Newbie Guide

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This article is accurate for the latest versions of EU3, Napoleon’s Ambition, In Nomine, Heir to the Throne and Divine Wind.


This advice applies to all versions of the game.


This is a list of useful information aimed at beginner players to help them learn the ropes. While this is not a substitute to reading the manual, this guide offers practical advice and strategy for new players. This guide also links to some of the more important game concepts.

Europa Universalis III is a successful series of games from Paradox Interactive. EU3 has had four expansions to it: Napoleon’s Ambition, In Nomine, Heir to the Throne, and Divine Wind. EU3 Complete is a version of the game that includes the first two expansions, and is widely considered a far superior version of the game as compared to the original EU3. EU3 Chronicles contains all of the expansion packs.

General tips

  • Play the first game as a scenario with powerful nation and a limited goal. Get used to the interface and the speed of the game.
  • Start out with the difficulty setting on Easy or Very Easy.
  • Managing the economy is one of the most important parts of the game.
  • Having a high stability provides a variety of benefits, while a low stability can make gameplay very difficult.
  • Cavalry is a great way to build an army (This is only true in earlier versions of the game, the Heir to the Throne expansion made balanced armies more powerful than armies composed of only cavalry)
  • When you see that a country has been annexed, new advisors will become available.

Nation Selection

Paradox games allow players to play any nation. Thus, the first most difficult question of newbies is: what nation should I select?


These nations reside within the best technology group which provides an enormous military, economic, and colonizing advantage. As a result, these nations are generally the strongest nations in the world, and can be the easiest to play. The primary challenge in selecting one of these nations is that you will be surrounded by similarly powerful nations! This makes relatively isolated nations such as England, Denmark, Castille or Portugal good choices.

Middle East

The next strongest group of nations are in the Middle East. These nations have a slightly weaker technology group than Eastern Europe, but typically have fairly easy requirements to westernize. These countries are also far enough from Europe to escape imminent military threat, and yet close enough to benefit from trade and selected military conquests. While Byzantium (in the 1399 scenario found in IN) is a popular choice for players, it is relatively difficult. The Ottomans, the Mamluks (Egypt) and Qara Koyunlu (Iran) are good choices.


Asia has one of the worst technology groups in the game, and can be quite challenging to play. Generally, any nation in Asia is a poor choice for a new player. That said, Ming (China) can become extremely powerful simply through sheer manpower. Japan is relatively protected and has a path to westernization. In Divine Wind, however, the faction system and the shogunate, respectively, make those two nations more complex.

Pagan Nations

It is very hard to play as a pagan nation. These are primarily located in Africa, the Americas, and partly in Asia. These nations have extreme technology penalties that guarantee technological backwardness, and have very onerous paths to westernization. Worse, pagan nations are very hard to defend: if an enemy walks into one of the core provinces, they can seize it as if it were a colony.


The economy has two different systems:

  • Monthly Income & Investments: These could be referred to as the "National economy".
  • Annual Income & Fixed Expenses: These could be referred to as the "Government budget".

Annual Income is the first concept to master, because this is what allows your government to spend money and make purchases. Also, this is the money that you'll need to have in the bank every year to ensure you can pay all your costs and avoid bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the primary importance for monthly income is to increase your technology levels.


The military is an essential part of your empire, second in importance only to your economy.

Military maintenance is very important to modify throughout the game. When your nation is at war, maintenance should be set to 100%, since maintenance provides a very important morale bonus. Further, maintenance ensures your troops are reinforced if below their level. Meanwhile, when your nation is at peace maintenance is very costly and should be reduced to around 25% if you feel no nations or rebels seriously threaten you, or around 50% if you are surrounded by enemies.

Understanding unit types is important. When you research a better unit type, you can't actually build them until you change your preferred unit type. Change them through the Military tab under the Crown (upper left of screen). All changed troop types go to morale 0, so don't change them during a war. If you hire troops that are not your standard type (in a foreign province you took over), they are forever that particular type... and can become very backwards as your Land tech continues to advance.

Attrition is a game concept that effects how many troops you lose when the number of troops in a province is higher than its supply limit. Managing attrition is essential, as commanders who ignore it may find they lose more troops to attrition than to the enemy! Of course, if you really want to imitate Napoleon's Russian campaign, feel free to ignore attrition! :)

Finally, when waging war you have two basic objectives:

  • Achieve a high war score, which ensures you gain considerable concessions during peace negotiations
  • Increase your enemy's war exhaustion, which causes internal instability in your enemy and reduces their ability to continue to conduct the war.

Simply stated, to achieve these objectives you need to cause massive casualties to enemy armies and successfully siege enemy cities.

Newbie Guide to In Nomine

In Nomine (IN) is quite different from vanilla Europa Universalis 3. Many strategies that worked for the vanilla game don't work for IN.

Your first Game

For your first game it is reasonable to play a powerful European nation. Some Example Scenarios are:

  • England: Unite Great Britain and colonize at least 10 provinces in North America within 100–150 years. As England you have a well balanced share of rather easy land conquest, naval battles, economy, diplomacy and colonization. The advantage for beginners is your relative safety on the British Isles.
  • France: Unite France, conquer Italy and build or steal some colonies in North America within 100–150 years. As France you have a clear emphasis on land conquest, diplomacy and economy/trade, while the naval side of the game is less important.
  • Castille: Unite Spain and Colonize in America and Africa for 100–150 years. As Castille you have some land conquest to do, but the emphasis lies on colonization.

Challenges for the second Game

If you feel comfortable with the interface, here is an overview of some interesting challenges you might want to try for your second game. The following are just examples, so do what you feel like. Be warned that some of the proposed scenarios might be extremely luck dependent and may take several tries to work out. So don't pick a hard challenge unless you are really frustration tolerant.

Easy Challenges

The following are doable, yet you will have to deal with quite an amount of unforeseen difficulties.

  • Timurids: Conquer the middle east, India, China and finally establish hegemony over all of Eurasia. (This is a good scenario to get a glimpse of westernization and revolts while your power ensures relative safety.)
  • Bohemia: Unite Germany, establish hegemony over Europe and then the whole world. (This scenario gives you an insight into the mechanisms of moving your capital and doing a cultural shift as well as an insight into the mechanics of the holy roman empire (HRE).)
  • Muscovy: Unite Russia and challenge the Europeans. (This scenario includes westernization and also some tricky land warfare.)
  • Ottomans: Conquer Europe early, while holding the Timurids at bay. (This scenario includes westernization, land warfare and some diplomacy.)
  • Portugal: Become the most powerful colonial empire and then turn on the Europeans. (This scenario is all about colonization.)
  • Golden Horde: Change history by uniting Russia. (This scenario includes moving your capital, doing a cultural shift and westernizing.)

Medium Challenges

The following require quite a bit of skill and in some instances a fair amount of luck.

  • Switzerland: Conquer Europe, unite Germany or Italy or both and conquer Eurasia. (This might be the only scenario that shows some of the benefits of mercenaries in the early game. It also involves fierce land wars and tricky diplomatic considerations.)
  • Munster (Ireland): Colonize North America, move your capital there, become a super power and finally take revenge on the English and the whole world. (This scenario is about colonization, moving your capital and naval hegemony.)
  • Ming: Conquer India, the middle east and then take on the Russians with huge amount of crappy troops. (This scenario lets you explore the pros and cons of quantity versus quality of land troops.)

Hard Challenges

The following mostly require a huge amount of luck and skill. You might also need several tries to prevail.

  • Brunei, Aceh etc.: Try to compete in the race for Land as one of the minors in Indonesia and aim for claiming America as yours.
  • Iroquois: Survive. Just survive. If you do, you may take control of America or even more.
  • Saxony or another German one-province minor: Become the emperor of the HRE and Unite Germany.
  • Navarra: Form Spain.
  • Brittany: Unite France and become a European superpower.
  • Mazovia: Try to survive for 250 years or even the whole game. (This is probably for extreme masochists.)

Land Combat

The combat system is explained in detail on this page. Put shortly, combat is arranged in a series of alternating shock and fire phases, each of which lasts for 5 days. You can only flee from combat after the first shock phase is completed, this means after 5 days. This makes the shock phase much more important than the fire phase.

There are three types of units: Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery.

  • Artillery can only be built after ~100 years and it is of doubtful use as it slows your armies down considerably. It is only useful against very high level forts. On very high land tech levels (well past 30) artillery can also be helpful in battles with huge armies that take more than a month. Still they will be given a hard time by cavalry hit-and-run attacks. Generally you can ignore artillery.
  • Infantry is weak in the beginning and mediocre after land tech level 28 for western European countries. Infantry is also vulnerable to cavalry hit-and-run but they have much more stable morale than cavalry. As they only cost 1/3 of the cavalry, they will have a better cost-power ratio than cavalry after level 28 but the number of units that can be sensibly projected to one point is limited by attrition so they remain inferior to the fast cavalry. You should use infantry mainly to storm forts where you should in general use ten times the fort strength in infantry.
  • Cavalry should be the backbone of your army. They do the highest damage in the first five days of battle and if the enemy relies on infantry and/or artillery they just flee after five days and hit again soon. As they are very fast, cavalry units are ideal to project very much power to one point. With some timing it is in some regions possible to do hit-and-run attacks with cavalries which stand up to three provinces deep, each at the supply limit of their province suffering no attrition at all, thus projecting huge power very fast and quite unexpectedly. They cannot storm forts, so be sure to have infantry siege stacks.

Do not create mixed stacks of infantry and cavalry. Yes, the AI does it yet it is wrong. Infantry and cavalry serve different purposes, so treat them separately. If you want to use infantry and cavalry at the same point, use careful timing but keep them in separate stacks. You'll be hopping mad, if you want to save your cavalry from being shot down in the fire phase but can't without retreating completely from the battle.

In general, do not use mercenaries. In IN mercenaries suck. It takes at least 14 days to recruit them, they cost twice as much upkeep as ordinary troops and they don't get restocked. The only good thing about them is, that they are a little cheaper than ordinary troops sometimes. So in an early war it may be worthwhile to buy some mercenaries, throw them at some target and disband the survivors as soon as they have done their job. On the long run it will be much more cost efficient to maintain a regular army.


You have the following Diplomatic options:

  • Alliance: A pledge between two nations to assist the other in a war. The AI will generally dishonor the alliance if you declare war on somebody, thus ending it. They will, however, join most defensive wars. Only reasonable if you need protection and don't plan to go conquering.
  • Royal marriage: (Only monarchies of the same religion group) Forms ties between two nations. Can only be done once for each nation until the king of either country dies. Personal unions can follow, if one of the leaders dies. This may be to your advantage or dismay. You can Claim their Throne to enforce a casus belli, which reduces relations to all other state you have marriages with. In general only do it with someone you don't want to attack in the next 20 years or so.
  • Give Military access: Allows one nation to move troops through another one. You cannot reasonably declare war on someone who grants you passage (-5 stability), so if an AI revokes passage to your land, you know what they're up to. Quite useful.
  • Request Military access
  • Gift: Improves relations.
  • Insult: Spoils relations.
  • Trade agreement: Your merchants will not compete with theirs.
  • Embargo:[They cannot use your Centers of Trade.
  • Excommunicate: (only Papal Controller) Every Catholic gets a Casus belli against them and receives no stability hit for a declaration of war.
  • Crusade: (only Papal Controller) Gives the Crusader modifier to any Catholic at war with the target.
  • Declare War
  • Offer Vassalization: (only if you are allied, have royal marriage and relations better than 190) If accepted, the target nation cannot
  • Offer Annexation: (only if they are your vassal and relations are better than 190) If accepted, the target nation becomes a part of yours.

Of course all contracts can be canceled, once they have been made. An unsuccessful offer for a contract reduces your relations to the target.

If the AI decides that you are weak and must be punished for your pointless existence they will cancel all contracts and insult you every time your relations exceed 100 (which would give them a stability hit in case of a declaration of war). You cannot stop them from declaring war on you after some time, most usually as soon as they have no other war, no war exhaustion left and full manpower. So if you can't take on them alone, ally with someone stronger and hope the best. In rare cases you might be lucky to see them distracted with another war, allowing you to build up good relations again, which they will destroy again as soon as they feel like it. That said it becomes obvious why diplomacy is pretty pointless in this game.


Main article: Spies

You can use spies to perform missions in your rivals' lands. You can get spies if you set your sliders in your Domestic Government panel toward Mercantilism and/or Plutocracy. Think carefully before moving toward Mercantilism, since it is the opposite of Free Trade, which can greatly increase your trade income. Don't underestimate the power of spies, they can cause a large empire to crumble from within!

The basic spy missions are:

  • Fabricate claims: gives you a casus belli on the targeted nation. Declaring war on someone without a casus belli is very damaging to your nation's stability; this spy mission can help you avoid this problem. It is, however, very expensive and has a rather low chance of succeeding. There will also be serious repercussions against your nation if your spy is caught.
  • Support revolt: increases the chance of rebels appearing in the targeted province. Note that this spy action only affects the province it is used on, not the whole nation. However, it is very cheap and usually succeeds. Also note that if the nation is very stable, the people may never rebel, despite your having successfully completed this mission.
  • Infiltrate spy ring: makes your spies more effective against the targeted nation.
  • Sow discontent (capital only): this is a very powerful spy mission that lowers the stability of the targeted nation by one point. This will increase revolt risk across the entire nation and lower his ability to collect taxes. It is quite expensive and has a very high chance of failing. It also has serious consequences attached to it if your spy is caught.
  • Infiltrate Administration (capital only): lifts fog of war over the whole country. This lets you see where all of his armies are and where he is building new units and buildings.
  • Fund Patriots/Nationalists/Pretenders: instantly generates a stack of rebels based on the tax value of the province (Higher tax value = larger rebel army). These rebels are friendly to the nation that paid for them. This mission is more expensive and more difficult than Support Revolt, but, unlike Support Revolt, it guarantees that rebels will form (as long as the mission succeeds) and they will not attack your provinces or armies.

There are also several other missions that can be useful in specific circumstances. (see spies)


Check out Colonialism and Overseas tariffs.

As general hints:

  • Don't colonize overseas tropical provinces.
  • Look for overseas provinces with high base tax (eastern US, Caribbean).
  • Be sure to have one big or small ship (not galleys!) for each overseas colony.

In general, colonization does not pay off: The colonies remain low on population, the provinces usually have a maximum of 5 base tax and your income from them is reduced to 75% due to the tariff system. They will however contribute fully to your Country size modifier, making your research a lot more expensive. Also colonies are quite susceptible to Protestant dissidents, which might lead to religious turmoil.

The bright side is however that the unique goods like coffee etc. will become quite valuable over time, raising the tariffs due to high production revenues. Also, if you have a center of trade, the trade benefit from such goods will be pleasant. The best region for colonization are the Caribbean isles. Also it is worthwhile to conquer the northern part of the middle American natives as they have two gold provinces and usually also a center of trade.



Taxes are the most important source of income in your empire. While all types of income can contribute to research, and your treasury if minted, taxes alone provide you with the spendable money you need to colonize provinces, build armies, navies, and buildings, and generally do anything other than looking at a pretty map without slowly crippling your economy via high inflation.

Each province possesses its own base tax value, which can range from 1 (backwards Great Plains, Siberian, or Saharan provinces) up to an unknown maximum. However, the highest value normally in the game at the start is about 20. Base tax is fairly static; unlike production values, the simple progress of time and corresponding colonization and technological development will not have a substantial effect on its value. Permanent boosts can come only from a few uncommon events, though it is possible to get bonus base tax, which unlike permanent base tax does not affect support limits or the like, much more easily.

Happily, tax does not begin or end at the base tax. Many factors—including colonial development, distance from your capital, the presence of Customs Houses in your provinces, your state religion, and more—can have a substantial effect on the actual tax income. All these factors, expressed in terms of percentages, are then added together and multiplied by the base tax value to give the actual per-year income of the province. This can be 50% or more greater than the base tax value.

The most important aspect of tax is the census tax, collected at the beginning of every year. Each province has a census tax factor, controlled by core status and the presence or absence of Constables. This factor is then multiplied by the tax income of the province to give the amount of census tax that province contributes. The contributions of all your provinces are then added up and dumped directly in your treasury, without any inflation. Most players therefore attempt to control spending so that all or most of their day-to-day expenses, such as military or colonial upkeep, fall within this value, in order to minimize the amount of minting they need to do.

As can be seen, tax scales largely with the number of provinces; the more provinces you have, even if almost all of them are dirt-poor, the more money you will receive in tax income. Also, taxes are relatively insensitive to your technology level. Aside from workshops and a few NIs, there are no ways to increase your tax income based on technology. Therefore, taxes become a smaller and smaller part of your overall income over time. However, they always retain a vital role in the running of the state due to the inflation advantages relying only on taxes brings.


Main article: Trading

As a general point the importance of trade is inversely proportional to the number of provinces you own. This means, for a small nation trade is the most important income and incredibly valuable while for a large nation it is just some welcome peanuts. It is easy to establish beneficial trade in centers of trade you own, while controlling foreign trade centers requires leaning towards free trade, keeping relations high and reputation low and not controlling centers of trade an provinces you don't have cores on.

In general, goods that are produced near a center of trade, contribute to its value. However it seems to be less likely that goods go to a center of trade whose owner has bad relations with the province owner. This means the goods produced in colonies are usually traded through the European center of trade of the owner rather than through the American centers of trade held by natives.


Main article: Production

Production income is only generated by the provinces you own, therefore to increase production you generally need to expand. The value of good from production depends on the population, the price of the good produced and your production efficiency. The population increases with time but can increase quicker with the presence of the National Focus. High value goods like Spices and Coffee have high production values while Grain and Fish tend to be cheaper so it is a good idea to expand into Indonesia or the Caribbean.

There are several options available to increase production efficiceny, changing to Protestant or Administrative Monarchy or Constitutional Republic for large boni. In concurrence with general Government strategy Centralization is good for production and should be a priority for any early slider moves when stability is cheap.