Starting out in Europa Universalis 4 can be a daunting experience for beginners. With a vast array of nations to choose from, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, it can be difficult to know where to begin. The early modern world is fraught with political and military challenges, making it easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. However, fear not, for this list aims to provide some helpful advice and guidance for struggling new players. In particular, we will explore the best beginner nations to start with, offering tips and tricks to make your early game experience smoother and more enjoyable.
Europa Universalis 4: Best Nations for Beginners
Let’s take a look at some of the best nations for beginners in EU4:
Portugal is traditionally the best nation for new players, and I still find it to be an enjoyable playthrough. You begin the game in a relatively stress-free position of the world surrounded on all land borders by your historical friend Castile. It will remain in your best interest to stay on their good side.
In the early game, your primary focus should be the conquest of North Africa, then shortly after Mali, likely with the help of Castile. This land in North Africa will provide you with literal gold mines and valuable trade recourses. The best part is the land should remain mostly uncontested with likely no African nation posing any legitimate threat.
However, where Portugal really shines is its overpowered colonization. With your unique starting position and overpowered exploration and expansion ideas, you should be the first nation in the new world by a number of years. You will likely only be followed by Castile/Spain for many years. The West Indies, Brazil, Mexico, and Eastern America can all provide great wealth and subjects for Portugal. From there you will be free to rapidly expand through the uncolonized world, conquering any minor nation you see fit.
Your greatest challenge may come from managing your many colonial subjects, but if you don’t get overly greedy with tariffs this shouldn’t become a major issue. Building land and physical military power under your direct control will also benefit you and your control. In a successful Portugal playthrough, you will find no shortage of activities and conquest to carry you through the whole game.
The Netherlands isn’t a playable nation at the start of the game. Instead, there are a handful of nations to choose from that all give you the option of forming the great Netherlands, each providing its own challenges.
On paper, Burgundy seems like the most straightforward route with nearly the whole required territory under the control of your personal unions. This is great, however, you will likely have to deal with the two titans of France and Austria fairly early on which can end the game before it begins.
Personally, my nation of choice for forming the Netherlands is Holland. They begin the game in a PU (personal union) under Burgundy as discussed, but this can easily be broken with alliances through France and Austria. Both should guarantee your independence.
Once the war with Burgundy begins, they should be able to do more than enough to handle your overlord. Once the war for independence comes to an end you should be able to walk away with your independence, a few pieces of land, and a hunk of gold. From there you will want to maintain your French alliance and use them to further expand to the required Dutch lands.
Once you have the Netherlands formed, your immediate goal should be to finish off the remainder of Burgundy and its subjects if you haven’t done so already. From there you should be safe on your French border assuming you maintained the alliance and the minor HRE (Holy Roman Empire) nations should pose no real threat.
Once at this stage, the world is your oyster. The Netherlands excels in trade. By using the exploration idea, expand into trade nodes around the world, ideally the Hudson Bay, Ivory Coast, and Cape of Good Hope.
Through these nodes, you will be able to funnel massive amounts of trade and power to your home node, the English Channel. This will generate more wealth than you know what to do with. From there you are free to do as you will with a respectable mid-sized army and navy that will rival that of England and Spain. The remainder of Africa, North America, and even the East Indies will await your conquest.
England / Great Britain
Doing an England / Great Britain playthrough is something that’s very underrated in my opinion. England is one of the most fun nations to play as. With England, you can decide which way you want your game to go from the very beginning which leads to 2 very different, and equally fun playthroughs.
The first is the traditional England strategy which most EU4 players are likely accustomed to. That is ceding your mainland provinces to France and retreating to the British Isles with the goal of conquest and protection with your superior navy. This can lead to quite a fun playthrough with many different directions to go once Great Britain is formed.
Not dissimilar from Portugal and the Netherlands, your main mission will likely be securing a foothold on some of the major trade nodes in the New World and Africa. The major difference between Portugal and the Netherlands being your army can pack a punch and be a major force. This opens up many conquest possibilities from Europe, India, Africa, and the South Pacific. Aside from the most powerful nations in the world, few will be able to stand against you.
The second playthrough, which can provide a considerably greater challenge, is securing your mainland European foothold from the start. France is at its most vulnerable at the very start of the game before it becomes a military juggernaut. During this time, likely with the help of some alliances, France can be overcome. From the amount of land alone, multiple wars will be fought, and much of your recourses should be focused on mainland France.
Once the majority of France and even Paris is under your control you can quickly conquer the British Isles. If you play your cards right, you may eventually be a European British empire that stretches from Scotland to the borders of Spain. Your army and navy will be unmatched leading to a great blob playthrough.
South East Asia
Lastly, we arrive at a playthrough that can be broadly categorized as South East Asia. This is because you have a number of nations to choose from, all with slightly different starting strategies, but all with the same goal of uniting South East Asia under one flag. No matter which nation you choose you should find dynamic warfare to begin the game with many challenges along the way.
Once you overcome this challenging, but fun starting phase you are left with many options for a continued game. In each option, you should expand down into the East Indies, securing the valuable spice islands and trade nodes before the Europeans eventually arrive. You will thank yourself later. You are now left with conquest routes through India and a likely fractured Ming/China. If you enjoy aggressive expansion and warfare, this is a region for you. By the time the Europeans come to your doorstep, you could become a power even they can’t touch.
For beginners in EU4, it’s essential to choose a nation that offers a gentle learning curve and doesn’t have too many complex mechanics. However, once a player is comfortable with the game’s basics, they may want to explore the best ideas for a more advanced nation, such as forming Prussia, to take their gameplay to the next level.
Europa Universalis 4 is a complex and challenging game, but with the right nation and strategies, even beginners can have a rewarding experience. By selecting one of the recommended beginner nations and following the tips outlined above, new players can gain a solid foundation and better understand the mechanics of the game. Remember, practice makes perfect, and as you continue to play, you’ll become more adept at managing your nation’s affairs and achieving your goals. So, don’t be discouraged by initial setbacks, and keep honing your skills to become a master of EU4!