"Europa Universalis IV is The Best Genocide Simulator of The Year"
September 7, 2014 10:31 PM   Subscribe

When you finally get a ship over to North America, you’ll notice that things look a little different. Europe is crammed cheek to jowl with minor duchies and single-province powers, at least in the early game. There is no square inch of territory unaccounted for. But when you get to the Americas, you’ll see a lot of “empty” territory. The provinces and territories that are not claimed by any power or nation can be colonized.
April Daniels was thoroughly enjoying the ruthless imperialistic stylings of Europa Universalis IV, until the game took her out of Europe and into a somewhat problematic implementation of colonialism.
posted by MartinWisse (89 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wait till she sees that in Victoria there is SLAVERY, or tries to play as an Asian states during Sengoku Jidai.
posted by Faux Real at 10:40 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Are there implementations of colonialism that aren't problematic?
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 PM on September 7, 2014 [21 favorites]


Also dammit this game sounds SO FUN and now I have to decide between my principles and the pesky dopamine buttons in my brain so grrrrrrrr to that.
posted by Sara C. at 10:51 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I hear about a "problematic" implementation of colonialism in a historical game, my first guess is that the problem is a serious lack of accuracy, or a game-breaking bug or something. A "problematic" game is not "any game that offends me with its subject matter."
posted by Rangi at 10:52 PM on September 7, 2014 [32 favorites]


I've always wanted to play, especially as someone who is native, the reverse of this game.

As in, you start out around that same time in north america and get to pick a region and tribe to start as. You can become a great chief, and form lots of alliances and build up a huge amount of territory to control. Then the white people show up and you have to battle them.

My ideal version of this would let you go fully red dawn and capture the colonists ships as they arrived, and eventually go launch an assault on their colonies elsewhere, and eventually mainland europe.

The tagline could be something like "Canadians burned down the white house. but they weren't from Britain..."
posted by emptythought at 10:54 PM on September 7, 2014 [90 favorites]


Part of what seems to be offending the reviewer is just how colonialism operated:

Trade, in Europa Universalis IV, is a one-way prospect. A province creates trade power, and that trade power is pushed up along a linear path, where it is eventually collected either at your capital or by a merchant you’ve sent to collect it.

There is no way for trade to flow “backwards,” which means it is impossible for cultures at the “upstream” end of a trade network to benefit from it. In this game, trade is only for extracting wealth from places that aren’t Europe. I haven’t played much with trying to colonize Africa. Not after I saw one of the provinces had as its trade good “slaves” with a picture of a big iron ball and chain.


But the bigger problem seems to be a lack of information within the game about the political complexity of the rest of the world. Europe is represented in granular detail, but New World is not. Europeans of the time could be excused for not understanding that, but there isn't much excuse for a game maker today to ignore that complexity.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:58 PM on September 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure there's a great way to handle colonialism, in a game, period, at least not from the side of the colonizers. But I can say with some certainty that this is worse. Like, whichever Age of Empires it was, I wasn't ever really thrilled with it, but at least the native population had some cultural variety (i.e., different stats) and you were being encouraged to team up with them. Ignoring the whole slaughter part was a problem. This... is a different order of magnitude.

Rangi, "problematic" in terms of things like racism and historical depictions of genocide does not mean what you think it means. A problematic game--or a problematic TV show episode, or anything else--is one which is depicting its subject matter in such a way that it is endorsing racism, sexism, etc. The fact that it is problematic does not mean that tons of people who are not racists/misogynists/etc won't enjoy it. Many of us who are deeply concerned about problematic games still play those games and enjoy doing so. See aforementioned AoE, even if it's been awhile.

Lumping every single native group into the heading of "Natives" with a seriously stereotyped image and distilling the entire mechanic down to "you need to beat them down in order to take as much land as possible" is not just a bit iffy, it's awful. Still plenty of decent people who'll like the game for other reasons, but that doesn't mean you can't think critically about it.
posted by Sequence at 10:58 PM on September 7, 2014 [14 favorites]


It would actually be really cool to have a NEW WORLD UNIVERSALIS iteration of the game where you can pick which of a bunch of different Native American cultures to play as, jockey for dominance, and ultimately colonize Europe. I mean, if in the Europa game, Spain has a chance to hang on to the Netherlands, despite actual history, there's no reason not to create a much more interesting game where the Choctaw eventually colonize France.
posted by Sara C. at 11:01 PM on September 7, 2014 [18 favorites]


My ideal version of this would let you go fully red dawn and capture the colonists ships as they arrived, and eventually go launch an assault on their colonies elsewhere, and eventually mainland europe.

Knowing EU players, someone is bound to have done a successful Native American world conquest game. Probably starting from conquering China as a source of cannon fodder.
posted by daniel_charms at 11:03 PM on September 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


On one hand, I'm glad that this reviewer is taking the game's content and implementation and putting it in a political context, instead of hiving it off into abstract gamerland.

But if we're going to do that, then we also have to have the (well-worn but still important) conversation about what the word genocide means and when it applies. Especially if she's going to throw in lines like "Yes, white Americans, you ARE the beneficiaries of genocide. Get used to it."
posted by bicyclefish at 11:03 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


It seems a little disingenuous to act surprised when a game titled "Europa Universalis" turns out to be Europe-centric though.

Like others I'm not sure that (for those who view this implementation poorly) making a more fleshed out implementation where you actually go in and murderize everyone and watch smallpox spread around and empty out the land for you to colonize and so forth would be viewed in a better fashion.

The period of colonization is problematic no matter what you do. Those really problematic aspects are generally elided in exactly the same way (for better or for worse) that Nazi and Soviet and Japanese (and American and British when they did happen) atrocities are elided in World War II games. When you are playing Panzer General you don't see the slave labor sending your ammo to you.
posted by Justinian at 11:03 PM on September 7, 2014 [13 favorites]


As in, you start out around that same time in north america and get to pick a region and tribe to start as. You can become a great chief, and form lots of alliances and build up a huge amount of territory to control. Then the white people show up and you have to battle them.

My ideal version of this would let you go fully red dawn and capture the colonists ships as they arrived, and eventually go launch an assault on their colonies elsewhere, and eventually mainland europe.


This was one of the best parts about Civilization II for me back when I was in high school. You could change the whole of history, as any culture.
posted by AdamCSnider at 11:04 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


My ideal version of this would let you go fully red dawn and capture the colonists ships as they arrived, and eventually go launch an assault on their colonies elsewhere, and eventually mainland europe.

Any truly realistic implementation of this would have to involve making contact with humans who carry diseases which your people have absolutely zero immunity to, and thus having the majority of your people wiped out without any warlike engagement with "the enemy" at all, and then having to defend your lands with such greatly reduced numbers that you basically have zero chance to succeed.

Estimates are that anywhere from 50% to 90% of indigenous Americans were killed through disease starting with the arrivals of the first Conquistadors through to the expansion of the English colonies. The land seemed empty because the disease had raced well ahead of actual tribal contact with the newcomers.
posted by hippybear at 11:06 PM on September 7, 2014 [25 favorites]


Have there been any better implementations of the colonization of the Americas in video games? I'm trying to think of some and failing. Certainly Seven Cities of Gold would win RACISM OF THE YEAR AWARD nowadays. Colonization... let's not even talk about that one. Its sequel isn't much better. (I mean in terms of problematic portrayals not in terms of fun. Seven Cities and the original Colonization were damn fun.)
posted by Justinian at 11:06 PM on September 7, 2014


Any truly realistic implementation of this would have to involve making contact with humans who carry diseases which your people have absolutely zero immunity to, and thus having the majority of your people wiped out without any warlike engagement with "the enemy" at all, and then having to defend your lands with such greatly reduced numbers that you basically have zero chance to succeed.

Two responses to this:

1. In the actual Europa Universalis game that really exists, you can do all sorts of things that go against how history actually happened. No reason that, in your particular iteration of the game, the immunology of first contact has to go down the same way it did in actual history.

2. Syphilis is most likely New World in origin. So just fuck the white people to death.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 PM on September 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I read the comments on the article's page. Looks like you can totally survive as the Aztec's at least.
posted by squinty at 11:12 PM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you're cool with mentally inhabiting a middle ages dictator, crushing your miserable peasant armies to dust against each other to further your goals, why is it such a negative surprise when the presentation of the new world is in keeping with how such a dictator would see it?
The societies of the pre-colonization new world, fascinating as they are, are not what this game is about. One that does them justice would be interesting, but wouldn't be Europa Universalis.
posted by tiaz at 11:13 PM on September 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ah, on posting, I didn't realize they were playable factions. That's, uh, different - then I'd like them to get a different view (eg. your own units don't have a 'ferocity' rating)
posted by tiaz at 11:15 PM on September 7, 2014


I think she may have been playing an earlier version of the game. As it stands now, the game is constantly being revised to better represent the entire world. Just looking at the overhauls they have coming for western Africa and India gives me great hope for the development of the game.

EU has always been considered Eurocentric, and it's one thing they've been constantly amending throughout the series. Take a look at EU3 before the expansions. Very simple Europe> Rest of the World outlook. As they tacked on expansions they made Japan super exciting to play, they made Ming China more accurate and dynamic, they made Steppe Hordes super fun and challenging, and much much more.

In EU4, their first expansion was half a giant overhaul of North American natives. You really can (with a good deal grit and luck) capture colonies and burn them to the ground. You can fend off europeans and claim North America for the natives. It's even encouraged! There's an steam achievement called "No Trail of Tears" that requires you to play as the Cherokee and keep all europeans off the continental U.S. Another one requires you play as the Aztec and hold Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and London.

Yes, the overall colonization system is still somewhat problematic. But it's meant to represent the encroachment of nation states over those who held to local tribalism as a political structure. And honestly, if you think EU4 gives you the heebie jeebies over colonialism, play Victoria 2 Heart of Darkness, win the scramble for africa, and try to look yourself in the mirror afterward. Not easy.
posted by Philipschall at 11:22 PM on September 7, 2014 [18 favorites]




For those wanting a reverse-colonialism situation, there is an official expansion pack for Crusader Kings 2 (the previous game chronologically) that does exactly that-- Sunset Invasion. Halfway through the game, immensely powerful Aztec forces will invade Europe and pretty much sweep the board if you're not prepared. They even bring plague!
posted by sonmi at 11:26 PM on September 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


What I think was the crux of her argument was this paragraph:
Everyone knows that religious wars and inquisitions and violently repressing your own people is wrong. But not everybody agrees that colonizing other nations is wrong, and that makes all the difference. It’s like how in Grand Theft Auto players can have a grand old time perpetrating mass murder on the streets of Liberty City, but many would have problems with a rape mini-game. We all agree murder is wrong, but rape is something people make excuses for.
Which encapsulates for me exactly why some kinds of horrific evil behaviour are not a problem to have in a game while others are.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:46 PM on September 7, 2014 [22 favorites]


There's also Conquest of the New World, which allowed for playing as either a European power or a generic Native nation.
posted by kagredon at 11:47 PM on September 7, 2014


I'm not sure I can get on board the "We all agree murder is wrong" train. I wish that were true but the evidence of the last 15 years is overwhelmingly against it.
posted by Justinian at 11:50 PM on September 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think a good way to look at that point would be: How should a video game dealing with WWII address the atomic bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki? I don't think you would find as much consensus as the quote would suggest.
posted by Justinian at 11:52 PM on September 7, 2014


Sorry for 3 in a row but since she refers specifically to the GTA series I suppose she's narrowly addressing the one-on-one sort of "clubbing them with your tire iron" kind of murder rather than the state-sanctioned kind, so I guess I agree after all.

Wargames are a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
posted by Justinian at 12:09 AM on September 8, 2014


Haven't played it, but the first official DLC supposedly adds detail and new mechanics to the pre colonisation New World. Conquest of Paradise, it's called.
posted by surlyben at 12:18 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows that religious wars and inquisitions and violently repressing your own people is wrong.

There are several religions and countries that host those religions that would beg to differ. (oh, shit, I didn't mean to leave out secular China - sorry guys!)
posted by el io at 12:20 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Boy, I sure miss the days when games were just games, and could be approached as such. This whole "Is it real? Or is it just fantasy?" must be doing all your heads in.
posted by turbid dahlia at 12:38 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


My suspicion is one reason EU4 doesn't start the map with fully expanded nations in the Americas is that once the entire world becomes settled, the game starts to become slower and slower. As colonies develop and expand, the game slowly becomes so slow that it's boring. They simulate an incredible amount of detail for each province and if you started out with everything on the same level, it would develop faster and you'd run into these performance problems sooner. Civ behaves similarly towards the end game.

I honestly think Paradox would prefer to at least attempt to fairly apportion all of the land throughout the map to the relevant political entities if it was feasible for them to do so given their performance constraints.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:40 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Damn, wait'll she plays Defcon.

Maybe there can be a mod or a version of the game that meticulously details the Americas, or Africa, but when those cultures get around to colonizing Europe there are just general groups like Celts, Germans and Vikings. I would play that game.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:44 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


This whole "Is it real? Or is it just fantasy?" must be doing all your heads in.

Caught in a landslide, there's no escape from reality.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:08 AM on September 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


Somewhere on Tumblr, there is concept art for a game in which coastal Native Americans wake up one morning to find that great sailing ships have arrived in the night from a distant land.

Only the sails are tattered, the masts are splintered, and there is not a soul alive aboard them. Because the passengers, killed by thirst and disease on the voyage, are now zombies.

And the character designs were basically Native Americans in their zombie-killin' gear (one of them had her baby swaddled on her back, AND ALSO A GIANT AXE), and the zombie colonists.

I want this to be a real thing so badly I have no words for it. SO BADLY.
posted by nonasuch at 1:35 AM on September 8, 2014 [54 favorites]


I would play that game.
posted by arcticseal at 2:10 AM on September 8, 2014


native americans vs. zombie colonists

I agree, this looks awesome!

P.S. "Long distance attack utilised by getting the baby to hand over the throwing hatchet."
posted by narain at 2:17 AM on September 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


I want this to be a real thing so badly I have no words for it. SO BADLY.

It's a bit far away time-scale wise, but the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare has some pretty entertaining zombie/historical America juxtapositions, including some back story with Aztec curses (apparently), which you may find entertaining, if you like that sort of thing. I've played a bit through it and enjoyed it.
posted by dubitable at 3:22 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, granted, it's no way as cool as the non-existent game you and narain are talking about though, which I would also love to play, especially after seeing that concept art. Kickass!
posted by dubitable at 3:24 AM on September 8, 2014


For those wanting a reverse-colonialism situation, there is an official expansion pack for Crusader Kings 2 (the previous game chronologically) that does exactly that-- Sunset Invasion. Halfway through the game, immensely powerful Aztec forces will invade Europe and pretty much sweep the board if you're not prepared. They even bring plague!

And if you convert a save-game from CK2 with Sunset Invasion turned on into an EU4 start, you can play as western tech-level aztecs.
posted by gregjones at 4:05 AM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sometimes the goal of game designers is to make accurate simulations of some aspects of reality within the confines of game mechanics. These games by necessity simplify the reality greatly, but try to keep some facets true to it. If the goal is to make game about building empires in this mold, it should include things that real empires did to become empires. In theory, it should even be possible to approximate the broad strokes of real historical developments with suitable game settings to show that the game is in some ways based on what we know of history.

Can this be done without including horrible things in the game? Is it dishonest to omit or gloss over them, or is it worse to have them and find that to do well as an empire builder you can sometimes gain advantage in the game from committing them?

To put this in other words with a specific example, if you make a game where there is a possibility to engage in slave trade, you need to come up with some mechanics that define the results of these actions in the game. This leads players to working out the advantages and disadvantages of these actions in terms of doing well in the game. Can games let you to make moral choices and allow you to benefit in some form if you make reprehensible choices? What even are moral choices to make, if you are playing a would-be empire?

I can see someone making the argument that games can only deal with morality and moral choices if the role you are playing is somehow relatable to a person. However, I am not going to consider this idea now, but proceed assuming that sometimes games are very much about choices and seeing their results play out, and it's possible to meaningfully think about the moral aspects.

It makes no sense to me to prevent the players from making choices about elements that are important to the game, if the player's role would allow these choices. I can see some games being about characters with a moral code who would never do certain things their opponents do (and thus not having game mechanics for doing them), but how can an empire building game be about a good empire which never commits any atrocities? How many of these were there in world history? I feel you should completely omit things on game mechanic level that are too horrible to ever allow the player to engage in, but applying this thinking to slavery, genocide and colonialism then leads me to the conclusion that some kinds of historical verisimilitude are not at all possible in games.

I'm not quite happy with the idea that games could never deal with some topics that other forms of fiction can explore thoughfully. To explore the rise and fall of empires well in a game, applying the standards of established forms of fiction, would probably require kinds of game design and mechanics we don't yet know how to do or are not used to seeing done in games. Many games I have played seem to have been focused on winning in various predetermined ways and completing set achievements, but there is no reason in my mind to not trust players to find their own ways of playing and interpreting games if the games are flexible and well designed. I can imagine one way of a game working as literature coming from it allowing and encouraging the player to consider the decisions they make and their results on multiple levels.

It's a very important criticism to voice that a game has objectionable content, and sometimes the response can consider the possibility that this content can be and should be presented better, when its inclusion fits a particular game. I guess the first thing we need is more gamers and game designers who can actually respond to this kind of criticism in a reasonable way.

Sometimes game designers do not give much importance to simulating reality, and that is a reasonable choice. Many great games have their own worlds with their own rules.
posted by tykky at 4:30 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


*waits impatiently for Civilization Beyond Earth*
posted by Fizz at 5:25 AM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


For those wanting a reverse-colonialism situation

Of course, the problem with playing a game where you or the game are imagining the violent flow of colonialism with the roles reversed, you are still playing a colonialist. Which is maybe less problematic than just repeating history blindly, but it still has its issues.

I think you could build an interesting game out of the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Southern New England at the time had a lot of actually empty land due to devastation brought about by European disease, although by the early 17th C, indigenous populations were rebounding, so Pilgrims could not simply roll over everyone. Additionally, they were a somewhat welcome arrival for the Wampanoag, who badly needed allies to resist the expansionist Narraganset. The 50 years between the landing at Plymouth and the end of King Phillip's War has a bunch of events driven by both colonist and indigenous interests where each side historically made good and bad decisions for good and bad reasons, and, ultimately, real world history wrecked both Plymouth Colony and the southern New England native Americans (Plymouth suffered less, since they were white Europeans, but their dream of a dissenting colony was doomed by the war; it took them until about 1730 to recover to their 1670 strength, by which time they had been utterly overshadowed by Boston and it's more conventional political aspirations).

So you could have a game where you play either as Plymouth Colony or the Wampanoag, make various interesting decisions with lasting effects, trying to navigate between various potential disasters and see if you could build a better New England history.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:29 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you're going to release an "accurate" historical simulator/strategy of, say, WWII, at some point not including a holocaust simulator becomes unrealistic.

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed


Man is nature, and capable of atrocity.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:32 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, if this lady thinks this game is problematic, wait til she plays Cannibal Death Squad 3!!!

pls fav & RT
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:33 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


For the example of "Well, game 'X' is much worse." -- It seems to be implying that 'game Y is okay, because game X is worse'. At least, that's what I'm reading into that. But I can't agree. A game can still have problematic aspects even if there are many other games that do things so much worse (and, for that matter, if there are many things this game does very well, alongside its problematic things).
posted by Mogur at 5:44 AM on September 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Part of what seems to be offending the reviewer is just how colonialism operated:

Trade, in Europa Universalis IV, is a one-way prospect. A province creates trade power, and that trade power is pushed up along a linear path, where it is eventually collected either at your capital or by a merchant you’ve sent to collect it. There is no way for trade to flow “backwards,” which means it is impossible for cultures at the “upstream” end of a trade network to benefit from it. In this game, trade is only for extracting wealth from places that aren’t Europe. "


Yes, I kind-of want to go xerox the pages on Mercantilism from my old history textbook.

But now I want to play a game of age of exploration/first contact societies, where you get to turn on and off various diseases -- syphilis, smallpox, plague, yellow fever, measles, etc. -- and see how first contact with the Americas goes if there's no smallpox. Or if contact with Africans inevitably kills Europeans from yellow fever.

(Obviously in the hardest game setting you would have to colonize and depopulate Madagascar but they'd have already closed their ports.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:46 AM on September 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Mogur is of course entirely correct that we can't justify some things by pointing to other, worse things, but I still want to point out that pinnacle of the absolutely absolute worst, which is the game Custer's Revenge.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:50 AM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


In fifth grade we played a game called "Discovery 3" or some such. My team realized pretty quick that land was both the most valuable and the cheapest resource. Everybody else was killing horses and buying guns and attacking people and every turn we just "took" a new square of land and won a pizza party doing that.

Is there a word for dark parable?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 5:51 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


No reason that, in your particular iteration of the game, the immunology of first contact has to go down the same way it did in actual history.

Since most epidemic dieseases come from domesticated animals that New World peoples didn't have access to, you'd have to rewrite the entire history of civilization, not just the Age of Discovery. Not saying you can't do it, but the immunology flow wasn't arbitrary.
posted by spaltavian at 6:02 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


The last two lines of this piece are surreal as hell:

Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be over here, attempting to unify the Holy Roman Empire into the modern state of Germany. And not doing any colonization.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:03 AM on September 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


For the example of "Well, game 'X' is much worse." -- It seems to be implying that 'game Y is okay, because game X is worse'. At least, that's what I'm reading into that. But I can't agree. A game can still have problematic aspects even if there are many other games that do things so much worse (and, for that matter, if there are many things this game does very well, alongside its problematic things).

My comment above was a joke about a particular genre of thoughtless, content-free comment, and I agree with Mogur here. Swingandamiss.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:44 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


This reviewer is going to have some angina when they play Alpha Centauri as a non-ecology faction.
posted by mrdaneri at 6:48 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Since most epidemic dieseases come from domesticated animals that New World peoples didn't have access to, you'd have to rewrite the entire history of civilization, not just the Age of Discovery.

The obvious retcon is that contact with occasional Norse, washed-up fishermen, and the like led to the plagues and die-off happening in like 1200, so by the time the game starts in 1400 populations have rebounded and the population is about as immune as a European population.

This reviewer is going to have some angina when they play Alpha Centauri as a non-ecology faction.

There are options other than Academician Prokhor Zakharov? Huh.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:50 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


As the Feminist Frequency always says...

remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play my fav Colonialism Sim, Settlers of Catan.
posted by tybeet at 6:57 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Since most epidemic dieseases come from domesticated animals that New World peoples didn't have access to

On the other hand, European to Native American wasn't the only direction disease traveled in, and there's no particular reason that the Europeans had to show up with a disease as virulent as smallpox.

Erasing genocide against American indigenous peoples with the "inevitability" of disease also ignores a lot of the very real moments in history where things could potentially have gone either way. There were many, many chances for European colonies to fail. There were also several wars where indigenous forces came close to having the upper hand. Later on, there were many decisions made by whites in power that facilitated genocide against Native Americans.

I think there is, to a degree, an element of racism, or at least Eurocentrism, to the way we understand the mainstream colonial narrative. Because, no, it's not really inevitable that we ended up with the situation that exists today. And considering the number of video games that feature zombies -- a mythical creature that has never really existed -- it's sad that a theoretical video game that gives indigenous people agency is dismissed as unrealistic.
posted by Sara C. at 6:59 AM on September 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


There are options other than Academician Prokhor Zakharov? Huh.

That's a nerve stapl'n.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


On the other hand, European to Native American wasn't the only direction disease traveled in, and there's no particular reason that the Europeans had to show up with a disease as virulent as smallpox.

Erasing genocide against American indigenous peoples with the "inevitability" of disease also ignores a lot of the very real moments in history where things could potentially have gone either way.


Are you accussing me of doing this? Who is "erasing" with inevitability? I also don't see how inevitability equates to to erasing to begin with.

There were many, many chances for European colonies to fail.

And they did, over and over again. And even I, the apparent genocide-erasing racist, have posted on MetaFilter about how complex the picture really was, and how disease was not the full story. Man, I wonder if those native allies to Cortes I posted about had "agency"?

But, even an early defeat of Cortes means they just send another set of ships. This doesn't take away Native Americans "agency".

it's sad that a theoretical video game that gives indigenous people agency is dismissed as unrealistic.

This is a particuarly nasty way to argue. I am disagreeing with exactly one point you made, which is that the diseases could have gone anywhich way. That has fuck all to with agency. I mean, do you not think native Americans had agency is real life, where 90% of them were really wiped out by disease?

My comment, that is apparently racist and Eurocentrist was:

Since most epidemic dieseases come from domesticated animals that New World peoples didn't have access to, you'd have to rewrite the entire history of civilization, not just the Age of Discovery. Not saying you can't do it, but the immunology flow wasn't arbitrary.


Native Americans without agency isn't "unrealistic", and I never said anything within the same galaxy as that. Mostly because Native Americans in real life have agency. What the fuck are you talking about?

If you were just trying to make disagreeing with you about smallpox sound racist, then fine, but again, it's not a coin toss which way the diseases went. If you don't want to include them, I think history is chagned, but that doesn't mean Europe is suddenly a paper tiger. Without smallpox et al, I imagine a scencario like this:

It's easy to imagine a secnario where the Incans can repel Pizarro, perhaps eventually buying off Charles V. That gold and silver would have been well spent in his actual priority, Italy and the counter-Reformation. The Incans would eventually feel the full weight of their vassal status, but some resemblance of their society could have remained.
posted by spaltavian at 7:32 AM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this has never sat well with me for multiple reasons--deeply inaccurate in a game devoted to modeling every single stupid county in Germany to ignore the political wealth of the Americas, promotes a vision of passive natives bowing to colonization which is both historically inaccurate given what we know about the history of the Americas and leads to crappy and ahistorical colonization outcomes where itty-bitty countries like Latvia or Genoa can take over chunks of the Americas because, apparently, the colonized just sit there.

For what it's worth, the EU series has always been a bit bloodless when it comes to internal colonialism as well--just click a button, pay out a renewing "advisor" card, take a temporary hit to your nation's score, and those pesky Flemish or Alsatian or Turkish or Vietnamese peasants who are always starting uprisings or demanding things like "a written constitution" will be murdered by the tens of thousands and their culture (or religion) exterminated from the map.

And slavery (in both the EU series and Victoria, where slavery for some reason decreases the enslaved's desire to organize a revolt), just, like, oh god.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 7:35 AM on September 8, 2014


Knowing EU players, someone is bound to have done a successful Native American world conquest game.

The Audacity of Hope: An Iroquois AAR by PrawnStar (who has done several other interesting and fun AARs).
posted by Panjandrum at 8:02 AM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Huh. It just occurred to me that the many, many games of Oregon Trail I played as a kid shoud look pretty different to me now.

(When buying a new laptop recently, I was asked if I knew how to set everything up. I told the dude I had been using Apple computers since my elementary school got a lab full of Apple IIes, on which I played Oregon Trail while arguing about who shot Mr. Burns; this is possibly the most 90s sentence I have ever uttered.)
posted by nonasuch at 8:17 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you're going to release an "accurate" historical simulator/strategy of, say, WWII, at some point not including a holocaust simulator becomes unrealistic.

Only if you're a horibble, horrible person.

With every game there comes a point where the historical versimilitude has to make way for having fun and gameplay. It's one thing to play act the thriumphant march of SS Das Reich through the southern Caucasus, quite another to include the einsatztruppen holding massacres amongst the jews of Baku.

Justinian's mention of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and Hirohishima is another such breaking point: you could include it in some games, like a grand strategy game where it becomes abstracted as just another item on the research tree, but not so much in e.g. a more modest wargame because it's no fun to imagine and simulate the horrible bombing of a defenceless city.

In general, a great many games rely on limiting the scope of gameplay and a certain ignorance of both context and what the real life consequences of the player's actions would've been in order to keep it fun, but there will always be some subjects which are almost impossible or entirely impossible to include in a game.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:19 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


[H]storically speaking, it’s very important to remember the Americas were heavily populated by organized societies. Scholars estimate that New World populations before Columbus could have been between 50 and 100 million (this includes Meso-America and South America), not to mention the sophistication of the Powhatan culture, marked by its walled capital, and the fact that the Mi’kmaq nation of Eastern Canada had trade connections with other nations in the Ohio Valley. Giving these societies the recognition that they are due is part of our mission as a strategy game developer...[s]o we’ve added more than 20 new Native American states to the map.

That's (part of) Paradox's rationale for expanding its portrayal of pre-colonization America, a (partly paid, partly free) update to the game which came out earlier this year, after April Daniels' piece was written. I mention this to reinforce, not refute, her review: she was writing about the game as it existed at the time she played it, and that was well deserving of criticism. It still is.

The developers have partly addressed the issues she raises (and others). They have been gradually working to expand the game's (and their other games') representation of non-European civilizations for a while now, in both the EU series and in their other games. In addition to the already-mentioned expansion that focused explicitly on the colonialism in general, and the Americas in particular, they've also working on revamping India and West Africa. Crusader Kings II, their other currently-popular game, started off as European Christians only but now encompasses playing a much wider variety of characters, and only continues to expand.

Those revisions, as with their (post-review) revisions to the Americas, and their previous-game revisions to China & Japan, will likely leave a lot to be desired. This is true of all of every aspect of these games: technology, trade, travel, traditions. It's hard to overstate how sprawling and intricate the games are, and how many different game-resource interests need to be balanced -- keeping the game moving fast enough to be enjoyable, even on older systems, is a concern. Simply having faster computers lets them model reality (or historical unreality) more faithfully than in the past; Moore's Law, if nothing else, points to a more holistic world in future titles. Indeed, so far, the overall arc of the series (of all of their series) has been a gradual trend towards global representation and away from Eurocentrism, I'll happily laud them for that at the same time as I criticize them for all the instances where that representation hasn't quite arrived.
posted by cjelli at 8:32 AM on September 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


Since most epidemic dieseases come from domesticated animals that New World peoples didn't have access to

Only some. Smallpox diverged from a mouse/rat virus (depending on which data you believe, prior to the last Bering bridge). Y. Pestis is (famously) a rodent/louse disease, as is typhus. Flu infects birds and mammals, but the wild reservoir is IIRC ducks. VZV has no animal reservoir. Measles (which was a devastating disease) did probably come from cattle.

In addition to more domesticated animals, Europe had more contact with other population centers (Africa, India, E Asia) which were both large and old enough to have allowed the emergence of human-specific diseases and maintained the ancient vectors and reservoirs (for example, Shigella which causes lots of diarrhoea deaths is restricted to primates). There's also probably an effect from the genetic bottle neck going into the western hemisphere causing a loss of some of the immunologic diversity and tuning for the older diseases. Let's not leave out bad luck on your zoonoses.

From the question of what's socially modifiable, I guess that an alternative history with earlier more robust intra-american trade and larger and more permanent population centres would have facilitated more exposure and development of pathogens, and that an overall larger population would have allowed a deeper immunologic arms race to create bugs that could really hurt Europe.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:56 AM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've always wanted to play, especially as someone who is native, the reverse of this game.

As in, you start out around that same time in north america and get to pick a region and tribe to start as. You can become a great chief, and form lots of alliances and build up a huge amount of territory to control. Then the white people show up and you have to battle them.

My ideal version of this would let you go fully red dawn and capture the colonists ships as they arrived, and eventually go launch an assault on their colonies elsewhere, and eventually mainland europe.
I've never played EU4, but I've played a lot of EU3, and you could do this in EU3 (I'd be surprised to find you couldn't in EU4). Despite the name of the game, you don't have to play as a European power; you could play as any of many different powers from almost anywhere in the world. In the Americas, if I remember correctly, you could play as the Iroquois, Huron, Cherokee, Creek, Shawnee, Aztecs, Zapotecs, Maya, Inca, or Chimu; maybe others too.

And you can in fact take the fight to Europe, and beyond. I personally, playing as the Iroquois, have literally conquered the world.

I'm not going to be misleading about this, though: It will be extremely difficult for you to do this. By the time that old/new world contact is made, there is essentially no way that it won't be via the old world discovering you rather than vice versa, and they're going to be far superior to you technologically and able to muster far more resources. But it can be done.
posted by Flunkie at 9:39 AM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Since most epidemic dieseases come from domesticated animals that New World peoples didn't have access to, you'd have to rewrite the entire history of civilization, not just the Age of Discovery. Not saying you can't do it, but the immunology flow wasn't arbitrary.

A common alternate history workaround for that is if the Norse colonies had spread some diseases to the rest of the continent. So the native peoples get hit by epidemics centuries earlier, but end up gaining immunity by the time the Iberians roll in.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:04 AM on September 8, 2014


A common alternate history workaround for that is if the Norse colonies had spread some diseases to the rest of the continent. So the native peoples get hit by epidemics centuries earlier, but end up gaining immunity by the time the Iberians roll in.

Problem with that is the Norse actually had contact with Native Americans and it didn't happen. I'm guessing that most of North America's population density was too low to cause the sort catastrophe that took place a few centuries later. I guess if the Norse got closer to the Ohio Valley Mound Builders, that might have done it.
posted by spaltavian at 11:22 AM on September 8, 2014


Errant Signal had a nice piece on similar ideas with Civ.
posted by lkc at 11:36 AM on September 8, 2014


Estimates are that anywhere from 50% to 90% of indigenous Americans were killed through disease

The thing is, this wasn't a one-off event, but a series of events that occurred in different places and at different times, and with a multitude of different factors. If we take the example of Mexico, there was a fearsome smallpox epidemic at the time of the Conquest. It wasn't until more than 2 decades after the Spanish arrived though, that the indigenous population took a huge nose dive, and that it now surmised to have been through an indigenous hemorrhagic fever running wild due to a combination of climatic conditions and changes to landscape use (e.g., pasturing/deforestation). It wasn't until the 1570s (when another round of huey cocoliztli hit) that the colonial population exceed the indigenous one.

Particularly in those first couple of decades, the dominance of Europeans was far from inevitable. James Lockheart, in his doorstopper The Nahuas After the Conquest, refers to it as a time of "stasis," when not much really changed in terms of culture or society. You were just paying your taxes to a different, distant overlord in (San Juan de) Tenochtitlan.

We should also keep in mind that, in areas where colonists and conquistadors had arrived, the effects of imported diseases were not independent of the social conditions which arose. We see much greater mortality in the Missions of Georgia/Florida, for instance, than in comparable independent sites (a feature recreated for the California Missions). Likewise, where colonists were able to exploit native populations through force or political alignment, they created conditions of overwork and poor nutrition which rendered the common people more susceptible of disease.

We should also, of course, not downplay that epidemic diseases had effects independent of the Europeans, but keep in mind those effects were not strictly "get sick, die." Part of the devastating effect of the diseases was to kill enough people so as to leave those who survived with their previously secure social/economic/nutritional networks in tatters. This is explicitly why we see overlap and fusion with groups in the Southeast like the Guale, Yamasee, and Seminoles.

The "colonization = inevitable because disease" is a simplification of a very complex situation (or really, a multitude of complex situations over time).

Of course, if the game devs are just going to Nerf the Natives (as in Sid Meier's Colonization), then they're just being ethnocentric dicks.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:51 AM on September 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing that most of North America's population density was too low

And/Or the Norse population density was too low to sustain disease skipping from mainland Eurasia, to Iceland, to Greenland, to Newfoundland. Smallpox hadn't even reached Iceland by the time Erikson et al. were setting up their (shortlived) shop on the far side of the Atlantic.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:56 AM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK, one more comment. You'd also have to take into account that, once your settler groups move from endemic Eurasian areas into non-endemic American areas, subsequent generations will no longer have the early exposure/maternal antibodies which can grant lifelong immunity. Thus, the settlers become susceptible populations. We see this exact situation play out during the American Revolution, when thousands of troops from England came over, bringing diseases over to the relatively isolated Colonies, sparking a massive smallpox epidemic (Fenn's Pox Americana covers this well), including rumors that the British were deliberately sending recently variolated (and thus infectious) individuals out to the American lines in at least one siege.

At this point though, I think I'm asking a for a video game to also act as an accurate simulator of infectious disease epidemiology on a global and centuries-long scale.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:17 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Arguing over how closely the game should follow actual history trends is one of the constants of Paradox titles, with uneducated anarchist bumpkins and determinist fascists battling it out online. It's impossible to please all, although mods are made for everyone eventually. In CK2 discussions, there was some very in depth analysis of observe-only games to determine exactly what percent of the time Christians would control Spain or Muslims Anatolia followed by arguing over whether Castile and Byzantium need to be "fixed" or whether historically the less likely outcome actually occured or whether it doesn't matter because anything should be possible, let chaos reign.
posted by Winnemac at 12:34 PM on September 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re that Errant Signal link re Civilization, I feel like the latest iteration of the game has at least improved the Barbarian situation by making the Barbarians really warlike and harder to kill than I remember them being previously. In IV and earlier, you'd be like "oooh, some barbarians, sweet I could really use some gold/extra settlers/culture points" and just massacre them. In V I fiind that the barbarians are sticking around a lot longer, and if I have a scout out wandering the moors or whatever, he's probably going down. I've not only had barbarians stick around until I've started to explore via sea, they've come close to taking out one of my triremes.

That said, yeah, college anthropology classes were pretty educational after a childhood spent playing Civ and Age Of Empires.
posted by Sara C. at 12:56 PM on September 8, 2014


Also OMG I need to start playing Crusader Kings if only to see if I can swing the Battle Of Poitiers towards the Muslim and get a Parisian caliphate.
posted by Sara C. at 12:59 PM on September 8, 2014


I need to start playing Crusader Kings if only to see if I can swing the Battle Of Poitiers towards the Muslim and get a Parisian caliphate.

Sadly, not technically possible at the moment -- at least the first part. The earliest current start date is in 867, and, although the next expansion with push things earlier, that will only be to 769, still a few decades too late. Close, though, and there might be a mod that pushes it back farther. As to the second, there's nothing standing in the way except Charlemagne & company.
posted by cjelli at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2014


You may be thinking of the Battle of Tours. Poitiers was in the 100 Year's War.
posted by Panjandrum at 1:52 PM on September 8, 2014


MetaFilter: So just fuck the white people to death.
posted by dhartung at 1:52 PM on September 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


You may be thinking of the Battle of Tours. Poitiers was in the 100 Year's War.

It's been a while since I read up on this, but I believe 'the Battle of Poitiers' can technically reference either battle (732 or 1356). 'The Battle of Tours' is certainly more common, though, and preferable for a few reasons, not least in that it avoids confusion.
posted by cjelli at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


It really shouldn't be surprising that a game called Europa Universalis might be focused primarily on Europe. Really. However, it's also not at all true.

I've always wanted to play, especially as someone who is native, the reverse of this game.

As in, you start out around that same time in north america and get to pick a region and tribe to start as. You can become a great chief, and form lots of alliances and build up a huge amount of territory to control. Then the white people show up and you have to battle them.

My ideal version of this would let you go fully red dawn and capture the colonists ships as they arrived, and eventually go launch an assault on their colonies elsewhere, and eventually mainland europe.


My roommate, who's really into these games, does at least one full playthrough of every EU title in which she does exactly this. Starts as the Iroquis, and starts consolidating the Americas and eventually invading Europe. There are plenty of native tribes present in the game, conquered provinces still have residual culture and religious things that make actual colonization more difficult. And the only screenshot offered is after almost a century of play in the Americas, plus however long she spent in Europe before landing there, during which the Huron apparently ate up the other nations.

As well, the unaligned provinces aren't even "empty". They're occupied by tribes that aren't part of a larger nation, but still very much full of life, culture, and religion. It sounds as though the primary complain here is that not every single province outside of Europe is its own faction.

And this is all just in the core game. The first expansion, which came out in January, was entirely focused on the Americas, expanding the Native American game significantly and adding a lot of new mechanics, including an entire form of government, derived from them. But this article was written before that.
posted by kafziel at 4:44 PM on September 8, 2014


It's a shame the complexity of native warfare and diplomacy in the 17th and 18th centuries is never fleshed out. The history of the Iroquois, the Beaver Wars, their temporary empire in the upper midwest, playing the Dutch, English, and French against each other, the crazy long distance wars with the Catawba - all a great story that deserves attention especially from those of us who live where these people once dominated.

Funny we call the Kahniakenhaka "Mohawk", as their fiendishly agglutinative language lacks the phoneme "m".
posted by koebelin at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dip Flash: Part of what seems to be offending the reviewer is just how colonialism operated:

Trade, in Europa Universalis IV, is a one-way prospect. A province creates trade power, and that trade power is pushed up along a linear path, where it is eventually collected either at your capital or by a merchant you’ve sent to collect it.

There is no way for trade to flow “backwards,” which means it is impossible for cultures at the “upstream” end of a trade network to benefit from it. In this game, trade is only for extracting wealth from places that aren’t Europe. I haven’t played much with trying to colonize Africa. Not after I saw one of the provinces had as its trade good “slaves” with a picture of a big iron ball and chain.
So... the reviewer failed every history course she ever took? Or does she expect magical unicorn poop as a trading commodity, too?

Clue: "colonialism" means "expoitation".
posted by IAmBroom at 9:32 AM on September 9, 2014


Dip Flash: Part of what seems to be offending the reviewer is just how colonialism operated: 'There is no way for trade to flow “backwards,” which means it is impossible for cultures at the “upstream” end of a trade network to benefit from it.'

IAmBroom: So... the reviewer failed every history course she ever took?...Clue: "colonialism" means "expoitation".


This is incorrect -- her complaint is about how the game models trade and, consequently, models colonialism. This is a complaint I share, and I believe it's both justified as a complaint and also justified (on the developer's end) as a necessary compromise for the sake of gameplay. This made sense to me, having played the game extensively, but may not have been clear without that experience. So! Here's what she's talking about.

EU4, which in many ways is open-ended and non-deterministic, presumes that that colonialism and resource exploitation will always happen as it did historically: goods will flow out of the Americas and into Europe. To represent the Atlantic slave trade, there's a limited flow of 'goods' from West Africa into South America & the Caribbean, but European trade cannot flow into Africa, nor can it flow into the Americas. The game's trade model involves a limited series of static, uni-directional trade corridors along which wealth and commerce flow. Here's a map noting the direction of trade, with the caveat that I'm not sure if that was current at the time of her review or if it's current now.

The game, again, is as much about creating ahistoric situations as it is about simply replaying events as they occurred. If you manage to perpetuate the Aztec empire and invade the shores of the Iberian Penninsula, you can't send any goods back home. You literally cannot play a colonial, exploitative American state preying on Europe in the same way that you can play a European state preying on the Americas. This is a hard-coded aspect of the simulation that is outside of the player's control.

The game, in order to better model trade and colonial exploitation as it did happen, presupposes European colonialism and exploitation. It says that trade between Europe and the Americas will be colonialism, rather than looking at the relative situation existing between two states and determining whether, in this particular game, in this particular arrangement of ahistorical reality, in this particular case of player manipulation, that's a sensible outcome or an accurate description.

That's her complaint (on this particular issue): not that colonialism is one-way, but that the game doesn't let you, the player, have any say in which direction it will go. It's a concession (among many) made with the aim of making a reasonably accurate simulation run efficiently. It makes most games -- which do develop semi-historically, and do involve European colonial exploitation -- run exactly the same the way a less deterministic model would, without the cost of having to constantly compute whether or not they should be running that way.
posted by cjelli at 10:18 AM on September 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


EU4, which in many ways is open-ended and non-deterministic, presumes that that colonialism and resource exploitation will always happen as it did historically: goods will flow out of the Americas and into Europe.

Well, yeah. That was the whole point of colonialism.

If you start a colony and what happens is that suddenly you have a lot less stuff, and your new colonies are enriched, you're doing colonialism very wrong.

This is why European countries initiated colonialist practices. To take.

That said, it would be interesting to have one of these empires-type games where you can just decide maybe your people don't want tea badly enough to lay waste to half the planet.
posted by Sara C. at 10:36 AM on September 9, 2014


Well, yeah. That was the whole point of colonialism.

Right, yes. That's not the issue. What I'm saying -- and what I believe Daniels is saying -- isn't that the colonial bit is unrealistic (that is, indeed, how colonialism works), it's the EUROPE = COLONIALIST, AMERICA = COLONY part that's overly simplistic, and that it's a problem in that you can't ever have AMERICA = COLONIALIST OPPRESSOR. Or Africa, or China, or basically any non-European state. Or have a non-exploitative trade relationship between the Americas and Europe -- that's simply not a case the game is set up to handle.

This is why European countries initiated colonialist practices. To take.

But why, in the game, can't countries in the Americas or Africa be colonialists on the same scale? Why does Europe get an effective monopoly on colonialist practices?
posted by cjelli at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really think it's impossible to accurately view this game and Crusader Kings (Which has now sucked as much time of my life as a few months of a full time job, thanks guys) without looking at the expansions and such. These things are boring in the base because you will have to pay money for the expansions and to play as the non-European types. Which you will. Many times. Because they are so good.
posted by corb at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2014


But why, in the game, can't countries in the Americas or Africa be colonialists on the same scale?

Isn't the answer, particularly after the expansion, that they can?
posted by Justinian at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


You can colonize Africa as the Huron, e.g., in the base game, but you'd have to cheat because the technologies required to do it are way beyond the development level of the anyone outside of the Roman sphere.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2014


You can colonize Africa as the Huron, e.g., in the base game, but you'd have to cheat because the technologies required to do it are way beyond the development level of the anyone outside of the Roman sphere.

You don't have to cheat, you just have to be good, because you're up against a significant technological barrier. My roommate's favorite accomplishment in her Iroquis game was to annex, convert to shamanism, and then release the island of Ireland.
posted by kafziel at 3:16 PM on September 9, 2014


Again, I've only played EU3, not EU4, but at least in EU3, you don't have to cheat in order to do that. You have to (1) Know what you're doing, and (2) Get very lucky.

Getting lucky is necessary rather than merely helpful because there's going to be a significant amount of time post-contact where, if some particular European AI nation decides it wants to conquer you, it will conquer you, and there's nothing you can do about it. It takes significant post-contact time to get to the point where even a skilled player could possibly defend themselves as for example the Huron against for example an England which has set its mind to conquering the Huron.
posted by Flunkie at 4:24 PM on September 9, 2014


You don't have to cheat, you just have to be good, because you're up against a significant technological barrier. My roommate's favorite accomplishment in her Iroquis game was to annex, convert to shamanism, and then release the island of Ireland.

"Colonize" as an action in EU4 is a specific thing only available to people who have sufficient technology to have a "colonist" and is only possible in provinces that are "unoccupied" (this is part of the article-author's issue with the game, that big chunks of north america/africa/asia aren't represented as real, populated "nations"). I don't think this it is possible for this to happen from a north-american start. Playing as a north-american "nation" and invading europe, or attacking and taking land from europeans who have already colonized africa is absolutely possible.
posted by gregjones at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2014


It was a specific thing only available to people who have sufficient technology to have a "colonist" and only possible in provinces that are "unoccupied" in EU3, too, and it was definitely possible for native North American nations to do. It was just extremely difficult. Are you sure it's not possible in EU4? I would find that surprising.
posted by Flunkie at 8:07 PM on September 10, 2014


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