Friday, May 26, 2017

Europa Universalis IV - 20/20

Pacifism was actually working out fairly well - until the damned Europeans came. It was completely unfair. They declared a war of conquest on me, and my armies just melted before them. And I outnumbered them! They had just one province on the continent and I had ten. Twenty thousand troops to their 10k. But it didn't matter. My morale broke and the shattered remnants of my forces were quickly mopped up by Spain's native allies. I suppose I should be grateful. Becoming incandescent with rage really makes you feel alive.

I rounded out my time by continuing my United States game, but there's nothing to report. I was already rich and well-developed, and such a powerful presence in the western hemisphere that no one dared attack me (thus I didn't have to throw a tantrum and ragequit).

The lesson I learned from all of this is that if I want to enjoy this game (and I do), then I need to actually get good at it and learn how to pick my battles in such a way that I can eliminate (or at least discourage) my avaricious neighbors and never have anything genuinely important at stake in my inevitable wars. It's tricky, though, because the primary reason I'm so short-tempered at the game is that I know I lack the skill to recover from a major setback. I guess it's just one more reason for me to learn to control my emotions.

If I could change one thing about Europa Universalis IV, it would be to make it more educational. My favorite part of the game was looking at the map on the country-select screen. That's not even back-handed, I genuinely enjoyed it, especially when it came to tracking the changes to borders and place names over time. It was also fun to get country-specific pop-up events. They didn't quite make me feel like I was playing out a living history, but that's mostly because the basic game mechanics are so similar between cultures that you never really forget you're playing a strategy game with its own very specific priorities and biases.

I definitely think I will be drawn back to Europa Universalis IV. Despite not having the sort of robust building mechanics I ordinarily love in a strategy game, its rich historical setting is thoroughly compelling. I've griped a lot over the past few days, but those were more gripes about myself than gripes about the game. If I could somehow get good enough to thrive, I would probably love to play in this vast historical sandbox.

But that's a journey for a different time. For now I will say that I spent most of the last 20 hours feeling pretty frustrated, but I never lost interest in the game itself. That's a pretty decent accomplishment.

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