Europa Universalis 4 Third Rome: How To Effectively Wage War In The Winter

  • Windows
  • Simulator
  • Strategy
Europa Universalis 4
Third Rome DLC out now Paradox Interactive

Europa Universalis 4, Paradox Interactive’s Early Modern Grand Strategy Game, has mostly focused on the early colonizing powers such as Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and France. Most recently, a new DLC, Third Rome, has made Russia a very fun country to play. EU4 is a game that, according to Steam, I’ve played for 118 hours. I generally know my way around and usually have no trouble managing consistent growth and survival. However, in my first game as Moscovy, I found myself utterly destroyed. I realized that in all those hours of play, I had never been a country that had to deal with the effects of warfare in a harsh winter environment. As I imagine many of you may be in the same position and just excited to try Russia in the new DLC, I wanted to break down how to deal with the harsh winters and not ravage your own manpower.

Army Attrition

Army attrition has been a part of EU4 since launch, but I have rarely had to pay it much mind. The only times it seems to affect me was having a huge army in a province that had very small supply for an extended period of time. Keep your army smaller in those provinces and no more thought is required.

Fighting in winter, however, changes the game. Winter affects attrition by functionally adding to the supply weight of an army. But while normal attrition maxes out at 5%, weather conditions will increase the maximum attrition. Field a big army during a severe winter and you could be bleeding up to 10% of your troops every month.

The tricky part is, if you aren’t careful, you might not notice at first because you are still getting reinforcements out of your manpower pool. So even if you win every battle, you may find your manpower depleted to zero before you even realize it. Here are some tips to avoid destruction by weather.


Tips for Winter Warfare:

Begin your operations in the Spring.

If you’re fighting in Russia, winter conditions tend to last from late November through the end of April, though they will be most punishing December through February. It is important to take the season into account when you wage war. If you’re planning an extensive invasion into enemy territory, maximize the months before you will get hit with winter damage.

Use Your Own Territory To Your Advantage

You won’t take winter damage when you’re in your own territory or reconquering territory you controlled at the beginning of the war. You can use this to your advantage in several ways. If it is winter and you’ve lost territory or forts, you could halt your attack and instead focus on reconquering what you’ve lost until Spring rolls around, then move on the offensive again. If you must push on in Winter, another tactic I found particularly useful is keeping a large force in my territory on the border then sending smaller armies to take territory, if their Army comes to attack them, I move in my large force to drive them off. This prevents your main force from getting hit by the percentage based winter penalties, while you still can be on the attack.

Send Small Scouting Parties To Harry The Frontier

In a normal war, I typically keep my forces in a few sizeable stacks so I don’t get surprised and overwhelmed by a superior force. In Winter though, I like to send out a few Armies, 1,000 - 2,000 men strong, and send them into the frontier of enemy territory. Smaller troops will bleed far less manpower in winter and you can use them to snatch up territories with no fort to harass the enemy. It might not win you the war, but when their main force goes chasing these small armies and trying to reclaim their lost hinterlands, you can move in your large army and take their unprotected forts.

Reassess Your Position In The Fall

As fall moves in, take stock of what you have taken and what your position is. Is your army deep in their territory and unable to return for some time? Then it might be best to make peace before they get stuck away in the Winter.

Using Russian Winter For Defense

As Muscovy, I got invaded by Denmark. They rolled in with about 5,000 more men than I could field and they were keeping their armies together. I knew I would probably lose a full on battle. Instead, I hid my army behind the protective zone of control of my network of forts and let them take territory after territory. For two years, they rampaged through the countryside, but after two brutal winters their manpower got depleted and their army was significantly smaller. That is when I struck and then reclaimed my lost territories at my leisure without the winter penalties.

Winter warfare adds a whole new level of complexity to EU4 and now with Third Rome released, it is the perfect time to ground Novgorod into dust. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found other viable Winter Warfare tactics!

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