Europa Universalis IV Tips and Strategy Guide – How To

By   /   Aug 29, 2013

Europa Universalis IV is one of the complex strategy games on PC. The sheer scale of the game can scare the new comers but worry not; we have covered everything in-depth to get you started with the game.

If you are new to series and find few aspects confusing, read through the guide that follows!

Europa Universalis IV Tips and Strategy


Memorizing the hotkeys is core to successfully playing an RTS game and EU IV is no exception. In this section, we’ll be covering all the necessary hotkeys you need to know about to have a smooth in-game experience.

The ‘F1’ key is used to pull up your main interface where you can further utilize your numeric keys from ‘1’ all the way to ‘0’ to scroll across all the top columns with ease.

Then you have your Q-W-E-R-T-Y key binds which you can use to customize any of the map modes according to your play style.

The ‘A’ key can be used to attach or detach any ground units you have to a ship or any form of transport, then you have your ‘S’ key which is used to split your armies; it is useful to manage your armies properly as it maintains your ratios to keep your numbers balanced regardless of the types of units you have.

The ‘D’ key is there to detach a blockade which leaves behind a single transport unit or ship you may have or the ‘D’ key can also be used to detach a siege which leaves behind just enough units to perform a successful siege.

The ‘F’ key can be used to go to your Capital Province or find out any possible Provinces. The ‘G’ key is used to combine any split armies or ships you may have.

The ‘Z’ key is there to select specifically the infantry in your army selection while ‘X’ does the same job but towards cavalry and ‘C’ for your cavalry. On ships, you’ll be using ‘Z’ to select heavy ships, ‘X’ to select your light ships, ‘C’ to select Galleys and ‘V’ to select transports.

The ‘L’ key brings up your Ledger menu. F10 takes a screen-shot of the current map mode in the form of a .PNG file in your Documents folder in the Paradox interactive subfolder, while F11 does a similar function, only difference is it will take a screenshot of the actual game at the time.

Lastly, the space bar key is used to pause/un-pause the game.

Trade Nodes and Trade flow

There is a specific map-mode in the game by default known as the trade map-mode which you can access through the ‘R’ key. In this map mode you can see all the trade zones in the game differentiated by their color.

Each zone basically has its own trade node; this is where all its trade and information related to it are compiled into one place. Also if your capital province is located in the area, you can actually gain extra bonuses when collecting from trade in that zone.

Trade flows are represented by arrows in the trade map mode; they basically show the direction towards where trades flow, and stay constant throughout the game and cannot be changed.


Merchants are units that every country has 2 of by default; their main purpose is either collecting from trade or transferring trade power.

You are not confined to having only 2 merchants as you can actually increase the amount by using ideas depending on your culture through which you’ll be able to unlock a few more merchants over time.

As you collect from trade, you’ll actually be increasing the income you gain by about 10%, but you don’t necessarily have to have a merchant in the area to collect.

You could send the merchant somewhere else, and you’ll still be able to collect from the trade zone your capital province is present in but keeping a merchant in the zone can often times be beneficial thanks to 10% increase to income gain.


As you would probably guess by the name, Rivals are countries you’re most likely to come in conflict with in the coming future. Every country is allowed to assign up to 3 Rivals and selecting a Rival requires you to pay 10 Diplomatic Power.

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You may have heard the saying “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”, well that saying applies to Rivals as well, because you’re very likely to gain alliances with enemies of your Rivals in the form of a bonus relationship score.

By assigning Rivals you also get certain benefits, for example 25% increase in prestige for defeating them in a battle


Embargoing is basically reducing the trade power a country has in a specific network. The math behind this is that when you Embargo a country, you reduce their maximum power in a specified node by a stated percentage.

If you feel your embargoing is not having that big of an impact, there are multiple ideas that actually increase your Embargo efficiency. For example in the Espionage where you can get +33% Embargo efficiency.

You should note that that if you wish to have maximum Embargo efficiency, you should have at least 50% of the trading power in the said Trading Node.

Taxes and Tariffs

Taxing is the main way to earn money in Europa Universalis IV. Money that you earn through taxes goes directly into the treasury.

Every province in the game has a base tax value; this tax value may be increased through buildings such as a temple, and is further modified by tax income efficiency.

Along with taxes, you can also earn income through another way known as ‘Tariffs. Tariffs aren’t applied to local markets; they are applied to overseas markets.

Overseas territory basically means anything, which is on a continent other than the continent where your capital is.

Tariff income is based on your trade value, which basically means the goods that are produced and further modified by the production efficiency you have.

Treasury, Loans, Inflation and War taxes

As you can probably judge by the name, the game’s treasury basically represents the amount of money you currently have in hand, used to create new buildings, hire advisers and recruit armies.

The treasury icon is at the top left of your screen and you can hover over it to see your current statistics. On top of showing you the amount of money you have, the treasury menu (accessed by moving your mouse over the treasury icon) also shows you your statistics from last month such as profit or loss in hiring armies, production and trade etc.

You can also access all this information and more through your economy tab using the ‘3’ hotkey.

Your economy tab also has your monthly income and expenses counter. If you ever happen to hit a point where your expenses are more than your income, you will automatically be availed a loan, the maximum amounts of loans you can have varies by a lot of factors, such as your country and multiple others factors.

Keep in mind that taking loans also increases inflation.

Inflation can also come if you have way too much gold income in comparison to your other incomes. Inflation is a huge pain as it basically increases the cost of about everything in the game.

Therefore, you should really avoid taking lots of loans as they increase inflation which can cause a HUGE dent in your economy over time. But if you ever happen to encounter inflation, there are advisers that can reduce this over time.

Another way to reduce inflation is through ideas in the “economic ideas” section when you have unlocked this entire idea group. War taxes are something that is only available during times you’re at war.

War taxes reduce land and naval maintenance costs at the price of increased war exhaustion Due to this, it’s generally advised to stay away from them unless you’re on the brink of bankruptcy, or you know that the increased war exhaustion won’t be hurting you.

Maintenance Sliders

There are four basic maintenance sliders, these are:
Army Maintenance
Colonial Maintenance
Fleet Maintenance
Missionaries Maintenance

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Army maintenance is basically the funding you provide to your army. During times when you’re at war, it is generally good to set these sliders high so that your army’s morale stays high. Morale is very important if you wish to wage war successfully.

When you’re not at war, you should feel free to set them to a lower value as you can afford to lose some morale at those times. Note that if you set it to a full minimum, you will still encounter negative events (rebels) so it’s always advised to stay away from having minimum army maintenance.

Fleet maintenance is the funding you’re giving towards your ships, in the same way as armies, it is always better to have this slider set to a high value during times of war to maintain morale.

The disadvantage to having low fleet maintenance is that you lose light ship trading power. For example, if you’re using your light ships to protect trade in a certain area, your income will increase by a hefty amount, but if you set it to a lower value, your income gains will generally decrease

Missionary maintenance is one of the lesser important of these four, unless you’re working on actively converting religion. If you are working on converting, it is advised to keep this to a high value as a low value has an extremely low success rate unless you have other factors influencing this.

Colonial maintenance is the funding which you provide to each of the colonies that you own. Adjusting this will basically change the growth rate by an amount and the growth rate may also go negative if you set it too low.

The cost depends on how large the colonies are and constantly increases as the colonies get closer to completion and when the colonies have been completed the cost goes away.

You should note that the cost will increase if you have more colonies than you have colonists.


Prestige in Europa Universalis IV is a stat that varies between the values of Negative 100% to Positive 100%. It’s increased by combat, winning wards and advisers etc.

Your prestige keeps decaying by default, 5% of the current value decays each year. It gives you multiple bonuses such as Global trade power, army and fleet morale and multiple other things.

Strategic Goods

In Europa Universalis IV, every single province produces some sort of good, for example Porto producing wine.

If you want to see how much of the said good you are producing, you open the Ledger > Trade > Strategic goods, then you can see how much overall you are producing.

If you want strategic effect, you need a minimum of 20% market share of the said good.

Getting a strategic advantage is really beneficial as it allows you to access one of the many benefits such as decreased price for reducing war exhaustion and all other good stuff of the sort


Legitimacy is basically how legitimate your monarch is perceived by your subjects; it’s a statistic which has a value cap of 100. Having a high legitimacy value is essential as the benefits it provides are simply too good to pass by.

Some of these benefits are lower revolt risk, more tolerance of heretics, more diplomatic reputation (Diplomatic reputation basically increases the chance of your diplomatic offers being accepted by other countries, and chances of inheritance in a personal union while also speeding up the process of diplomatic integration) and a couple of other bonuses.

There are ways to increase your legitimacy, such as having controls of cardinal as well as control of the area. Note that you can also reduce your legitimacy by things such as Royal Marriages.

You can also take a huge hit to your legitimacy by changing your government form – for example changing it to Feudal monarchy from a Despotic monarchy.

Republican Tradition

As you would probably get by its name, this statistic only applies to republics. Its value ranges from 0 – 100 and base increase rate is about +1/year just as long as you are a republic.

Its core effect is that it lowers national revolt risk, and that is definitely something you need.

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You can actually lose your position as a merchant Republic if you let this number go too low. The main factor that which causes you to lose this is when you re-elect the same Doge.

Manpower and Leaders

Manpower basically represents the amount of men you’re able to use to reinforce a regiment or to build new regiments. Its value is also capped; you reach the cap when you hit 10x your yearly base value.

Getting onto leaders, there are multiple types of leaders in this game and maintaining a leader costs 1 military power per month but you can get 1 leader which is completely free.

Having a leader is very beneficial as they can add as many bonus statistics to your arsenal but be sure you don’t cap out on them and starve yourself of military points.

Assault and Siege mechanics

Assault is basically used when someone does not want to wait for the long siege to succeed and wants to win a war as quickly as possible. Launching an assault costs 2 military power, that’s not all though because it will also cost you a lot of lives so it’s important to be careful when you use it.

What happens during an assault is that your infantry engages their infantry head on their infantry to yours, their morale to yours, no other factors or modifiers are applied.

It is important to note that assaulting will cost you even more if you assault a town whose walls are still up so it is important that you are up in numbers at least 10 – 1 to have a successful assault without losing too many men.

Now onto siege, a siege is pretty self explanatory but the mechanics of it are that it takes 30 days for each siege tick to happen.

When a siege phase happens, a die of 1-14 is rolled and the number is added to your siege modifier which then shows you all the possible events which may occur, such as food shortage or supply shortage etc.

Your most recent even is displayed on the siege menu which is open during the siege.

Naval / Army Tradition

Army tradition is basically the value which represents the amount of experience your army has – it can be increased by siege, combat and building etc.

It decays on a base value of 5% of year. Its benefits include increased morale, improvement in manpower recovery speed and how quickly your army recovers morale so it makes a big impact on your efficiency in land combat. There are also advisers who decrease the rate at which you lose tradition or even grant you tradition.

Naval tradition is pretty much the same as above but its benefits are increased navy moral, increased trade steering and increased naval morale recovery speed, so this makes an impact on how your naval battles turn out.


The way that land-based attrition works is that you have a supply limit for every province in the game. Each province has a base value which is built into the game. It can be increased by technology and you also get a 25% bonus if you’re the owner of said province.

Many things can cause an effect on attrition, even a season change such as winter. Basically you suffer attrition whenever you go above the supply limit.

Sea-based attrition works a tad differently. There’s no supply limit out in the water but there is supply range and you will start to suffer attrition when you’re out of the supply range and the amount of attrition that you suffer will be stated in the details of that area.

Navy Units

Everyone loves naval units and there are 4 main types of them in EU IV.
Heavy ships
Light ships

The kinds of ships that you’re able to build are based completely on your technology level. Each level of technology unlocks a new ship class but note that upgrading technology will not affect the current ships you have as they will stay the same, only the new ones will be affected.

There is also a limit to the amounts of ships you can have so if you have old ships and are looking to build more up to date ones and are reaching the limit, you’ll have to sell or destroy the old ones to make room for the new ones.


In order to begin colonization, you’ll first need a colonist, and to get a colonist you’ll need some ranked up ideas in either the expansion or exploration fields. Exploration also unlocks a quest for new worlds which is a very important quest if you look to emphasize heavily on colonization.

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There are a few values in colonization that you’ll have to keep track of. The first is colonial range which is basically how farm from your core province you’re allowed to expand.

Another value is your global settler increase. This value can also be increased through ideas. It’s an important value as it increases the speed at which you colonize at; this also increases the number of annual settlers, and lastly you have the colonist travel time which is basically how long the colonists take to reach their destination.

Government and Ideas

Government types can actually be switched in Europa Universalis IV. There are a whole lot of government types in the game and each cost their own price, mainly the price is in administrative power, keep in mind that changing government types gives a huge hit to your legitimacy.

Ideas are basically something which you spend monarch points on to gain different benefits. There are 3 main types of ideas which are:
Administrative ideas
Diplomatic ideas
Military ideas

Each type of idea will cost its respective power such as administrative power for administrative ideas and so on. Every country also has their own set of cultural ideas which are free.

These are not unlocked and are simply given to you depending on who you are.


Morale is a value in Europa Universalis IV which basically influences how long your units will fight.

Combat will only last until one army is completely deprived of morale so basically having more morale is pretty much guaranteeing you a win in combat unless the enemy has tactical advantages.

Note that morale is different for naval and land combats.

The main factor affecting morale is how much you pay your men so paying your men more is generally good as even a small advantage in morale can turn out to be the factor that wins you combat.


Missions are pretty self explanatory. A mission in Europa Universalis IV is an assigned task which is completed when given conditions are met. At any given time you’re not allowed to have more than one mission, though rather simple, completing missions gives you huge stat advantages.

Missions are given to you randomly based on historical events or other random events.


Over-extension is basically caused by owning a large amount of provinces which are not core provinces. It is better to avoid doing this as over-extension gives you huge stat deficits such as increasing national revolt risk, decreasing papal influence and reducing diplomatic reputation etc.

Religion and Technology

Religion is something every country has of its own by default.

Religion affects many things. For example, if you’re Catholic, your tolerance of heretics is increased and national revolt risk decreased; it increases your legitimacy as well.

Now moving onto technology. There are 3 types of technologies in Europa Universalis IV and they are Administrative, Diplomatic and Military. Each type of technology costs points for its respective type of technology such as military power for military technology.

There is a base cost of 500 per level but you should not rush technology to get ahead of type as penalties are added the farther ahead of time you get, but if you so happen to fall behind you get the neighbor bonus which basically grants you discount to technology if your neighboring countries have advanced technology.

It is key to note that the technology costs are different for different people, such as the westerns have normal 100% technology costs while Muslims have increased technology costs and the Saharans have massively increased technology costs.

Don’t forget to comment if you find anything confusing!