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Europa Universalis is the brand name for 2 excellent strategy games - Europa Universalis 1 and Europa Universalis 2.

Both games were created by the Stockholm-based developer Paradox Entertainment and were relatively low-budget (EU2 probably had a smaller total budget than Civ3's marketing budget - and is, IMHO, nevertheless, a better, though less-known, game).

Europa Universalis 1 simulates the time-frame from 1492 (the year Columbus discovered America) to 1792, published in the U.S. by Strategy First. It was rated at 8.1 ("great") by Gamespot.

Europa Universalis 2 takes it further and includes the time-frame from 1419 to 1820 (thus permitting the United States to appear), published in the U.S. by Infogrames Entertainment. It was rated at 8.5 ("great") at Gamespot.

Europa Universalis 1 was pretty impressive, permitting you to conduct diplomacy, economy, warfare, exploration and colonization in 9 scenarios with a number of historic events that guide the nations somewhat along the historic paths.

Europa Universalis 2 has not changed the UI much (just support for multiple screen resolutions), but has made all > 180 nations playable, improved the diplomacy options and expanded the playground by including more provinces, more religions, cultures, and domestic policy "sliders".

Especially improved in EU2 are the events - there are much more of them and they have better descriptions. The conditions for their appearance are varied - for example, the French Revolution appears only if the aristocracy is given too much power (by the domestic policy).

Both games are real-time, with adjustable speed, and commands can be issued when paused. Both support multi-player mode over LAN and TCP/IP.

Both games do have a somewhat steep learning curve, which is somewhat alleviated by a better manual and tutorial in EU2. The UI is not flashy, but is functional.

The name "Europa Universalis" reflects the technological and overall leadership that Europe exhibited in renaissance and baroque times.

The games seem to capture both the historical paths (e.g., Spain's AI is aimed at going after the Aztecs and Incas), as well as the deviations that result from pure chance, butterfly effects, random events and player action.

Different difficulty levels and different inherent difficulty in playing each country can provide the required challenge for each player - novices can play Spain, France or England, while die-hard fans can attempt to survive with Courland or unite Germany with Hessen. It is possible (though very difficult, and outright impossible on hardest difficulty on EU2 v1.04) to attempt a total world conquest, though many players will assume a more historical path instead, like maintaining the balance of power in Europe with England. Annexing other nations, gaining territory and otherwise being a warmonger will increase your "badboy" value, thus making you hated by the rest of the world.

The games would most appeal to strategy game and history fans, and can also be recommended to children due to the educational aspect (both in history and geography - since the map used is real, and you learn it in detail over time). Casual players may also be interested, and become strategy game or history fans after playing :-).

It is a game that requires actual strategical thinking, as in "how do I play the reformed and catholics against each other in the HRE to my advantage?".

Both games store most of the game data in plain-text files allowing scenario and event creation, modification and in-depth comprehension. A scenario editor is planned for a future patch of EU2.

Both games have an active community in the forums on the official website, and both are actively supported by Paradox with both comments from the developers in the forums and free downloadable patches (including new features and improvements).

The official website is http://www.europa-universalis.com/.

Europa Universalis is also the name of the Avalon Hill board game that the aforementioned computer game is based upon.


Comments and clarifications are welcome.
Some names may be trade marks of companies mentioned above.

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