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Europa Universalis Development Diary #8

Christopher Columbus, by Olly Lawson

It is about time for a new Development Diary. We have talked a little about Actions in previous diary entries, but mainly about Action Cards. This time we want to talk about the Basic Actions. Those are the Actions that you can always perform, without the need of any cards.

Basic Actions

The Basic Actions are, in the same way as the Action Cards, divided into the three types of Monarch Power – there are Administrative Actions, Diplomatic Actions and Military Actions. They normally cost either Administrative Power (AP), Diplomatic Power (DP) or Military Power (MP). But there are also some Special Actions and Free Actions that are not tied to any of these in particular.

Free Actions

Free Actions are Actions that you can performed alongside another Action during your Turn or, in some cases, even during another player’s Turn.

Declare War

By Declaring War, you go to a War against the target Realm. If you have no justification for doing so, no Casus Belli, you will suffer a –2 Stability drop. Most of the time a Casus Belli involves a Claim on some of the target’s Provinces.

Hire Advisor or Leader

Pay the recruitment cost to hire a new Advisor (Square portrait) or Leader (Circular portrait) from the cards in your hand. Advisors cost Ducats and provide extra Monarch Points in the area of their expertise, while Leaders cost Military Power and provide bonuses in Battles.

Take/Repay Loan

Take a Loan Tile and 5 Ducats from the general supply. You must pay an interest of 1 Ducat every Round until the loan has been repaid. You can take a loan at any time as long as you don’t already 5 active loans.

Special Actions

Special Actions are not necessarily linked to a particular type of Monarch Power, and don’t always cost Monarch Points to perform. They do however take up a whole player Turn.

Research Ideas

You may spend the Monarch Point cost stated on an Idea, to activate this Idea and claim the bonuses it provides.

Change National Focus

May only be done once per Round. Perform either or both of the two options below.

  • Discard any 3 Action Cards from your hand and draw 2 new cards of your choice. Alternatively discard 2 cards and draw 1 new. 
  • Increase one type of Monarch Power by two tokens, while decreasing the two others by one token each.

Change State Religion

From Age II onwards it is possible to change State Religion from Catholic to Protestant (or from Protestant to Catholic) by taking this action. Changing to or from other Religions can only happen as a consequence of War or Rebellion.


Pay 1 DP and 1 MP to move a Fleet or an Army into unchartered territory on one of the Exploration Maps. Requires “Quest for the New World” Idea.

Christopher Columbus discovers America. Illustration: Olly Lawson
Christopher Columbus discovers America. Illustration: Olly Lawson

Administrative ­Actions

Increase Stability

You may spend 6 AP, modified by your current Stability value, to increase your Stability by 1 step. (Stability ranges from –3 to +3.)

Convert Area

Pay 3 Ap and 3 Ducats to Convert the Religion to your State Religion in an Area where you own all the Provinces. Roll a number of Rebel Dice for the Area you convert equal to half the Tax Income of the Provinces.


Spend 1 AP per Colonist token to Colonize any unoccupied Colony Space which you have Explored, and placed a Claim on. 5 Colonists are required to complete a Colony, an thus replacing it with a regular Province.

Diplomatic Actions


Pay 1 DP or 3 Ducats per token, to place Influence tokens in, or adjacent to, any Areas where you own at least one Province or already have one or more Influence Tokens.


Pay 1 DP to draw 3 Trade Cards and choose one of the cards that has a Trade Node where you have, or can move, a Merchant that has not already been activated this Round. Discard the remaining cards. All players with a Merchant in the chosen Trade Node will now collect Trade Income from the Node according to their Trade Power.

Fabricate Claim

Spend 1 DP per Claim, to place Claim tokens on Provinces in Areas adjacent to your Realm. 

Military Actions

Activate Army/Fleet

You may spend 1 MP to activate an Army (or a single Land Unit) or make a Naval Activation. An activated Army or a single Land Unit may then either Move or Siege. When Land Units enter an Area containing enemy Units, a Battle will be fought immediately.

A Naval Activation will let you move any number of Ships on the board to a single destination (Sea Zone or Port). Fleets and Ships may move a maximum of 2 spaces (Sea Zones). They must stop and fight if they enter a Sea Zone containing enemy Ships. 

Getting ready for battle. Illustration: Olly Lawson

Recruit Military Units

Pay 1 MP, and the required amount of Ducats, to recruit as many Military Units from your Manpower Pool as you desire or can afford. Hire Mercenary Units from the general supply when your Manpower runs out. Build up to one Ship per Port you own.

Refresh Manpower

Pay 1 MP per 2 Units, to Replenish as many Exhausted Units in your Manpower Pool as you desire. These Units are moved from the Exhausted area to the Available area, and are ready to be Recruited.

Handle Rebels

Pay 1 MP per Unrest that you want to remove from your Provinces.

New Illustrations

As you might have noticed we have got some new illustrations this time around. That’s because we have Olly Lawson working on the cards for the game. He is a UK based illustrator and in his portfolio you can see that he is the perfect guy for the job. He’s got other historical games, such as the cards for Pandemic: Fall of Rome, already under his belt, and he’s even a fan of Europa Universalis!

All the illustrations in this Development Diary are of his doing, and there is a lot more to come!

Olly’s illustration admiring the paragraph I wrote about him

Read the previous Development Diary chapters here:

Development Diary #1 (Map Board)
Development Diary #2 (Box Art and Monarch Power)
Development Diary #3 (Actions, Action Cards and France)
Development Diary #4 (Set-up, Sequence of Play and Castile/Spain)
Development Diary #5 (Diplomatic Relations)
Development Diary #6 (Warfare and Ottomans)
Development Diary #7 (Non-Player Realms)

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For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter, how to sign up as a play tester, and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.

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Europa Universalis Development Diary #3

In the third chapter of this Development Diary we will talk about actions and Action Cards. Last time we offered some insights into the Monarch Power system – a form of resources that players in Europa Universalis: The Board Game will depend upon to perform actions in the game.

Action Cards

While players may always perform certain Basic Actions, you will often find the more specialised actions on the Action cards. These are divided into three decks that correspond with the three types of Monarch Power. Accordingly, there is a Military Deck, a Diplomatic Deck and an Administrative Deck. You may always choose which type of Action Cards you want to draw in the Draw Cards Phase. In the Action Phase players take turns performing one action at the time. You can either play an Action Card or execute a Basic Action. This ensures that player down time is low. 

Action card types with explanations
Prototype cards from the Administrative (green), Diplomatic (blue) and Military (red) deck. The text and graphics on these cards are not final, but they show the basic layout.
(Click image to zoom in.)

The action on each Action Card has a Monarch Power cost stated in the top left corner of the card. The type of Monarch Power is always associated with the deck it was drawn from. The color of the circle behind the number clearly indicates what type it belongs to. Red is military, blue is diplomatic and green is administrative power. This color system is used throughout the game. By paying the Monarch Power cost you may perform the action described on the scroll that covers most of the card.

Military cards may, unsurprisingly, give bonuses in battles or increase your military capacity in various ways. Several Military cards may actually be played on another player’s turn, as a response to that player’s action. Diplomatic cards will let you form diplomatic relationships by forging alliances, arranging royal marriages and more. Furthermore you may build spy networks to enable covert actions against your opponents. You can use Administrative cards to develop the infrastructure and economic capacity of your empire.

Leaders and Advisors

You may have noticed that there is also a section at the bottom of each card that shows a character, with a portrait and some abilities and icons. This is because every Action Card can be used for two distinct purposes. You may either play it for the action described on the scroll, or as the character below it.

There are two types of characters, easily differentiated by the circular or a square portrait frame. The circular portraits depict Leaders and the square portraits depict Advisors. You may use Leaders as Rulers of player nations, or as Military Leaders commanding armies or fleets. Leaders have a skill value in each type of Monarch Power. Advisors on the other hand, only provide a bonus in their field of expertise (administrative, diplomatic or military). This will subsequently increase the amount of Monarch Power, of the associated type, that you receive. If you have a Ruler with a Diplomatic skill of 1, and a +3 Diplomatic Advisor, you get 4 Diplomatic Power tokens each Round. Rulers normally stay until they die, while you may employ and fire Advisors at will.

Players must pay a hiring cost and an upkeep cost, in Ducats, for Advisors. Generals, on the other hand, cost Military Power to employ.

Major Power at a Glance: France

Although the French are among the most powerful nations of Europe, they also have powerful rivals surrounding them on all sides.

In the 1444 start, as France, you are in the final stages of the Hundred Years War with England, but there is a ceasefire in effect. The two powers are quite evenly balanced, but France is slightly better prepared for war. You have claims on all the English provinces on the mainland, which means you have the power to declare war at any time. Additionally, you can quite easily dominate the nearby minor nations, and you are reasonably well positioned for an Italian adventure. France also has a high tax income and manpower reserve.

However, France needs to be beware of potential enemies on all sides. In the south lies Castile, with ambitions of uniting Spain. In the northwest is your long time rival, England, and in the east Austria sits on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. If your neighbor, Burgundy, falls under the influence of one of your enemies, this may become a big headache. France also desperately needs some more ports, to enable them to compete with other naval powers.

Still, if you can end the Hundred Years War favorably, without spending too many resources, you can perhaps enjoy a period of stability and growth before the religious wars of the Reformation hit you with force.

EU4 players will recognize several of the missions and events that are available to France in the board game.

Read the previous two development diary chapters here:
Development Diary #1
Development Diary #2

For more news about the upcoming Kickstarter and reminders about Development Diaries, sign up to our Europa Universalis newsletter.