[Top 10] Europa Universalis IV Best Starting Nations To Play

Europa Universalis IV Best Starting Nations To Play
The main proponents of the Age of Exploration, the various soliders of the eras.

Europa Univeralis IV can be quite a daunting game. When one loads it up, there will be so many different nations that you could play that it could easily overwhelm the player. While the game does recommend a list of countries itself, this list is a means to present an alternative opinion from actual players of the game on what the best starting nations are. 


10. Muscovy

Muscovy is an interesting nation on the fringes of Europe.  It was the strongest of the Russian states at the time, and it would eventually unite the lands to form the Russian Empire.  It would go on to become one of the world's major powers, with a massive standing army and a massive population. 

While Muscovy starts out surrounded by many large nations that are either the same size or larger than it, it is arguably the strongest in the area due to the large number of subjects it has, and more developed provinces than its neighbors. This will allow you to easily conquer and consolidate yourself, launching you on the path to great power status.Though managing such a huge country can be stressful for some newer players, which is why it doesn’t get a higher spot on this list.

Why Muscovy is great for starting out:

  • A strong mission tree that will guide the player towards success and forming Russia.
  • Some potentially challenging, but still easily winnable wars early game, followed by relatively smooth sailing later on. 
  • Amazing bonuses towards having an enormous army and a huge country that puts every other country in the game to shame.

Choose Muscovy if:    

  • You enjoy conquering huge swathes of land.
  • You are a deep fan of Russian history.
  • You enjoy going into the thick of it and learning the war mechanics in depth.


9. Denmark

Denmark starts in the cold fringes of Scandinavia, with the other nations of Norway and Sweden under its heel in a personal union known as the Kalmar Union. Of course, Denmark ultimately failed to unite Scandinavia under itself in the end. But that does not mean that a shrewd player can’t succeed where real life Denmark failed.

Sweden and Norway are initially loyal to their overlord, and will happily serve you until certain events might cause Sweden to turn rebellious. While they are loyal, they are very capable and will be huge helpers in early wars. Of course, expansion is rather difficult for you early on as you are surrounded by powerful states in Russia, England, and the Holy Roman Empire. Though you are in a good position to expand and colonize thanks to Norway’s control of Iceland. 

Why Denmark is great for starting out:

  • A fun, new mission tree from the latest DLC that gives a good guide on the direction the player should take, along with plenty of flavor events.
  • A relatively isolated position with two strong nations serving you to keep you quite safe and secure.
  • A good location for easy colonization of North America.

Choose Denmark if:    

  • You enjoy a relatively relaxed game that could be made intense as you please.
  • You are a deep fan of Scandinavian history.
  • You enjoy a bit of a challenge when trying to expand.


8. Ming

Ming China is the most powerful nation at the start of the game, and will oftentimes be able to maintain this position throughout the entirety of the game. The Ming was one of China's greatest dynasties, but it eventually fell victim to an external invasion by Manchu tribes.

It has a huge income, high development, and a great potential for even more of both. Surrounded by far weaker nations into which it could easily expand.Why is it so high on this list, then? Because of the disaster it gets, the ‘Crisis of the Ming Dynasty’ after the Age of Exploration. A new player could easily have their game ended here as this disaster happens. And the unguarded Nomadic Frontier disaster could also take a new player by surprise. 

Why Ming is great for starting out:

  • An immense amount of money and power to start with that far exceeds anyone near you.
  • Great expansion potential into rich lands held by weak nations.
  • Good colonization potential in the Pacific, Australia, and the western side of the Americas.

Choose Ming if:    

  • You enjoy being the biggest dog around.
  • You are a deep fan of Chinese history.
  • You enjoy a potential midgame shakeup.


7. Brandenburg

While it may have been obscure for much of the time period of Europa Universalis IV, it would come in with a huge impact near the end of the play period in the form of Prussia. Prussia would then go on to form modern day Germany, and become world power. 

Brandenburg is in a very interesting position as one of the largest nations within the Holy Roman Empire. Being within the HRE does dramatically slow your conquests, as if you expand too quickly, other nations will surely form a coalition against you and cut you back down to size. However, once you form Prussia, you become a monster of a nation with some of the best troops in the game. 

Why Brandenburg is great for starting out:

  • Starting small allows a player to get a grip on everything, and the slow, methodical expansion to avoid coalitions helps patience.
  • Relative safety due to being in the Holy Roman Empire, and being one of the largest nations within the HRE
  • Great potential for a long playthrough by becoming Prussia, and then eventually Germany. 

Choose Brandenburg if:    

  • You enjoy having high quality soldiers.
  • You are a deep fan of German history.
  • You enjoy a slow, methodical gameplay style.


6. Poland

Poland is the premier power of Central Europe, and historically led a powerful state until it was partitioned by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in the late 18th century.. The player, however, can take it down a far different path than history has established for it.

Poland appears to be in a very awkward position in Europe. Between huge nations like Russia, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Ottomans, it could easily appear to be more challenging than it actually is. Poland gains a personal union with Lithuania early in the game, and Lithuania is a powerhouse capable of carrying several wars for you on its own.  And once you’ve unified with Lithuania, you’ll be an enormous state that few can stand up to.

Why Poland is great for starting out:

  • Their union with Lithuania will help carry them through the early game so that a player can relax and have some cushion incase they struggle on their own.
  • A good few easy wars at the start will teach the player the war system and allow them to expand easily.
  •  A mission tree that lets you gather a horde of powerful personal unions

Choose Poland if:    

  • You like having many nations under your belt as subjects.
  • You are a deep fan of Polish history.
  • You like having many potential rivals in your area for intense warfare.


5.  Portugal

Portugal was one of the two major, Iberian colonizers in the Age of Exploration, where it primarily focused on colonizing the east, with the notable exception of Brazil. It ruled the spice trade and sea lanes from the East Indies to Europe, all the way until it began to be challenged by the Dutch and English, and ultimately ceased to be a power.

A player, of course, can take Portugal to even greater heights, and avoid the disaster that befell it. It is in a very safe position with its ability to ally with Castile and starting allied to England already. Two major allies to keep it safe in Europe let Portugal easily put its focus on colonizing. One could take either the historic route and focus on Africa and Asia, or focus heavily on the Americas and claim the New World for themselves. A very safe and very easy game.

Why Portugal is great for starting out:

  • Their ability to ally with both England and Castile leaves them with no real rivals in the early game that can challenge them, allowing them to be completely safe.
  • A strong location for colonizing, allowing you to reach the New World and Asia before any other European nation could. 
  • Strong mechanics and bonuses allow them to colonize quickly and extensively.

Choose Portugal if:    

  • A simple and fun mission tree that will take you throughout the world in your conquests.
  • You are a deep fan of Portuguese history
  • You want a relaxing game while you simply colonize the world in safety.


4. England

What needs to be said about England? The sun never set on the British Empire, and the only thing that would bring it down were the world wars. A new player could easily lead it back to those heights and even greater ones.

England is a very easy country to play, as it is simply incredibly safe. You start with the largest fleet in the Atlantic while living on an island. If you simply abandon your mainland holdings, then no one could touch you. Your companions in the British Isles, Scotland and Ireland, are all weak and easily conquered. From there, it is smooth sailing to great riches due to your position.

Why England is great for starting out:

  • The fact that England is on an island means that if some simply has a powerful navy, then they can’t be touched by any other nation. And with all of their bonuses, a powerful navy is extremely easy to achieve.
  • A strong location in an ‘end node’ allows one to easily monopolize trade and earn insane sums of money.
  • Easy conquests in the British isles to learn how to fight wars.

Choose England if:    

  • An extensive mission tree leading you on immense conquests around the globe, and some even in Europe still.
  • You are a deep fan of English/British history
  • You want a relaxing game while you simply colonize the world in safety.


3. France

France could be argued to have been the most powerful European nation for the majority of the time period depicted in Europa Universalis IV.France reached its peak near the end of the time period under Napoleon Bonaparte, when nearly the entirety of Europe bowed to the whims of one man. 

France is the envy of its neighbors. A huge number of vassals to support its already huge and powerful armies in war. Expect only the Ottomans to have an army that can match yours in Europe. The world really is your oyster, as you have some of the most developed lands in Europe, and easy access to even more for conquest. All you need to do is watch out for a coalition.

Why France is great for starting out:

  • A huge development with easy conquests and a vassal swarm. France is unparalleled in Europe.
  • A unique position that allows it to conquer Europe or or go out and colonize the world. Or both with how much money it has.
  • A lot of content for a player to enjoy as this country.

Choose France if:    

  • An extensive mission tree leading you on immense conquests of the lands around you, and colonization.
  • You are a deep fan of French history
  • You want to be the leading power in Europe and lead its destiny.


2. The Ottomans

The Ottomans are relative newcomers to Europe, having defeated the other Turkish states and even Byzantium, the remnants of the old Roman Empire. They are poised to finish the job against Byzantium, and their only rivals in the region are still far weaker than they are. 

As the Ottomans, you are presented with a plethora of weak nations around for them to conquer and build themselves off of. The Ottomans have stronger troops than their neighbors and more of them. Other than France or the Ming, there is no single nation that can stand up to you in the early game. And once the late game hits, usually only Spain is added to the list of potential threats. And if one starts to gather a coalition, they can simply move in the other direction. Are the Europeans getting angry? Conquer in Asia or Africa instead.

Why the Ottomans are great for starting out:

  • A very easy start with many weak nations to conquer and build off of, in addition to an already impressive amount of held land. 
  • The ability to move in two directions, often simultaneously. If one direction is ever cut off, then the other is likely still open. The Ottomans will never be boxed in or cut off.
  • An extensive amount of content for a player to enjoy as this nation.

Choose the Ottomans if:    

  • You want to conquer a huge amount of land and paint the map in your color.
  • You are a deep fan of Turkish or Arab history.
  • You want to become quite possibly the most powerful nation in the world.


1. Castile

During this time, Spain rose to become the world's most powerful nation.From becoming the most successful colonial power in the world by taking a huge portion of the New World to becoming the Holy Roman Emperor and controlling huge portions of Europe. Castile is a nation that a player can easily prosper and grow on.

Castile might be an overlooked country, but it is number one on this list for a reason. You are in Iberia, which is extremely safe from the outside. While France might be a scary neighbor, you are able to use your mountains to keep them out of your land and avoid any unwanted entanglement. You can get Aragon for free with the Iberian wedding and have easy conquests in Granada and North Africa. And in Portugal too, if you decide Iberia should have only a single nation living on it. And if you really want, that powerbase of yours can easily be turned into a conquest of Europe.

Why Castile is great for starting out:

  • A very safe and prosperous location for one to enjoy.
  • The ability to both colonize the Americas and Asia, but also conquer Africa and further into Europe. 
  • A full DLC, mission tree, and mechanics dedicated to this nation. 

Choose Castile if:    

  • You enjoy a game filled with diverse challenges and growth opportunities.
  • You are a deep fan of Spanish history
  • You want to conquer the whole world.

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From the icy fields of northern Michigan to the scorching deserts of central Texas, David has adapted mastered the elements. Though he has a weakness to four legged, furry creatures.
Gamer Since: 2004
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Planetside 2, Crusader Kings III
Top 3 Favorite Games:Europa Universalis IV, SMITE, Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

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