A very angry Cossack.

I might be completely terrible at grand strategy games but that doesn't stop me from being excited about everything Paradox brings out in that genre, especially for the Europa Universalis series.

In preparation for the upcoming expansion for Europa Universalis IV, Paradox have released a youtube video (embedded below) going over all the major changes coming with The Cossacks on December 1st.

Allow me to give you a brief rundown of what to expect:

 

The first big addition are estates, seats of power within your state. These can be either nobility, the church or, you guessed it, the Cossacks. You won't be able to control them or their territory directly but through favors and gifts of land you can earn their loyalty. A powerful allied estate can be a great boon to your budding empire but take care, if an estate becomes too powerful they might get the idea that they can run the country better than you can. Which in my case they probably could but I'll be damned before I let them take my throne!

Diplomacy is getting a bit of an overhaul as well. It will now be far easier to manage as well as to tell your computer controller allies how exactly you feel about certain countries or provinces. Your influence over other countries is now dictated by favors so the nicer you are to your neighbors the more likely they will join you in battle or aid you in other ways. I particularly like this system because it rewards long term loyalty over short them alliances. If you've been allies with a country for a hundred years you'll probably have enough favor with them to be able to rely on them not betraying you when you are weak. Given that I tend to play these types of games mostly through diplomacy these are awesome changes.

Step nomads are getting a huge overhaul in the form of Horde Unity which represents how loyal the various tribes are to you. The more tribes and people you have in your horde the less unified it will be due to conflicting loyalties. So how do you raise this? The traditional step nomad way, you launch massive raids against your neighboring countries since every single ducat taken raises your horde unity because nothing brings people together than the prospect of getting even more money. It might be because I've recently finished listening to Wrath of the Khans by Dan Carlin but the idea of creating my own Mongol horde sounds very enticing, mass genocide aside of course. 

No horde like the mongol horde

Culture spreading is getting a few nifty improvements in Cossacks as well. Most notably you will now be able to spread cultures other than your own. So if you wanted to further spread disorder in a country you can start flooding it with neighboring cultures which might not play along well. While I'll probably forget to use it I can see this sort of thing, in the hands of skilled players, being used to great effect.

Native populations are reviving a bit of love as well, or death and destruction if that's how you'll play it. If one of your provinces has a native population in it you will be able to either coexist with them which will greatly slow down your growth, attempt to conquer them and take all of their land which will make them rebel against you or you can try and convert them to your side via trading and diplomacy. If history is any judge, they're probably boned.

The last of the big feature updates is related to espionage. You have two new spy actions, Study Technology and Agitate for Liberty (which is quite frankly an awesome name). Study Technology is there if your country is lagging behind technologically due to your policies incompetence but you still want all the shiny new toys your neighbors get to play with. Agitate for Liberty is a lot more interesting however, it will allow you to instigate rebellions in enemy territories by rallying the conquered populations against them. With the culture change mechanic and this new spy one I foresee some fancy ways of dealing with your enemies without actually having to fight them. Just spread strange cultures on one front, instigate rebellions at another and when the country is being wracked with internal conflict you can walk in as a savior, how could it possibly go wrong...

The Cossacks will be coming to Europa Universalis IV on December 1st, so a mere two days from now!

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