Europa Universalis IV: A Guide to Ages

By T.J. Hafer 05 May 2017 0

Among the features added in the recent Mandate of Heaven expansion for Europa Universalis IV was the concept of Ages. Campaigns now progress through these four, distinct periods that each have their own rules, challenges to complete, and attainable rewards. While they add a new sense of pacing and of progression through a rapidly changing world to EU4 - quite fitting for the era - it can be tricky for both new and long-term players to come to terms with what they actually mean for your empire. This guide is here to lay out each Age and give you some advice on how to interact with the unfamiliar bits and pieces.

Part Zero: The Era of Religion, The Era of the State, Absolutism, and Splendor

Perhaps the most significant effect of the Ages system is that it breaks each game of EU4 into two, distinct phases with different rules (and no formal name, but we’ll refer to them as such for the sake of clarity).

  • The first two Ages, the Age of Discovery and the Age of Reformation, belong to what I call the Era of Religion. During these Ages, the Pope can call crusades and excommunicate Catholic rulers. You will always have the Holy War CB against neighboring nations of a different religion. New Christian Centers of Reformation can only spawn during this era, and having a different religion will affect your diplomacy with other nations. Most of these used to be features that persisted for the entire game, or were switched off once a specific year had passed - so you might not notice anything is different until the era is over and they are disabled. If you want to continue waging Holy Wars, you’ll need to finish Religious ideas before the Age of Reformation ends. If you’re the Papal States, make sure you take the opportunity to excommunicate and ruin your enemies while you still can.
  • The final two Ages, the Age of Absolutism and the Age of Revolutions, belong to what I call the Era of the State. During these Ages, faith becomes less important than flags. Each nation will now have a value tied to their government called Absolutism, which represents how much power the state has over your nation’s affairs. In general, higher Absolutism is good - with a major exception that being above 50 makes your nation vulnerable to a new national disaster, which we’ll discuss later. The ramifications of this disaster will leave a permanent impact on your empire for the rest of the game, forcing you to either prove you have what it takes to be an absolute ruler or else submit to the demands of the many other groups vying for political influence.
  • Absolutism itself grants a scaling bonus. It has no effect at 0. At 100, it provides 5% Discipline, 40% Administrative Efficiency, and cuts the longevity of foreign cores on your territory (as long as they are not scripted to be permanent) by 50%. Not everyone can reach 100 right off the bat, though, as Absolutism has a cap based on how your government is set up.

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  • Increase the Absolutism Cap by:
    • Having high Legitimacy
    • Having full Religious Unity
    • Having an Empire-rank government
    • Being a Great Power (Rights of Man expansion required)
    • Having a certain government type (Despotic Monarchy, Ottoman Sultanate, and Shogunate give +5 Max Absolutism - this makes Despotic Monarchy a competitive choice well into the late game. Prussian Monarchy and Enlightened Despotism give +10 Max Absolutism.)
    • Sweden and Prussia all have mid-late game DHEs (Dynamic Historical Events) that can grant +20 Max Absolutism if a certain option is chosen
    • France has a unique decision that can add +20 Max Absolutism, unlocked if they have a good ruler and are sufficiently wealthy in the Age of Absolutism

  • Decrease the Absolutism Cap (You don’t want this, so it’s more a list of what to avoid) by:
    • Having low Legitimacy
    • Having a certain government type (Free Cities and Trading Cities give -20 Max Absolutism. English Monarchy, Constitutional Monarchy, Dutch Republic, Constitutional Republic, Elective Monarchy, Ambrosian Republic, and Administrative Republic give -30 Max Absolutism. Noble Republic gives -40 Max Absolutism. Peasants’ Republic, Oligarchic Republic, and Merchant Republic give -50 Max Absolutism)

  • Increase your Absolutism (up to a maximum set by the above factors) by:
    • Increasing Stability
    • Manually decreasing a province’s Autonomy
    • Using Harsh Treatment against rebels
    • Using the Strengthen Government button

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Note that Absolutism normally does not naturally tick down over time. It can only be raised and lowered by events, decisions, player actions, or by the cap being lowered below the current value. The exceptions to this are

    • Being Bankrupt (-2 Yearly Absolutism)
    • The fifth Swedish National Idea (+0.2 Yearly Absolutism)
    • The fifth Portuguese National Idea (+0.1 Yearly Absolutism)
    • A DHE for Russia that can give +1 Yearly Absolutism if a certain option is chosen
    • The Absolute Government unlockable Ability in the Age of Absolutism (+1 Yearly Absolutism)

  • Decrease your Absolutism (to a minimum of zero) by:
    • Spending monarch power to reduce War Exhaustion
    • Manually increasing a province’s Autonomy
    • Giving into the demands of a rebel faction
    • Debasing the currency
    • Granting a province a seat in Parliament (Constitutional Monarchy, Constitutional Republic, and English Monarchy only)

This may seem like an overall nerf to Republics and Constitutional Monarchies - and it is. The design goal seems to be to make the harsher monarchies more competitive, though it also deepens the plight of some already fairly underpowered government types like Merchant Republics. So if you’re gearing up for a Venice campaign, you might want to consider ditching your starting government as soon as you are able in this patch.

  • Splendor is a new resource generated by completing objectives in each Era, which can be spent to gain Abilities. Splendor earned and Abilities unlocked in one era do not carry over to the next one.

Part One: The Age of Discovery

This is the starting Age in every bookmark from the start date (1444) up to The War of the League of Cambrai (1508). It ends 10 years after the appearance of the first Protestant Center of Reformation (dependent on Catholic Reform Desire), which triggers the Age of Reformation.

  • Objectives:
    • (Nations with a capital in Europe, Asia, or Africa) Discover America: Discover a province in North America, South America (or any of the randomized continents if playing with the Random New World setting from the Conquest of Paradise expansion)
    • (Nations with a capital outside Europe, Asia, or Africa) Developed Nation: Have 100 total Development in your nation
    • Control Centers of Trade: Have at least 5 core provinces with a Center of Trade
    • A Large City: Have at least one core province with 30 or higher Development
    • Embrace Renaissance: Embrace the Renaissance institution had have it accepted in all provinces (excluding those with Territorial cores)
    • (As any Christian denomination) Hold Three Thrones: Have at least two junior partners in a Personal Union under you
    • (As any non-Christian religion) Feudal Society: Have at least five vassals
    • Present on Two Continents: Own provinces on at least two continents
    • Humiliate Rival: Win a war using the Humiliate Rival CB and include the Humiliate Rival war goal in the peace treaty

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  • Abilities:
    • Feudal De Jure Law: Unlocks the “Feudal De Jure Law” state Edict, which allows you to double the maintenance cost of any state to give it -5% Unrest
    • Justified Wars: -10% Aggressive Expansion impact
    • Transfer Subject: The Transfer Subject wargoal costs only half as much warscore, and you gain the ability to “chain” fabricate claims in provinces bordering those where you already have a claim, even if you would not be able to normally
    • Improved War Taxes: Raising War Taxes during conflict does not cost military power
    • Cavalry Armies: +20% allowable Cavalry to Infantry Ratio
    • Higher Developed Colonies: All new colonies gain +1 to Base Tax, Production, and Manpower when completed
    • Adaptive Combat Terrain: +1 to all combat rolls in provinces with the same terrain type as your capital
    • (Ottomans Only) The Guns of Urban: +33% Siege Ability
    • (Portugal Only) Portuguese Colonial Growth: +50% Global Settler Chance
    • (Denmark Only) Danish Subject Loyalty: -30% Liberty Desire in subjects
    • (Venice Only) Venetian Trade: +50% Trade Power generated from Light Ships

  • The Peasant’s War, Castilian Civil War, and War of the Roses disasters can only fire in this Age.

Part Two: The Age of Reformation

This Age triggers 10 years after the appearance of the first Protestant Center of Reformation (dependent on Catholic Reform Desire), and is the starting Age for the Eighty Years War (1579) and Thirty Years War (1618) bookmarks. It ends 10 years after the Global Trade institution has spawned (which is usually around 1600), triggering the Age of Absolutism.

  • Objectives:
    • Join the Reformation: Have either Protestant or Reformed as your state religion
    • Humanist or Religious: Complete Humanist or Religious ideas
    • Convert Provinces: Convert at least 10 provinces to your state religion (Province conversions in the Age of Discovery carry over and count toward this total)
    • Create a Colonial Empire: Have overlordship over at least five Colonial Nations
    • Convert Another Nation: Force another nation to change religion through war, enforcing religion on a subject, or enforcing religious unity as the Holy Roman Emperor
    • Asian Trade: Control a majority of the trade in Silk, Spices, or Chinaware
    • Unify Culture: Own all provinces where the provincial culture is in your primary culture’s culture group

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  • Abilities:
    • Religion Enforced Edict: Unlocks a state Edict that increases resistance to being converted by a Center of Reformation by 90% in that state
    • Coastal Barrage: Blockading the coast near a coastal fort increases the impact on siege progress more than it normally would
    • Religious Wars: All wargoals have -25% Warscore cost if they are being demanded of a nation with a different religion
    • Mercenary Discipline: All mercenaries you hire gain +5% Discipline
    • Powerful Tradeships: +20% Trade Power generated from Light Ships
    • Institutional Spread: +50% Institution Spread in provinces that have your state religion
    • Prestigious Conversions: Converting a province grants you +0.3 Prestige per point of Development in the province
    • (Spain Only) Spanish Tercios: -30% Shock Damage received
    • (Mughals Only): Mughal Artillery: -50% Artillery Cost
    • (Poland or Commonwealth Only) Polish Crown: +33% Goods Produced
    • (Persia Only) Persian Reinforcement: -30% Reinforce Cost

  • The Count’s Feud, Religious Turmoil, and French Wars of Religion disasters can only fire in this Age.

Part Three: The Age of Absolutism

This Age triggers 10 years after the Global Trade institution has spawned (which is usually around 1600), and is the starting Age for the War of the Spanish Succession (1701) bookmark. It ends 10 years after the Enlightenment institution has spawned (which is usually around 1700), triggering the Age of Revolutions.

  • Crusades, Excommunications, Holy War CB without Religious ideas completed, spawning of new Centers of Reformation, and diplomacy penalties for different religion are disabled for the rest of the game.
  • The Absolutism mechanics are enabled for the rest of the game.

  • Objectives:
    • Three Trade Companies: Have at least three Trade Companies
    • Multiple Universities: Control at least five Universities
    • Potential for a Large Army: Have a Force Limit of at least 200
    • Absolutism: Have at least 90 Absolutism
    • Emperor of China: Hold the Emperor of China title and have at least 50 Mandate
    • Multicultural Nation: Have at least five Promoted Cultures
    • Win Religious War: Be on the winning side of the Religious League War in the Holy Roman Empire (counts as completed if the war is already over)

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  • Abilities:
    • Edict of Absolutism: Unlocks a state Edict that reduces Devastation in that state by 0.25 per month
    • Flexible Rivalries: Halves the cost to swap a filled rival slot to a different nation
    • Protecting Forts: Forts in a province bordering one of your rival’s provinces do not cost any gold in upkeep
    • Efficient Autonomy: Halves the cooldown for reducing or increasing Autonomy in a province
    • Harsher Treatment: -50% Harsh Treatment cost
    • Administrative Efficiency: +5% Administrative Efficiency
    • Absolute Government: +1 Yearly Absolutism
    • (France Only) French Musketeers: +20% Land Fire Damage
    • (Netherlands Only) Dutch Officials: -0.2 Yearly Corruption
    • (Sweden Only) Swedish Recruitment: +35% Manpower Recovery Speed
    • (Manchu or Qing Only) Manchu Banners: +50% Possible Banners

  • The English Civil War and Court and Country disasters can only fire in this Age.
    • Court and Country is a new disaster that can happen if you have at least 1 Unrest, less than 3 Stability, are at war, and have an Absolutism of 50 or higher. It will put to the test your ability to maintain absolute control of the government through many events and decisions. It can be wise to force this disaster to fire if you think you can survive it, as there is a strong potential for a good or neutral ending that permanently increases your Max Absolutism.
    • While the disaster is active, you get -20% Global Trade Goods, -20% Global Tax Modifier, and -20 Max Absolutism.
    • There are three possible endings. If you have 65 or higher Absolutism when the ending event triggers, you get “The state is Triumphant!” and +20 Max Absolutism until the end of the game. If you have between 30 and 64 Absolutism, you get “Perhaps we can now finally work together,” and +10 Max Absolutism until the end of the game. If you have 29 or less Absolutism, you get “The court is devastated,” giving you -10 Max Absolutism for the rest of the game.

Part Four: The Age of Revolutions

This Age triggers 10 years after the Enlightenment institution has spawned (which is usually around 1700), and is the starting age for all bookmarks from the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718) forward. It lasts until the end of the game.

  • Objectives:
    • Parliament: Have a government with a Parliament (Constitutional Monarchy, Constitutional Republic, or English Monarchy)
    • Emperor: Have an Empire-rank government, and/or be the Holy Roman Emperor, and/or be the Emperor of China
    • Powerful Subject: Have a subject with at least 250 total Development
    • High Discipline: Have a total Discipline of at least 125%
    • Large Capital: Have at least 50 Development in the capital
    • Great Leader: Have a general or admiral with a 3-star skill rating
    • Control Institutions: Own two provinces that were the origin point of any Institution

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  • Abilities:
    • Anti-Revolutionary Zeal: Development in subject nations has a 33% lower impact on their Liberty Desire
    • Napoleonic Warfare: Artillery gains an additional +3 bonus against forts
    • Improved Force March: Forced March no longer costs military power
    • Naval Engagement: +20% Global Naval Engagement Width
    • Unrestricted Conquest: Distance to a province no longer affects making it a core
    • Improved Artillery Range: +20% Artillery Damage when firing from the back row
    • Loyal Subjects: -25% Liberty Desire for subject nations with a capital on the same continent as your capital
    • (Prussia Only) Prussian Discipline: -20% Fire Damage received
    • (Great Britain Only) British Fleet: -33% Naval Maintenance Modifier
    • (Russia Only) Russian Empire: +20 Possible States
    • (Austria Only) Austrian Diplomacy: +5 Diplomatic Reputation

  • The Revolution, French Revolution, and Liberalism disasters can only fire in this Age.

The Final Piece: Golden Eras

In any Age, but only once per campaign, you may trigger a Golden Era for your nation when you’ve completed at least three Age Objectives. This lasts for 50 years, granting +10% Army Morale, +10% Naval Morale, -10% to all Monarch Power costs, +10% Goods Produced Modifier, and +5 Max Absolutism. There are three strategies I have found to be effective for choosing when to trigger a Golden Era:

  • As Soon As Possible: The earlier your Golden Era triggers, the more you can compound on its bounties for the rest of the game. Investing in an early head start takes away your ability to time the Golden Era for something specific, but ensures you can establish an early lead that will be easy enough to widen, even when the effects wear off.
  • The Turning Point: Save your Golden Era to coincide with or lead directly up to a decisive moment in which you will seek to punch above your weight class and reap great rewards. If you’re planning to invade a much larger neighbor, fight off a troublesome coalition, or break free from a tyrannical overlord, using your Golden Age to boost your nation’s might during and/or just before you put your plan into motion can increase its chances of success.
  • Maximize Absolutism: Since one of the effects of a Golden Era is increasing your Max Absolutism, it’s partially wasted if you trigger it before Absolutism is enabled, or if you’re nowhere near hitting your Absolutism cap. If you hit the button just when you’ve reached the cap to eke out that extra +5 at precisely the right moment, you are making the most of the numerical bonuses - at least in theory.

Hopefully this guide has helped you get your head around the Ages and their associated mechanics. Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions about the systems, or have come up with some awesome, new ways to exploit them. Don't forget to check out our review for a broader picture as to what the expansion is like.

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