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Second Lieutenant
Sep 28, 2019
This is a repost of my colonization suggestion. This is because since the time I posted the original suggestion, I've been gradually updating it and it's now almost 100% different. So I felt that it was justified to post it again.

In my opinion, colonization in EU4 is currently in a bad state. It's not very fun or useful or engaging, which is a shame both because it's one of the main features of the game and because the real life history behind it is so interesting and diverse (though also destructive). For how detailed the game is, we really deserve a better version of colonization. So here's a collection of suggestions on how to improve it.

If these ideas are just too much to add into the code of EU4 because of its age, maybe the more basics ones can make it in alone, and others can be incorporated into EU5. My hope is that we can see this overhaul side by side with a future update to Latin America, with a comprehensive map update (fixed climate, updated province density, new tags and cultures added) and regional flavor (missions, government reforms, ideas, and another look at religious reforms).

The specific problems that I see:
  • Unfun and repetitive. The content of colonization is send your guy to a specific province, park your army there so the natives won't mess you up. If you want to be efficient at all, this will require a lot of brain-numbing micromanagement.
  • No variation. As lots of people always remark, the game labels vastly different historical events together as "colonizing". Britain, Spain and France each had their own strategies in the Americas, and each empire had different areas with different characteristics. The current system works ok enough for British settler colonialism in North America, but is quite inaccurate for what the others did, which was also a hugely relevant part of the period.
  • Underpowered. The current consensus seems to be that forming trade companies is vastly superior to creating colonial nations, and in addition the buffed natives have seriously nerfed colonization.
  • Inaccurate. Europeans basically eventually assimilate every uncolonized province. No importance is given to the massive advantage of environment possessed by many natives, which in fact left many "holes" in parts of colonial empires. At the same time, currently after the Leviathan patch, natives are creating cities and adopting technology lightyears out of possibility. EU4 should make a better attempt to actually look at the conditions of what was going on here.
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Currently pandemics of Eurasian diseases in the Americas are only present as rather weak events. Ideally they should spread from province to province like institutions, introduced as soon as any army from the Old World steps foot and spreading very quickly within the region.

Pandemics should decrease province development drastically and even immediately remove many of your troops, and possibly your ruler. About a century after this, any remaining native states can get event chains to start to recover some of their development. Historically, the population recovery was very limited because natives were kept as workers in horrible conditions by the Spanish.

However, the development effects should only be implemented if the Americas, receive a major buff to development to accurately reflect their pre-contact population and wealth instead of the current situation which reflects their wealth during the colonial period.

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Conquistadors and Indian auxiliaries disappear from the game at the start of the Age of Absolutism and cannot be created afterwards.

Conquistadors should be able to disembark and walk around on land owned by primitive tags as well as uncolonized provinces in colonial regions, but armies do not reinforce until they return to a territory owned by you or a subject. When they enter foreign territory, that country is notified by event, receiving a special CB called “Repel conquistador”, where the war goal is simply to defeat (not necessarily annihilate) any forces inside the country. However, the AI will choose at least half of the time to not immediately use this, and instead may choose to welcome the conquistadors as guests. The conquistador, in turn, can choose to loot the provinces they are, prompting rulers to either declare a war or accept some local unrest.

Conquistadors can make claims on provinces they visit, so long as they are within colonial range. Then, if it's against a primitive tag, they can declare with their forces inside the country, and there is a lower war score cost for provinces. If the primitive target has sufficient dev, they can receive a Subjugation CB instead. Primitive tags do not count towards the relations limit of non-primitive countries, encouraging them to hold them as subjects and strike alliances wherever possible.

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Conquistadors can attempt to recruit Indian auxiliaries in provinces they are in, with a higher chance in provinces with high unrest or unaccepted cultures, or once you have a high war score. 1 or 2 groups of ~5-10 thousand auxiliaries each can be recruited per region, lowering the native state's opinion of you each time. Indian auxiliaries have Native military technology, are limited to infantry, and cannot leave the region they were created in, but they do reinforce wherever they are and simply attach to forces led by a conquistador. Once fully cored, the provinces that the auxiliaries were from will retain some autonomy. Vassals in colonial regions will also retain autonomy after being integrated.

There is also a high chance of conflicts emerging between conquistadors when multiple move into the same area. This might be resolved peacefully, merging both forces into one, or it might be resolved by battle, where the losing conquistador will be put out of action. Historical examples include Panfilo de Narvaez trying to stop Cortes, and the conquest of Honduras.

Terrain penalties: Colonies in inland jungle, desert, mountain, highland, glacial, forest, marsh, steppe, savannah provinces should be untenable by settler growth, especially in the early period. Colonies in these terrains in coastal provinces should be tenable but slow and a challenge.

I propose splitting the "colonize province" action into several options:

1. The current basic process of sending a colonist to attract settlers. This should increase the province development over time in temperate climate provinces, and should be able to be done in entire areas at once. Full terrain penalties in inland provinces, reduced penalties in coastal provinces.

2. The player can also physically move a conquistador to a province and have them "create reduction" to start the same process. This uses a conquistador instead of a colonist, does not increase province development and usually triggers a substantial native revolt. This option will be much quicker and cheaper. Before the Age of Absolutism (or if you like, dip tech 17), this is the only option and others are not available. Full terrain penalties in inland provinces, no penalties in coastal provinces.

3. Trading networks - set up trading posts or forts in uncolonized provinces without actually colonizing it. See here for details. Visually, these provinces can look like "tribal land" - loose borders around them, but not shaded in. Terrain penalties not applicable.

View attachment 719751
4. Missionary reductions, available to all Catholics - send a missionary to convert a province in a colonial region. This shares the same process of gathering settlers, except it costs less and ignores climate penalties. Provinces colonized in this way will basically not function as part of your country (doesn't take your culture, no income, can't create units, 100% autonomy). On the other hand, your units can cross without fear of attacks, there will be no separatism and other countries are prevented from colonizing here. They will also look like tribal land. If this is done in the territory of a tribe, the tribe will receive a CB and a choice between declaring before the colony is complete or becoming a march. No terrain penalties.

Both 2 and 4 should get new events that make sense for the content to replace the generic colonial events of new settlers arriving, natives assimilating, etc.

With the addition of many new tribes to the Americas, the ferocity of natives should be more consequential - the powerful ones should represent a serious challenge of several thousand revolters, but the peaceful ones should not rebel at all. This should make colonization much more enjoyable, as players won't have to "baby-sit" each province, and might be more strategic about where they want to colonize.

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In the Americas, trade nodes, regions and colonial regions can basically be identical. Here's my map of what they will look like. I'm aware that a few cases split areas - I'm assuming we'll also see a map update, so that problem will be solved. It's also not exact yet, it's definitely subject to tweaking.

Not all of these will necessary be separate colonial nations. There must be at least one per super-region, but all the other regions are by default a sort of autonomous region (a subject of the CN). For the cost of some admin power, these can be made into separate nations or be transferred to other colonial subjects. Historical examples of this include the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which was an autonomous region of Mexico, and several new Spanish viceroyalties being created at the time of the Bourbon reforms. More colonial nations should mean more efficient taxation (through individual expansion, development and accepted cultures), but also a higher liberty desire.

Tariffs should be made a slider on the subjects tab instead of a reoccurring event, and should be the main factor in liberty desire instead of the strength of the subject. Spain's colonies were very stable until Spain started trying to interfere with their economies.

Instead of each colonial subject having their own land distribution by estate, they will all be included into the land distribution for the country as a whole.

There is currently a major inaccuracy in EU4, in that European colonies in the Americas did not have standing armies, instead depending on informal local militias and official armies from the mother countries. CNs should have very little manpower, and rely on mercenaries to defend themselves from natives. This will definitely need to be playtested for balance with other features and how annoying it is - there is some value in the abstraction of colonial armies that save the player extra clicks.

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Colonial cultures are quite different. Firstly, any province settled or assimilated will always take the “colonial culture” (such as Mexican, American, or Brazilian), instead of the primary culture of the mother country, and this colonial culture will be the primary culture of the CN from the very start.

Instead of simply a few cultures that are each for the entirety of the Americas, each region has its own culture. Also, each mother culture will produce a distinct colonial culture. For example, if Portugal and Spain both colonize within the Brazilian cultural region, there will be both a “Spanish Brazilian” and a “Portuguese Brazilian” culture. These are generated by the game in a manner similar to colonial nations, instead of every possible combination being written in from the start.

I understand Paradox's reluctance to represent slavery, but not acknowledging it feels almost worse, and at the end of the day it was absolutely a significant part of history, presenting challenges for European empires in various ways. If not the economic effects of slavery, at least cultures should be added. The slave trade and the oppression itself will remain absent.

There should be African diaspora cultures in the Americas (also divided by region), comprising their own cultural group. Tropical provinces that produce cotton, sugar, tobacco, dyes, or coffee will always receive an African diaspora culture and Fetishist religion when colonized, whereas temperate provinces with those same trade goods have a 50% chance. A player will have to contend with constantly increasing autonomy and peasant unrest in provinces with African culture, as well as really any coastal center of trade in a colonial region. African cultures are likely to spread to neighboring jungle provinces by event. There should also be events for tribes that border an African culture province to take in maroons, giving them a substantial increase in monarch power, development in capital, and manpower - this historically happened with the Miskito people of Central America as well as several tribes of the Southeastern US.

Some rather fundamental changes to how these tags work would go a very long way to improving gameplay in the Americas, from both colonial and native perspectives.
  • The federation and tribal land mechanics should be extended to all the tribal nations of Latin America. (They still need rebalanced though)
  • Many if not all should receive the "stateless society" reform of the highland tribes of SE Asia. Definitely the Chichimeca and Mapuche, maybe the Tupi tribes.
  • I know this is unlikely because it's been requested many times, but tribes (and hordes) being able to perform land raids (including on uncolonized provinces) would be excellent and would really justify the existence of tribal nations beyond a doubt.

  • Coffee should not exist in the Americas prior to the Columbian exchange. Livestock should also be introduced to many parts of the Americas at this same time, and horses should only be available to natives when a country already using them owns a province within the region of their capital.
  • A new Iberian or Iberoamerican visual culture would be really cool and immersive. The present stern towers of the generic Western group don't correspond to what Latin American cities look like.
  • While we're at it, the High American visual culture should look like towns of thatched roof and pyramids instead of overgrown ruins, and the North American one should just be longhouses and walls, no tipis.
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