Top 7 Best Multiplayer Ideas in EU4 (Ranked)

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Everyone knows how important the choice of idea groups is in Europa Universalis IV. Aside from your national ideas, idea groups are the main way you can shape your playstyle.

While national ideas cannot change (unless you form another nation), idea groups are unlocked at specific intervals throughout the game. You can consistently plan them out beforehand.

Especially in multiplayer games, the correct idea groups are a necessity to survive against other players. Due to the nature of competitive lobbies, expanding uncontrollably (going “wide”) is usually not an option. Instead you want ideas that compliment a more compact power base (playing “tall”).

This ranking is aimed at lobbies without any gameplay altering mods. The top ideas in this list are almost always modified by gameplay altering mods because they’re a must pick.

At the time of this writing (patch 1.33), changes to some of the mentioned groups have been announced; but most arguments made on the article will remain relevant regardless!


7. Naval

The Naval idea group. / EU4

Yes, Naval gets a place on this list. Although it’s been considered a meme-tier pick for a long time, naval ideas have finally found their niche in multiplayer lobbies.

What is this niche? Well, naval warfare.

While land battles are far more important in the game, naval warfare was vastly underestimated for a long time. Recently, people have realized that dominance on the high seas can be a huge advantage.

While not war-winning, there are instances where your navy can make an enemy’s life hell.

Take a war between Spain and France for example.

Even if France is slightly stronger, it would take a long time to break through the Pyrenees. Naval dominance can allow amphibious assaults for the aggressor and a way for the defender to pressure for a white peace (through blockading and denying reinforcements).

You shouldn’t pick Naval ideas in general. Especially not in the early game. One nation per alliance block should get them as the game progresses to the later stages.


6. Offensive

The Offensive idea group. / EU4

Offensive ideas make a lot of sense for the list.

Good military bonuses for your army are what you are looking for to give you an edge over your enemies. Sadly, in the current meta, offensive ideas fall a little bit short in terms of priority.

In an environment were all decisions (no matter how small) can mean losing the game, there’s little room for choice. Offensive is outperformed by two other military idea groups higher on the list.

However, it’s the third strongest one. As you need as much of a boost to your military as possible, you will eventually pick offensive as well. All the bonuses provided make your military slightly better. Siege ability and extra discipline can be the difference between winning and losing a major war!

Their bonuses to generals are far more valuable early on, but as I said earlier: other groups take priority.

If you’re confident in your abilities or isolated from other players, you could try getting them earlier than usual!


5. Exploration/Expansion

The Exploration and Expansion idea group. / EU4

Multiplayer EUIV is a very different game from singleplayer.

In a strictly competitive environment with players on all major European nations, you should never pick these groups. You will be steamrolled by a stronger neighbor.

However, with some shrewd diplomacy and good politics on your part, you can get away with it. Maybe promise to migrate out of Europe or give money to a neighbor of yours to leave you alone.

Exploration and expansion usually go hand in hand. Although if you’re weary of your neighbors, you can pick exploration and unlock only the first couple ideas. Colonize a bit and then refund the group for a more militarily focused one.

There are cases where you can pick only expansion as well. This can usually happen if you are playing somewhere outside of Europe and far away from other players and need the two colonists for fast colonizing.

A high-risk high-reward play for sure.

If you indeed go down this road, I recommend not doing it at the expense of early military idea groups.


4. Trade

The Trade idea group. / EU4

Trade is your money maker from the mid-game onwards.

Armies need money to keep them on the field!

Providing extra merchants and buffs to trade power, this idea group is invaluable in multiplayer. While in singleplayer you may be fully controlling whole nodes and be the only one steering/collecting there, this will rarely be the case in multiplayer.

I won’t explain the game’s trade mechanics in detail here because that topic needs a couple articles by itself. I assure you though, in shared trade nodes your trade power and income will skyrocket with this idea group.

The bonuses to trade power and steering in nodes shared with other players are very strong. Excellent policies with the rest of the top 4 ideas seal the deal for trade ideas.

Trade ideas are my recommendation for a 4th idea group in a typical multiplayer lobby.


3. Quality

The Quality idea group. / EU4

Quality is the late game king of military boosts. Well, for singleplayer at least. In multiplayer you’ll want this group earlier than usual!

Quality ideas simply make your troops and ships fight better.

The ship part, while useful, isn’t really important. The combat abilities to all your military units though along with the extra discipline are invaluable.

The group’s policies are also fantastic. Most of these policies are in conjunction with other idea groups that are a priority in multiplayer games, giving them even more relative value.

Having quality ideas fully fleshed out by the time artillery becomes relevant in battles (mil tech 13) will give your firepower a huge boost! This works great as a 3rd idea – unless you feel adventurous and go offensive instead. In that case, pick it 4th or 5th.


2. Economic

The Economic idea group. / EU4

Economic ideas are exactly what you need when you’re squished tight and your options to expand are limited. That’ll be the case in crowded multiplayer lobbies.

Providing buffs tailored to nations who want to develop and build up their provinces, they allow you to efficiently spend money and monarch points to increase your capabilities without expanding.

The main bonus that pushes them so high up on the list is the -20% development cost for fully unlocking all ideas in the group.

This modifier is massive, especially when stacked on top of other similar ones. Cheaply developing your provinces is a must if you want to run a successful country!

On top of enabling a tall playstyle from very early on, economic ideas have excellent policies with other must-pick groups. Policies that in many cases provide strong military buffs. I cannot stress enough how important a strong military is in multiplayer.

This is almost a must-pick 2nd, or even 1st idea group. If you’re relatively isolated, you can be greedy and pick it as a first group.


1. Quantity

The Quantity idea group. / EU4

Quantity ideas are the undisputed king of multiplayer.

Analyzing the group, you can easily deduce that the multiplicative bonuses are stronger in the late game. However, the group is so important in warfare between players that it will usually be one of your earliest picks!

Since the mercenary changes, maximum manpower and manpower recovery are arguably the most important modifiers in the game. Manpower is an invaluable resource; more is always welcome.

If you have vastly more troops than your enemy, you can strategically fight and lose every single battle until they are out of manpower. Then, you can push him back and force a peace. Remember, quantity has a quality of its own!

The rest of the bonuses aside from the ones to manpower and manpower recovery speed are there to reduce attrition and make your army cheaper. Reductions to attrition indirectly translate to manpower.

The less upkeep you need for your troops, the more you can field.

And this group also has excellent policies with economic and trade, two groups that are high on this list. The policy with economic ideas specifically is so powerful that you want it as early as possible.

Note: The only imminent impactful change will be the Quantity-Economic policy. In patch 1.34 it is changed in a way that makes it irrelevant.

But this is almost a necessity to be picked as the 1st idea group. Granted, you can be greedy and go economic first; and in that case Quantity ideas should be your 2nd choice.

Even if completely isolated, this policy with economic is invaluable!

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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.