Category Archives: Europa Universalis

Another Summer (Sale) Gone

You know, it doesn’t really feel like summer yet around here. I think we had fewer days at above 30°C here than below 15 in the last month… and a lot of clouds. Seriously, summer is only about to start, anyway.

Nevertheless, every year around this time, Steam has its summer sale. I never fully understood why they named it that. I guess the idea is that people buy games for cheap to tide them over the summer when it’s warm outside, and sunny, and you could sit on the porch or balcony reading, or drinking beer and having a barbecue, or going swimming, or any other of these horribly disgusting things. In short: to give them reasons to not leave the house when weather isn’t enough of a reason not to.


When I first got Steam, I spent a lot of money on my first few sales. But after a year or so, I petered out, and I don’t think I purchased anything at all last season. My backlog had increased to the point where it seemed silly to pile more games on top, and I felt like I had genuinely gotten everything on Steam that I wanted. My wishlist ended up containing the same few games that I apparently didn’t want that much, after all: even during sales, I wouldn’t pick them up.

Of course, things would not stay this way forever. New games get released all the time, and eventually, there would be new interesting sales. And the time was this summer, apparently. I held steadfast for the first couple of days. But then, the first game I wanted went on sale.

June 14: Grim Fandango Remastered + Soundtrack, €9.99 @ 50%

Grim Fandango and I have a history. It is one of my all time favorite games, but I lost access to it. I’m certain I owned the CDs at some point, but they got lost, probably during a move. Moves are the worst, there’s always some stuff that gets lost. When I heard that they would release a remastered version, I went back and forth on whether to get that one or find the original version. That topic (original vs. remastered re-release) is probably a blog post in itself… But when it was available at 50% discount, quite shortly after (re-)release, I had my first impulse buy of the summer season.

June 16: Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition, €6.79 @ 66%
June 16: Deus Ex, Game of the Year Edition, €1.39 @ 80%

It looks obvious: After I got the first remastered edition of a classic game, I fell prey and got another one right away. The truth is more complicated. Again, I went back and forth. I’ve actually never played Baldur’s Gate, neither of the two. Shocking, I admit. The reason I bought this one is that it was actually cheaper than the original version on GoG. Now I can play Baldur’s Gate… maybe… eventually. This probably wasn’t the best spent money. Though The Deus Ex impulse buy was probably worse: to be honest, I only got it because it was so cheap, which I know is a horrible reason, but I’ll invoke “I’m not good with money” as an excuse. At least I’m not good with money when it’s about wasting small amounts.

June 18: Broken Sword 5: the Serpent’s Curse, €4.59 @ 80%
June 18: Shadowrun: Dragonfall (Director’s Cut), €4.49 @ 70%

Two more games on the pile of “playing vicariously”. Broken Sword is a game series I heard good things about, and I intend to play that one… eventually. Shadowrun is a bit of an embarrassing story. I actually backed the original Shadowrun Returns kickstarter (though just with the minimal amount you needed to get the game). They even delivered, and I played the resulting game… not at all. This makes buying Dragonfall really silly. But I feel like I would like to play the game, I just never get around to it. I think this is precisely how Steam makes money.

June 19: Pillars of Eternity, Champion Edition, €36.84 @ 33%

Now we’re getting into the whaling area. This is by far the most I have spent on a game this year. I heard really, really good things about it. I absolutely intend to play it. I just hope I actually get around to it. Which, by the way, will mean that Baldur’s Gate, a 3-days-old purchase at that point, will definitely have to wait much longer.

June 19: Icewind Dale, Enhanced Edition €6.79 @ 66%

As will Icewind Dale. To be honest, that buy doesn’t make any sense at all. I’m just great with my buying decisions!

June 20: Europa Universalis IV, El Dorado Content Pack, €1.49 @ 75%
June 20: For The Glory, €1.99 @ 80%

June 20: XCOM: Enemy Unknown + The Bureau: XCOM Declassified €6.79 @ 83%

Those first two buys make sense, actually. I love Europa Universalis and have some trust in Paradox Studio. Though I’m not hugely interested in their content packs (which are generally just new models for armies and things like that), I generally put them on my wishlist and buy them when they go on large discount. My reasoning is that I’m not willing to pay the full price, but I am willing to pay a little bit, basically as funding for a company that so far hasn’t disappointed me much. For the Glory follows the same reasoning: it’s an older Paradox game, and it means supporting them with a small amount of money, plus rounding off my Paradox collection, satisfying my collector and completionist drive. The last one though? I have no idea. I would love to be able to claim I was drunk, but all I was drunk on probably was spending and discounts. I liked the XCOM games when they came out in the 90ies, but that’s about all I know about those two new games, which is, let’s face it, as bad as nothing or even worse.

All right, let’s tally up.

Money spent: €81.15
Average discount: 62% (down from €215.89)

Overall, a mixed bag, but I don’t feel like Steam stole my money. That would be a silly notion, anyway, because they didn’t make me spend the money, after all. 3 of 8 (or €48.32 of 81.15) I would’ve definitely gotten sooner or later. A few more were on my shortlist of stuff to pick up at a discount. I stuck to my unofficial rule of “never buy anything on Steam at less than 50% discount”, except for Pillars of Eternity, which I actually really want to try, and which is still quite new, so I figured even a 33% discount was a tolerable option.

Will I play all those games I bought this sale season? Certainly not! But I have hope that at least some of them, I will, potentially even before winter. And in that respect, I can live with that outcome.

Europa Universalis IV on Steam Sale

A prolonged work trip prevented me from updating my EU IV Spain Campaign AAR. I’ll get back to it again soon(tm).

In the meantime, if you think the game sounds interesting, or if you have any interest in grand strategy games, take a look at Steam today. EU IV is available for 75% off, both as stand-alone and as collection, which includes the first three expansions. (It sadly doesn’t include the Art of War expansion, which is really, really good). The collection is probably the better deal, but it’s up to you.

The Spain Campaign, Part 2: Not all according to plan

Last time, we set up colony in Cape Verde as penal colony. After firing up the game again, the first few years are uneventful. Austria calls me into a war against Hungary, and I accept so they won’t be annoyed at me, but I then just ignore it. The battles are at the other end of Europe, and setting up colonies costs money during the settlement phase; I can’t afford losing armies at the moment, and Austria is well capable of fighting this war on its own.

In the meantime, I set sail from Cape Verde and go south-westwards. Just a few weeks later, my explorer and his fleet set sight on the first land (I first mistyped and wrote “lad”, which is actually just as true and somewhat funnier. “Hey lad, is this the New World?”) in the New World, at the westernmost tip of South America. Being the first nation to find the new continent comes with a large prestige bonus.

Again, more after the cut because many pictures…

The Spain Campaign, Part 1: Getting Started

After all that introduction in the last post, it’s now time to get started in earnest. As a reminder, this is the political situation at the start of the game:


Now, there are a few strategic decisions to make first, because they shape the at least the next few decades. To finish the reconquista is a given. However, what about Aragon and Burgundy?

More, with many pictures, after this cut…

The Spain Campaign

One of my best buys in the last year or so is Europa Universalis IV. It’s a grand strategy game from the grand strategy experts at Paradox Studios. For some reason, I hadn’t heard of the series until Europa Universalis III was on one of those ridiculous sales on Steam, and I bought it for probably 5 Euros or something like that. The problem, as often is the case with those sales, is that I ended up with several games, and EU III fell off the radar again, not the least because is already was quite old at the time and the graphics were… well. Not quite up to par any more. Also it looked complicated, which, I guess, is the whole idea of grand strategy games, but I never got around to wrap my head around its intricacies.

Enter EU IV, which was on sale a few months ago. Even though my last 9 months were very deprived of game time (writing my dissertation and silly things like that), I managed to rack up quite a large amount of hours. In fact, just last week, it managed to dethrone the previous king of play time, GTA IV (plus expansions)… which really surprised me back when I noticed, because I never felt I had played that much GTA… oh well.

In honor of the occasion, I’ll try, for the first time, to write a more detailed description of what I do in a game, with a plan to do so over several installments. It will be some sort of AAR (After Action Report), and I’ll try to make it understandable to people who have no idea about the game. The reason is threefold: First, I want to have a chance to have something to write about regularly, if I can’t think of anything else. Second, I hope it’ll entertain my readers, and maybe make some of them interested in the game. Finally, I hope it will remind me to take more screenshots while I’m playing. I noticed that one of my largest problems is that I want to write about something, but I need visuals to show what I mean. But I generally forgot to take screenshots while I’m playing, and later on regret it. So for this series, I’ll try to take screenshots until I’m blue in the face.

Despite the fact that I’m now beyond 200 hours played, I still don’t feel like I have an in-depth understanding of all the mechanics in the game. My games so far were mostly land expansion based: I played France, a suggested choice for first-timers, because their armies have strong bonuses and make it easy to conquer and defend. I then played Poland, reforming into Commonwealth. Next, I played the Palatinate, and went expanding within the Holy Roman Empire. Finally, my last game was with the Ottomans, going for one of their special nation goals, “Unify Islam”, which basically required you to expand the Ottomans, a small regional power in 1444, into pretty much the borders of the Umayyad Caliphate (plus Anatolia and Greece). And because a post talking so much about taking more screenshots should at least have one, here’s the end of the campaign, when I reached that goal:


For this new campaign, I want to try out something else. Whereas before I mostly did land-based expansion, this time I want to build a world-wide colonial empire, with dominance on the seas, powerful trade steering, and colonial viceroyalties. At the same time, I don’t want to ignore Europe completely, but rather try to expand there by alliances, marriages and personal unions instead of the sheer power of armies. Thus, I chose Spain for this game. Only, there’s no Spain in 1444, so I’ll go with Castile.

I’ll also play Ironman, which is one of the coolest features of the game. In Ironman mode, your save game is saved in the (Steam) cloud. You cannot save and load manually, and the game is automatically saved almost constantly. This means that save scumming is almost impossible. I have a tendency to get onto the slippery slope of save scumming in my games. It generally starts with innocent curiosity: “I wonder how the game behaves if I do A. It might be catastrophic, though, so good thing I can roll back!”. It progresses to “I don’t think I can take this nation, especially if its allies join. Let’s see if they do if I declare war!”, and ends up in depravity with “I bet I can win a war against this far more powerful nation if I just get lucky and win this 1:3 odds battle between the main forces. I bet it won’t take more than a dozen reloads until it ends in my favor!”. Ironman mode is probably the killer feature that made me play this game so much (as opposed to Civ V, for example, which I paid more for, and which I played a lot less): it protects myself from my save-scumming tendencies, and keeps the tension: a bad decision might actually cost me dearly, with no way to undo it. It also makes me more risk-averse, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

So. Castile. Ironman mode. The date is November 11, 1444. For reference, this is the state of Europe: (Like always, click for larger version)

euiv_europe_startmapNote how France is fractured, though many of those minor states are its vassals. The Hundred Years’ War is still trucking. The Emirate of Granada still controls southern Spain. Germany and Italy are divided between many powers (no surprise there, they’ll still be 400 years later in “vanilla” history). The king of Castile is a simpleton:

starting_king_castile(For reference, those numbers go from 0 to 6). Though at least his Moorish adversary isn’t any better:

starting_king_granadaNext time, I’ll start in earnest, writing about the first few years into the campaign. Who to ally? Who to rival? Expand where and how? And the most important: when will the next major patch roll around, and will it mess with old save games like 1.9 last year, which put Brazil into Russia and unexplored colonial provinces into Sweden (I hope not!)?