Top 5 Best Balkan Nations in EU4

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The Balkans, both today and in-game, are a multicultural region with a bunch of different religions to also choose from. They offer some unique options, with some of the most challenging, yet rewarding, nations you can play.

For this ranking, I decided to not include Venice and Hungary. Venice at its core is more Italian than Balkan, while Hungary (especially after the latest updates) plays more in Central Europe and the HRE.

Both nations of course offer a ton of unique flavor and are very strong options for anyone considering them for their campaigns.

Now, onwards to the most interesting nations in Europe’s so-called powder keg!


5. Albania

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Albania and their awesome starting ruler. Also showcased their guarantee by Venice.

Albania finds itself in a precarious position. Skanderbeg has recently rallied the local Orthodox people against the Ottoman invaders.

Sandwiched between larger powers, Albania has the misfortune of owning Ottoman core provinces at the game’s start. This makes them one of the Ottoman’s first targets. Is it a misfortune though, or a blessing in disguise?

Being guaranteed by Venice and starting with a godlike ruler and general, Albania has all the tools in its disposal to drive back the Ottomans.

Finishing your mission tree gives some very strong military buffs, ensuring your military dominance going forward with the campaign. Idea groups are also very flexible depending on your goals.

My personal recommendation would be to secure the Venice trade node as soon as you have the chance. This will significantly boost your income and will keep boosting it further as you expand east and steer more trade into Venice.

Multiple expansion paths are open to you, towards all directions. Albania also has a unique achievement tied to them “Albania or Iberia” which makes for a very nice late-game goal. If you’re looking for a challenge with a minor nation, Albania is a perfect choice!


4. Wallachia/Moldavia

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Wallachia’s starting ruler is Dracula’s father. You get an event that replaces your starting heir with Dracula when Vlad II dies.

Who doesn’t want to play as the vampires? Well, of course Transylvania is the land of vampires in pop-culture. But the actual man responsible for the whole Vampiric legacy in modern media, the Dracula himself, is available as the Wallachian ruler via event after his father’s death!

The Transdanubian principalities as they came to be called by the Greeks and Turks of the Ottoman empire, Wallachia and Moldavia make the list as a pair because their gameplay is almost identical.

Both nations should look to annex the other ASAP.

After that, they play the same. Secure allies and try to defeat the Ottomans as early as possible.

Sooner or later Hungary will desire your land, so keep that in mind and plot your eventual expansion northwest.

Wallachia and Moldavia share the same mission tree. A mission tree that has you impaling the Sultan and driving the Turks out of the Balkans. Eventually you will be able to form the nation of Romania.

After that, securing the unique achievement “Dracula’s revenge”, requiring control of the entire Balkan region, should be just a matter of time. In fact, in my experience, A Wallachia/Moldavia start makes for a lovely mini campaign where you play until you have secured the unique achievement.


3. Serbia

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The elaborate Serbian mission tree, guiding you through the conquest of the Balkans.

The Serbian Kingdom has been reduced to a shadow of their former self at the game’s start. If the starting date was a couple decades earlier, Serbia would be the preeminent power in the region.

If you’re a fan of comebacks, Serbia is the nation for you. With a few cores in nearby lands and a detailed, flavorful mission tree, Serbia has all the tools at their disposal to reclaim their recently lost splendor.

From the very first day you are on a timer. ALL your stronger neighbors covet your lands. Luckily, you start with a truce with the Ottomans giving you time to mop up your weaker neighbors.

Your mission tree also gives you a way to diplomatically reclaim Belgrade, your capital, from Hungary.

This is very hard in my experience. It’s better to attempt fighting Hungary and annexing all their Balkan land in a single war.

Eventually, the Ottoman truce will end, and you will need to fight them before they snowball out of control. Poland and Austria, or even Hungary and Venice if they were friendly from the start make for nice allies against them.

Serbia also has the unique “Lazarus” achievement, which requires control of the entire Balkan region. You may notice a pattern here; all these nations must fight against the Ottomans very early on and claim the peninsula for themselves.


2. Ottomans

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The Ottomans span most of Anatolia as well as the eastern Balkans. Showcased their 12 years old ruler with amazing stats.

The Ottomans need no introduction.

Easily one of the strongest nations in the game, and objectively the strongest for new players. The big green blob in most normal campaigns will be your main rival in the late game. Unless of course you play as them!

They have a ton of flavor in the form of events and decisions, a powerful unique government, very strong national ideas suited for world conquest, and start as a great power already with arguably the best starting ruler in EU4.

Your military in the early game is unmatched in the battlefield, and so is your siege ability thanks to the Ottomans’ unique Era ability.

A bunch of achievements are available to the Ottomans, but they aren’t unique to them. They can all be completed by forming Rûm with any of the other minor Turkish beyliks as well.

Highly recommended for new players to learn the game’s basics. Especially warfare and how to manage large empires. Beware of coalitions though! As an infidel invader, Christian nations will quickly band against you should you push into Europe very rapidly.


1. Byzantium

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Byzantium’s extensive mission tree. Following it will help you recreate Justinian’s conquests in the west and restoring rule over the entire eastern mediterreanean.

One might call me biased due to my Byzantine heritage, and one would be spot on.

In this case though, Byzantium is undoubtedly the most interesting nation in the region. They have a whole content pack dedicated to them!

Byzantium is essentially the Roman Empire. This alone should be reason enough for someone to play as them.

The Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium as it is called today, at the game’s start has been reduced to the city of Constantinople and a bunch of provinces in southern Greece. However, they start with cores on every mainland Greek province, including the Ottoman capital.

Looking at the map, you may notice you are surrounded by the Ottomans. Well, fear not.

It’s possible to secure allies in the face of Austria, Hungary, Poland, and even Venice in some cases.

Building galleys and blockading the straits can help you win this initial war.

The Ottomans at the game’s start are not yet the invincible Juggernaut they get to be. Defeat them early and claim the Eastern Roman lands back for the empire!

Coming with one of the strongest idea sets, an elaborate mission tree with a lot of flavor, and a unique achievement “Basileus” all makes Byzantium the best choice for anyone looking for a challenging campaign with awesome rewards for their hard work.

The changing of province names to Greek as you conquer more land in the east also adds to the roleplaying element of restoring the great empire of old.

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G. Tsechilidis

Born and raised Greek citizen. His love of history, geography, and all things map-related, are certainly a contrast to his pursuit of a master in civil engineering. An avid gamer from a very young age, he found the perfect match in Grand Strategy Games. If not for a good chess match or a round of carambole billiards, you'll certainly catch him firing up EU4 or a Total War game to spend the evening.