Posted on Leave a comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #8

Christopher Columbus, by Olly Lawson

It is about time for a new Development Diary. We have talked a little about Actions in previous diary entries, but mainly about Action Cards. This time we want to talk about the Basic Actions. Those are the Actions that you can always perform, without the need of any cards.

Basic Actions

The Basic Actions are, in the same way as the Action Cards, divided into the three types of Monarch Power – there are Administrative Actions, Diplomatic Actions and Military Actions. They normally cost either Administrative Power (AP), Diplomatic Power (DP) or Military Power (MP). But there are also some Special Actions and Free Actions that are not tied to any of these in particular.

Free Actions

Free Actions are Actions that you can performed alongside another Action during your Turn or, in some cases, even during another player’s Turn.

Declare War

By Declaring War, you go to a War against the target Realm. If you have no justification for doing so, no Casus Belli, you will suffer a –2 Stability drop. Most of the time a Casus Belli involves a Claim on some of the target’s Provinces.

Hire Advisor or Leader

Pay the recruitment cost to hire a new Advisor (Square portrait) or Leader (Circular portrait) from the cards in your hand. Advisors cost Ducats and provide extra Monarch Points in the area of their expertise, while Leaders cost Military Power and provide bonuses in Battles.

Take/Repay Loan

Take a Loan Tile and 5 Ducats from the general supply. You must pay an interest of 1 Ducat every Round until the loan has been repaid. You can take a loan at any time as long as you don’t already 5 active loans.

Special Actions

Special Actions are not necessarily linked to a particular type of Monarch Power, and don’t always cost Monarch Points to perform. They do however take up a whole player Turn.

Research Ideas

You may spend the Monarch Point cost stated on an Idea, to activate this Idea and claim the bonuses it provides.

Change National Focus

May only be done once per Round. Perform either or both of the two options below.

  • Discard any 3 Action Cards from your hand and draw 2 new cards of your choice. Alternatively discard 2 cards and draw 1 new. 
  • Increase one type of Monarch Power by two tokens, while decreasing the two others by one token each.

Change State Religion

From Age II onwards it is possible to change State Religion from Catholic to Protestant (or from Protestant to Catholic) by taking this action. Changing to or from other Religions can only happen as a consequence of War or Rebellion.

Explore

Pay 1 DP and 1 MP to move a Fleet or an Army into unchartered territory on one of the Exploration Maps. Requires “Quest for the New World” Idea.

Christopher Columbus discovers America. Illustration: Olly Lawson
Christopher Columbus discovers America. Illustration: Olly Lawson

Administrative ­Actions

Increase Stability

You may spend 6 AP, modified by your current Stability value, to increase your Stability by 1 step. (Stability ranges from –3 to +3.)

Convert Area

Pay 3 Ap and 3 Ducats to Convert the Religion to your State Religion in an Area where you own all the Provinces. Roll a number of Rebel Dice for the Area you convert equal to half the Tax Income of the Provinces.

Colonize

Spend 1 AP per Colonist token to Colonize any unoccupied Colony Space which you have Explored, and placed a Claim on. 5 Colonists are required to complete a Colony, an thus replacing it with a regular Province.

Diplomatic Actions

Influence

Pay 1 DP or 3 Ducats per token, to place Influence tokens in, or adjacent to, any Areas where you own at least one Province or already have one or more Influence Tokens.

Trade

Pay 1 DP to draw 3 Trade Cards and choose one of the cards that has a Trade Node where you have, or can move, a Merchant that has not already been activated this Round. Discard the remaining cards. All players with a Merchant in the chosen Trade Node will now collect Trade Income from the Node according to their Trade Power.

Fabricate Claim

Spend 1 DP per Claim, to place Claim tokens on Provinces in Areas adjacent to your Realm. 

Military Actions

Activate Army/Fleet

You may spend 1 MP to activate an Army (or a single Land Unit) or make a Naval Activation. An activated Army or a single Land Unit may then either Move or Siege. When Land Units enter an Area containing enemy Units, a Battle will be fought immediately.

A Naval Activation will let you move any number of Ships on the board to a single destination (Sea Zone or Port). Fleets and Ships may move a maximum of 2 spaces (Sea Zones). They must stop and fight if they enter a Sea Zone containing enemy Ships. 

Getting ready for battle. Illustration: Olly Lawson

Recruit Military Units

Pay 1 MP, and the required amount of Ducats, to recruit as many Military Units from your Manpower Pool as you desire or can afford. Hire Mercenary Units from the general supply when your Manpower runs out. Build up to one Ship per Port you own.

Refresh Manpower

Pay 1 MP per 2 Units, to Replenish as many Exhausted Units in your Manpower Pool as you desire. These Units are moved from the Exhausted area to the Available area, and are ready to be Recruited.

Handle Rebels

Pay 1 MP per Unrest that you want to remove from your Provinces.

New Illustrations

As you might have noticed we have got some new illustrations this time around. That’s because we have Olly Lawson working on the cards for the game. He is a UK based illustrator and in his portfolio you can see that he is the perfect guy for the job. He’s got other historical games, such as the cards for Pandemic: Fall of Rome, already under his belt, and he’s even a fan of Europa Universalis!

All the illustrations in this Development Diary are of his doing, and there is a lot more to come!

Olly’s illustration admiring the paragraph I wrote about him

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (Actions, Action Cards and France)
Development Diary #4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
Development Diary #5 (Diplomatic Relations)
Development Diary #6 (Warfare and Ottomans)
Development Diary #7 (Non-Player Realms)

Newsletter Sign-up

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter, how to sign up as a play tester, and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Posted on Leave a comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #7

It is been a while since the last the diary, and we apologise for that. That does not mean that we haven’t been busy, quite the opposite. We have been talking to manufacturers, commissioning illustrations, revamping the map, developing the rules, getting the Tabletop Simulator demo ready for testing, and of course lots of play testing.

Today I thought I would talk a little bit about Realms. Most of all we will look at those tempting targets scattered around the map, the Non-Player Realms (NPRs).

Player Realms and NPRs

A section of the map board showing southern Germany, northern Italy, the Carpathian region and the northern Balkans. Bohemia has been marked with tokens to signify that it is an Active NPR in this Scenario. Player Realms are marked with thicker Province Disks.

The European political landscape in 1444 included a myriad of states, small and big. Provinces would often change hands, either as a result of wars or as a consequence of diplomatic agreements or dynastic changes. These were mostly nothing like the national states of modern times. Thus, as a catch-all term, we merely call them Realms, because of the many different forms of governments and the various degrees of independence that they enjoyed.

Here we have circled some NPRs. Saxony’s (pink line) three Provinces all reside within the Area of Saxony. Venice (orange) and Hungary (green) on the other hand have Provinces located in several different Areas.

The Player Realms are clearly marked with thick Province disks (Austria in white, Poland in purple, and Ottomans in green). Most NPRs on the other hand are just indicated with the “flags” printed on the map board. All Provinces that have a similar flag belong to the same Realm. A Realm’s Provinces may sometimes be scattered across several Areas. Other times an Area may contain several tiny Realms.

The names of the Realms will also be depicted on the final version of the map board.

Active NPRs

Depending on the player count and scenario, some NPRs may be designated as Active NPRs. These are indicated with tokens like the ones placed on the Provinces of Bohemia here. Active NPRs have triggers in the Event cards that can make them expand, or even attack Player Realms.

Tokens that show Claims and Diplomatic Relations

In the image above we can see that Austria has placed a (Royal) Marriage token on the Bavarian Province of München. We can also see that Austria have Claims on the Hungarian Province of Pozsony, and the Venetian Province of Brescia. The Ottomans meanwhile have Claims on the Bosnian Provinces of Bosna and Hum. The Claims provide the Claim holders with a Casus Belli on the owner of the Provinces in question, and they may go to War against that Realm to conquer those Provinces.

Attacking an NPR

If you decide that it is time to attack an NPR, they will of course try to defend their territory as best they can. When moving your Army into any home Area of an NPR you are at War with, they will defend with a number of Units equal to their number of Provinces inside of that Area and any adjacent Areas (Large Provinces count double).

If the Ottomans want to enforce their Claims on Bosnia, they will simply face two Bosnian Military Units when moving their Army into the Croatia & Bosnia Area to attack the Bosnians. Bosnia only has two Provinces (none in adjacent Areas). The Province of Zagreb belongs to Hungary, and is therefore unaffected by the attack on the Realm of Bosnia.

Austria could use the Claim on Pozsony to attack Hungary, but they would face a much sterner task in trying to defeat the Hungarians. Moving their Army from Austria and into Upper Hungary, they would face no less than nine defending Hungarian Units. Three of those would come from Upper Hungary itself and a total six from the bordering Areas of Croatia & Bosnia, Alföld and Transylvania. The Province of Lika, in the Eastern Adriatic Area, would not contribute any Unit to the defence of Upper Hungary, as it is too far away.

When you have defeated the defending Army of an NPR, you may subsequently Siege the Provinces in the Area where the Battle was fought. If you continue your march of conquest into the next Area, the NPR will muster a new Army to defend their Provinces in that Area.

Tabletop Simulator set up for a 6-player Grand Campaign game.

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (Actions, Action Cards and France)
Development Diary #4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
Development Diary #5 (Diplomatic Relations)
Development Diary #6 (Warfare and Ottomans)

Newsletter Sign-up

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter, how to sign up as a play tester, and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Posted on Leave a comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #6

Today’s subject for the development diary, is one we think that many of you might have been waiting for, namely Warfare. While some players immediately try to conquer their way through the continent, others will stick to a more diplomatic approach. Either way, all players must be prepared for the possibility that their Realm will be involved in an armed conflict at some stage.

Preparing for War

If you see that neighboring Player Realms are gearing for War, it might be wise to prepare your own state for what might be coming. You could, of course, take diplomatic measures, by forging Alliances and making deals with other players, but eventually you will have to field a military force that can defend your lands. Gearing for War is costly, so make sure you set aside resources to pay for it. Taking a Recruit Action costs one Military Power (MP) token, and lets you recruit as many Military Units as you can afford to pay for with the Ducats in your Treasury. Regular Units are limited by the Manpower of your Realm. You may hire Mercenaries (orange color) on top of this. Recruited Units must be placed in your own Home Areas. Your Armies may consist of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery Units.

When you are preparing to go on the offensive, and not simply defending yourself, you should make sure that you have a good reason to do so – a Casus Belli. In a War of Conquest a Casus Belli normally means having Claims on Provinces owned by the target Realm. You may use your Diplomatic Power to Fabricate these Claims as needed, if you haven’t already got them. When you have your Casus Belli, and you think that you are better prepared than your target, it is time to Declare War.

Warfare

You deploy your Military Units most efficiently by stationing them in one of your Armies. All Units in an Army may move as one. Each Army is represented by a miniature on the board, and has its own Army Mat off the map board, which may contain any number of Units. You move your Armies by spending one MP, and taking an Activate Army Action, enabling you to move one Army. An Army may move one space in hostile territories or two spaces in friendly territories, per activation. There are Action Cards that give attackers more flexibility, and cards that give defenders a chance to react.

Battles

When an Army moves into an Area with hostile Units, a Battle will ensue immediately. Both the attacker and the defender has a chance to play Action Cards to improve their odds. Having a General to command your Army is also very useful. As a basis, both sides roll 3 Infantry Dice. Then you add dice supplied by Action Cards and Generals.

You score hits by rolling symbols that match with Units in your Army. To score a hit for an Infantry result, you need an Infantry Unit, and likewise for Cavalry and Artillery. Each Unit may only inflict one hit on the opponent. In other words, you need to have the tactical advantage of a General or an Action Card, to efficiently make the most of having a large Army on the battlefield. If both sides have surviving Units after the first round of dice rolling, they may decide whether they want to retreat or continue fighting. You win the Battle if you defeat all of the enemy’s Units, or if they retreat.

Your casualties return to your Manpower Pool as exhausted Units. You must refresh your Exhausted Units to make them available again. Mercenaries are returned to the General Supply.

Ottoman forces on the move in the Balkans. Infantry dice shown in the foreground.

Sieges

When you have won a Battle, you may Siege enemy Provinces in the Area on your next Turn. To Siege you must pay one MP per Province, and you need to have enough Units to match the Tax Value of the Provinces you wish to Siege. For each successful Siege you place a control token on the opponent’s Province.

Winning the War

They key to winning a War is, perhaps unsurprisingly, to beat your enemy’s Armies, and occupying as many of their Provinces as possible. If you manage to do this well enough, you will be able to enforce your demands when determining the terms of Peace. The rewards for winning a War will often be capturing Provinces from your enemy, but you may also make other demands, and score Victory Points. We will take a closer look at Peace Resolution in another Development Diary. Beware the weakening consequences of spending too many resources on a War. If you are too greedy, you might make yourself vulnerable to attacks from other players.

Major Power at a Glance: Ottomans

The Ottomans have the potential to become a truly great military and naval power.

Age I of the game starts just after the Battle of Varna, where the Ottomans defeated the Christian forces of Hungary, Poland and Wallachia. This means that the Ottomans have a fragile peace with their Christian neighbors at the outset. This peace is unlikely to last forever given the conflicting goals of the Ottoman, Austrian and Polish Missions.

If the Ottomans can capture Constantinople early on, and consolidate their power in Anatolia, they are very well positioned to expand their territories in Europe and the Middle East. Playing as the Ottomans you will most likely be at War more often than most other players. The Ottomans’ strength lie more in their military prowess than subtle diplomacy. Even so, an Alliance with France or any other power at odds with the Holy Roman Emperor is not unlikely.

The quarrels of the Reformation should not concern you much, but during the first two Ages you might find yourself targeted by a Crusade. Make sure you get the most out of your great Rulers in the first two Ages. You should be able to face any enemy coming at you, as long as they do not come all at once.

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (Actions, Action Cards and France)
Development Diary #4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
Development Diary #5 (Diplomatic Relations)

Newsletter Sign-up

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter, how to sign up as a play tester, and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Posted on 1 Comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #5

Diplomatic Relations

Even if January is well under way, I will take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year! The Development Diary is back after a break, and this time we will take a look at Diplomatic relations. In simple terms there are two main categories of diplomatic relations, inter player relations, and relations between Player Realms and Non-Player Realms (NPRs). The first is to a large degree something that depends on oral agreements, threats and promises that are not bound by game mechanics. Today we will be talking about the latter, which is controlled by a set of rules.

English and Castilian Influence (cubes), Royal Marriages and Alliances in Iberia.

Influence and Diplomatic Monarch Power

As a player, your diplomatic relations with NPRs will depend on how you invest your Diplomatic Power (DP). One of the Diplomatic Actions you can take is to place Influence in Areas on the board. You can do this by simply placing tokens (cubes) directly from the DP available (on your player mat) and onto the board, or you can pay with Ducats instead and take tokens from your supply. You may place Influence in Areas bordering your Realm, or adjacent to Influence you already have on the board.

Influence signifies political power and good relations in Areas that you do not control directly. Having sufficient Influence will enable you to perform a number of Diplomatic Actions, like forging Alliances, vassalizing or, eventually, even annexing other Realms. Since there is a cap on Influence in each Area, you may also, to a certain extent, use Influence to prevent other players from performing these Actions in your sphere of influence. If you maximize your Influence in an Area you automatically gain an Alliance or a Royal Marriage with a Realm in that Area.

Influence can be sabotaged by the spies of other players, and may also be affected by Wars and Events.

Royal Marriages

A Royal Marriage is a bond that strengthens your political foothold in Areas of the Realm you have marriage ties to. Royal Marriages makes it harder to sabotage your Influence and they are also required for a number of (mostly beneficial) Events to trigger. With enough Influence, a Royal Marriage may, given the right circumstances, position you to inherit the throne of another Realm. You can gain a Royal Marriage using the appropriate Action Card, by Events, or by maximizing your Influence in an Area.

Allies

An Alliance is a pact to support one another in the event of War. If someone attacks you, your ally will happily support you with troops. When your ally is under attack, you must support them, or suffer a penalty for being disloyal. If you attack another Realm, you may convince your ally to join you by spending Influence. When you bring an NPR ally into War, you will control their forces for the duration of the conflict. 

An Alliance is also a prerequisite for subjugating another Realm diplomatically, and thereby making them a Vassal. As with Royal Marriages, there is a corresponding Action Card, and you may gain Alliances through certain Events, or by maximizing Influence.

Vassals

Polish and Ottoman Vassals (tokens without flags).

Vassals are subordinate Realms that have limited independence. They pay a portion of their income to their overlord, as well as providing troops when requested. In time a Vassal may be politically Annex­ed by their overlord. Certain Events may cause Vassals to break free from the ties to their overlord.

To vassalize one of your Allies diplomatically, you must have sufficient Influence in their Home Areas. You must also have a Tax Income that is greater than their’s. To complete the process, you play the Vassalize/Annex card and remove the required Influence from the target Realm. When you have a Vassal already, you may follow the same procedure to annex them diplomatically, thus completely integrating them into your Realm.

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (Actions, Action Cards and France)
Development Diary #4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)

Newsletter Sign-up

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter, how to sign up as a play tester, and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Vote for EU as “Most Anticipated Historical Game of 2019” at BGG

Thanks to all of you who have already voted for us in the Historical Games Category of the Most anticipated games of 2019 on Board Game Geek. We are currently in 2nd place behind a certain game called Crusader Kings, and while we wish them all the best, we would also love to give them a good run for their money at least. The voting is happening now and until the 27th of January.

You can vote by following this link:
https://boardgamegeek.com/…/20-most-anticipated-board-games…

After scrolling down to “Category: Historical” and ticking Europa Universalis: The Board Game (and any other gameyou like), you need to go to the bottom of the final category (Best of the Rest) and hit the “Vote” button. Please note that you have to have a BGG account and be logged in before you can cast your vote. If you don’t have a BGG account, please consider registering, as this can make a difference getting the word out.

Posted on Leave a comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #4

Today we will talk a bit about Game Set-up and give a brief introduction to the Sequence of Play. This may not sound so sexy at first, but it gives a real insight into how the game is actually played. Especially in the context of what you may already have read about Monarch Power and Action Cards in the previous development diaries.

Game Set-up

The initial set-up of Europa Universalis: The Board Game depends on the scenario that you choose to play and the number of players. The game has introductory scenarios that have a light set-up and lets you jump straight into the action, and scenarios that focus on minor powers, specific regions or certain time periods and events.

For the Grand Campaign, there are recommended choices of Major Powers, depending on the number of players. For example, one suggested set-up for three players includes England, Castile/Spain and France. Another three player set-up is Austria, Poland and the Ottomans. One of the set-ups for four players includes Castile/Spain, France, Austria and the Ottomans.

The Grand Campaign lets you play through all of the four Ages of the game. For a quicker game, you may choose to play two or three Ages instead. For all Major Powers in play, you shuffle their nation specific Events into the Event Decks of each of the Ages that you decide to play. Scenarios may also have scenario specific Events.

All players then place the large and small Province disks, Influence tokens, relation tokens, merchants and military units according to their set-up card for the scenario. For a 1444 start, simply place the Province disks on the appropriate flags on the board. All players normally get four Monarch Power tokens of each type (Administrative, Diplomatic and Military) and 15 Ducats to begin with, which are placed on their player mats. The players place their starting Rulers in the Ruler spot and draw a hand of five Action Cards and one Event Card. The last thing to do before the game begins is to select Missions. Each player normally gets to choose two and draw one at random.

The Realms of Castile/Spain, France, England, Austria and Poland, set up with large and small Province disks, military units (Armies and Ships), Merchants (pawns), Influence tokens (cubes) and relation tokens.

Sequence of Play

The game is divided into Rounds and each Round consists of the four Phases listed below:

  1. Draw Cards Phase
  2. Action Phase
  3. Peace Resolution Phase
  4. Income & Upkeep Phase

These Phases are performed in the order they are listed. Each phase is completed by all players before moving on to the next phase.

In the Draw Cards Phase, all players draw three Action Cards each of any type they like. They then pay 2 Ducats for each card they decide to keep in their hand. They also draw one Event Card.

The Action Phase is, as the name suggests, where the main action of the game happens. During this phase, the players take turns performing one Action at the time until all players have passed. On their turn, players may either choose an Action from the list of Basic Actions, or they may play an Action Card. Before players are allowed to pass, they must play their Event.

The Peace Resolution Phase only occurs if there are any ongoing Wars. Peace may then be negotiated or the victor may force his terms upon the loser. Undecided Wars may continue into the next Round.

In the Income & Upkeep Phase, all players collect Tax Income from Provinces, pay their expenses, and get new Monarch Power tokens according to the skills of their Ruler and Advisors.

At the beginning of a new Age (when the Event Deck of the previous Age is empty), players pick new Missions and the next Event Deck comes into play.

Major Power at a Glance: Castile/Spain

Castile starts the 1444 game a little bit weaker than the French further north. They are however in a very good position to increase the extent of their realm quite drastically, by uniting Spain. The chances of getting a tight relationship early on with Aragon, through the Iberian Wedding event, is very high. Integrating them into your realm is likely the next step. A union with Aragon could also be a springboard for a campaign in Italy. There you could soon be involved in a fierce competition with France or Austria. There are also a couple of nearby minors (Granada and Navarra) who provide easy targets for expansion.

If France and England can end their quarrels you should not be surprised to find yourself at war with one of them before too long. France is never far away, and England has an alliance with Portugal that could become a nuisance. Perhaps the best thing to do is leave it to the others to fight over the European continent and rather focus on exploring the riches of the New World. To secure an overseas empire you must make sure that your navy is amongst the strongest in the world.

The Reformation is less likely to tear your Iberian peninsula apart than other parts of Europe. But its consequences might still come knocking on the door as old alliances are replaced by new ones. Also be careful that your  economy does not become too reliant upon the American gold. 

Read the previous three development diary chapters here:
Development Diary #1
Development Diary #2
Development Diary #3

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Posted on Leave a comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #3

In the third chapter of this Development Diary we will talk about actions and Action Cards. Last time we offered some insights into the Monarch Power system – a form of resources that players in Europa Universalis: The Board Game will depend upon to perform actions in the game.

Action Cards

While players may always perform certain Basic Actions, you will often find the more specialised actions on the Action cards. These are divided into three decks that correspond with the three types of Monarch Power. Accordingly, there is a Military Deck, a Diplomatic Deck and an Administrative Deck. You may always choose which type of Action Cards you want to draw in the Draw Cards Phase. In the Action Phase players take turns performing one action at the time. You can either play an Action Card or execute a Basic Action. This ensures that player down time is low. 

Action card types with explanations
Prototype cards from the Administrative (green), Diplomatic (blue) and Military (red) deck. The text and graphics on these cards are not final, but they show the basic layout.
(Click image to zoom in.)

The action on each Action Card has a Monarch Power cost stated in the top left corner of the card. The type of Monarch Power is always associated with the deck it was drawn from. The color of the circle behind the number clearly indicates what type it belongs to. Red is military, blue is diplomatic and green is administrative power. This color system is used throughout the game. By paying the Monarch Power cost you may perform the action described on the scroll that covers most of the card.

Military cards may, unsurprisingly, give bonuses in battles or increase your military capacity in various ways. Several Military cards may actually be played on another player’s turn, as a response to that player’s action. Diplomatic cards will let you form diplomatic relationships by forging alliances, arranging royal marriages and more. Furthermore you may build spy networks to enable covert actions against your opponents. You can use Administrative cards to develop the infrastructure and economic capacity of your empire.

Leaders and Advisors

You may have noticed that there is also a section at the bottom of each card that shows a character, with a portrait and some abilities and icons. This is because every Action Card can be used for two distinct purposes. You may either play it for the action described on the scroll, or as the character below it.

There are two types of characters, easily differentiated by the circular or a square portrait frame. The circular portraits depict Leaders and the square portraits depict Advisors. You may use Leaders as Rulers of player nations, or as Military Leaders commanding armies or fleets. Leaders have a skill value in each type of Monarch Power. Advisors on the other hand, only provide a bonus in their field of expertise (administrative, diplomatic or military). This will subsequently increase the amount of Monarch Power, of the associated type, that you receive. If you have a Ruler with a Diplomatic skill of 1, and a +3 Diplomatic Advisor, you get 4 Diplomatic Power tokens each Round. Rulers normally stay until they die, while you may employ and fire Advisors at will.

Players must pay a hiring cost and an upkeep cost, in Ducats, for Advisors. Generals, on the other hand, cost Military Power to employ.

Major Power at a Glance: France

Although the French are among the most powerful nations of Europe, they also have powerful rivals surrounding them on all sides.

In the 1444 start, as France, you are in the final stages of the Hundred Years War with England, but there is a ceasefire in effect. The two powers are quite evenly balanced, but France is slightly better prepared for war. You have claims on all the English provinces on the mainland, which means you have the power to declare war at any time. Additionally, you can quite easily dominate the nearby minor nations, and you are reasonably well positioned for an Italian adventure. France also has a high tax income and manpower reserve.

However, France needs to be beware of potential enemies on all sides. In the south lies Castile, with ambitions of uniting Spain. In the northwest is your long time rival, England, and in the east Austria sits on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. If your neighbor, Burgundy, falls under the influence of one of your enemies, this may become a big headache. France also desperately needs some more ports, to enable them to compete with other naval powers.

Still, if you can end the Hundred Years War favorably, without spending too many resources, you can perhaps enjoy a period of stability and growth before the religious wars of the Reformation hit you with force.

EU4 players will recognize several of the missions and events that are available to France in the board game.

Read the previous two development diary chapters here:
Development Diary #1
Development Diary #2

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Posted on 1 Comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #2

So, it’s time for another development diary. It comes a bit later than we intended, since we have just come back from the biggest European board game event of the year, Spiel in Essen. As you may guess, we have been very busy with this lately. I said last time that we would take a closer look at one or two of the major powers, and I apologise for this, but we have to do that in the next diary instead I’m afraid.

In these two photos you can get an idea of how busy the booth was. All the demo tables were full, from Thursday morning until Sunday afternoon.

Box Artwork and Miniature Sculpt

© 2018 Tomasz Jedruszek & Aegir Games, All Rights Reserved

Even if we changed the content a little from what we had planned for this dev. diary, this doesn’t mean don’t have anything of interest to show you. Quite the contrary. First off, we hope that you are as excited as us to see the magnificent box artwork that Tomasz Jedruszek has created, in its full splendor. We think it really captures the spirit of Europa Universalis in a great way, both in the details and the composition as a whole. Tomasz has previously created box art for well-known board games, such as A Game of Thrones (2nd ed.) and Dominion, as well as a host of artwork for Magic the Gathering. Please check out more of his work over on ArtStation.

Miniature sculpt: digital render and 3D printed sample

In addition to this we also just received the first sculpt for one of the miniatures, and had a small test batch 3D printed. We think that these detailed soldier figurines will add a new level to the visual and tactile experience of playing the game. We hope you like it!

Monarch Power

Now lets get into some more game play details. All EU4 players will be very familiar with the concept of Monarch Power. But since there may be a few reading this who haven’t played the video games or who’ve only played earlier versions of EU, we’ll try to explain the basics of it.

Monarch Power is a type of immaterial resource at the disposal of your nation. It is divided into three different categories; Administrative Power, Diplomatic Power and Military Power. These resources represent both a nation’s level of innovation and its capacity to perform actions related to each of these fields. The skills of your monarch and his/her advisors will be key factors in determining the rate at which these Monarch Points are renewed. We will talk more about advisors in another Development Diary.

So far it’s much the same as in the video game, but we are taking this concept a step further the board game. Monarch Power will be required to perform pretty much any type of action. If you want to perform a military action, like moving an army or playing a military card, you will need to pay for that action with Military Points and so on. Monarch Points will also be used to invest in the development of Ideas, recruiting military leaders, increasing diplomatic influence and much more.

Monarch Point Cubes

All Monarch Points are represented by the little cubes you see in the photo above. Where these cubes are located on your player mat determines what type of Monarch Power they belong to. When they are spent on actions, you return the cubes to your main supply. The sylinders in the photo indicate how many new cubes you would get in each of these fields at the end of each round. (When we have settled on the final layout for the player mats, they will of course get a nice design that fits with the theme of the game.)

Hiring the right advisors and investing these points in a clever manner will be key to the success of your realm. Your choices in these matters will also signal the priorities of your realm to other players.

The concept of Monarch Power is closely tied to the way the Action Cards in the game work. Thus, that is what we will take a closer look at next time.

For news about the upcoming Kickstarter and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

Posted on Leave a comment

Europa Universalis Development Diary #1

EU dev diary 1

Greetings, Europa Universalis fans and board game enthusiasts! It is with great pleasure that we are publishing this first development diary for Europa Universalis: The Board Game. We know that some of you have been waiting impatiently for this. Now it is finally here, and this diary is the first of many to come.

As you may already know, Paradox Interactive and Aegir Games have embarked on the great task of bringing Europa Universalis back to the tabletop.

As anyone vaguely familiar with the video game knows, EU is a complex game of many features. Accordingly, an epic 4X board game that offers the players the wide variety of options and choices that an EU board game should, will also have a lot different aspects to it. In these development diaries we will try to focus on one, or a few, of these at the time.

In this diary we will give an overview of the map board. This is the main playing area of the game, where such things as military conflicts, trade, exploration and the results of diplomatic actions will take place.

The Map Board

map board overview
The prototype map board without any playing pieces on it

First off I have to warn you that all of what you see in the photos here are temporary graphics used in the prototype version of the board game. Thus all the graphics are subject to change, and will have added details in the final product. Still, EU4 gamers should instantly recognise much of the look of the map.

The main map covers Europe and the Mediterranean region. In the smaller inserts on the left are maps of North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. As you may deduct from that, we are initially focusing on the European nations as playable realms. The scope of the board game, for playability reasons, needs be narrowed down a bit compared to the video game, and after all it is called Europa Universalis. Future expansions however, may take a closer look at other parts of the world.

Furthermore, you will be able to section up the map and use smaller parts of it for smaller scenarios and lower player counts.

Areas and Provinces

Here is a close up of two areas containing some of the Polish heart land provinces

The map is divided into areas and sea zones. Inside each area there is a number of provinces, marked with the coats of arms of the realm they belong to. Armies move and fight battles in areas, while the ownership of provinces provide tax income, manpower and victory points. Winning a battle in an area will enable you to occupy hostile provinces inside that area. The border of the Holy Roman Empire is also indicated on the map. All areas, provinces and realms will have names on the final version of the map. Some of the area borders are likely going to change a little, and some new provinces will be added.

Also on the map, you will find trade nodes and trade routes. These provide a different way of accumulating wealth. Some areas have mountain borders that restrict the movement of military units.

Playable Nations

The playable nations in the regular set ups for the Grand Campaign will, for balance reasons, be limited to the major powers of Europe. The provinces of these realms are highlighted with golden (as opposed to silver) frames around their coats of arms.  These will include France, England, Castile/Spain, Austria, Poland-Lithuania, the Scandinavian Kalmar Union, Muscovy/Russia and the Ottomans.

Each of the major powers will have events and victory cards specific to them. However, there will also be a number of scenarios that let you play various minor nations, and this can provide a very different type of game. More information about these scenarios will be provided in a future development diary.

For the active player realms, province tokens will be used to indicate the current state of a realm’s territorial possessions.

Enjoy the weekend! Next time we will take a closer look at one or two of the major powers. We will also reveal the box cover.

PS. If you really want to, it will actually be possible to play the Grand Campaign as any European realm, but this is not something we would recommend to inexperienced players.

PPS. Don’t forget to visit us and check out the game at the Paradox Interactive booth in Hall 5 (5-A104) if you are going to SPIEL in Essen this year (25th to 28th Oct). We would also greatly appreciate it if you let the world know of your interest for the game by saying so on the Spiel Preview Geeklist on Boardgamegeek.