I want to like this game so much. There are so many buttons and they all look important. It makes me feel important, being able to press them. Only problem is, I don't know what they do.
Oh, I can read a tooltip, so I have a pretty clear idea about the immediate effects of my actions, but I'm at sea when it comes to the long-term consequences. Is prestige more useful than power projection? Is it better to use your Administration points to develop a province or save them to unlock a technology? For that matter, is a technology better than an idea? I have no idea.
I expect that such an intuition for the game's larger strategy will come in time, but I don't think I've had a game with such a brutal learning curve (AI Wars, maybe). I haven't even figured out how to keep my economy out of debt yet. I've started four games (two England, one Portugal, and one Iroquois) and every single time I started hemorrhaging money before the end of the first decade. As near as I can tell, my issue is that sources of new income are pathetically small and expenses are really big. It costs you 200 ducats to build a castle or 2 ducats a month to support a colonist, but sending half a dozen ships to defend your trade routes nets you 0.15 a month. I feel like my best move is to just not buy anything, ever.
Which is silly, of course. I think if I played more than 45 minutes on a single file, I'd probably start to get to a point that is at least somewhat financially secure . . . except I've yet to go 45 minutes without getting attacked and I'm not sure what the hell I'm supposed to do about. The enemy forces are always bigger than mine, and I never have the money to build troops to match them, even if I wanted to go into the red on maintenance costs.
It's been incredibly frustrating. I just know there's an enjoyable (to me) game inside of all this stuff, but I also know that it will require me to first become competent, and that may be a long time coming (I'm pretty sure it took me a similarly large number of failed Crusader Kings II games before I got a handle on what I was doing).
What I need to do is tough it out. Ride my country's history into defeat. Allow myself to accumulate as much debt as I'm allowed. I usually like to learn from the easy version of the game, but that's not an option here, so I'll have to learn from failure instead.
I hate learning from failure.