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Posted on Jan 2, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Europa Universalis III – Recon (PC)

By Jim Cobb

Size and status of the army and navy are shown in the military screen as well as the primary types of units and a slider to regulate their maintenance. Units are up graded or changed here when the necessary technology is available. Tolerance of up to twelve different religions can be set in the religion screen where Catholic rulers can also attempt to control the Holy See. In the government screen, adjusting sliders for eight policies affect trade, stability and a number of other factors. A new addition to this screen is government type. Given the right circumstances, players can adopt at least seventeen different types of governments, each with unique pluses and minuses. Yet another new concept in government is the nine "national ideas", accessible through technological advance and necessary for activities such as exploration. The last screen deals with the recruitment of generals and admirals. These men can be bought as usual but the selection pool has a new twist. Victory and technology build up tradition for military affairs. Quality leaders will only join a service with a strong tradition. Tradition can be built by converting a ruler with a high military rating into a general and sending him to war. Of course, he may be killed causing a succession crisis.

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Clicking on another country’s province brings up a panel describing that areas resources, income, religion and military status. More importantly, diplomatic actions, ranging from war to alliances to gifts, are also displayed. All this data and actions, internally and externally, are the groundwork for game play.

Marching to a Different Drum

The role of the player in all of the Europa Universalis systems is one of an "immortal" controller guiding a procession of rulers in a continuous pausable game. Rulers juggle domestic issues by pumping money into technological and economic projects while maintaining stability against popular unrest and outside threats. Players also must react to random events and diplomatic requests. In past games, events followed a strict, predictable historic past. Although the primary campaign beginning in 1453 and the eight smaller campaigns begin in historical states, following events unfold in reaction to players’ action, limiting attempts to "game" the system. Therefore, a pacific ruler who neglects the military will pay the price of being weak. A more aggressive course may accumulate "bad boy" points that provoke other countries and limit diplomatic actions. Rulers can die at ant time, creating succession problems. In fact, all changes in rulers will create unrest. Success requires a juggling act of four sub-conflicts.

First of all, administration requires the recruitment of administrative advisors. Technology must be kept at a progressive level to keep the populace content. Missionaries may be required in provinces that may be deviating from the state religion. Another option in such cases is to increase tolerance at the risk of irritating the majority. Money has to be put into culture to avoid popular criticism. Drastic action must be taken in cases of famine and plague. National ideas must be promulgated in order to keep up with competitors. Recruitment of more regiments finds limits with the populace. All success, like politics, is local.

The second struggle is economic. Every country has a center of trade from which resources are gathered and sold. Countries slowly gain merchants who are sent to these centers. Their chance of success is a function of a country’s economic strength and trade technology. These factors are used against competing merchants. The more merchants in a center, the more income the player’s country receives from the center.

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