While you could debate until the cows come home which Paradox grand strategy game is the most complex, Europa Universalis IV is definitely up there on the difficulty scale. One of the areas new players can especially find difficult is trade, a system that’s changed several times since launch.
In the current version of the game, there are a handful of trade nodes based in Europe that are considered ‘end nodes’ – as in, trade flows into this node, but not outwards like with other nodes where there are both incoming and outgoing connections. This is an attempt to simulate the prominent trading hubs that emerged during the time period EU4 covers, and how certain regions tended to dominate trade in Europe.
It’s niche as hell, but there’s a debate among the player base as to which end node is the most lucrative to control. The current consensus appears to be that the English Channel is the best, followed closely by Genoa, with the Venice node being the worst. User Wureen on the EU4 subreddit has created a visual representation showing how many regions of the world feed into which endnotes, and the results seem conclusive.
Here is Wureen’s thread with the image, colour coded:
The key factor here is this map denotes regions that exclusively feed into the three end nodes. Venice has plenty of trade routes that feed into it, but few of those routes don’t also feed into one of the other two nodes.
As the image shows, the English Channel node enjoys parts of northern Russia and pretty much the entire Scandinavian region, while Genoa gets exclusive access to the western Mediterranean – Spain, the west side of Italy, and North Africa up to a point. Both Genoa and the Channel also get access to large swathes of the Americas and western Africa.
Venice, by comparison, only gets exclusive access to the west side of Italy and some regions directly around it. This makes it a hilariously underserved and underpowered centre of trade. Every other region in grey feeds into every end node one way or another.
There’s a rather fascinating discussion about what this means if you want to read the thread in full – generally speaking, the trade system is perhaps a bit outdated in that it favours the European region. This kind of historically deterministic design isn’t something that features much in Paradox strategy games these days, but was still prevalent when EU4 first launched in 2014.
In other news, EU4 is getting a new DLC titled Origins that focuses on sub-Saharan Africa, with new mission trees to flesh out many of the prominent nations that existed before the coming of European settlers.
You can also check out our guide to the best EU4 mods, if you’re looking for something to spice things up a bit.