Research strategy

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This article is accurate for the latest versions of EU3, Napoleon’s Ambition and In Nomine v3.2.
Please help update this page to include information on the HTTT and DW expansions.

Setting Priorities

There are 5 areas of research in this game. Government, Production, Trade, Naval and Land.

Consult the Tech Tree to see what is the advantage of going to the next level in each area. Also, keep in mind that being too far ahead is penalised heavily so you should avoid being too far ahead in one area and instead try to balance your research spending your money on a few areas at once, this way you won't go too far in one area and won't have to pay the penalty.

Instead of minting ducats you should reinvest all your monthly incomes into your research and finance your wars, colonization and diplomatic efforts with the money you get annually.

It is wise to decide in which areas you want to be strong and which you can abandon. Inland countries can ignore Naval tech, those that wage many wars, have low stability and reputation all the time, can safely ignore Trade, peaceful guys can abandon Land and so on, use your common sense here.

Thanks to that you can save money in one area and spend them on another, more important one.

Country Size

The number of provinces a country controls influences costs of each level of each technology. Countries that control many provinces will have to spend many times more money than those which control only a few provinces, see Country size modifier.

Provinces Modifier
1 1.000
2 1.200
3 1.400
4 1.500
5 1.600
6 1.800
7 1.900
≥8 1.800 + Provinces × 0.025

This is capped at 88 provinces in EU3, but has no cap in IN.

To estimate whether a larger number of provinces is preferable, you should consider your monthly income. A part of it is independent of the number of provinces, another part is proportional to the number of provinces.

Size independent Research
  • Bonus from your leader: One of his skills goes on every branch, so you get on average 5×5=25 points per month.
  • Trade: 15-20 ducats are achievable easily from the start. This may grow far across the 100 in the later game.
  • Neighbour bonuses: As a small nation even those fields you don't invest in research themselves.
  • Advisor bonuses: In fact those are vaguely size dependent, but they are not reliable and don't contribute much anyway, so they are left out of the calculation.
Size dependent Research
  • Tax and Production: Roughly 1 ducat per province monthly in the beginning, rising to up to 5 ducats later on.
  • Building bonuses: +5 in one field can be gained from special (extremely expensive) buildings. More provinces obviously allow more such buildings.


It doesn't necessarily pay off in terms of research to stay small. It may pay off to expand but you have to do it in a smart way. Countries that lag behind in research are usually those which have many very poor provinces. Those that expand into rich areas, like Portugal and Castille colonizing many provinces producing sugar, coffee, tobacco and cotton, are always far ahead in the means of research. So expand carefully and don't be too greedy to have more and more land. What you need are provinces that can afford themselves and this usually depends on their production revenue. So avoid anything that produces slaves, wheat, fish, naval supplies and such and go for gold and other great goodies instead. The country modifier is capped at 88 provinces at a factor of 4. So in fact you will easily become the tech leader when the number of provinces exceeds 4×88=352.

Trading can double or even triple your research rate. So don't ignore this aspect of the game, although it may seem very frustrating. Send your merchants to the richest centers of trade and make sure they stay there for long. Just make sure you have Shrewd Commerce Practice and National Trade Policy national ideas. Also, do not ignore your Trade research, with each level of it your merchants live longer and earn more money.

In Nomine

As the size independent research is by a factor of over 40 higher than the income per province, it is clear that in the beginning the one province minors research fastest. Written as a formula, a country's research will exceed that of a one province country, if

P > (32 R + 72)/(39 - R)

where P is the number of provinces needed and R is the relation of the province independent research to the average research per province. If R is larger than 39, you are unable to keep up with one province countries. However, even if your provinces are so rich that you can achieve R as small as 15 (this means something around 4 ducats monthly per province on average), you need at least 24 provinces to be faster than one province countries.

In general it just does not pay off in terms of research to have more provinces. Especially overseas provinces are so harshly capped in terms of population and also the overseas tariffs are so restrictive, that colonization is a safe way to ensure persistent technological backwardness. However, an advantage of 1-2 levels in tech will just not help small countries against large armies. So in general it is still not recommendable to stay small...

Building bonuses

Finally, you can build a building (or take over a province which has it built) specific for each area that boosts research in it. Universities add +5 to your Government research, Weapon Manufactories boost your Land research and so on. All such buildings are listed on the Province improvements page. These buildings are very expensive, and the expense goes up with each one built, but if you have the money they tend to be good investments.

Tech Groups

It is worth noting that your research depends heavily on the tech group you belong to. We have a separate page describing all the Tech groups.

It may seem that Eastern and Muslim tech groups are not so backwards, as they still get 90%/80% the research of the Latin countries but there is a decisive catch: The Latin tech group has all the German minors in it, which research extremely fast as described above. This means that countries in the Latin tech group are easily kept up to date by neighbour bonuses. The other tech groups tend to consist of fewer and larger countries.

If you belong to a tech group that is very backwards in terms of overall research you may wish to consider Westernisation. This will advance you to the next highest tech group, and can be done as many times as is necessary to reach the Latin tech group. You must have a province bordering a province of a nation in the Latin tech group, and in addition Westernization requires a minimum level of Centralization and Innovation in the national governmental sliders, but its benefits are many. In addition to reducing the penalty to research, you will gain a neighbour bonus from all nations in the Latin tech group.


Why am I always falling behind everyone else in tech?

There could be many reasons, but the biggest culprit is usually inflation, followed closely by ownership of large groups of poor provinces.

How can I improve my tech rate?

This is equivalent to maximizing your research income and minimizing your research costs.

Some general tips:

  • Stay at +3 stability. Always.
  • Keep inflation as low as possible.
  • Westernize to upgrade your technology group (if appropriate).
  • Take the Scientific Revolution national idea.
  • After 1650, take the Liberté, égalité, fraternité cultural decision.
  • Accumulate as many tech bonuses as possible through decisions and events.
  • Move your sliders to maximize your tech bonuses.
  • Do trade. Don't neglect this, it's added income with no cap and no size penalty.
  • Don't take poor provinces.

A little on the esoteric side, but still important:

  • Vassalize, vassalize, vassalize. Don't just add provinces after winning wars: vassal income + no extra size penalty = good.
  • If you want, pump your census taxes into a research category (not recommended because it's pretty inefficient, but you _can_ do it)
  • Don't attempt to complete research early.
Note that you can continue to research despite the early research penalty, but you have to be smart about it. If you're five years early, your 100% penalty means that any research you do below the half-way mark is still "good"; once the penalty goes away, your research progress does not scale downward (only the cost does). Any research above this mark is unnecessary to progress in the tech when the tech rate comes down. (You might go up in tech even faster by continuing to put money into this research, but then the _next_ tech has an even larger penalty.) Frankly, it's better to not mess around with this and just switch to putting all research into a research category where you're not as far ahead.
  • Sliders and decisions that reduce tech cost are added to each other, not multiplied. This means that each additional decision has a greater effect. For example, taking the Scientific Revolution idea while having no other modifiers will reduce technology cost from 100% of base to 90%, a 10% reduction. But a country with full Free Subjects and Innovative slider positions and the Support Enlightenment Movement national decision will have its technology cost go from 45% of base cost to 35%, a 22% reduction.

Is Province X worth taking?

A popular analytical framework adopted by many players is to consider how rich a province is compared to the "average" wealth of a country's provinces.

If you make the simplification to ignore all the other sources of research income (advisors, your ruler's ratings, manufactories, etc.), the above ratio leads to some pretty interesting conclusions.

  • You will always help your research by taking an "average" valued province.
  • If your country has 1,2 or 5 provinces, the new province must add at least 20% of your current research income.
  • If your country has 3, 4, 6 or 7 provinces, the new province must add at least 10% of your current research income.
  • If your country has 8 or more provinces, the new province must add at least 2.5% of your current research income.

(See: SizeModifier for where these numbers come from.)

Note that a province meeting these minimum requirements will contribute nothing to tech speed: you must have greater than these percentages to get any improvement in tech rate. Now try and figure out what your pre-province and post-province research incomes are without math.

So you're saying I shouldn't get province X?

No! Optimizing technology and achieving a powerful country are two different things. There are many many other reasons to acquire a province, even if it slows your tech speed; these include manpower and land/naval forcelimit benefits, strategic benefits, and many other things. Few veteran players would ever forego taking a province of strategic value just because it harms their tech speed slightly. Tech speed's not everything; in fact for most players, it's not even close to the most important thing.