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Europa Universalis Development Diary #13: a Glimpse of 2021

Europa Universalis: The Pre-Production Copy

Season’s Greetings everyone! On the first days of the year, we bring you a glimpse what’s to come in 2021. Let’s hope that this year will bring a lot more joy, and room for social activities, than the one we leave behind.

We’ve had this beautiful beast in our office for a few days already to play around with, and we are really looking forward to getting it to the table for real now. So, without further ado, here is the Pre-Production Copy of Europa Universalis: The Price of Power, in pictures (and video).

I have to say it: I’m in love with these components!
The contents and box of the Deluxe Edition, with miniatures for scale.

Warning! All these pictures show a Pre-Production Copy – printed components have been printed digitally and cut with a plotter, which means some colours may be a bit off, and cut edges may seem a bit rough. The finished product will have offset printed and die cut components, with much cleaner edges and better alignment.

And now a video of Eivind doing a sort of unboxing – please excuse the low tone of voice while the plastic is crunching, it is a Norwegian thing.

That piece of foam will keep everything from moving around inside the box during transport. And taking it out will add some extra space at the top of the box.

Shiny Gold Foil!

Just eye candy this one, but still shining like a billion suns. My inner magpie is happy.

 Double-layered Player Mats: A Perfect Fit 

We have made sure that all tokens on the Player Mat fit perfectly; easy to put in, easy to take out, but staying in place – Small Towns, Large Towns, Vassal tokens, Manpower meeples, Monarch Power, Stability marker, Religion token.

Here you can see the size compared to my hairy hand, the indents, and the bot mats on the back. We expect better alignment in the definitive die-cut version, and the offset-printed ink should be significantly more resistant to wear and tear than the digital print.

The Map Board: Adaptable to Your Gaming Needs

Here you can see what the mounted boards that come in the box look like. Sturdy, good quality cardboard, in three pieces – allowing for different set-up configurations according to the number of players, or your table space. Now your family doesn’t have to eat somewhere else! The map boards stay in place because of the weight of the cardboard.

Full Deluxe map, aligning neatly
Playing other than colonisation? save that one!
Almost perfectly aligned areas, lines and borders. Only tiny adjustments required.
The difference in size between the Giant Playmat and the board that comes with the game
Every map board has it’s place in the tray, serving as lids to keep the contents below in place – thanks GameTrayz!

 Cards: Worth a History Book

This game has so many cards! Both cards that are tailor made for the featured Realms, and Generic ones that enable variability – you can make so many combinations, your grandkids will still be making combinations you didn’t make before. The linen finish makes them easy to shuffle and the thick card stock makes them durable.

Event Cards galore!
Age IV Events!
Action cards ready for action
Trade Cards
All cards in their wells. The dice can be scooped out easily.

The total counts for the cards are: 

DELUXE EDITION: 390 bridge size cards (57×87 mm), 312 minicards (64×42 mm)

BASE GAME: 270 bridge size cards (57×87 mm), 208 minicards (64×42 mm)

 Tokens: A Treasure chest of possibilities 

We tested new shapes for different tokens and we love them! Now it is even easier to differentiate between them on top of the board!

All the punchboards from the Deluxe edition.

 Here you can see how the Player Tray hold all the Player tokens tight with the lid:

If we have to be completely objective about this, it looks gorgeous!

Fresh Baked Missions

All the Missions are now available for final testing in Tabletop Simulator. Missions for the Major Powers (Austria, Castile, France, England, Muscovy, Poland, and Ottomans) have had a complete makeover. And brand new Missions for Denmark/Sweden, Mamluks, Portugal, Venice, Netherlands, Brandenburg, and Papal States, as well as Generic Missions, are also out.

The Generic Missions allow you to compose Mission decks for unfeatured Realms with lots of variability, tailored to their individual “needs”. The community is already in full swing, testing them all in TSS, but we would love for even more of you to give them a spin! Join the Discord to get access to the updated TTS assets. We will also put them out as a PDF for you to read, and comment on, shortly.

Generic Missions

We will come back to you just after New Year’s, with more details, fresh PDFs, and an updated timeline.

All the best, and stay safe!

Víctor & Eivind @ Aegir Games

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Europa Universalis Development Diary #12

The most recent milestone, and biggest one so far, is the submission of files for the PPC (pre-production copy), as we’ll get back to just below. But to get there, there were a few other things that had to fall into place first. It feels good being able to say that the designs for all the physical components, aside from the print files, have now been finalized. Perhaps more exciting for most, is that Age IV Events, as well as all Milestones (the in-game ones), are now finally available for you to inspect, provide feedback on, and immediately try out on Tabletop Simulator (TTS) if you like.

Next week we will make most of the revised Missions public, and available on TTS. Following that we will publish updated, near final, versions of both the main rules and the solo rules for all backers to review and comment on. With this we are nearing the end of the development process for the game. The PPC should arrive at our office around mid December, and so we are closing in fast on the moment where mass production can commence. The Covid-19 situation has however resulted in our manufacturer (and board game manufacturers in general) being busier than ever, with orders queuing up, so there is sadly no way of fast-tracking production. Due to this, it is clear that bulk-shipment the games to the regional fulfilment partners will happen a few weeks after Chinese New Year.

Another, equally important but solely positive, lesson learnt, is that you simply cannot overestimate the value of a vibrant and supportive community. Bringing you guys onboard the development process for this game, has easily been the best decision we have made during this whole project. The contributions from members of the community has improved the game many times over. We have said it a few times already, but please come join us on our Discord server, where we try to respond to feedback every day, and where community members routinely organize games on Tabletop Simulator. This is also where you will find the most up to date TTS module at the moment, with all the newest components. But we read all comments, and have made so many significant adjustments based on the feedback we’ve received so far

Checking Proofs for the Pre-production Copy 

This week I’ve been going through the digital proofs from Panda’s printing team, after we delivered a total of no less than 90(!) preliminary print files earlier this month. Monday I pointed out some things that needed to be fixed, Tuesday I got updated proofs, and was able to approve the last of them! Overall it is looking very good! All the numbers add up as intended, all the different card backs have been correctly matched with the fronts they belong to, and no unforeseen problems have come up.

This may sound like we sent off the final print files without letting you look at them first, but this not the case. The PPC is first and foremost made to give us an impression of the whole product, and let us check if all components have come out as intended, in terms of numbers, dimensions, colors, aesthetics, legibility of text and iconography, etc. When the PPC arrives on our doorstep, we will spend some time to review all these things, and make the necessary adjustments. But before that, while we are waiting for the PPC to arrive, we will work on finalizing all text and art. Then there is a new round of file submissions, and checking digital proofs again, before giving the green light to start the press.

The Age of Revolutions

Age IV, the closing Age of the game, is undoubtedly an age of upheavals and grandiose clashes. No one will come unscathed from the ravages of war and revolution, but those who manage to harness the chaos may come out more potent than ever on the other side. Check out the Age IV Events for yourself in this overview document (there are still a few missing, but we’ll update it again soon).

The final Age will offer something quite different from the earlier Ages, with gameplay more focused on high interaction levels and conflict between player realms. It can be used as a grand finale to an epic campaign of four Ages, or it can be set up with scenarios starting just as the Ancien régime is starting to crumble.

Your Realm can either be left behind in the shadows of the past, or choose to embrace the new currents emerging across Europe. But everything comes at a price. Most virulent Revolutions will spread, rooting deep in your provinces, rattling your stability, spawning unrest and rebels, creating the primordial soup for progress, war, liberalism, and … modern emperors!

Quest for the Perfect Coins & Dice 

The quest for the perfect coin set has not been an easy task, but one which have finally come to a happy conclusion. Above you can see most of the coin iterations we have gone through, with a plethora of washes and effects. We wanted to find a balance between the vibrant shininess of the metal material, and that feeling that they have been used and touched by many hands. We’d like to think that when humans 2000 years from now find them (while excavating our pyram… mausole… graves), they will look at them and think that these are real. Below, with the rebel dice, are the last coins that came through our door last week, the final version of the 10 ducat gold coins.

Speaking of dice, here’s a picture of the rest of them. We think they have turned out really good.

Exploration Die, Cavalry Dice, Infantry Dice and Artillery Dice

Scenario Competition Winner

Thank you so much to everyone who submitted a competition entry! We got more scenario submissions than we could have hoped for, of which many were really well written – and that’s one of the reasons that finding a winner took longer than expected. There are some patterns that stood out; you really like the Italian Wars and the Thirty Years’ War, and the downfall of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was also a hot topic – there were many variants and takes on those, some of them really interesting. We also had several scenarios that broke free from the history books to a lesser og larger degree. Honorable mentions must go to Manuel Lenhardt, for the original “The Last Crusade”, to Roberto Mendez Torres, for several great entries, to Sören Roman, for a great beginner scenario, to Aaron Isley, and to Menszu.

Many of these entries had innovative twists, mechanics, or victory conditions. The winning scenario checked all of these boxes, and showcases some of the cool things you can do with this game, by adding a dash of imagination and preparation. That is why we are thrilled to announce the winner as:

Patrick “Patch” Johnston-Hart, with the scenario “Here I Stand Once More
 

TTS screenshot of the setup



For those who are curious, this scenario is a tribute to the GMT Games title Here I Stand, a great card-driven game focusing on the time period of the Reformation.

Congratulations, Patrick! It is well deserved! We’ll contact you via email to finalize scenario details, and to arrange for the Deluxe Game reward to be credited to your Gamefound account. 


What Turczi Says …


To round this off we thought we’d tip you off about this excerpt from a larger LIVE Q&A that prolific game designer virtuoso Dávid Turczi did on November 1st. He goes into detail about the solo modes he has designed, and in the above clip he talked briefly about his experience working on Europa Universalis: The Price of Power.


Thanks to everyone that has chipped in (and continue to do so in the Discord Server) to refine the Solo Rules and helping us getting rid of loopholes. Making the bots into something we can really be proud of.

Take care,

Eivind & Víctor @AegirGames

Previous Development Diaries

#1 (Map Board)
#2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
#3 (Action Cards and France)
#4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
#5 (Diplomatic Relations)
#6 (Warfare and Ottomans)
#7 (Non-Player Realms)
#8 (Basic Actions)
#9 (Solo Mode and England)
#10 (Events)
#11 (Summary of a year)

To be the first to get news, learn how to sign up as a play tester, and receive reminders about Development Diaries, Sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter!
Also, please visit the Aegir Games’ Discord Server and the Europa Universalis Facebook Group!

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Europa Universalis Development Diary #11 – A Year Out of the Ordinary

It’s been way too long since we last published an update here, and there has been a LOT going on since then. In the meantime, we hope that most of you have been able to follow the game development in the other fora where we publish updates, and that you are all in good health and staying safe.

Keep yourself updated!

First and foremost, if you would like day-to-day updates about development, the places to go are Aegir Games’ Discord Server where there are daily discussions and play testing of the game. And the Europa Universalis: TPOP Facebook Group where you can find all the official information and some memes. There is also a collection of Kickstarter Updates with in-depth information about the game development over the past year – these come out about once a month.

In development for two and a half years

We have come such a long way, and the game has been improved beyond what we thought we could achieve, thanks to the community! These pictures below are a compilation from our 2019 album, with Dávid Turczi, UKGE, ARCON, Essen Spiel and the end of the Kickstarter campaign. A detailed look at 2020 follows below.

Post Kickstarter Timeline – From November to October

  • November 2019 the support (you guys!) for the Kickstarter totally exceeded all our expectations, with the campaign raising more than $550K

After some intensive game development, Christmas and working up the Pledge Manager:

  • February 2020 we put up the first public draft of the Solo Rules, designed by Dávid Turczi and developed by us. We also got the first tray design drafts from Gametrayz, as well as metal coin add-on designs!
  • March 2020 we won 2nd place in BGG’s Most Anticipated Games of 2020 in the Historical and Wargame categories. We revealed Panda Game Manufacturing as our manufacturer. They were chosen due to their experience, catalogue and proven quality, both humane and in component materials. Also illustrations from our favourite illustrators Olly Lawson and Joeri Lefévre
  • April 2020 we got the first miniature and dice samples, gorgeous stuff that just got better and better.
  • May and June 2020, wood token samples, metal coins and and a white sample that included the double-layered player mats arrived at the office. June also saw a host of new Event cards being published for wider testing, including Age III and several new playable realms.
  • July 2020 the new and long awaited iteration of the General Rules and Solo Rules. That took a lot of hard work.
  • August 2020 we got the final trays! Ah they are so beautiful, everything fits so neatly, and for a game with this scope it is so practical with truly functional trays. You can see some videos below in the appropriate section.
  • September 2020 we got the definitive miniatures, which look fantastic, and we released the 1618 map, which got a lot of love.
  • October 2020 I’m writing this to you, we are finishing Age 4 events, Milestones and Missions, we’re readying files to make a complete Pre Production Copy – the last step before mass production.

Main Rules and Solo Rules

Take a look at the updated drafts for both the Main Rules, and Solo/Bot Rules. There are so many improvements, in no small part thanks to the community play testing of the TTS module over Discord and BGG. We have also been striving to make sections intuitive, and less ambiguous. 

The whole document has gone through a language clean-up to make it easier to read. Significant changes, include: Alliances, Royal Marriages, Casus Belli, Peace Negotiations and the Holy Roman Empire.

As the rules are still a draft, expect the file to be updated several times, as we get more feedback and finish more gameplay examples.

Solo/Bot Rules have seen some major revisions to the Diplomacy, Defend and Military Action. New bots should be coming very soon, with guidelines for how bots handle new Events we’ve added.

Panda Manufacturing

Very happy to announce that the game will be produced by the renowned and well regarded Panda Game Manufacturing. Known throughout the board gaming community for their quality and high standards.

I’m sure many of you have at least one of their games on your shelf, like Wingspan, Pandemic, Twilight Imperium IV, Feudum, or Pax Pamir.

Custom Trays

… as you might have guessed from the video above. And for those who enjoy good storage solutions as much as us – you can grab some popcorn and click play on the second video a bit further down, where you can see us unboxing the “white sample” box, and putting some authentic game pieces into the trays to see how everything fits. [Spoiler alert!] They fit really neatly, and we are just making minor adjustments to the width of some of the wells in the trays.

Remember to check the video below!

The plastics are supposed to be the best in town, sturdy stuff that you can give as heirlooms to your descendants. The player tray is designed to hold all tokens and pieces of one player color, so no sorting of any kind will be needed prior to setup (provided you put them back where they belong after each game of course!).

Here are some still images for you to enjoy the details.

On top, next to the common resource tray, there will be space for the player mats, reference sheets, the rules and scenario booklet. The box will be a little bit thicker than the sample we got. The latest estimated dimensions for the box are 305 x 380 x 127 mm, meaning that it should just fit nicely into a Kallax shelf. As you understand, this is going to be a meaty and heavy game in every sense. Take a look into GameTrayz to know the guy behind this design.

And now to the promised video made in-house:

Miniatures

We recently got new a new batch of sample miniatures – this time the real deal, showcasing a full set of all of the player colours. These 3.5 cm miniatures have retained the detailed look of the master sculpts, and with the PVC 100 material they are sturdy, yet slightly flexible, for a maximum lifespan. The colours match perfectly with the wooden tokens as you can see below.

Sturdy and durable plastics, ensuring longevity.

The miniatures make the armies stand out so you can find them with quick gaze at the board, and the different stances and postures also make them easy to tell apart from each other. Please excuse our photograpy skills, but we hope you get an impression.

This is an older version of the map that we printed some time ago by the way. You can see the newest one in the section below. 

Just as intended, the miniatures visually stand out on the board

Of course we also had to try putting them into their respective slots in the trays, along with all the wooden pieces and tokens that go in them too.

Take a moment to appreciate the lids of the trays. They will make sure that no matter how you flip the game box and trays, everything is going to stay in place (disclaimer: they do have a limit, and would probably not survive a 360º backflip from the top of a 4 floor building). 

The miniatures fit perfectly as you can see. In those tailor made compartments, they will stay protected even if you decide to paint them. And you will always know exactly where they are when you need them.

Metal Coins Add-on

These samples show both clean versions of different metal colors, and coins with a test wash applied. We already know we want a far lighter wash on the X-coin, and we are awaiting some new color samples to make sure we end up with the optimal result. How cool are those designs? Wait, I know, very cool. Aurum Potestas Est.

We have the metal coins almost ready, and we think they are beautiful! These have been shown in our social media and newsletter, so if you’re not in there, you know you’re missing out. Sign-up to the newsletter!

They were designed by Andrew Forster (who has also designed the coins for Venice, a game co-designed by our good friend, and EU:TPOP solo mode designer, Dávid Turczi).

So, pre-order them in our webshop, (yes, one set is enough, but what about you get 20 sets?) Be the coolest kid in the neighbourhood!)

The 1618 Map – A Different Game Experience

We are happy to present the map that is coming on the reverse side of the game board, but be aware, this is not just another map, it will provide an altogether different game experience.

  • In 1618, Major Powers here are MAJOR.
  • A Religiously divided Europe provides new challenges from the outset.
  • Grandiosity and despair from the very beginning, with crumbling, old giants, and new, dynamic pretenders. Perfect for asymmetric scenarios.
Full Deluxe Edition reverse side map with Eastern Europe.

Wood Tokens

We received wooden samples directly from the manufacturer. These are very close to what the final pieces will be like. But these have been hand painted, and the final mass produced tokens will actually have an even better finish and print. We still think these look rather stunning to be honest!

We also received a white sample of cardboard components, to make sure they function as intended and that they fit with the other components, and the trays in the box.

And of course we had to try them in action, and play around like the silly, hairless monkeys that we are.

Illustrations Galore

We are very happy with our card illustrations made by Olly Lawson and Joeri Lefévre (check their respective instagrams!). But an image is worth a thousand words, so I’ll leave you with the gallery already.

Previous Development Diaries

#1 (Map Board)
#2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
#3 (Action Cards and France)
#4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
#5 (Diplomatic Relations)
#6 (Warfare and Ottomans)
#7 (Non-Player Realms)
#8 (Basic Actions)
#9 (Solo Mode and England)
#10 (Events)

To be the first to get news, learn how to sign up as a play tester, and receive reminders about Development Diaries, Sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter!

Also, please visit the Aegir Games’ Discord Server and the Europa Universalis Facebook Group!

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Europa Universalis Development Diary #10

As some of you might know, yesterday was the 6th anniversary for Europa Universalis IV. We want to take this opportunity to congratulate Paradox and all EU4 fans on this occasion. Especially the fans who have been there since the release six years ago (or even way before that). We celebrate the anniversary with a new chapter in our Development Diary. With this being the 10th chapter, our diary has reached a small milestone itself. As it is, we will as a matter of fact be talking about Milestones today – in game milestones that is – as well as Missions and Events.

Events

A big factor in setting the agenda for each Round in a game of Europa Universalis: The Board Game are the Events. You reveal Event cards at the start of every Round in the Draw Cards Phase, and each player has to use one of their Turns during the Action Phase to draft and play one of the Events on display.

The Events are divided into different Ages, and give players a sense of the flow of history. Many of the cards are inspired by historical events, like wars and revolutions, or the Reformation. But there are also more generic events, that could have happened at any time and place, like epidemics and revolts.

The Events represent happenings in the game that are somewhat outside the players’ control. But if you pick the card, you can choose how to implement the Event. Often, there is a choice between an A and a B option on the card. Many Events also have some secondary effects that leave some choices for the player who picked the card.

Some Events have a flag in the lower right corner. These are specific to certain Realms and are only used if these are active Player Realms in the Scenario you are playing. Most of these Events have a historical monarch on them. These will normally take the place of the current Ruler of the Realm that they belong to.

Every Event will be beautifully illustrated by Olly Lawson, Joeri Lefevre (creator of the featured illustration for this post), or some other gifted artist.

Missions

All the Major Powers (and some others) have their own sets of Missions that the players can strive to complete. Which Missions are available for selection is determined by the scenario you are playing.

Completing Missions is one of the main sources of Victory Points in the game. They also provide additional rewards, such as Claims, Monarch Power, Ducats, Colonists and more. Very often, completing a Mission will also unlock new Missions for selection.

Missions make it easier for players to focus their efforts on one or two clear objectives at the time. The objectives are to a large degree inspired by the historical development of the realms they belong to, but leaves room for making different choices or strategies from one game to another. Europa Universalis IV players will recognise many of the Missions from their video game counterparts.

Milestones

Milestones are public goals that the players will compete to achieve. They are very similar to Missions, but anyone who can meet the completion requirements can score them. However, only three players may score Victory Points for each Milestone. The first to complete it will receive 5 VP, the second will get 3 VP, and the third player will get 1 VP. There are always 4 active Milestones in the game, that players can score.

Milestones are divided into four suits, and the reward is always the same for all Milestones of the same suit. Economic Milestones provide Administrative Power, Expansion Milestones provide Diplomatic Power, Politics Milestones provide Military Power and Warfare Milestones provide Ducats. We set this up in a way that means you most often need to spend a different type of resource (Monarch Power or Ducats) to complete the Milestone, than the reward you will receive.

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

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

Newsletter Sign-up

To be the first to get 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! The announcement you have all been waiting for will come very soon!

Facebook Group

Join the Facebook group to take part in discussions and find out more about the Tabletop Simulator module.

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Europa Universalis Development Diary #9

War of the Roses, by Olly Lawson

Last week we had the honour of working with Dávid Turczi, designer of games like Anachrony and Dice Settlers, as well as solo modes for Teotihuacan, Cerebria, Keyper and many more. He came here to work with us on the solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game the whole week. We can safely say that we got more from him than we could ask for.

Solo gaming might not be for everyone, but for a growing number of board gamers it is a deal breaker, and we really wanted to make something good for the solo gamer community too. We now have the framework for what we believe will become a great solo mode for the game. Dávid will work with us in the coming months to get it to perfection. In addition to this, Dávid has also helped us tremendously with other development work. This has sharpened the focus of other aspects of the game, resulting in increased tension and level of competition overall.

Computer gamers might be asking themselves why people would want to play the board game solo when they already have the PC game. The answer will differ depending on who you ask, but one way of seeing it, is that they “scratch different itches“. Many solo board gamers emphasise the tactile experience of moving actual pieces on a board, or that they look for ways to spend time away from the screen. Compared to traditional board gaming, which is a social experience, solo gaming is more like a puzzle that you try to solve.

Dávid Turczi and Víctor Paiam testing the new solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game.

Solo Mode

The solo mode for Europa Universalis: The Board Game is set up like a 3-player game. It will pit you, as a player, against two Major Power Bots that essentially have an AI which determines their behaviour. Additionally there will be a number of Active NPR minors with a much more limited and simple behavioural pattern.

This means you will be playing the solo mode very much in the same way as you would be playing a game against other human players. The obvious difference is that there will be a lot less negotiating, deal making and backstabbing. What you want to do is score more Prestige (Victory Points) than any of your bot opponents. The solo mode should play very fast once you get used to the main bot actions and decision making.

Bot Realms

Each of the Major Powers will have its own dedicated Bot, which makes decisions that make sense for that Realm, both historically and in the context of its current position in the game. Of course it will not be as advanced as a human opponent or the AI of the video game, but it will constantly keep you on your toes. And it should be really tough to beat in a head-on confrontation.

Each Bot will be drawing from a deck of cards to determine what type of action it will take on its turn. These actions will unfold in various ways, determined by the current circumstances. There will be an advanced hierarchy of priorities for each of the more complex bot actions, but it will be presented in a manner that makes each action easy to execute.

Work in progress resolution flow chart for political/diplomatic Bot Action. (The cube signifies a die roll.)

Above you can see one of the prototype flow charts we are working with while we are creating the “AI” of the bots. This is just a peek “under the hood”, and the final look of the actual charts in the game will be very different. This type of chart provides us with a quick way of testing if a specific Bot Action can be resolved in a satisfying manner in all relevant situations.

Major Power at a Glance: England

England has invaded Scotland and occupied two Provinces.

England’s starting position in 1444 is a bit tricky. As the Hundred Years’ War draws to a close, the French are likely to be on the war path. At one point you must make a choice: how much are you willing to sacrifice in your bid to defend the English continental possessions? Is it worth being dragged into an all-consuming conflict with France, or should you make peace and look elsewhere for more profitable hunting grounds?

With two Maritime Trade Nodes just off their coast, a third one nearby, easy access to North America and the Caribbean, and lots of ports, England is well positioned to build a trade empire based on naval power. This choice of strategy however, is likely to bring you into conflict with Castile/Spain, who have similar ambitions.

If you can deal with your domestic problems, like the War of the Roses, and build a strong basis of power in the British Isles and Ireland, while maintaining a navy second to none, you can project your power across the world. At the same time you are in a unique position, since a strong navy will also keep your homeland safe from the attacks of hostile armies.

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (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)
Development Diary #8 (Basic Actions)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.