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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

EU4 - Development Diary - 2nd of April 2019

Good day and welcome to today's EU4 dev diary. Now that the 1st of April is over, I can return to being online. A day of having hopes dashed when awesome stuff is announced, only for it to be a hoax is too much for my heart to take.

Last week we had a fun dev diary where we talked about our current thoughts on the Mercenary system. To re-iterate, that dev diary was, much like this one, not a promise of things to come, but more an airing of current design thoughts and a way to involve the community (if you're reading this, that's you!). As we could see, there was a lot of followup discussion from forumgoers and has given us much to ponder on during our current development period of bug crushing and tech debting.

Today we'll have a similar expunging of EU4 thoughts, and for our subject matter, we'll pick a mechanic which has been through a small journey of its own, and may well have some distance to go yet: Estates

Again, what is mentioned here are not changes that are currently in the game, nor are they promises of things to come, but more to share our thought process and ideas we have, potentially for the upcoming expansion and update.

The Estate system joined the roster of EU4 mechanics back when The Cossacks Expansion was released. It added internal factors to balance within your realm such that patronizing your various estates heavily could grant wonderful bonuses, while letting them run away with power could put your nation in jeopardy with said Estates seizing direct control. EU4 is very much a game about direct action: so your primary interactions with said estates come from Estate Actions such as granting monopoly charters to the Burgers, or calling a Diet for your Nobility.


Estates in EU4 HUN.jpg


EUIV is a game very much about building empires, and while the external elements of this: outward diplomacy, warfare and expansion are generally strong, the internal aspects had been somewhat lacking in comparison. Estates were designed to bring meaningful choices within your realm, to match those outwith.

The reception of Estates at the time was a mixed bag, and has continued to be ever since. While the system did indeed bring internal mechanics to the game, they came with their own baggage, which we see ourselves, and have heard from various comments and feedback, much of which on these forums.

Common issues have included:

  • The system is only available for The Cossacks Expansion owners, creating a large rift between playing with and without the expansion, as well as a belief that the mechanic won't be expanded upon since
  • Managing province allocation is a lot of scutter and brings on click fatigue
  • The above issue only compounds itself as your nation expands, creating more busywork as the game goes on
  • The steps involved in expansion are needlessly bloated at every conquest, by needing to be at the Estates' beck and call
  • The actions are not as involved as they could be: you call a Diet for your Nobility, but where is the Diet? What came from it?
  • Estate types and their flavour is limited.

Some of these have been tackled in the three+ years since Estates were added to the game. Dharma saw the system becoming part of the base game, opening it up for further changes, while Estates no longer made minimum demands for land, reducing the bothering necessity of adding new land to the estates lest you suffer their wrath. We also added to the variety of Estates, bringing in special types for the subcontinent of India.

Ultimately though, the system retains some issues which leave us wanting to take a big swing at improving it. Like Mercenaries last week, I'm talking in broad-sweeping statements about what we want to do with the feature, so again, take this as airing out our thoughts rather than our rock-solid mandate of what we plan to do with Estates.

Firstly, the busywork element of Estates should be removed, or at the very least reduced. our Grand Strategy games are about creating , without sounding too pretentious, intellectually stimulating experiences, and the current methods of interacting with your Estates are not up to par with this.

Additionally, the actions done through the estates should be more impactful. I've said it quite a few times before, but I'll say it again, when a Diet is called, perhaps there should be...a Diet? Impactful is an easy word to throw around with various different meanings being drawn from it, but in Estates' cases, the existing interactions often make little change worth noting outside of their influence and loyalty, which has limited meaningful effect on your nation until hitting crisis point where they can seize control of your nation through disaster.

On another note, making the Estate UI more accessible would be a boon. Currently, much of the hands-on actions are somewhat buried as menus within menu

With Estates being made a basegame feature in EU4, we believe this came with an unspoken promise to continue to work on and improve the feature. It is certainly on our radar for something we would like to do this year, but as I continue to believe people are getting sick of hearing, we continue to spend our time on ironing out tech debt and gearing up for development of this year's Update and European Expansion. The question I leave to you as we conclude today's dev diary: What are your experiences with the Estates system, what do you most enjoy and what are you left most wanting from it?
 

Triplebassist

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I just don't like how a lot of the interactions are one-click. You mention the Diet, but there are other examples too. I want the clergy to make demands in return for their support, generals from the nobility to become disloyal and potentially revolt if the nobles become unhappy.

I guess the shortest way to say that is that I would love it if the system was more than positive and negative modifiers and felt likeep the Estates had a degree of autonomy and agency of their own as groups that needed to be kept happy, rather than just a set of modifiers that also give monarch power every 20 years
 

RMS Oceanic

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One thing that definitely needs tweaked is how the Estates are distributed at the start of the game. I'm tired of Nobles and Clergy sitting on top of trade centers and I'm not allowed to arrange it to my liking for a year. Also the overstuffing of (usually) the nobles so you can't even risk interacting with them at all because then they'll instantly be at 100%.

Making the Diet an interactive minigame could be fun. I'm thinking a sort of Pseudo-Parliament where the more concessions you promise the better loyalty/influence you get. Councils of Nobles are precursors to Parliaments in many cases anyway. In fact instead of a generic "make the estates happy" button this minigame could be a direct part of actually requesting monarch points/manpower/cash/etc, and whether they get too much influence or lose too much loyalty or you lose prestige depends on what deals you make.

And maybe there could be a way to have the default loyalty sit at 60 instead of 50 so you get the bonus benefits without constantly having to give them more. Perhaps if an estate has 1/3 of your stated development it ticks up to 60.
 
Last edited:

magni_

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So here are my thoughts on Estates: atm they are unnecessary button clicks that u can do every 20 tears to get free monarch points, also as some governments (like hordes) the best play is to just remove them entirely. I think they should be a lot more impactful, once your nation get's bigger, since they were what helped kings keep big empires together in Europe. Also you should remove the monarch point interactions from them entirely, or make them at least have a big opportunity cost, since atm they are just a no brainer that every player will do every 20 Years. Also the Estates disaster rly are badly designed, they basically never happen, and if they do u just have wait for there influence to go down and pay some admin to end it (like they would not actively resist that )

Estates events are also spawning way to often, but are not impactful enough to matter at all. They should be about 50% as often, but have 2x the impact than they have atm

This is only my opinion, feel free to agree or disagree
 
Last edited:

Ruian

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I like draft ships for war, because it is actually unique and useful. Heavy ships are expensive to build yourself. Raise host can also be useful. It would be nice if the other estates had a useful feature to give you an expensive building or unit. In Dharma one of the estates gives a temple. That's something. A barracks could be nice for the nobility.

Other than that and the obvious free points, rebel bombing invading armies with angry estate revoking is pretty fun sometimes. Accepting Burgher demands to reduce autonomy for absolutism. Using estates to break to rebels, convert religion with zealots, and get something useful out of high autonomy provinces is kind of nice.
 

fr-rein

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Will Cossack estates (and by extension) content get reworked/updated?
Currently Cossack Estates occupy Steppe land and due to terrain limitations disaster like Khmelnytsky Uprising - meaning that they form breakaway states in Steppes, but never do anything like the historical uprising and a Cossack state in Ruthenia - it is not possible and never happens. The biggest and most powerful Cossack state (comparing with other even dependent hosts too) is not possible to happen nor has any events for it.
 

Vollwertkost

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While I don't mind assigning provinces at the start of the game, it does get tedious in the latter half of a blobby game.

My first thought then was to remove the direct transfer of a province and instead introduce sliders for each estate that represent your reliance and willinges to cooperate with them. Similar to the corruption slider, if it is at full tilt, you gain a bonus but pay with increased autonomy in every province. And vice versa if left at zero. The autonomy gain by estate could be offset by new policies, ideas or reforms. Or by getting rid of an unloved estate in a grand overhaul of your empire.

All in all, I really hope future interactions make for a more meaningful internal policy game.
 

Mingmung

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Hmmm, they could maybe get some inspiration from CK2's council mechanic.
 

theKLR

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I would like mini missions from them to increase/decrease loyalty, instead of those random events. For example, nobility wants to increase army size, higher professionalism, conquering a nearby province. Burghers want more trade ships, more marketplaces or embargoing a rival. Clergy wants to convert a province, conquer a province with same religion but different state religion or build more churches.
 

Tibi088

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When playing Brandenburg/Prussia I want to be able to force the nobility to serve in the army.
 

Bri9379

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Can we please see the anti-fun "mechanic" known as corruption from territories addressed in the next development diary? As well as expansion in general?
 

prismaticmarcus

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i can only echo what you've said. giving and revoking counties is a pain and the interactions need to have more meaning and depth. i like the estate-related events that come up and an easy fix ( one would think) would be to introduce a whole new swathe of events that add variety and flavour to your country.
 

Dalos

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I would take inspiration from Stellaris. Each faction would have list of things what makes them happy/angry and you would not be able to please them all.

Nobility wants war, money and new lands. Traders would prefer peace and hate devastation . Clergy actions against heretics etc. And there should be consequences from such actions - higher unrest in heretic lands, nobility allying foreign countries...

Also is there such a high benefit from possibility of direct assigning of land to each faction? I would rather have something global, maybe sliders as was already suggested.
 

Groogy

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I just don't like how a lot of the interactions are one-click. You mention the Diet, but there are other examples too. I want the clergy to make demands in return for their support, generals from the nobility to become disloyal and potentially revolt if the nobles become unhappy.

The diet of the nobility is just an easy hand reference point, Jake and me are not only literally focusing on diets but we are expressing our want to make Estates more involved and alive as a whole :)
 

Skarpien

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Maybe instead of having them all be unaaproachable at 90/85% influence for decades after your standard 3 clicks at the start of the game, have influence instead be a shared amongst all estates out of 100, instead of the meter it is now. This would make it much more dynamic and present than the leader/monarch point banks they are today, and make estates as to be sided with over the other estates, making them much more alive and realistic.
 

oxycoon

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I think adding province interactions to estates could be a neat feature, in exchange for some other penalty for some time or while the estate controls that province. Maybe similar to trade company buildings, but with limits to how many of a certain kind of upgrade you can have in your empire, either a flat static amount or proportional in some manner to how many provinces said estate controls, as well as restricting it to one upgrade per province. These upgrades can be removed, but the penalty is retained for the same duration as unrest would be increased if the estate was removed from the province.

For instance have the nobility build an additional fort level in a province (might be a bit too strong, but it's an example) for as long as the nobility has that province, in exchange for completely removing say tax income from said province and halving production income. If you then later remove the nobility from that province, you lose the fort upgrade and retain the penalty from having the upgrade until the unrest from removing the estate disappears (like described previously). Of course this should also increase the influence of the nobility estate for as long as the upgrade is active.

Another interaction could be something along the lines of "conscript peasants", where you get the province's manpower, as well as draining national manpower the same amount, instantly or very quickly in a special infantry type with penalties to morale and/or discipline (they haven't even had basic training) that cannot be reinforced, some temporarily decrease the province's tax income and manpower generation as well as increase unrest, recovering at the same rate as the unrest decay. This can serve as a quick emergency army, if you don't have the money to raise mercenaries in a pinch. Example would be a province which gives 2350 manpower gives 3 regiments where 2 are full strength and the last is 350, or they are equally distributed between the regiments. These regiments can be merged with other conscript regiments as the only way to "reinforce" them.
 

Iferius

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I want them to scale better. In a huge country, estates should have different effects than in small countries. In a small country, the nobles could demand more autonomy, but in a large country it would be harder to unite them. They could however join their territories with nobles seizing terrritory events, and then you could get a single noble taking power and breaking a region away as a vassal.
 

neondt

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When playing Brandenburg/Prussia I want to be able to force the nobility to serve in the army.

Something I've been thinking about in terms of mission design is the idea that mission rewards could permanently modify your Estates - for example a Prussian mission could replace a Nobility interaction with a new interaction that gives militarism/military tradition/army professionalism/etc. This could be an interesting way to make nations feel more unique while also tying missions, estates, and government mechanics together.
 

jobarin94

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In my opinion, the MEIOU and Taxes approach is the way to go. Not a mini-game isolated in its own tab, but rather an organic system that influences and is influenced by every province and every aspect of your nation.
The way Meiou splits global autonomy between the State and the estates to reflect the centralization of the modern state is just brilliant. More dynamic, more engaging, more inmersive, and involving far less micromanagement than vanilla. I wish Eu4 followed that path.