Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Europa Universalis IV, like its predecessor, presents one of two major challenges to its players: either you can work towards making your current country a world power... or you can attempt to follow the course of history in a more proper fashion, and unify into an existing world power. And while Ireland isn't exactly on top of the world in terms of international clout today (no offense intended!), it is nevertheless one of these latter nations that does not exist when a new game of EUIV begins.
The island that can become Ireland begins as five small provinces: Ulster, Connaught, Munster, Leinster, and Meath. The first four are self-governed, independent territories, while Meath is owned by England. The four smaller countries don't present a huge problem; it's England that represents the gravest threat.
You can't form Ireland by choosing England, so you'll have to choose one of the other four countries cloistered about the island. They're all roughly equal in power as the game begins, so choosing one is a crapshoot. I prefer Ulster, as they're in the north and only border with one of the three to start, but it's up to you. In the end you'll wind up with Ireland regardless of your choice.
'Form Irish Nation' is the National Decision needed to create your own personal Ireland. The conditions for doing so are as follows:
- Owns Leinster
- Owns Munster
- Owns Meath
- Owns Ulster
- Owns Connaught
- Has administrative tech level of 10 or above
- Be at peace
- Has at least 100 administrative points
A steep list, though most of these requirements are relatively simple to achieve. The only one that sticks out as particularly difficult is acquiring Meath, as it requires you to go to war with England. Typically not a good idea for a small, militarily-inferior island nation. We'll get back to Meath in a bit.
Conquering Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Connaught
You already own one of these provinces, leaving three more to take down. Not that difficult a task—but only if you start right away, before any of them build up alliances with other countries.
- Build up a force of six or seven armies, declare a rivalry with your nearest neighbour, and invade. Don't worry about army morale or losing a bit of money at first; your goal is to crush neighbouring governments and install your own.
- Once one is done, move on to the next, and the next. Feel free to build more armies as necessary; the last thing you want is to fail and have your opponent begin moving steadily past their starting three armies in retaliation.
- Try to establish cores in all three provinces immediately to decrease the risk of insurrection.
During this period you'll also want to engage overseas nations in friendly diplomacy. Scotland and the collective provinces of France (including France itself) make fine targets for your overtures, as do the provinces of Spain to the south. Be careful not to be dragged into France's war with England, though, as you won't be ready to take on the juggernaut just yet.
It's also wise in this period to improve relations with England. If you dally too long on conquering your neighbours you may face diplomatic ties with England and the other territories, and England could potentially come to their rescue if called. Just remember, England's overall goal will almost always be to float over and conquer your land. Any friendship you establish is strictly temporary.
Getting rid of the other three countries is the easy part of this equation. Now you have to deal with England. If you've ever played a game of Europa Universalis in Europe, you probably know how painful fighting England can be: it's a large country, its army is massive, its navy is danged-near unsinkable, and its economy allows England to support all of these facts. Only other major powers like France, Spain, and the united Germanic or Italian state stand much of a chance of taking on England. Puny little Leinster, Munster, Ulster or Connaught doesn't stand much of a chance on its own.
Fortunately, you don't have to fight on your own. The key to snagging Meath away from England is to ferment discontent against them.
- Cozy up to Scotland and, ideally, France. Both countries have a severe beef to pick with England, and France begins each game at war with their English-speaking rivals. The Iberian countries are a good choice as well, though their distance makes them secondary.
Once you've set up a royal marriage or two and boosted relations, you'll have two basic choices as to how you can proceed:
- Build up an alliance with a variety of countries and declare war on England. If possible, do this when they're already at war with someone else. Scotland is a key component in this alliance, as they can keep England's army at bay, while France will put up a decent fight against England's navy. You ideally want enough participants that England doesn't even want to think about your territory, and thus doesn't try to recover Meath.
- Ride the coattails of another war. England seldom spends any time at peace, so it's not that difficult to exploit someone else's existing struggle. You're also at a slightly lower risk of failure this way, since England's armies will already be mobilized elsewhere (hopefully overseas where they can't bother you).
Conquering Meath is not that difficult. Toss two or three armies in there and chances are good you'll bring its walls down within a few years. The real difficulty is keeping Meath, because the English military will happily cross the Irish Sea and take it back from you. The solution? Break England.
This is not as difficult as it seems, though you must be equal parts swift and brutal.
- While you're conquering the other provinces of Ireland, prepare three or four transports you can use to shuttle your troops from the banks of Ireland to the banks of England.
- Then, once the war is underway and Scottish troops have invaded from the north and England's forces are spread in various locations, begin sailing your armies to England in controlled bursts.
- You want to keep a close eye on the English navy, as it tends to travel in big clumps which will decimate your puny force. (Consequently, there's not much point in creating warships. Stick to transports. Your navy can't win.)
There are two reasons to invade England. The first is obvious enough: you need to end the war in your favour to assimilate Meath. Invade territories and drive up your war score to such a point that England will capitulate to your demands. The other reason is to anger the people of England into rebellion, which is very, very important for crippling this juggernaut of a country—if the English army is busy waging a civil war, they'll have no chance to come after you.
If you spend some cash supporting rebels in English provinces, you stand a good chance of triggering the War of the Roses, and if you support the right side you may come out of your conflict with a good standing in England. (Not likely, but it's possible.)
Ultimately, you have to make peace with England to form Ireland, so one way or another you have to bring your enemy to its knees. Once that's done, try to improve relations with England... or keep an eye on the other prerequisites so the peace only lasts long enough to form Ireland. Be warned, though; if you press the attack for too long and make yourself a lifelong enemy of England, you'd best be ready to bring the bigger country down for good. Otherwise, they'll make crushing Ireland a regular fixture of their foreign policy when they're back on their feet.
Assuming you got through the war with England, you'll likely now be in a position to unify Ireland. If not, wait a few years until you meet the prerequisites, maintaining peaceful relations with everyone around you so you can unify as soon as possible.
Once that's done, the world is your oyster! Unified Ireland will have a much stronger economy, allowing you to expand beyond the Atlantic Ocean or down to Africa in the south. Which route you take depends on the progression of your Ideas, though I recommend making a move for the New World and shifting Ireland's capital out there.
From here you can establish a much larger country than you could in Ireland proper, allowing your civilization to transform into a major world power. (You can also establish independent colonies and retain control of Ireland itself, but it's not as fun.)
Charles on May 17, 2014:
Conquering Meath was easy, as long as you've got Scotland as your ally and England is still at war with France in the 100 Years' War.