Europa Universalis 4: 12 Most Powerful Nations To Start As (2024)

Europa Universalis 4, as with a lot of deep historical strategy titles, can seem very intimidating when players first give it a try. Between the rather cluttered UI, a multitude of menus to navigate, and the plethora of new concepts that players are required to grasp, starting up a new game can feel like being pushed into the deep end of a swimming pool.

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One thing that compounds this natural difficulty curve is the power disparity between the nations that players can pick to play as. In Europa Universalis 4, no two nations are created equally, and Paradox Interactive has gone through great troubles to emulate these nations' actual historical standing. This means that some nations are far easier to play as than others, especially for newer players who might be more prone to making mistakes.

Updated May 26, 2022 by Ryan Bamsey: EU4 has come a long way since it was first released, with every update aiming to improve balance, add new features, and make most nations in the game viable to play as. That said, some nations will always have an easier time of it - we've added some more of the stronger nations to this list, they're perfect for new players who want a lofty goal to undertake.

12 Austria

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At the beginning of the game, Austria has the honor of housing the Emperor of the Holy Roman Emperor. This grants players a huge boon in the form of a much larger army cap, powerful tools to retain their position, and the ability to greatly influence the development of Europe.

Austria also has useful national ideas that help players build multiple alliances and stave off wars by accruing many diplomats. By so doing, they can increase their international standing through a robust diplomatic reputation boost. Not only that, but it's very likely that Austria gains a powerful personal union with Hungary, either through luck or the useful Restoration of Union casus belli.

11 England

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Two of England's greatest strengths are its location paired with its fantastic navy. Players who wish to learn how to dominate the seas can play as England and feel powerful as they ward off any foreign invasion before they can even set foot on land.

England is very good at consolidating its power in the British Isles. It's able to take over Scotland to the north and the Irish nations to the west with ease, forming Great Britain and enjoying a few nice boons as a result. From there, players are largely very protected from the rest of the world and can experiment with EU4's systems safely.

10 Ottomans

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Often hailed as one of the most powerful nations in the game, the Ottomans enjoy extremely powerful soldiers, a huge army, and very easy early-game missions (in which they retake their old capital of Constantinople and gain a large boost to their development and stability).

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The Ottomans are a great nation for beginners to play, as their large size, great location, and powerful army make it very hard to suffer crushing defeats. In addition, they have a robust economy that doesn't need as much careful oversight as that of some other nations.

9 Ming

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Starting with the most development and most provinces of any other nation in the world, Ming is easily the most powerful nation in the east. They begin as the Emperor of China, which is analogous to the Holy Roman Empire in that it is a unique system that can be used to accrue various bonuses.

While very powerful, playing as Ming can still be quite the challenge. Players will have to grapple with new features and constantly have to deal with keeping their bordering nations in check. A bit of a tougher sell for beginners, but with huge potential.

8 Brandenburg

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If you're looking for a nation you can use to dominate in the late game, Brandenburg is a fantastic nation to try. Brandenburg's fate is largely decided by its neighbors' decisions, but if it can wrest control of the HRE from Austria - and that should be a primary goal - it can snowball into something immensely powerful.

Brandenburg also has the easiest time forming Prussia, a country with some of the best military bonuses in the entire game that rewards playing tall - if you want to feel incredibly mighty, Brandenburg is a challenge you should take on.

7 Castile

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Making up most of the Iberian peninsula, Castile is a great nation to start as for players who wish to learn about the colonization features of the game while also being a force to be reckoned with. Their ideas are great for exploring the world, and they can fund this with access to some very powerful trade nodes.

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What is exceptionally attractive about Castile is its decent change to trigger the Iberian Wedding event, which will bind Aragon and possibly Naples underneath Castile in a personal union. This makes it more convenient to form the nation of Spain, and also makes wars much easier.

6 France

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France is another nation that benefits greatly from a fantastic military force. With all of their initial personal unions and the extremely useful national idea 'Elan!,' which gives them a large modifier to army morale, France is a force to be reckoned with.

France is a great nation for players who want to try an expansionist playthrough (also known as 'playing wide') as they can gain a lot of momentum and have top-tier national ideas that benefit them militarily, diplomatically, and technologically.

5 Poland

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Just like Castile and Austria, Poland benefits from a high chance to enter into a powerful personal union with Lithuania. By doing so, it forms the mighty Commonwealth, which enjoys a huge size and large army.

Additionally, players can also follow Poland's mission list and form personal unions with Bohemia and Hungary if possible, making them a true powerhouse. It can be tricky to get the ball rolling while playing as Poland, but the potential to dominate after doing so is very self-evident.

4 Mamluks

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Covering the North-Eastern reaches of Africa, the Mamluks start in a flexible position, as they can afford to expand in any direction they want. With a starting military comparable to the mighty Ottomans and a bevy of weaker nations to antagonize, gaining steam as the Mamluks is an easy task.

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The Cradle of Civilization DLC (expansions have been a bit of a sticky issue with the game, what with Paradox Interactive's subscription service) granted the Mamluks a host of buffs, including a powerful interaction system allowing players to spend accrued power points in exchange for large sums of money or manpower. In addition, the Mamluk government gives players a high chance of getting rulers with high administration scores, which means they can often unlock new idea groups sooner rather than later.

3 Venice

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Venice is a very small nation, but it has a lot going for it right from the beginning of the game. It enjoys highly developed provinces, a very easily defended capital and amazing national ideas that prioritize trade and naval combat ability. Not to mention a strong mission tree that rewards players who play to Venice's strengths.

What makes Venice a stand-out nation among the Italian minors is its supremacy over the Venetian trading node, which is one of the most powerful trading nodes in the game. It's also very easy for Venice to hold onto this control and expand it, rewarding economically ruthless strategies.

2 Naples

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Starting the game as Naples might seem like a trap - you're under the ownership of Aragon, and you don't have much room to expand. These are obvious drawbacks, but they are easily solved. If you can get some big nations to support your independence, such as Castile and anyone Aragon rivals, Aragan may just let you go without a fight!

Naples is in a particularly good position to form Italy - you can work your way up the Italian region without too many threats since you're surrounded by so much ocean, and making forays into northern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula are good options for when you've built up too much aggressive expansion in the immediate area.

1 Muscovy

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Muscovy is another very large nation that can thrive with the proper use of its powerful military (and is also the best candidate to form the nation of Russia). It only takes a few carefully selected moves, and from there, you're living on easy street.

Russia enjoys some select advantages, such as a unique government that accentuates its huge army. It is not uncommon for late-game Muscovy or Russia to boast the largest army in the entire world.

NEXT: Crusader Kings 3: The Hardest Starting Characters

Europa Universalis 4: 12 Most Powerful Nations To Start As (2024)

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