Europa Universalis IV Development Diary 21: Leaders & Mercenaries

Europa Universalis IV Development Diary 21: Leaders & Mercenaries

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Welcome to another development diary for Europa Universalis IV and today we focus on warfare. Yes, you knew this dev diary was coming, didn’t you? It’s really quite difficult to play the game without understanding how the armies work.

Warfare is one of the most important aspects of Europa Universalis IV, and over the almost 400 years of gameplay, armies and navies will be your prime instruments of power when you go to war. You need to be aware of the different units of your armies and their strengths and weaknesses.
So, it is time to build some armies and go to war! In times of war, you will have to raise and maintain armies and fleets, conquer nations and project your power onto the world. You see them standing, moving and fighting on the map.

Battlefield casualties and general attrition will naturally reduce the number of men or quality of ships available to you as you play, but armies will be slowly reinforced and navies in a safe port will slowly be repaired. As you upgrade your technology, you will unlock different types of these units, each with different offensive and defensive characteristics. Some have attributes that favor the attack, some favor the defense, and others are suited for a more balanced approach. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your circumstances, and it will be up to you to decide what kind of army you want.

Land Units
Just as in earlier Europa Universalis games, land units are divided into infantry, cavalry and artillery. As you move through the ages, your armies will evolve from men-at-arms and armored knights to advanced musketmen and dragoons, and everything in between. The specific types of unit available to you, and its offensive and defensive abilities, are also dependent on your culture. Asian countries can get samurai cavalry, for example, but you won’t find these guys riding around Spain unless you send them there.

You select your preferred unit type of your land units, as you discover them through technology. This interface allows you to select the focus of your military forces. Each unit you build represents a force of 1000 men.

Infantry will be the bulk of your army. They are your cheapest units, and don’t take long to recruit. Your cavalry are the force you rely on in a battle to hit the flanks of an outnumbered enemy or chase down those that can’t stand against you. They cost about double what an infantryman does. Artillery only become available at Land Technology Level 7 (Limber) and they are most important for their firepower on the battlefield and their effectiveness during sieges.

When you build your armies, keep in mind that an army that is more cavalry than infantry loses the “combined arms” advantage. Cavalry could be very powerful and fast at times in this era, but rarely outnumbered foot soldiers on the battlefield.

In the military menu, you can see four columns with data on the land units. First there is the power, second the ability during fire, third is ability during shock, and finally the number of regiments you have of that category.

Naval Units
There are four types of ships: heavy ships, light ships, galleys and transports. Unlike armies, each construction represents individual ships and have a strength measured in a percentage – a ship at 100% is in perfect health. Ships take damage in battles, of course, but also if they are in the open sea for too long. (This is naval attrition.) Ships only repair when in port.

Each naval unit has characteristics, just like army units. There are no longer any separate fire/shock values per ship type, as a ship-based gun is basically a gun. However, every type of ship has a different number of cannons, and a different hull size. There are also ideas that improve your ships ability to fight, or as we call it, the ships’ power.

The four different ship types have different purposes. Your main battle fleet will be composed of heavy ships (carracks, galleons, etc.). Light ships (barques, caravels, frigates, etc.) have better speed and are OK in a fight but will mostly be used to protect and project your trade power. Galleys (and later galleases and chebecks) are designed for fighting in inland seas and enclosed bodies of water. Your transports (cogs, flytes, merchantmen, etc.) are, as the name suggests, your lightly armed vessels intended to move troops across the water.

In the military interface, ship types have four columns, first there is the power, second the amount of guns, third is hull size, and finally the numbers of ships you have of that category.



Leaders
Any military situation calls for extensive knowledge and leadership, and, for a monarch like yourself, how to choose which of the leaders at your service will serve what purpose in the war you just happened to find yourself in. (Clearly this war is not your fault.)

Though you can always put your monarch or a mature heir at the head of your army, you will hire most of your leaders from the general population. You can recruit generals, admirals, conquistadors and explorers as leaders. Generals and conquistadors, as land leaders, cost you 25 Military Power. Admirals and explorers, as naval leaders, cost you 25 Diplomatic Power. Once you’ve hired a leader, it can be assigned to lead any army or naval unit. As expected, generals are used to lead armies and admirals are used to lead navies. Assign conquistadors and explorers to units you wish to send far away or to uncharted lands – these are the only units that can venture into unexplored parts of the map (those sections covered by a white fog).

The skill of a leader determines how good he is at performing different strategies and tactics in combat. Leader skill is partly related to your nation’s military or naval tradition; countries with a history of warfare will be more likely to notice these talents among soldiers or general citizenry.

The four different attributes of leaders are scored from 0 to 6. “Fire” is their ability to direct the use of gunpowder or missile weapons. “Shock” measures how well the leader is at assaults, charges, whatever happens when ranged combat turns to man-to-man action. “Maneuver” is the ability of a leader to move his troops through land safely and get his forces into the right position for battle. Finally, the “Siege” attribute is most important for quickly taking down enemy cities. Paying close attention to these may be the difference between defeating an army twice your size or getting crushed.

Every leader (except your current ruler or heir) costs one military power each month to maintain. This puts a soft cap on the amount of leaders a nation can have at the same time. This also means that a monarch with low military skill and a poor selection of military advisors could find himself running a deficit in military power if he has too many generals. If you find yourself running low on military power, you can always dismiss your leaders, but this means you lose their services permanently.

Mercenaries
Every country has its own pool of mercenaries which replenishes over time, but the number of mercenaries you have already recruited impacts how many there are available for you. This isn’t an endless pool of soldiers for you to draw from. There are ideas that increase the size of the pool, as well as reducing the maintenance or cost of mercenaries. There are only mercenaries on land – you can’t hire renegade naval forces to fight for you.

Mercenaries do count against your land force limits – they are not a way to get around the costs of having to field an army that is already stretching your budget. But they do have a couple of advantages in certain situations. First, they are faster to recruit, so if you have seen your main force destroyed but can afford to get new men, mercenaries will get you back in the fight faster. Also, mercenaries fight just as well as regular troops and can be led by your generals and conquistadors if necessary. The best part is that they don't cost any manpower to reinforce, so while they fight and die, you can rebuild your own population for a later war. They are a vital part of any nation’s armed forces, and rich countries can benefit from them quite a lot.

ps. And in case you haven´t read this yet:
Paradox Hands-On Special: Master Class – Europa Universalis IV at Strategy Informer
“After crushing their main army, I then had a sudden wave of conscience as I felt bad for betraying my former allies, so I quickly ended the war in exchange for one of the core provinces I needed.”
http://www.strategyinformer.com/editorials/21807/paradox-hands-on-special-master-class
 

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AdkEric

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Also, mercenaries fight just as well as regular troops and can be led by your generals and conquistadors if necessary.
Do mercenaries no longer suffer from not gaining bonus moral then? As is the case in EU3?
 

Nikolai

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Good and meaty dev diary! Thanks! :) Quick question: You say there is no naval mercs. That is understandable. But does privateers/pirates include in this? Is there no way for me to harass the Spanish crown's gold supply with a Drake or two?
 

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Do mercenaries no longer suffer from not gaining bonus moral then? As is the case in EU3?
Mercs are exactly the same as normal troops when it comes to combat.
 

Jia Xu

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Thanks for the informative developer diary! Some questions now if you don't mind:

1) Do Muslims still get a 0.8 cav-inf ratio allowing them to have 80% cavalry in a stack without losing the combined arms bonus?
2) Can you still build another country's land units if you capture their core provinces?

Thanks again. :)
 

AdkEric

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Mercs are exactly the same as normal troops when it comes to combat.
Very cool. I think this is a great change.

Whenever you get around to 5.2 again, I think it would be good there too. :D

Thanks for the response.
 

Rabid

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I think most of this has been hinted at or mentioned in earlier DDs but it's nice to have the information all together.
 

Spricar

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Don't mean to be rude or anything but apart from mercenaries this DD doesn't really tell anything new...at least not something that was not already seen in EU3.
 

Seelensturm

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Will an army without any cavalry get the combined arms bonus?

Did you take a look at leader swapping? Because you give heavy penalties on having multiple leaders (less qualitiy due to army tradition and expensive maintenance), swapping a single outshining leader between different armies for every engage is very common in EU3. There is also an exploit to remove a leader from an army even on hostile territory by switching all the units to a new army. I think this is quite ahistorical and taxing micro management.
 

Jia Xu

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Mercenaries do count against your land force limits – they are not a way to get around the costs of having to field an army that is already stretching your budget. But they do have a couple of advantages in certain situations. First, they are faster to recruit, so if you have seen your main force destroyed but can afford to get new men, mercenaries will get you back in the fight faster. Also, mercenaries fight just as well as regular troops and can be led by your generals and conquistadors if necessary. The best part is that they don't cost any manpower to reinforce, so while they fight and die, you can rebuild your own population for a later war. They are a vital part of any nation’s armed forces, and rich countries can benefit from them quite a lot.
Maybe I missed something here. It seems like there isn't any reason to not use up your entire mercenary pool whenever possible. If mercenaries reinforce without using manpower and if they fight just as well as professional soldiers, then they seem to be objectively better than soldiers recruited through regular means. What's the disadvantage to using mercenaries over regular soldiers? Is it just a higher recruiting cost?
 

RedRalphWiggum

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So given the tighter restriction on leaders now, it'd make more sense to have a few big armies rather than many small ones, amirite?
 

Kaelic

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What determines the mercenary pool size? I realise they use up your force limits, but what defines how many I can recruit?

For example when playing as Venice, I assume my force limits won't be great. But if they all die and I want to replace them quickly, what "pool" of merc manpower am I reducing from? Is it Venice's or a region shared between countries?
 

Taiisatai64

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So given the tighter restriction on leaders now, it'd make more sense to have a few big armies rather than many small ones, amirite?
It was pretty rare that you'd have every army with a leader in EU3. Most of the time you'd build up your land tradition and get a couple of 6-shock generals, and then you made sure that those generals got into crucial fights. So I don't think the "scarcity" of leaders will have an effect on tactics.
 

Jia Xu

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So given the tighter restriction on leaders now, it'd make more sense to have a few big armies rather than many small ones, amirite?
Isn't this how everyone played EU3 anyway? Lots of doomstacks with smaller stacks only being used for things like exploration?
 

Hootieleece

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Great to see that MAYBE mercenaries will be utilized in a more historical way. Hopefully forcelimits are adjusted so no more 100k armies(except China) in 1450.To go with the new Manpower rules.

Looking Forward to this!
 

AdkEric

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Maybe I missed something here. It seems like there isn't any reason to not use up your entire mercenary pool whenever possible. If mercenaries reinforce without using manpower and if they fight just as well as professional soldiers, then they seem to be objectively better than soldiers recruited through regular means. What's the disadvantage to using mercenaries over regular soldiers? Is it just a higher recruiting cost?
Also higher maintenance costs I assume as it is in EU3, where mercenaries are quite expensive to maintain compared to regular troops.
 

RedRalphWiggum

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It was pretty rare that you'd have every army with a leader in EU3. Most of the time you'd build up your land tradition and get a couple of 6-shock generals, and then you made sure that those generals got into crucial fights. So I don't think the "scarcity" of leaders will have an effect on tactics.
Isn't this how everyone played EU3 anyway? Lots of doomstacks with smaller stacks only being used for things like exploration?
It seems though that it will be even more important to stack your troops now though, because military points will now come out of an even more important pool than what military tradition represented in EU3.
 

lowdias

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This is basically what we already have in eu3 but some minor changes to mercs, very very disappointed.
 

Jia Xu

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It seems though that it will be even more important to stack your troops now though, because military points will now come out of an even more important pool than what military tradition represented in EU3.
Like Taiisatai64 said though, how often was it a good idea to have more than two or three generals? I thought it was generally accepted that the best leader strategy was to stock tradition so you could recruit uber-generals. Have two 5/5/6/1 generals is always better than having eight 1/1/0/0 generals, yes?