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

Europa Universalis III – Recon (PC)

By Jim Cobb

War remains the most frequently used means of expansion. Armies are made up of regiments of cavalry, infantry and artillery units of around 1000 men each. Army composition should reflect the terrain where battles will be fought and the ability to supply the troops. Europa Universalis III has an army creation screen that allows such mix-and-match abilities. Armies are rated for morale and strength. Mercenary regiments can be recruited immediately for a price while provincial units take three months to form up. Generals can be added to armies for combat bonuses. A right click sends an army on its way with fighting starting immediately upon entering enemy territory. Field combat is really a campaign lasting weeks or months and ends when one army’s morale is broken. When the opposing field army is driven off, a long siege of the province’s cities begins. When a breach is made, armies can opt to speed things up with an assault. Requests for peace can be made at anytime with the severity of the peace depending on the scale of military success. A "white peace" is a draw; victors can demand tribute and annex provinces while players with weak hands can offer tribute. More complicated peace terms include the relinquishing of territorial claims, vassalization and creating new nations. Demands and accepting terms can earn players "bad boy" points and domestic unrest. If combat is not yet an optimal choice, sending in spies to wreck a province or assassinate leaders can weaken an opponent also.


The fourth sub-concept is unique to Europe during this period. Exploration of the New World is almost imperative so countries must prepare ships and explorers to go overseas. Such expeditions require technology and new national ideas. Once new territories have been found, players can fight the natives, establish colonies or seize existing ones. Colonies grow into cities but, until they reach city status, new colonies work against establishing more colonies.

Three other factors complicate matters. A player handling a Catholic nation can attempt to control the Holy See by controlling the Holy See by assuring the he has the most of the seven cardinals in his pocket. Control of the Holy See yields stability, diplomatic and prestige. Becoming Holy Roman Emperor is even better with bigger advantages in the areas mentioned with the Holy See as well as better spies and a large army. Winning election upon an emperor’s death is a function of having good relations with a plurality of the seven electors. The final game play tweak is the random anointment of eight countries as "lucky nations" with better chances of random events. These nations can change as the game progresses.

Should some players disagree with game parameters, they can mod everything through a text editor. This flexibility and the new "gamer directed" historical path makes Europa Universalis III appear to be a significant change over its predecessor.


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