): http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/first-time-playing-eu-iv-best-tips-wanted.881038/page-2#post-19918079

While playing you should pay attention to the following things:

  • Get some big allies that are in a position to defend you. Do this ASAP.
  • If you're losing a war, try to get out of it quickly instead of waiting until your army is gone and your land is ravaged.
  • Rival people who rival you or who you want to conquer.
  • Don't let stability stay below 0.
  • Don't let war exhaustion stay above 5.
  • Don't let disasters trigger.
  • Don't fall behind on mil tech.

The next thing is to learn what game mechanics allow you to achieve these goals. Diplomacy for alliances, combat mechanics, army composition and fort placement for winning wars, earning money through trade and production in order to hire powerful advisers to keep high income of monarch points to purchase stability and techs, unrest mechanics to prevent disasters etc.

This way after several wins and loses you'll have a good understanding how things are working.

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