[Top 10] Europa Universalis IV Best Buildings That Are Great

The start of the industrial revolution.

There are many ways to increase the value of your empire in Europa Universalis 4. Conquest of new land, or even developing your existing provinces is a surefire way to grow in power. That being said, building buildings is another way to do just that.

However, unless you’re playing ultra-tall, chances are your provinces will only have a few building slots. This means that you’ll have to choose your buildings carefully, and this list is here to help you do just that. One note to make, however, native buildings have been excluded from the list for two reasons, they are only available to a small number of nations, and the fact that they are destroyed once Native American nations settle.


1. Marketplace ( Best for low expansion tall empires )

Marketplaces and bazaars were often places where goods and services flourished and where simple traders became merchants of renown. At least, that was how it was in ye olden days in history, but in EU4 though? Well, the story of marketplaces is not nearly as glamorous,

Marketplaces increase the total trade value of the province they're built in by 50, 100, and 125% at the cost of 100, 300, and 400 ducats for each tier respectively. First things first though, let’s talk about the good things that marketplaces do and how they can help you dominate trade.

You see, a trade node has a certain amount of money in it called trade value and, if set up correctly, you can easily rake in thousands of ducats of income from trade alone. That being said, everyone can stake a claim and slice off a bit of income from you in any given node. This is because the trade value is divided among all nations based on their trade power.

Marketplaces, to put it simply, increase your trade power, thereby increasing your slice of the total trade value in a trade node. Of course, there are other ways of increasing your trade power; developing, building trade ships, and outright conquest being the other options. However, that’s about where the good ends for marketplaces.

The fact of the matter is, unfortunately, marketplaces just aren’t worth the investment. Regular provinces, unless you develop them to insane heights like 15+ production development, for example, aren’t really going to give you a significant amount of trade power. In fact, the best places to build marketplaces are either provinces with a Center of Trade, natural estuary, Trade Company land, or even all of the above combined!

Beyond that, developing, and especially conquest is far cheaper and more beneficial in the long run. It’s not all doom and gloom though, because if you’re playing super tall and aren’t planning on expanding your empire, then marketplaces could potentially help you even in the long run. That being said, even though they’re one of only two buildings that has more than one upgrade, marketplaces simply aren’t that useful, and the increase in price for trade depots and stock exchanges makes the already mediocre building even more unappealing.

Why Marketplaces are Great:

  • Increases trade income

Build Marketplaces if you want:

  • To grab hold of a larger amount of money in valuable trade nodes


2. Temple ( Best for early income )

Places of worship have often served as a means to collect a religious tithe from the faithful, to maintain, supply, or even build new places of worship. That being said, in EU4 temples primarily serve to boost your income, rather than for any other purpose.

It should be noted, however, that temples are the first income-boosting building that you unlock as your technology progresses. There are two tiers, the first one boosts a province's tax income by 40% for 100 ducats, while the other one boosts it by 60% and gives 3% missionary strength in the province for 300. If you think that the bonuses that cathedrals give are pretty bad compared to temples, you’re not the only one.

In fact, virtually all 2nd tier buildings are massively overpriced for what they do, however, cathedrals are a particularly egregious example of this. But let’s get back to the good before the bad is continued. As I mentioned, temples boost a province's tax income by 40%, right?

Well, yes, though the calculation formula is a bit more complicated, the basic gist of the building is a straight boost to what will most likely be the highest income type of any nation at the start of the game, tax. That’s it. That’s all the good there is about temples.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the building itself is fine, but the problem with boosting tax is that it boosts tax. Rather, taxation very quickly loses the edge it has over trade and production and very quickly falls behind both of them. True, a good number of nations have boosts to tax income in their ideas, and there are quite a number of ways to increase tax, but the sad reality is that production will still quickly overtake tax in terms of raw numbers, while also scaling far better.

So, while more income is always good, the fact of the matter is that, and this is especially true in multiplayer, there are much better ways to make ducats. That being said though, cathedrals are very useful if you have a particularly difficult to convert province while also not having much missionary strength, so there is that as well.

Why Temples are Great:

  • Cheap and early increase to income

Build Temples if you want:

  • To increase your income in the early game
  • Convert certain provinces in the late game


3. Shipyard ( Best for increasing naval dominance )

No great navy was built on a sandy beach and no armada could hope to last without a safe harbor. So, even though EU4 is predominantly a land game, navies certainly have a place in the game, and building them up is far easier with shipyards.

To start with, the basic shipyard gives you 2 extra naval force limit and 25% faster ship construction and repair for 100 ducats, while the grand shipyard doubles the bonuses for triple the price. See what I meant by the next tier of buildings not being as worthwhile? Though, unlike temples, I’d argue that grand shipyards are quite good buildings, especially for naval powers or those looking to challenge them.

That being said, that’s pretty much the only thing they’re good at. Now, don’t get me wrong, having a strong navy is great and all, but as I mentioned earlier, EU4 is predominantly a land game. Even powerful naval powers like Great Britain, Japan, or Malaya if it forms, are inevitably going to have to get their hands dirty and their boots on the enemy's ground. 

So while building a vast naval empire is possible, especially if you focus on the New World or colonizing in general, the fact of the matter is that shipyards don’t really have much use outside of making larger navies, and doing it faster. And to be honest? That’s perfectly fine.

Shipyards are very much specialized buildings that do exactly what they set out to do and they do that job extremely well. So much so that, as I said, they’re almost mandatory for anyone wishing to challenge naval hegemons at sea.

Why Shipyards are Great:

  • Invaluable for any naval gameplay

Build Shipyards if you want:

  • To build a massive navy


4. Barracks ( Best for increasing manpower )

While you could argue about the usefulness of shipyards, the viability of temples, or even the point of markets, few can argue that barracks are bad buildings. On a funny side note, did you know that the plural of barracks is barracks? Well, if you didn’t, now you know.

At 100 ducats for the first tier building, the manpower of a province is increased by 50%, while the 300 ducat training field increases the manpower of a province by 100%. I’ll get this out of the way and say that there is no reason not to build barracks. I mean, the building increases your maximum manpower by a percentage, what’s not to like about it!

Let me clarify this though, the reason why the percentage bonus is so good, better than the soldier’s households manufacturies flat increase, in fact, is because it scales far better. Actually, let’s take a closer look at those two buildings. A soldier’s household costs 500 ducats, just like any other manufactory, and increases the available manpower of a province by 750 manpower, and 1500 manpower if the province has grain, fish, livestock, or wine.

Sounds pretty good right? Well, here’s the thing, regardless of anything else, a soldier’s household will never give you more manpower than what it says it will. A barracks on the other hand?

Well, let’s say a province gives you 1000 manpower. With the building, that same province will now give you 1500 manpower. Not bad, but still not as good as the soldier’s household, right?

Well, let’s say you develop that province until it gives you, say, 2000 manpower. Suddenly, that very same barracks gives you 1000 extra manpower, for no additional cost. And honestly, getting to 2000 base manpower isn’t even that hard to get to, since it’s only 8 manpower development!

And of course, the training field boosts that even more, so instead of 50% manpower, you get an extra 100%. But you know what the absolute best thing about barracks is? There’s nothing stopping you from building them alongside soldier’s households for even more manpower.

Why Barracks are Great:

  • Increases manpower

Build Barracks if you want:

  • To have all the troops


5. University ( Best for increasing province development )

Universities were places of learning that often attracted a large number of people seeking to propel their knowledge of the world to ever greater heights. Well, it’s a mystery how much you can learn in EU4’s universities, but you can certainly greatly boost your provinces with this building.

Rather, coming in at 300 ducats, you’d think that the benefits of having universities wouldn’t be that great, right? Wrong! Universities cost no build slot and give you a -20% reduction to development cost.

Wait, I hear you say, they don’t cost a building slot?! Well, yes and no, because you see, they do take up a slot, except also increase the total number of build slots in the province by one, Essentially the cost and that bonus cancel each other out, making it possible to build universities in each and every province, provided you have the money for them regardless of how much you’ve already developed the province.

That being said, the other bonus, the dev cost reduction, is the real meat and potatoes of the building. You see, development was a feature that was long locked behind a paywall, but now also exists within the base game. However, history aside, why is development so important?

Well, to put it simply, developing your land is extremely powerful, allowing you to exponentially increase the power of your provinces, and to some extent your empire. By clicking a few buttons. In fact, the current EU4 meta is the so-called “dev meta”, where players try to stack as many dev cost reduction modifiers as they possibly can in order to develop their lands as cheaply as possible.

For this reason and this reason alone, universities are considered powerful. There are few ways, after all, to get -20% dev cost in one modifier, so paying any price for this one is worth almost any cost.

Why Universities are Great:

  • Does not take a building slot and gives a substantial bonus to developing

Build Universities if you want:

  • To make megacities


6. Courthouse ( Best for expanding your empire )

Seats of government were normally used to help centralize the power of the state in a particular province. And while town halls do have a similar role in EU4, they also have another, more important one.

Rather, courthouses at 100 ducats give you -0.1 monthly autonomy change and -25% province governing cost, while town halls at 200 ducats double the bonuses. They also reduce the state maintenance cost by 25 and 50% respectively. Now, I know you might be thinking that the bonuses the buildings give aren’t really that useful, but, funnily enough, they are in a way the best bonuses for wide empires in the game.

Rather, playing wide, also known as blobbing, is a playstyle that involves conquering all land that you can, in the hopes that your expansion will help you both stay afloat and help you become too powerful to collapse. And one of the woes of playing this way is a lack of governing capacity.

Oh, true, there are ways to increase your gov cap, be it through tech, administrative ideas, national ideas, or even estates. But all of that is more or less a band-aid rather than a solution. You will, regardless of how much gov cap you get, still have a maximum cap before you start suffering penalties.

In come courthouses. Funnily enough, gov cap was received fairly well when it was implemented first in the Emperor DLC, but the reception of courthouses was rather lukewarm at best. And it wasn’t because the building itself was particularly bad, mind you.

Instead, the reason why the building wasn’t particularly liked was that it was going to essentially add even more clicks into the game. What I mean by this is, well, if you wanted to increase your income, you needed to build buildings, which required clicks. If you wanted to develop provinces, you needed to click the icons for developing.

And if you wanted to conquer land or recruit more troops? Yep, you guessed it, you needed more clicks. Eventually, though, players did accept it, and now the building proudly stands as the best building that wide players have in their arsenal, even though the original intention might have been to have this be a more tall-oriented building.

Why Courthouses are Great:

  • Allows you to conquer more land and make it efficient 

Build Courthouses if you want:

  • More governing capacity


7. Workshop ( Best for income increase )

Throughout the ages, many goods and products came out of a great many workshops around the world. There, masters applied their trade with the backing of a guild and the world produced things happily. EU4 reflects this through the fact that workshops are a fantastic source of income.

Though not the best in terms of how much money they can earn workshops still easily pull their weight. For 100 ducats the base workshop increases your province's production income by 50%, however, unlike the temple which has a somewhat convoluted formula for increasing tax income, workshops are just a flat bonus to production. The counting houses on the other hand, which are the 2nd tier workshops give you a whopping 100% extra production efficiency, though they do come with the caveat of costing 400 ducats.

Now, I know that you might be thinking that the workshops aren’t that much better than temples, considering that they are only 10% better than them, but you’d be very wrong on that account. The reason for this is simple. Workshops apply their bonus to the better development type.

Rather, production development is not just a flat income type like tax is. Oh no, in fact, besides the regular production income, which would be the equivalent of tax, it also influences goods produced. And the reason why goods produced is so good?

Well, it benefits not only production but also trade. Allowing you to potentially become the lead producer of a specific trade good, as well as almost directly increasing your trade income. Because of this, and the early tech you unlock workshops, this building is definitely an extremely good choice if you want a solid income base, though how worthwhile the tier 2 building is will vary from case to case.

Why Workshops are Great:

  • Increase income

Build Workshops if you want:

  • To maximize the profitability of your provinces


8. Fort ( Best for defense )

Castles and keeps were always used to defend land against foreign aggression, and in EU4, the job of these bastions of defense is the same.

Fortresses, simply put, are very much necessary to defend your provinces. From blocking off land access to your provinces with a few strategically placed forts to pulling your foes into disadvantageous, for them, positions where you can absolutely demolish the enemy army. Really, there are few reasons not to build forts as every tier increases their level by 2, and when placed on your capital, you even get a 9th level fort, the highest in the game.

In fact, the only places that don’t really benefit from forts are Siberia, and to a lesser extent, Russia. Not because forts are bad, mind you, but simply because those areas are so vast, both province-count wise and for travel time, that forts become more of a hindrance than a help when they fall. And really, that’s what forts do.

True, they project a zone of control that prevents enemy armies from bypassing them, a fact  the AI sometimes forgets, while also unsieging any land around them your opponent might have taken over. True as well, is the fact that forts greatly speed up the decay of devastation in surrounding provinces. But really, when you get right down to it, forts exist to slow the enemy down.

Without any modifiers, provinces take 30 days to be sieged down. With a fort though? That number goes up to at least 6 months, if not years if your siege rolls are unlucky, the fort level is high, and you don’t have a general skilled in siege.

There is a reason, after all, why players both laugh and cry when they see 99% sieges.

And if that fort was placed on a strategic mountain, with a reserve army waiting just behind it? Oh ho, any enemy foolish enough to try and occupy that land is going to have a very bad day indeed. Overall, forts are very much an amazing defensive tool that should be used as such, even if their price is somewhat prohibitive in the early game.

Why Forts are Great:

  • Defend your land
  • Creates a zone of control around it

Build Forts if you want:

  • To build a wall and make your enemies pay for it


9. Manufactury ( Best for exponential income growth )

Once the process of manufacturing goods was discovered and codified, production as we know it today truly began to take shape. The making of goods was completely revolutionized and we finally started to enter the modern era. The same can very much be said in EU4 as well.

Manufacturies are bar none, the single best way to increase your income. In fact, the reason why they’re so good can be explained by what they increase. Rather, once built, manufacturies of all kinds increase the goods produced in a province by 1.

Sounds kind of anti-climactic, right? Well, here’s the thing though, 1 goods produced pretty much equates to 5 production development. And if you recall what I said when I talked about workshops, that goods produced modifier is incredibly important.

In fact, once built, a manufactory will actually increase the production income you have in the province, though that mainly stems from the goods produced. Goods produced modifier will also increase the trade value of the node the province is in, which in turn, also increases your trade income as well. And as you may recall, the more of something you produce, the easier it would be to become the leading producer of that thing and once you are, you get an extra bonus.

Now, it should be noted that new manufacturies are unlocked every now and again for different types of goods. The early ones especially aren’t really worth building since they impact foodstuffs which would benefit more from soldier’s households. That being said, even if you eschew from the extra manpower you could get from soldier’s households, the economic benefit is still very much there.

Their only real flaw is that they’re a bit pricey, but, on the flip side, any construction cost reduction modifiers will impact them five times as much as, say, a workshop or barracks, while still giving the same bonus they would have normally. Overall, regardless of their price, manufactories are honestly must-have buildings, regardless if you’re playing tall or wide, just because their economic benefits are so good.

Why Manufacturies are Great:

  • They greatly increase income

Build Manufacturies if you want:

  • To not have to worry about money ever again


10. Furnace ( Best for exponential income growth )

The use of coal as an energy source greatly accelerated the development of humanity and ushered us into the Industrial Revolution. In EU4 though coal, on which furnaces can be built, has a somewhat similar role.

At first glance though, furnaces don’t seem that great since they are unlocked at administrative technology level 21, and you can only build them once the Enlightenment institution has spawned in 1700. and you have to have it embraced and spread throughout your empire. The reason for this is you can only build furnaces on the extremely valuable coal provinces, but honestly? That little restriction pales in comparison to what furnaces offer.

Once built, each furnace will increase your global goods produced by 5%. That is insanely powerful.

So far, no matter the building type, or the effect each building had, they were all limited to the province the building was located. Even marketplaces, which were only useful in fringe cases where you weren’t planning on expanding somewhere but still needed some extra trade power didn’t really affect anything more than the province they were being built on. But not furnaces, no.

Imagine, for a moment, that you have a globe-spanning empire, which, given how late the institution spawns, is likely to be the case. Now, let’s say you build one furnace in a coal province in, say France, or Britain. Not only would the province you built the furnace benefit from that building, but each and every corner of your empire will, regardless of how far-flung it is, be it in Europe or any other continent.

And remember how powerful goods produced modifiers are? That’s right, not only will you increase the production of all of your provinces, but you will also directly increase your trade income as a result of building one single building. Now imagine you had multiple coal provinces.

Sufficed to say, despite how late furnaces come into play, they will always be a must-build building, just because they’re so powerful.

Why Furnaces are Great:

  • Exponentially increase income

Build Furnaces if you want:

  • To earn all the money

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Be it heroic or gritty face-to-face battles or a general's war table, I've seen it all. No bullet was left uncounted in my wake, nor was any soldier left behind (well, mostly anyways).
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Europa Universalis 4
Top 3 Favorite Games:Europa Universalis IV, Metro Redux, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition

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