Europa Universalis Review

Ever play the old board game Risk? Well Risk is all grown up now and has spent quite a lot of time at the gym. Europa Universalis is Paradox Entertainment's magnum opus simulation of world politics from 1492 to 1792. Europa' world is divided among ninety nations and over 800 provinces and you must take the reigns of one of those nations. Then what awaits you is one of the most detailed and finely crafted grand strategic games to come out in years.

The goal of Europa Universalis is simple - to lead your nation to dominance of the emerging global stage during the 16th through the 18th centuries. In order to succeed, though, you will have to master three important facets of imperial rule: diplomacy, commerce, and expansion.

Diplomacy is carried out through the use of ambassadors who can be used to strengthen your bonds with other countries through gifts, royal marriages, and alliances - or to weaken them as a prelude to war. Many factors affect the success of your diplomatic missions - your perceived trustworthiness among nations, your country's might, your prior history with the country in question, and even the compatibility of your state religions.

Commerce is conducted through merchants and trading posts. You assign merchants to centers of trade - the more merchants you dedicate to a center, the bigger your share of the pie. Trading posts are established in newly discovered territories. They are more expensive to establish due to their distance from the motherland, but are also potentially very profitable.

Expansion can be carried out through both military might and colonization. Grow your colonies large enough and they will eventually become full-fledged provinces of your empire.

In addition to these areas of imperial rule, you will need to complete numerous missions to increase your nation's prestige (and victory points). These can include the creation of alliances, conquest of territories, exploration of new lands, and many other tasks. You'll also need to manage your economy (levying taxes, spending on research, investing in infrastructure,...), keep revolt-minded provinces in line, clear your shipping lines of pirates, react to historic events, and more! Phew! This is one extensive game!

The game includes nine different scenarios which cover some of the major events of the time period treated by the game, such as the American Revolution. There is also a grand campaign covering the entire 300 year period, which will require a significant time commitment on your part to complete.