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Thread: The West - A Dynamic Colonial Overhaul for Europa Universalis IV

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    The West - A Dynamic Colonial Overhaul for Europa Universalis IV

    In Europa Universalis III, the colonial system was a bit lackluster. Even when a colonial power split later in the game, it was either too late to impact anything, or too weak and unstable to actually contribute to the region. With the developer's diary about the west coming out next week, EU4 has a chance to change this. In this thread, lets take a look at some of the reasons where EU3 failed at the goal of making colonies relevant, and what EU4 can do to improve on this.


    1) Colonies appeared too late in the timeframe. Up until the late 18th century, colonies in EU3 were almost non-existent. The beginnings of colonial independence began with the first wave of settlers. They risked everything to seek a fortune on foreign soil, leaving their homeland behind. Gradual, incremental advancement towards colonial independent sentiment wasn't modeled properly.

    2) "Cookie-cutter" nature of the breakaway colonies. If Aragon, Naples, the Netherlands, Denmark, Scotland, or any other secondary power had been successful in creating a colonial empire, there was no way to express its breakaway colonies. You would still have the normal timeline colonies attempt to spring forth. A successful New Caledonia, for example, had no way of being modeled into the game.

    3) The mother country controlled the entire direction of the colony. Up until the colonies attempted to break away, you had complete control over every aspect of the colony as if it was just another province. Contrary to this, self-governing colonies existed in history, colonists could choose which direction to expand in some cases, and varying degrees of autonomy were in place.

    4) No cultural differences between the Mother Country and the colonies. The colonies were just provinces inside their respective empires, no different in culture or ideology than their mother country. Some of these colonies had already been building up a certain identity, whether it be to their state or to their region. EU3 had no way of modeling this if you started in 1399. Some of these colonies began having different identities from their neighboring colonies as well, such as the Southern and Northern states in the USA.

    5) The ability to sail your entire army over an ocean was too easy. If a colony decided to revolt, all you had to do was load up the Royal Army on a few ships, crush the revolt and your army will be back home for Christmas.

    As shown by these points, the old colonial system needs a complete redrawing. A new system will need to be dynamic, to account for EU4's ability to diverge from the common timeline. It should be simple to use, but powerful to master. The player should have the ability to setup colonies in ways that he wants to, but also be under the threat of colonial disobedience, should he rule with an iron fist.



    Here are a few pictures of a simulated game as England, creating a colonial empire.






    In this game, I have created two colonies, the colony of Carolina and the colony of Manhattan.

    The colony of Carolina is centered around the region of Pamplico. This colony includes the Cotton and Tobacco rich areas of the south. This colony relies on me greatly for taking these goods to European markets to sell, so I have raised taxation/tarrifs, and disallowed them from expanding by themselves with colonists. They are only allowed to raise a small token force to protect them from natives and pirates.

    The colony of Manhattan on the other hand, has a varied production of goods, with a large flourishing trade network. I have lowered taxes on them to minimal levels to allow them to colonize for me. Lowering taxes and giving them more autonomy allows my colony of Manhattan to expand faster and appeases dissidents, but it runs the risk of more dissidents in the future.

    How does this colonization system work? Once you start getting a few colonial provinces under your belt, you have the option to make a colonial center. This decreases your colonial costs immensely, as colonial efforts are no longer hampered by an ocean. As you expand more into the region, your colonial centers become less and less effective with each province that is assigned to it. You will then have to create another colonial center for another region. The beauty of this is that you can also specialize these centers based on the region to provide better bonuses. This is the golden age of colonization, your people are happy and money is flowing back to the motherland.

    When the new world is established, the colonists begin to question why they should stay loyal to a crown that is across an ocean. At this point, you can appease your colonists to keep your hold on the region, or bleed all of the money you can out of them until they rebel. When they rebel, those colonial centers that share similarities will revolt together and form a common country. Those who do not share enough similarities will revolt as a separate entity.

    In my current game, my policies in Carolina and Manhattan are different. There is still a chance that they will revolt together, but they will most definitely have two different cultures, creating internal friction.

    With this concept, all of the problems in EU3 are addressed, adding a simple yet powerful colonial system. New colonial countries will be formed based on their home province, with the AI having some flavor countries added. Colonies will be able to gradually increase their power until they can flex it in an all out revolt, beginning to effect the game much earlier. Instead of colonies being a homogeneous entity, they will all begin to establish their own identities. The colonial age will be split into a more historical model, with the mother country benefiting GREATLY at the beginning from colonies, up until a point where colonies demand more and more of their own resources.

    This is what I hope will come of the new colonial system in Europa Universalis IV, if not at release, then further down the line. Thank you for reading.

  2. #2
    Sounds interesting, I like the concept.

  3. #3
    Field Marshal Te. Kenzo's Avatar
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    Well, i hope news about colonies from Paradox.

  4. #4
    These are good ideas. But I think colonization itself should be much more deterministic than in EU3, even though new colonial nations should be more random.

  5. #5
    First Lieutenant Luusydh's Avatar
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    Is that something you've actually modded into EU3. If so, do want.

  6. #6
    I don't really want deterministic colonization, but random minors colonizing random provinces isn't great either. I do like the system proposed though, I'm sure paradox will have done a fine job with colonies
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    General Fawr's Avatar
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    Random minors should be able to found colonies (Courland & Tobago), but only hold them if they aren't involved in any wars.

    Its particually annoying when you can't take colonies from trivial HRE member states unless you fight the emperor.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Funnyman320 View Post
    I don't really want deterministic colonization, but random minors colonizing random provinces isn't great either. I do like the system proposed though, I'm sure paradox will have done a fine job with colonies
    Random minors wouldn't really colonize any more or less than how they colonize in EU3 really. There would be a certain range where creating a Colonial Center is ideal. That range would of course be subject to balancing, but would be around 8-12 provinces. If you have less than that (1-4 provinces), making a colonial center would actually be a hindrance. If you have more (20+), then you will get less of a bonus, giving you incentive to make two colonial centers instead of one massive one.

    This would balance the fact that most islands (Bermuda, Canaries, St. Pierre and the minor caribbean islands) stayed with the mother country instead of joining in independence.


    Colonies themselves are completely controlled by the player at first, just like normal provinces. Think of Colonial Centers like how Trade Centers work in EU3, the provinces that join up are determined by varying factors, but the major one is distance. The player starts with 100% control over the provinces, but can enact/be forced into reforms.

    You OWN the land. If you click on the diplomacy screen, you will see England where your colonies are. Other players will see England as well. It is just when you click on the Colonial screen will you be able to see the system in play. It won't be like a vassal, but more like a gradual buildup until they demand independence or if you choose to enact reforms, become a vassal such as Canada.

  9. #9
    Field Marshal Wallain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xwarq View Post
    These are good ideas. But I think colonization itself should be much more deterministic than in EU3, even though new colonial nations should be more random.
    I hope it does not become more unrealistic. I'd rather see good mechanics that facilitate the cost and effort that it is to create and maintain a colonial empire, than always seeing Spain becoming a colonial power because they are Spain.

  10. #10
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    I think this is a great idea. You create a bunch of stable, nation sized areas for post-colonial states, you also assign their cultures/ideas through gameplay during the colonisation process. The idea that each colony base has its own identity is probably the best way to get interesting postcolonial nations.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Fawr View Post
    Random minors should be able to found colonies (Courland & Tobago), but only hold them if they aren't involved in any wars.

    Its particually annoying when you can't take colonies from trivial HRE member states unless you fight the emperor.
    I'm sure France felt the same way historically

  12. #12
    Major Sir Iain's Avatar
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    When did France try to take colonies from random HRE members?
    Real colonization should be very expensive. Too expensive for OPMs. Relatively strong powers, like Sweden, Denmark and Brandenburg never colonized more than a few provinces in EU terms. Courland never got to the point of self-sustaining provinces. In EUIII terms, they sent maybe 3 colonists, 2 to Tobago and 1 to the Gambia. That's all they managed.
    The Courland example shows that it should be possible for OPMs to colonize, but only when the government really invested in colonial ventures. And even then it should be much harder than it currently is.

  13. #13
    I see here great ideas, but I don't think they will include them in the core game. Most of the american countries got its independence in 19th century, and developers announced it will end in late 18th century.

    I feel this ideas suit better for a DLC focused on colonial independences which ends around 1820.

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    Though i agree in principle, i have to say i disagree on the issue of the actual beginnings of the colonial independence movement. Leaving aside a few efforts by slaves and mulattoes in the Caribbean, no serious break-away effort was mounted before the late 18th century. In the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in particular, it only started in the early 19th century, with several obstacles from a large part of the population. As for the African and Oceanian colonies, no serious independent movement ever existed prior to the 20th century.
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    Banned Iwanow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Iain View Post
    When did France try to take colonies from random HRE members?
    Real colonization should be very expensive. Too expensive for OPMs. Relatively strong powers, like Sweden, Denmark and Brandenburg never colonized more than a few provinces in EU terms. Courland never got to the point of self-sustaining provinces. In EUIII terms, they sent maybe 3 colonists, 2 to Tobago and 1 to the Gambia. That's all they managed.
    The Courland example shows that it should be possible for OPMs to colonize, but only when the government really invested in colonial ventures. And even then it should be much harder than it currently is.
    What is Courland? Land of Cours?

  16. #16
    Major Sir Iain's Avatar
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    The Duchy of Courland was a small vassal of Poland-Lithuania, wich originated from the remains of the Livonian Order. One of it's dukes pursued an active colonial policy. Courland actually had colonies in Tobago and the Gambia. It's the perfect example of an OPM with colonies.

  17. #17
    Please tell me this is a mod you've made. And then take all of my money.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Wallain View Post
    I hope it does not become more unrealistic. I'd rather see good mechanics that facilitate the cost and effort that it is to create and maintain a colonial empire, than always seeing Spain becoming a colonial power because they are Spain.
    And good mechanics modelling colonization would result in Spain being a large colonial power 90% of the time.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Angelos View Post
    Though i agree in principle, i have to say i disagree on the issue of the actual beginnings of the colonial independence movement. Leaving aside a few efforts by slaves and mulattoes in the Caribbean, no serious break-away effort was mounted before the late 18th century. In the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in particular, it only started in the early 19th century, with several obstacles from a large part of the population. As for the African and Oceanian colonies, no serious independent movement ever existed prior to the 20th century.
    Colonial independence, yes, but colonies breaking off is meant to be the last straw against a tyrannical Mother Country. The whole colonial cycle would be something like this:

    1) Small expensive foothold. This is when you don't have enough provinces to create a Colonial Center, colonizing is quite expensive as you are braving a new unexplored world, with all of the perils that come with that. Colonial residents do not want to rebel at this point because they benefit way too much from the Mother Country, they still consider themselves as the same culture and "frontier ideologies" run high.

    2) Golden age of colonizing. This is when the Mother Country has its established colonies and is making massive amounts of money. New waves of colonists are flooding in, the majority of colonists consider themsleves the same culture, they have threats from natives and other colonies, no real rebellions taking place.

    3) Rise of the colonists. As the Colonial Center matures, has its borders more or less set in stone, it begins to question why they are paying so much tax toward a ruler across the ocean. They still are loyal to the Mother Country, but start to demand some more rights for their citizens. A colonial culture starts to develop. At this stage, it is still profitable for the Mother Country, but it is becoming less and less so.

    4) End of Profits. The point where the Mother Country is actually losing more money trying to keep colonial dissidence down. As more and more colonials demand more and more rights, it has reached a point where the Mother Country is spending more than it is making off of the colony.

    5) Rebellion. Whether the Mother Country has entered into a war in Europe and had to retreat its troops from the colony, or all of its colonies revolted together, the colonists declare open rebellion upon the Mother Country.


    Now, with a competent ruler, it should be possible to extend your golden age and give into some concessions to keep your colonists happy, the fact of the matter is rebellion is just the last part of the colonial tale. It would entirely be possible for colonists to not rebel until their historical counterparts, but you would have to consider the profitability in that. You must weigh what is more important to your country, attempting to subjugate your colonies for a few more years, risking a sour relation when they finally break apart, or using that gold to further your ambitions elsewhere.

  20. #20
    Realistic colonialism- Colonies are a hopeless boondoggle that costs the state tons of money but enriches a bunch of aristocrats at the states it's expense, the player never actually uses colonialism and just fucking conquers europe because the player isn't interested in enriching his cronies or state prestige or shit like that, he cares about rolling in gold.

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