This is the seventh in a series of reviews looking at the evolution of Europa Universalis IV. See the previous reviews here:
Europa Universalis IV: A Fantastic Point of View
Wealth of Nations: National Trade
Res Publica: A Tradition of the People
Art of War: Reform-Minded Patch
El Dorado: Expansion of Gold
Common Sense: Uncommon Changes

The seventh expansion for EU IV largely concentrated on the internal politics of countries, adding a whole new internal mechanic for players to balance along with everything else. At the same time, there was a focus on central Asia and the horsemen of the steppes (following the lead of CK II: Horse Lords released five months earlier), who also got their own mechanics.

Patch 1.14 also featured a slightly revised launcher, which allows you to sign into to your Paradox (not Steam) account to participate in leaderboards and the like. The patch was was released on December 1, 2015 alongside The Cossacks, with revision patch 1.15 following on January 27, 2016.

It’s a New New World

Part of the patch was actually revising a previous expansion. The ‘random New World’ feature from Conquest of Paradise had been disappointing. Not only for the ‘names in a blender’ problem I mentioned in the original review, but the geography generally came out fairly poor (especially when looking at the details; the overall forms could come out strategically interesting, though it was far from guaranteed).

Instead of trying to render a completely random New World every time, Paradox came up with a series of pre-rendered template land masses which could then be fit together into fresh patterns every time. The pre-rendering allowed for more detail, and making sure they looked natural, while not chewing up lots of end-user processor time on the effort. Better, the new system was open for them to add more ‘tiles’ as they had time later, and others could be introduced through mods. In addition, ‘scenarios’ would be applied to the random New World, generating new countries of various types, with new (generally appropriate-sounding) names, instead of just trying to completely re-use the non-random version.

I found the old system acceptable (other than the names), but it was, at best, a bit bland. The new system definitely helps.

The Estates

The main feature of the expansion looked at detailing the internal administration of your country. So, with the expansion, there are now (usually) three estates in the country, which can provide bonuses, but can also cause major problems.

At base, each estate has a loyalty of 50%, and it will naturally go back towards that level after anything which raises or lowers it. At this base, neutral, level it will provide a single bonus to the country; if it is pushed up to 60% loyalty or higher, there’s a second bonus, and if it falls below 40%, the first bonus is instead reversed.

In addition, estates are rated for influence, and generally, more influential estates provide a stronger version of the bonuses generated by their loyalty. However, an estate that reaches 100% influence starts a timer on a disaster where that estate effectively tries to take total control of the country in a coup.

Each estate expects to be given control over a certain number of provinces, which means that autonomy cannot go below 25% in that province (though the autonomy is also negated for a particular category, like a noble estate always contributes the full amount of manpower). Refusing to give enough provinces to an estate cripples its influence, but also sucks away their loyalty.

The nobles generally help with manpower and army maintenance. They can be used to create army leaders, and gain military monarch points. When playing with Common Sense, parliamentary governments don’t have this estate at all (generally leaving them with two), with the separate parliament interaction taking its place.

The clergy help with taxes, stability, and any religious power the country has (e.g., theocratic devotion, protestant church power, etc.) when loyal. They can help with administrative power, gaining particular minister types, or even colonization efforts.

The burghers help with trade efficiency and development cost (which at the time required Common Sense to use…). They can help some with direct income, or gaining admirals, or even getting some new heavy ships.

As implied above, there’s a bunch of interactions with each estate, which can shuffle around the influence and loyalty stats, and can also be used to gain bonuses from them. Smart play can involve a fair amount of interaction, as you use them to gain monarch power, or get extra income or other goodies. You can also generally keep interactions to a minimum, but occasional events, and the need to grant new provinces to estates in a growing country mean that you can’t completely ignore it.

There are also a few other estates with limited availability. Cossacks are only available to eastern tech group countries, and provide bonuses to cavalry. Dhimmi are available to Muslim nations, and provide bonuses to tolerance and technology.

National Revenge

After losing a large war, a country can easily be in dire straights that it can’t recover from. The army is decimated, manpower has been drained dry, the treasury is empty, and 10% of income is going to the victor….

The patch included a new mechanic to help out such shattered countries. Revanchism is gained in proportion of the war score cost of any peace deal against them. This goes down at 10% per year, so even a maximum 100% revanchism is gone by the time a standard 10-year truce is over, but it will help with the rebuilding in between, and during any other wars that happen.

As it helps with tax income, manpower, and unrest (along with several other less prominent things), it really does help a country recover and rebuild, though of course it doesn’t actually replace what was lost.

For the Horde

The expansion introduced a third legitimacy replacement: horde unity. This is used solely by the Steppe Nomad government, which will use legitimacy without the expansion. Unlike the other governmental mechanics, it will always decrease over time, though the rate can be slowed. On the other hand, the larger (/more developed) the country is, the faster it’ll fall.

There are of course, ways of raising it again. Like anyone else, nomad armies will loot enemy provinces they are occupying, and the money earned from that will raise unity again. You can also raze your own (non-core) provinces, reducing development (…which does make it cheaper to turn into a core), but generating money, monarch power, and unity.

Unity itself affects unrest and discipline. The +5% discipline from 100 unity isn’t too bad (there are plenty of other effects that grant a similar bonus), but is available from the start, and one of the government bonuses is to shock damage in clear terrain, and it is easy to get lots of cavalry with a horde. Early in the game, this makes a potent military combination.

In fact, hordes get their own tribe estate (the only one they get), which aids manpower recovery and cavalry costs when loyal. One of the primary interactions with the estate is to raise a host, providing several cavalry units for free, just leaving problems of paying the monthly maintenance.

In all, they don’t feel quite as dangerous as in EU III: Divine Wind, where the automatic war with everyone and territory seizing made them a major short-term problem. However, with all cavalry, and all the shock bonuses, their military can feel nearly unbeatable in the early going, making them a major problem for their neighbors.

I Need a Favor

The expansion also added several features to diplomacy. Countries can now declare ‘places of interest’; this is basically something the AI always did, as it determined what areas it wanted to expand into, but now this is surfaced to other countries (and a human player), and the player can now do the same, warning other countries away from interfering.

In addition, the player can now choose diplomatic stances like the ones the AI uses. It can limit what you can do, but it also signals your vassals on what to do (they will generate claims on bordering provinces of countries you are hostile to, for instance). Also, setting your attitude to ‘threatened’ makes rivals of that country more likely to ally with you.

The annoying part of this is that alliances get a hit from the nerf-bat. Ordinarily, as soon as you have an alliance, you can declare war on a country, and your allies may come along, if they have enough reason to. With the new diplomacy system, you have to use favors for anyone to come along in your war. Now, you can promise them territorial gains in the war, but this only works if there’s something they can gain of course. Failing to carry through will also cause massive relations problems, assuming that you won (the AI will be understanding about a losing war). Otherwise, you gain one favor per year of alliance, and it takes ten favors to drag someone into an offensive war, so alliances are… more unwieldy than they used to be, which really is annoying, though possibly truer to life. Defensively at least , alliances are unchanged.


Tengri had been separated out from the general Animist religion a few patches ago, occupying much of of Central Asia. With the expansion, it now gains its own mechanic, like several other religions from the previous few expansions.

By default Tengi countries always gain a discount to raising new land units, and can use a higher proportion of cavalry. Now, they can gain additional bonuses as a syncretic faith.

This means that a second religion can be chosen to be a part of the Tengri faith, and countries and provinces of that religion will be counted as the same as the nation’s (this second religion can be changed later, but it costs prestige to do so). In addition, new national bonuses will be granted, based on that religion’s bonuses.


Estates would turn into another feature too big for an expansion. Like development, this feature moved to being part of the base game with patch 1.26 (before development, actually), but just for the basic three; the variant ones still need this expansion. Personally, I generally feel like you gain far more annoyance from estates than you gain interesting decisions.

In principle, dealing more with the internal stresses of a country is a good idea (and was a much-requested one). The general thrust of the estates is not bad (handing partial control of parts of your country over in return for bonuses), but the entire thing feels way to impersonal. The diplomacy and AI system of other countries gives a certain feeling of ‘personality’ to various countries, but the estates purely react to your interactions, leaving them flat and impersonal. Moreover, their goals (for they don’t really have any) do not grow and change with your country.

On the other hand, the other mechanics work out, and the new horde governments are nicely effective. Similarly, the rework of the random New World was needed, and great to see. With estates in the main game now, this expansion is really just worth getting to round out the collection of religious mechanics and government types, and so is just for the completist.