EU4 beginners guide – tips for new Europa Universalis 4 players

One more turn

If you’re a beginner in Europa Universalis 4, prepare yourself for brain-breaking micromanagement on a global scale. EU4 has you analyze and assess your borders, properly target territories for expansion, guide troop and naval movement, and make proper alliances while ensuring your bloodline stays seated on the throne. Europa Universalis 4 has ruthless AI that will grab the opportunity to keep you down if you have even a single stroke of bad luck.

We’ll keep it light in this EU4 beginners guide, starting with some good general tips to keep you moving through to January 3rd, 1821.

Hit pause at the start

It’s so important to hit pause at the absolute beginning of every campaign. The EU4 AI won’t wait for you to play around with troops or get lost in the dozens of tabs. If you hit pause at the beginning, you give yourself an opportunity to create Royal Marriages and Alliance with key partners, establish merchants, and mothball forts to keep your income flowing. It also gives you a month headstart to prevent wars by improving relations with hostile nations.

Keep an eye on the notification banners at the top left. Those notifications will point you to key interests that you’ll have to address depending on their urgency. Green is passive alerts, Yellow indicates warnings, upgrades, or timers, and Red indicated urgent and nation-threatening events.

Pick a strong country

The worst thing you can do in your first EU4 game is to pick a nation in North America, South America, or a small nation in Asia on your first few campaigns. If you do, you will get demolished the instant colonists arrive. Your best bet is to keep to the Great Powers in Europe.


Portugal and Castile offer a safe and exciting game. Ottomans and Austria are absolute powerhouses from 1444-1821. France, Burgundy, and Britain are great choices too. Just make sure to keep yourself involved and learning. It’s difficult to learn this game when you’re sitting on 1-5 provinces waiting for Admin, Diplo, and Military points while running on loans.

Bigger isn’t always better

It’s beyond thrilling to see your nation grow to a giant blob on the map. Blobbing is fun in EU4 because it means you have conquered other nations and absorbed provinces. With that said, bigger nations come with bigger problems. We’re talking about Army, Navy, and Fort maintenance costs, rebel uprisings, and the cost to core provinces. There isn’t a Europa Universalis IV beginner guide, YouTube video, or Let’s play that can truly teach a spectator the stress of serious overextension quite like personal experience. You’ll never make it far if you’re not prepared for the shock waves of a successful war.

The major trick in most cases is to take it slow and steady, and try not to fall behind in technological advancements. You might have more provinces or troops than another nation, but that won’t mean much when its advanced military wipes your armies out and you’re forced to cede the provinces you worked so hard for.

Pick a goal

You will not achieve world domination in your first few campaigns. Most players can play hundreds of hours and still not achieve world domination. Your best bet every game is to establish a personal goal for your nation and work towards it.

Your EU4 goals can be anything, from establishing colonies on certain continents, or having the most colonies in the game. You could aim to control trade in a certain trade node, or dominate the production of a particular produced good. It could even be as wacky as establishing Portuguese Japan and asserting the Catholic religion to the island nation.

eu4 portuguese japan
Ran out of time to sweep Manchu and claim Japan under Imperialism

Always have a Casus Belli

Under no circumstance should you start a war without a Casus Belli – which is the term for a justified cause for war. Starting a war without one will cripple your nation with penalties. Europa Universalis IV is nothing like the Civilization series which lets you wage war at any time.

If a neighboring nation has a province you desire, send a spy to establish a network and fabricate a claim for the province. From there, you can wage war and attempt to take what you believe is rightfully yours. Even with a successful war, be careful of taking too many provinces. The War Score might allow it, but neighboring nations could start a coalition against you and put you back in your place.

Stuck? Watch YouTube guides

YouTube has a collection of the best EU4 guide and tutorial and resources anybody can find for Europa Universalis IV. Some of the resources even break down exact math equations that go into the RNG of the game, pinpointing which stats you should look to buff up. Just make sure you have the time and patience to sit through videos that last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. There’s a lot to learn, and it takes a while to explain. If you’re not a patient person, Europa Universalis IV will teach you patience.

This EU4 beginners guide barely scratches the surface of this massive game. If you like Europa Universalis IV, stick around with SQUAD for more.

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Aja Jones

Writer from Toronto, Canada. Can taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi. Learned how to play drums through Rock Band. Named after a Steely Dan album.
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