Europa Universalis IV Developer Diary 9 - It's a rich man's world...

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Studio Manager Paradox Tinto
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Dec 14, 1999
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Welcome to the 9th development diary about Europa Universalis IV and this time we talk about trade. As we have mentioned earlier, everything you knew about trade from the earlier games in the Europa Universalis series is no longer relevant, because the trade system is being redesigned from scratch.

The brand new trade system is intended to add a new dimension to the great trade empires of the period. This is definitely one of the major features in the game that has been radically changed from how the topic was handled from the previous game. With Europa Universalis IV, we are really trying to tie trade into the other aspects of building your empire, with the goal of having the trade system flow through the entire game

A completely new trade system
When we looked at which game systems we could fix in order to make Europa Universalis better, the first thing that leapt out at us was trade. It was basically unchanged since EU1, and we had some really cool new ideas. So we went back to first principles and built a completely new trade system. We now have a global network of trade routes that starts in China and ends in Europe that that guides the flow of goods and the money that goes with them.

The routes split and merge and your goal is, first, to steer the trade to you and, second, to take as much income as you can as it goes by. You will manage this through a combination of merchants, fleets and territorial control. All these give you power to control trade. Our goal is make trade integral to core game play, making a trade empire just as attractive an option as a land empire, and, in some ways to make it so that you do not necessarily have to own the world in order to reap its wealth. The changes also give an underlying game logic to making some of the same historical choices that countries made.
Therefore, prepare for the fact that there are no more centers of trade, trade leagues, trade agreements or monopolies. Instead we offer you something completely different ;)

We will be showing what happens in this development diary, by giving examples from the 1444 start as Venice.

Trade Nodes
For trading in Europa Universalis IV, we have created trade routes and your job is to guide them home to your own country where you try to get as much money out of it as possible.
The world contains a network of trade nodes, which flows through the natural sea and land routes of the world, from where trade can be diverged to other destinations by various actions. The routes themselves will be static, but there is more than one of them to follow. At the game start, for example, when trade from the east reaches the Red Sea, it all flows up into Egypt. But, once the European powers have discovered the route round Africa, this trade will be split between the original Red Sea route and the new Cape route. It is up to you to create the conditions to allow the lion's share of the trade to flow along the direction you want it to. States that control territory around this route can try and dip in and take some of the trade money as it goes by. Of course, you do this in competition with other countries who might be trying to steer trade in another direction and also to get in on the profits. The winner of these trade struggles is decided by how much trading power you can accumulate in the disputed trade area.
Now, there are a whole number of factors that goes into helping your traders builds power, most importantly owning strategic points within a specific area like, narrow straits and river mouths; these were really important, historically, because they controlled access to whatever lay beyond.
Trade flows forward in the network, generating money for the merchants of the world.

There is a trade node in the Gulf of Venice, which has three incoming nodes, from Alexandria, from Pisa and from Ragusa. There is also one outgoing connection to Frankfurt.

Merchants are envoys you can use tactically by quickly moving them from region to region to boost your trade power. To be able to get money out of trade, you need to have merchants maintaining an office in a trade node. You can only maintain offices in provinces you own, but merchants can also steer trade by establishing a transit-hub in any trade node within range. Whenever you place a merchant somewhere, he has to travel there before being able to do his mission. As we talked about before, since merchants are envoys, if one is doing a task, he can't do something else until that first task is completed or he is recalled.

Venice has 3 merchants at the start, everyone has 2 merchants as a base value, and Venice gets one additional for being a merchant republic. If we want more merchants we can get several from various idea groups.

The amount of money you take out from a trade node or divert to another trade node depends on the amount of power you wield in that node.
Territorial control is the most important factor. The historical choices of Venice and Portugal, to expand their empires along the established major trade routes will now become a viable strategy and, in many case, integral to long term success.
- First of all, the main base for trading power is the number of provinces in the trade node. Each province contributes a small amount of power, and if you build trade-related buildings like Market Places and Custom Houses, then that province will provide even more trade power for the node. There are also province-specific modifiers which makes those provinces sitting at important straits or river estuaries much more important.
- Secondly, having ships on trade missions in a trade node increases your power there.
- Thirdly, a merchant present in a trade node gives a small power boost, and fourthly and finally, having power in the neighboring trade node further down in the stream increases the trade power you have in a given node.

Alexandria is a very important trade node for Venice, so I want to get as much power there as I can so I can divert trade up to the Gulf of Venice over which I have more control. Venice has only one province in the Alexandria trade node (Crete) which provides +2.1 trade power, the 3 barques gives us +9.0, the powerful trade node in Gulf of Venice gives us +18.9, and our present merchant gives another +2, letting us control 26% of the trade in Alexandria, which is directed straight to our own trade node.

Trade Mission
The new trade system makes fleets much more important in comparison to the previous games in the series. Without a fleet to protect merchant ships, no one will want to bring their holds full of cargo to you. How you use your fleets and control the sea-lanes is an important factor for making money from trade.

In Europa Universalis IV, light ships have an important role since they are the only type of ship that can be sent on a trade mission. You can only send ships on trade missions in a trade node where you have a province or where you are paying for fleet-basing rights. This means that to be a global trading power, you need to have bases around the world, like Netherlands or Portugal did. One interesting consequence of this means that if you can't have your ships out at sea during a war for fear you will lose your trade fleet, then your trade income will be dramatically reduced - and this is without even counting the effects of having your ports blockaded.

Supply and Demand
We have also revised how the trade value calculations work compared to those in Europa Universalis III. In that game this was a rather fixed and often hidden value for a province, but we have now made a much clearer mechanic. Each city produces a given amount of trade goods with 1 as its base value, and each base tax increases this trade value by 1%. Blockades, sieges, looting and other bad things can reduce this dramatically, so warfare may devastate the trade value of regions.


Trade Efficiency
We have kept the concept of trade efficiency which increases through time with technology, and some ideas and events may increase it as well. It has two effects: first it increases the power of your merchant by its direct value, and second it also increases the amount of income you get out of a trade node from an office.

Trade Range
Trade Range defines which trade nodes you can interact with. Technology and some ideas may increases this range.

Trade Steering
This affects how good you are at making trade divert from one trade node to another. This value is connected to your naval tradition, but national ideas can also improve your steering.

Trade Income
This value is also shown in the interface. It is a combination of how good you are to get state income from out of what your merchants bring in to your nation.

Your level of mercantilism affects how good your provinces are at increasing their trade power. Mercantilism can increase through various decisions, but can also decrease through events. Your level of mercantilism will fluctuate throughout the game.

What we love the most about these changes is how the new trade system ties into the rest of the gameplay. You send out merchants to build trading-offices, you conquer or colonize strategic points along the trade-routes and you send your fleet out to protect your trade or hurt the trade of your enemies. So we really hope that you will enjoy this as much as we do..

That´s all for now!
I will be back next week to reveal some details about the some sort of tradition...



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To clarify.. The game is from a handsoff where the castille and portugese AI kind of colonised the world rather quickly :)
Actually this has me really excited. An Irish trading thassalocracy will surely dominate the waves. This one paragraph clarified things for me more than everything else put together

Alexandria is a very important trade node for Venice, so I want to get as much power there as I can so I can divert trade up to the Gulf of Venice over which I have more control. Venice has only one province in the Alexandria trade node (Crete) which provides +2.1 trade power, the 3 barques gives us +9.0, the powerful trade node in Gulf of Venice gives us +18.9, and our present merchant gives another +2, letting us control 26% of the trade in Alexandria, which is directed straight to our own trade node.
Hang on... in that interface, land and sea provinces are grouped together. I assume send/recall means merchants for land provinces and fleets for sea? Do fleets need a port to operate out of, or can you park them in a sea province?
All of this looks very interesting and a great improvement over the old system in EU3 and this is one of the things I have been looking forward to.

My only question is how do the embargoes work into this?
I did not really see much on it but perhaps I missed it.
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Love it, this changes are just brilliant.
Is there any trade nodes that can be exploited by say Brittany, Ireland or Scotland? It would be nice to know there were routes through those areas.

Actually, cause this wasn't clear, can new nodes be made? I realise the routes are static but can you make more nodes along that route?
To clarify.. The game is from a handsoff where the castille and portugese AI kind of colonised the world rather quickly :)
Hm... I wonder who might have made the typo of "portugese" in the EU3 text files instead of portuguese. :p
If it's not asking too much, it would be cool to have that fixed.
How much influence can countries in Asia and Africa exert on Trade, can they theoretically make just as much money off trade as Europeans? (Presuming that they have equal tech to Europeans, and have discovered the route to Europe)

Also, with the new focus on Naval engagements, will you be improving the naval AI, and removing it's cheats? Namely that the AI doesn't experience Naval attrition? It was always annoying when playing as Russia Turkey blockaded my ports in St. Petersburg and Archangel...
Great, this is the very first DD entry for EUIV that makes really really want the game. So far it has all been too unfocused and bland. More!
Looks very nice and immersive, to send envoys and estabilishing fixed trade posts guarded by your own fleets. :)
Awesome changes. There would be whole new layer of strategy when it comes to conquests, fleet management and trade - that's really exciting. Wish that religious aspect would also get an overhaul - in expansion maybe?

Also - do I see flag of Great Britain there? Isn't it a bit too early for that (I know it's handsoff, but still)?