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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.

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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.

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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.