Meta-Wars: Europa Universalis IV & Patch 1.19

By Joe Robinson 29 Nov 2016 2

'Metagaming' can refer to the act of operating on knowledge of the current strategic trends within a game. You will find it in anything that has a highly competitive element, from Starcraft, to many card-based games, to the current eSports heavyweights. It's not something you'd necessarily associate with wargaming, but any system that uses rule-set that offers a lot of organisation and a high-degree of customization will have a 'meta-game'. Even competitive table-top titles will have a meta that needs consulting.

Digital games, even ones that have no true competitive platform, can also develop their own evolving meta. Recently we interviewed Johan Andersson from Paradox Interactive regarding the evolving nature of warfare in Europa Universalis IV. Those patches and expansions slowly changed the 'meta' of warfare in the game, from the early days of carpet-besieging to today's more sophisticated Fort-based system post-Rights of Man. With the recent release of Patch 1.19, that meta is set to change again, albeit more subtly.

This will be the first in an experimental series of articles looking at the changing 'meta' of conflict in various wargames, and how players may (or may not) need to adapt their playing habits to fir the new order of things. 

For EUIV's Patch 1.19 you can read the full patch notes here, but here are the main items that seem to effect warfare and fighting wars in Europa Universalis IV

  • [Art of War] Its now possible to transfer occupation away from your subjects as well.
  • [Mare Nostrum] Having high Spy Network (SN) in a country can now make them tell you when preparing war. Probability scales between 0% at 50 SN and 100% at 100 SN.
  • Added new unit graphics for the outdated infantry models for: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Prussia, Portugal, Castile, Austria, Holland, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Thomond, Clanricarde, Venice, Savoy, Leinster, France, Genoa, Milan, Ferrara, Mantua, Tuscany, Modena, Urbino, Siena, Naples and Papal State. 
  • Added "End Rivalry" peace option forcing the enemy to remove one of their Rivals. The removed Rival cannot be added again until 15 years after removed.
  •  Removed the casus Belli "Primitives" & "Overseas".
  • Exploration Finisher now allows you to fabricate claim on another continent that is in your capital in a colonial region. (Colonial Subjects can do it everywhere in a colonial region.)
  • Expansion Finisher now allows you to fabricate claims inside any trade company region that is on another continent than your capital. (Without Wealth of Nations, its any overseas port not in a colonial region, and not in Europe.)
  •  Lack of enough Maintained Forts now impact score, where having more than enough can increase the rating.
  • Annexations and Integrations will stall at 100% if any province is occupied by an enemy at war.
  • Terrain no longer reduces combat width.
  • Forts occupied by third parties now actually don't block taking provinces in peace deal.
  • You now always have military access in non-neutral areas.
  • Provinces are now flipped back to owner's control in friendly areas.
  • AI now has a Fog of War simulation (shared among all enemies of a country), so they shouldn't chase hiding armies/fleets that haven't shown themselves as much.
  • Fixed issues with AI protecting straits.
  • AI no longer cheats with fort maintenance.
  • Improvements to AI war declaration logic.
  • AI should now be better at organizing coordinated attacks.
  • AI should now be more inclined to actually declare wars in which they can get personal unions.
  • Added AI wanting to have nicer borders.

We spoke to Paradox front-man Johan Andersson again to try and get some developer insight into these changes.

The main thing to watch out for is the changes to terrain – the combat width penalties have been removed from all terrain tiles, although the dice-roll penalty still remains. For Johan, this seemed to be more of a balance issue: with the recent changes to Forts in Rights of Man, battles were skewed a little too much in favour of the defenders when you stack everything together. Further to that, reduced combat width makes battles last longer as less enemy units can come to the front and fight at one time. While it may not be as thematic, this will streamline battles a bit and prevent them dragging on.

Speaking of Forts, you'll remember in our last article that Johan mentioned they were going to make improvements to Zone of Control as well. These plans have been scrapped, although there have been changes to Fort logic as well as AI Fort Maintenance. The AI no longer cheats and has to pay the same amount as the player. The other ideas they had didn't turn out as well as they'd hoped, so they are happy with the status quo for now.

Collectively, this basically means that defending provinces with forts isn't as powerful as it used to be although there's still a significant advantage. The AI plays a bit fairer too, and if you look at the larger notes Forts even tie into scoring as well.

Waging war is important, but justifying that war is just as important. Due to the changes to technology with the Institutions, certain exploration-related Casus Belli's like 'Overseas Expansion' and 'Primitives' have become a bit broken and obsolete. These have been completely removed and are now tied to the Exploration and Expansion Idea Groups. When you finish them, you can start fabricating claims on territories that lie outside your home continent given certain conditions are met, depending on which one you complete (full details above).

Those of you who know enough to be able to read the AI's behaviour will need to keep an eye out as well. There have been changes to the AI's war deceleration logic, although Johan didn't know the specifics. What the notes do reveal though is that the AI won't now always go for the 'best' province, it will also want to have neater borders as well.

Finally, the war-AI now operates under a Fog of War 'simulation', to prevent armies hunting down other armies they shouldn't really be able to detect, especially if that army has been kept out of range. Johan mentioned that so far it “felt” fairer, but we imagine this will need further testing by the community at large.

That's it for this article – let us know what you think and whether you'd like to see more like it.

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