Steppe Up: Europa Universalis IV – The Cossacks

It's not Telltale's The Cossacks, honest

The next expansion for Europa Universalis IV [official site] goes by the name The Cossacks and it’ll be with us before the end of the year. As the name suggests, there’s a spotlight on the independent soldiers of the steppes but the new features mostly seem to improve your options for peacetime management. The key addition is the “Estate system”, which allows you to assign control of provinces to local factions. You’ll lose out on some income but gain benefits related to the faction in charge. More details below as well as a trailer.

The video is adapted from the “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks”, a historical document of uncertain origin that makes the voiceover’s insults seem tame.

Paradox’s Cossacks introduces lots of pleasant features in between all the insults. New colonial management options seem essential and if the Estate system works as well as suggested it could improve the domestic management side of the game enormously. There are also changes to espionage, horde unity and the changing of culture.

I’m most intrigued by that Estate system though, as well as a mechanic described as “Tell The World What You Want”, which allows you to designate provinces you’re greedily eyeing up as “areas of interest”. You’ll also be able to promise land to allies should they help you to get what you want. Here’s more on Estates:

“You can assign control of your provinces to local factions – priests, nobles, or even Cossacks! – sacrificing some income in the name of lower unrest, more manpower or cheaper cavalry. You must keep an eye these Estates, though! If they get too strong, they may make a move on your throne. If they feel neglected, they may interfere with efficient governance.”

Sounds like a pinch of Crusader Kings II’s vassal system, though not handled exactly the same. Good news for me, as I often crave a helping hand when running a major nation.

Here’s the rest:

“- New Diplomatic Options: Let the world know what you think of your neighbors by setting a public attitude to foreign powers.
– Tell The World What You Want: Designate neighboring provinces as “places of interest”, build trust with other nations, and entice allies with the promise of land for their support.
– Tengri: Tengri is now a Syncretic faith, allowing it to tolerate a secondary religion as if it were a national faith.
– Horde Unity and Razing: Nomadic nations now must pay attention to the horde unity of their tribes – a unity that can only be maintained by the occasional pillaging
– Improved Culture Change: You can now restore a previous culture to a converted province, or convert a province you hold to a culture that is not your own.
– Native Policies: Set your policy for colonial encounters with natives. Are you focused on quick subjugation, peaceful growth or trading advantages?
– Improved Espionage: New spy actions allow you to study the technology of more advanced countries and prod your rivals’ subjects towards independence.

“And, as always, even if you don’t buy The Cossacks, its release will be accompanied by a free major content update for all Europa Universalis IV players.”

This is precisely the kind of expansion that’s likely to pull me back in.


  1. klops says:

    Ooh, I still haven’t finished my first CKII game yet. And never even started my Vicky II…

  2. RabbitIslandHermit says:

    I have to say that Paradox’s DLC mania rather annoys me. Obviously some of them are very good (and this one could be too), but they seem to completely break the game balance every other one. Or so I’ve heard, I don’t got the dough to keep up with all the expansions.

    • Admiral666 says:

      “Or so I’ve heard.”

      There seems to be a lot of that in opposition to the Paradox way of things.

      • RabbitIslandHermit says:

        Well, I’m not spending 20 bucks every few months to find out if the Steam reviews are telling the truth, that’s for sure.

        • Draphael says:

          Well considering what do they normally deliver I am more than willing to keep purchasing the expansions if this means that I will get a deeper and deeper game.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            On Balance I think the patches are great. They do occasionally screw up my existing saves but only in terms of strategy, I’ve never actually had one stop loading. But what they give you is increased replayability. Some of the patches make a big difference to functionality, but mostly of all they give you new strategic considerations, new ways to play with old nations. I’ve done Russia multiple times in the past and can’t wait to give them another go with cossacks and new nomad/hoard mechanics!

    • Blackfish says:

      Their DLC model (free patch with paid DLCs) is a fine one, but you’re right that it feel can feel schizophrenic. Take the new Estates system for example. While Estates promise to be more flexible, there are actually already two systems (factions and parliaments) in the game that do roughly what this new system does. Things like aggressive expansion fluctuate from patch to patch. Restrictions are introduced, then dropped. The relative dearth of ambitious overhaul mods for EU4 compared to EU3 is telling. Amateur modders can’t keep up.

      You don’t actually have to spend money to get a rough idea of where the game is at now. Only maybe half the features in each major patch are walled off into the DLC.

      • ZanathKariashi says:

        You don’t have to drop ANY money on it to try it out. Just ask around on the forums for someone who owns the expansions you want to try out to host a game or two and help explain the features you aren’t used to using. The only things that aren’t shared are the art-packs or music packs, which are client-side and completely optional.

        That’s probably the best part of the whole model.

  3. Geewhizbatman says:

    Not until you promised otherwise did I realize how much I secretly desired a Telltale “Cossacks” game. Episode One “Horse Rides You.” Like discovering a new fetish, this excites me greatly.

    I feel like Telltale historical adventure games are a fertile ground for both poor education and delightful poor taste. Press –> to dodge the plague!

  4. nld says:

    Nice timing. Intercession of Virgin Mary, one of the biggest holidays in Cossack Orthodox tradition, was just yesterday.

  5. v21v21v21 says:

    “I fart in your general direction”

  6. pistachio says:

    Is it just me or is the game too easy right now? Aggression isn’t punished enough, you can make more money than you can spend and ruling a HRE from Amsterdam to Athens in 1660 doesn’t feel right. European nations all seem a bit overpowered, especially Sweden and Austria. I don’t really enjoy playing a very large nation.

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      Paradox games tend to be like that, that’s why I’m addicted to playing minors. It’s a bad affliction. First you play The Netherlands, next thing you know you’re trying to form Poland as Krakow in Vicky II.

      • Dunbine says:

        Oh yeah. My most fondly remembered game of EUIII was playing as Milan, slowly taking over Italy while fighting some white knuckle wars against France, which universally meant holding on for dear life until France was distracted by another war, reclaiming my mostly occupied country, and then a peace treaty, sometimes surrendering a precious bit of northern Italy.

        I remember the thrill I felt when I finally united Italy, which was immediately followed by a French invasion that ended up crushing me totally and forcing me to release Naples and Sicily as free countries. Oh, the revenge I plotted, and the agents I sent to France to undermine their stability and foment revolts… Taught that giant blue blob not to mess with the Milanese.

        Good times.

        • gi_ty says:

          I only enjoy playing as the minor nations. I formed the Netherlands on Ironman playing as one of the Dutch single province countries which according to my achievements only 2% of players have managed. Forming Prussia and then Germany is also great fun.

          • Notelpats says:

            Did that one too. Fun times.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Yeah that’s what this game is all about for me now, I wish they’d bring out a few more new achievements because they work really well as inspiration for these little missions. I’ve done both of those, other ones I’d reccommend (that would never have occurred to me as fun things unless the game had suggested them) are “No Trail of Tears”, “A sun God”, and “Bengal Tiger” – the last one is a lot of fun especially if like me you know almost nothing about the regions involved in advance. EUIV continues to be a great inspiration to read actual history :)

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            I’ve still yet to actually finish a game as one of the big colonizing powers though. Around 1700 it all starts to get a bit boring. All the grey bits have been grabbed and your trade network is giving you almost unlimited money. What I’d like to see is some more realistic and achievable achievements focused on the major powers in the late game… Sure you can go into China but what’s the point if there isn’t an achievement? You don’t gain much from it unless you’re trying to do a world conquest. But above all I guess what I’d like to see is more achievements relating to relatively small-yet-challenging goals in regions I wouldn’t otherwise play… For instance, at the moment there’s absolutely nothing pushing me to have a go as the Ottomans, or Ming, or the Aztecs (sunset invasion and Sultan of Rum are not achievable without cheating and whilst having actual fun!).

          • gi_ty says:

            The reverse treaty with France that get as playing Scotland is pretty cool. Vassalize France as Scotland do not form GB.

          • BloodyMess says:

            I’m one of those 2% :D

    • mike2R says:

      This is a problem with all the big 4 Paradox games, but I don’t really see what they can do to avoid it. They need to make the game easy enough that a new player can have a fun first game with a major nation. This makes the game too easy for an experienced player with the same.

      Once I get to this point, since personally I tend to prefer playing majors to minors, I go looking for mods that add more challenge.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Well for a while there was a problem with the HRE being underpowered with any emperor other than Austria. So they nerfed Austria’s natural manpower/forcelimit resources and instead gave trasnferrable bonuses to whoever is emperor. This combined with the lesser penalty for non-accepted cultures made it finally worth playing as a Czech or Italian Emperor.

  7. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Oh crap, the pressure’s really on to finish my “better than Napoleon” push before the winter then… Hang on.

    • gi_ty says:

      Good luck sir in my late game as Germany I managed to decimate Russia but they had never managed to bring the Kazahn into line so they were relatively weak. Have never managed any other war against a strong Russia.