When There Are Different Histories But Only One Game

This feature is part of our special series on History and Games.

For many gamers, Europa Universalis is one of the best sim­u­la­tions of his­tor­i­cal nation-building. One can pick any coun­try from the late medieval world, to lead them through his­to­ry through schemat­ic yet in some ways real­is­tic game­play. However not every user was sat­is­fied with the por­tray­al of ‘their’ coun­try. The ensu­ing debate was­n’t the usual one between devel­op­ers and users but rather took place main­ly between users from dif­fer­ent nation­al back­grounds.

Europa Universalis is a series of strat­e­gy games devel­oped by Paradox Entertainment. The first title was released in 2000, but the series is ulti­mate­ly based on a board game from 1993, and takes place on a world map, which is divid­ed into provinces. The main units of the game are the coun­tries. The key ele­ments of the game­play are diplo­ma­cy and war; the goal is to col­lect the most vic­to­ry points.

EU2 (2001) has a sim­i­lar inter­face to its pre­de­ces­sor, but its game­play is more sophis­ti­cat­ed, and most impor­tant­ly for our dis­cus­sion, it has more gamers from Eastern Central European coun­tries. On the Paradox Entertainment forum we can track down inter­est­ing cul­tur­al clash­es regard­ing the his­to­ry of this region, as we will see.

War in the game is not chaot­ic, and this is very impor­tant. While human play­ers may fol­low their own impe­r­i­al dreams, the AI declares war only based on a casus belli, reli­gion and the sta­tus of mutu­al rela­tions. Each coun­try con­trols provinces and may also have core provinces. Core provinces rep­re­sent a legit­i­mate claim which gives a per­ma­nent casus belli to the respec­tive coun­try. The sta­tus of “core” is based on his­tor­i­cal claim, for instance for­mer rule in that province. In con­trolled core provinces the risk of pop­u­la­tion revolt is lower, and they also gen­er­ate more income.

EU2 has had many patch­es, but the last one was ver­sion 1.09 in 2001. While the devel­op­ers did­n’t focus total­ly on a his­tor­i­cal­ly accu­rate setup of the world, some gamers did, and after years of work their com­mu­ni­ty cre­at­ed the Alternative Grand Campaign Event Exchange Project [AGCEEP], a mod­i­fi­ca­tion which uses the EU2 1.09 setup. EU3 was released in 2007 and EU4 in 2013.

By not pre­cise­ly por­tray­ing the copy of the world, some play­ers con­sid­er EU2 to be a bad sim­u­la­tor. The devel­op­ers under­line that the game was­n’t intend­ed to be a sim­u­la­tor any­way, but the fans did­n’t care much about this, because EU2 was frus­trat­ing­ly close to being a decent one. After releas­ing the game in 2001, the Paradox forum was flood­ed with com­ments regard­ing lit­tle changes desired by play­ers. Most of them affect­ed the game­play, but there were his­tor­i­cal debates as well. These threads were not just bit­ter com­ments of ‘well edu­cat­ed users’ on the mis­takes of the ‘his­tor­i­cal­ly unaware’ devel­op­ers; there were also debates amongst users from dif­fer­ent coun­tries regard­ing the his­tor­i­cal real­i­ties sur­round­ing the coun­tries por­trayed in the game. These are par­tic­u­lar­ly pre­cious and enter­tain­ing debates, as they reflect each mod­ern coun­try’s dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ries and edu­ca­tion. In what fol­lows, let’s take a clos­er look at three typ­i­cal cases.

Mighty Croatia

In a thread called ‘Croatia core provinces’ the user King of Croatia starts with this line:

Can para­dox [Paradox Entertainment] please put Dalmatia, Bosnia and Ragusa as Croatia core provinces in the next patch.1

Obviously we have a hun­gry per­son here. In anoth­er thread he makes it clear what the restora­tion of 10th cen­tu­ry Croatia should look like real­ly: Croatia, Krain, Istria, Dalmatia, Steiermark, Banat, and Ragusa.

In EU2’s start­ing setup (in 1419) Croatia owns one province and is a vas­sal of Hungary. They are at war with Venice, but oddly they are not in alliance with each other. Croatia has one core, name­ly Krain, which belonged at the time to Hungary.

The his­tor­i­cal sit­u­a­tion from a Hungarian view­point is dif­fer­ent: Krain did­n’t belong to Hungary, it was part of Croatia. Croatia was­n’t an ally, nor vas­sal, but sim­ply part of the realm. Croatia did­n’t have an autonomous king at that time, did­n’t have an army, or own diplo­mats, etc. The com­ment of Barkderg tes­ti­fies how com­mon­ly prob­lems such as these arose in threads:

waits for the Hungarians to arrive who will claim that Croatia actu­al­ly was part of Hungary2

As it turned out, user King of Croatia want­ed the changes based on the debat­ed pos­ses­sions of the Croatian royal dynasty in the 10th cen­tu­ry. He argues that king Tomislav ruled the in-game provinces Bosnia, Croatia, Krain, Dalmatia, and Ragusa. From one of the devel­op­ers, he got the advice to come up with anoth­er argu­ment. He then argued that the pop­u­la­tion was main­ly Croatian in Dalmatia, Bosnia and Ragusa. Formulating a claim is based on dynas­tic his­to­ry, and the devel­op­ers used this guide­line.

User Derek Pullem added an inter­est­ing acer­bic con­tri­bu­tion to the thread:

Why don’t we release a mod where every sin­gle Balkan state has CB’s [casus belli] on every other Balkan state — as that seems to be the case when­ev­er these threads arise. […] The point about CB’s and core provinces is to enable the game to unfold rough­ly as his­to­ry hap­pened.3

There was a lit­tle Bosnian–Croatian dis­agree­ment: user Bosnian stat­ed that Bosnia was most­ly Bosnian, so it should­n’t be a Croatian core province. King of Croatia was basi­cal­ly on his own, but con­cern­ing Dalmatia he got sup­port from 23 users. They claimed that the coast­line belonged to Venice but the inland area to Croatia (thus to Hungary). Even the por­trayed war at the begin­ning of the game against Venice was because of this. Venice took Dalmatia from Croatia/Hungary, so a war begun. In the end, it was a short-lived thread and after three days there were no more com­ments.

The issue was solved rel­a­tive­ly eas­i­ly. Regarding the core province issue, the devel­op­ers stuck to the dynas­tic claim prin­ci­ple, not to the eth­nic one. They dropped the “big Croatia” the­o­ry, and as core provinces they por­trayed only the 1112th cen­tu­ry Croatia. From a Hungarian view­point it was still “wrong”, since there was no Croatian royal dynasty in the time range of the game, so giv­ing cores to Croatia, or even include Croatia in the game seemed unfound­ed. But this sep­a­rate issue was to be dis­cussed in many other threads, not here.

With the EU2 1.09 patch, Croatia remained a vas­sal of Hungary but addi­tion­al­ly con­trolled Krain. The coun­try got Dalmatia as core province, but Hungary lost Istria. Ragusa was no longer part of Venice and became an inde­pen­dent state. This was also men­tioned in the forum, but no one stat­ed that Ragusa was inde­pen­dent in the 15th cen­tu­ry, only ear­li­er. Paradox made the change any­way.

In the AGCEEP mod Croatia does­n’t exist as a fac­tion; The Hungarian forum mem­bers were pleased.

As a fol­lowup title EU3 was­n’t affect­ed by AGCEEP, and the issue had to be tack­led there in its own way. The debat­ed con­trol of Krain was solved by ahis­tor­i­cal­ly sum­mon­ing the Patriarchate of Aquilea. Historically it exist­ed till 1433, and had a small­er ter­ri­to­ry than Croatia had. However, in EU3 it has 4 provinces. 4 small provinces, while Croatia makes one big province only. In this release Croatia is inte­grat­ed into Hungary, not even a vas­sal. Finally, EU4 used yet anoth­er map, but this time it was ade­quate in shape and size as well. Croatia was not a coun­try any­more, and Aquilea van­ished. With that, the issue of the Croatian ter­ri­to­ries ceased to exist.

Too powerful Habsburgs

A basic con­cern of design­ing these games is the ques­tion of how to cat­e­go­rize the orga­ni­za­tions of the world pop­u­la­tion and what can be con­sid­ered as a coun­try and what not. The abo­rig­i­nal tribes in Australia for exam­ple are pre­sent­ed as “unor­ga­nized natives”, but the tribes on Celebes are con­sid­ered a coun­try, just like England. There is no tool for mark­ing the dif­fer­ence other than assign­ing the sta­tus of coun­try or not. Also, the devel­op­ers had to decide what Austria was. Without ques­tion it was orga­nized, but how could it be labeled a dynas­tic domin­ion? A dynas­tic domin­ion is a realm where dif­fer­ent coun­tries belong to the same dynasty through fam­i­ly ties. As the dynasty has its head, the realm has its emper­or, but the parts of the realm are not merged, and they have dif­fer­ent lev­els of auton­o­my. Such a realm would fall apart as the dynasty dies, and every part of the realm would choose a new dynasty on their own. The Habsburgs had this kind of realm for cen­turies, and it was forged to a more or less uni­fied empire, but was it uni­fied already at the begin­ning, jus­ti­fy­ing its por­tray­al as a coun­try? Well, the users weren’t sure either. In the thread ‘Austria, Burgundy, and Habsburg Lands’ there is a short but sharp dis­cus­sion about the men­tioned prob­lem. User Twoflower dropped the first bomb:

…for the most impor­tant dynasty of all, the Hapsburgs, EU2 makes a strange excep­tion. The Hapsburg ter­ri­to­ries that were IRL [in real life] divid­ed into three branch­es, Austria, Styria and Tyrol, that were def­i­nite­ly as autonomous as the Wittelsbach branch­es, are merged into one dynas­tic coun­try in 1419 [start of the game].4

Mad King James was also annoyed by this:

…Styria passed to Austria in 1439, HOWEVER Tyrol did not pass to Austria per­ma­nent­ly until 1665.5

This was cor­rect­ed later by other users. Styria unit­ed with Austria in 1468, but gained its auton­o­my back the same cen­tu­ry. The three duchies (the afore­men­tioned branch­es) were ruled by var­i­ous lines of the Habsburg fam­i­ly. The coop­er­a­tion was not always tight, for exam­ple when it became evi­dent that Sigismund of Tyrol (15th cen­tu­ry) would die child­less­ly, he pre­ferred the Bavarian Wittelsbachs as heirs. Of course the Habsburg fam­i­ly inter­vened. The inter­est­ing part comes, when Isaac Brock brought anoth­er view­point:

Yeah, but the Netherlands were inde­pen­dent under the Archdukes (Albert and Isabella) from 1598 to 1621. If Styria and Tyrol should be inde­pen­dent in 1600, so should the Netherlands.6

Mad King James then changed his mind, and stat­ed that Styria and Tyrol weren’t so autonomous as to war­rant inde­pen­dent units in the game. He used the term “Austrian admin­is­tra­tion” which ruled these ter­ri­to­ries since the 12th cen­tu­ry. In response Twoflowers cited anoth­er source to prove the oppo­site. He even names it: the 1911 Classic Encyclopedia on Habsburgs. He states the Habsburg domin­ions even had their own sep­a­rate wars. BarbarossaHRE cites a paper called The House Law of the German Habsburgs. By this, he states Tyrol and Styria weren’t inde­pen­dent enough to con­sid­er as inde­pen­dent coun­tries in the game.

The point is, there is no agree­ment con­cern­ing Styria and Tyrol. Some view them as duchies with indi­vid­ual diplo­ma­cy (war, peace, even inher­i­tance), some as part of a com­pli­cat­ed dynas­tic realm. This affects the game­play very much. With so many provinces, play­ing Austria makes the game straight­for­ward, as it is very easy to rise to high­er lev­els on the tech­nol­o­gy lad­der, and thus step by step con­quer­ing every­thing. Even the Ottomans are no real oppo­nent for Austria in the game, con­trary to actu­al his­to­ry. But Twoflowers wrote his com­ment not because of this, but because he did­n’t find the over­ly strong Austria fair in com­par­i­son to other German duchies:

…Austria is much stronger than it was at that time and can start con­quer­ing Germany very early; in fact it was a ter­ri­to­ry just like the other HRE [Holy Roman Empire] prin­ci­pal­i­ties, and not more pow­er­ful than the Palatinate, Brandenburg or Saxony.7

Compared to other nations in the game, this appears incon­sis­tent. For exam­ple, Sigismundus of Luxemburg was King of Hungary, Bohemia and Germany at the same time, as well as emper­or of the Holy Roman Empire. Still, in the game these coun­tries (Hungary and Bohemia) are sep­a­rate enti­ties. It is even pos­si­ble for them to attack each other, despite the fact that they were ruled by the very same king at the begin­ning of the game. Why should the pos­ses­sions of the Habsburgs be merged but the pos­ses­sion of the Luxemburgs not? However, no one real­ly cared about this con­tra­dic­tion.

The devel­op­ers did­n’t change this setup at all with the 1.09 patch. In EU3 Austria became even big­ger, except for the Prince-Archbishopric of Salzburg which became an autonomous enti­ty this time, as it was in real life. The same prin­ci­ple was fol­lowed in EU4. All the domin­ions of the Austrian Habsburgs were gath­ered in one coun­try called Austria in the 15th cen­tu­ry already. So the debate was sim­ply neglect­ed.

Yet the users cre­at­ed an inde­pen­dent Styria and Tyrol in AGCEEP. These enti­ties will later suc­ceed to Austria by a pro­grammed event. This was­n’t exact­ly impos­si­ble to imple­ment in the offi­cial game, but most of the gamers were able to get over its absence.

Deadlock at Dracula’s home

From the Romanian point of view the Roman Imperial army retreat­ed from Dacia in 271 CE, and over the next cen­turies the peo­ple remain­ing behind became the Romanian peo­ple. The Hungarians set­tled in the Pannonian Basin in the 9th and 10th cen­turies and expand­ed into adja­cent regions in the 11th and 12th cen­turies, includ­ing Transylvania. At the time, Transylvania was divid­ed between a few region­al lords who were eas­i­ly defeat­ed by the Hungarian army. Transylvania remained under Hungarian rule until 1918.

From the Hungarian point of view there is no link between present day Romanians and the Roman legions. Thus the Hungarian war­lord Árpád took con­trol over Transylvania not from the Romanians, but from the believed descen­dants of the Huns. As the tribe-alliance was vio­lent­ly cen­tral­ized into a Catholic king­dom in the late 10th and early 11th cen­tu­ry, Transylvania became part of the realm just like the ter­ri­to­ries of the other tribes. According to the Hungarian view of his­to­ry, the Romanians orig­i­nat­ed from the Balkans and only began to migrate to the Carpathian slopes as shep­herds in the 14th cen­tu­ry.

The story begins with a sur­prise: in EU2 Transylvania is an inde­pen­dent state. There was no debate between Hungarians and Romanians over this phe­nom­e­na, as both knew Transylvania was part of Hungary in that age. The out­rage orig­i­nat­ed con­cern­ing the details: the cul­ture of the province is Romanian in the game, while the reli­gion is Catholic, which is a con­tra­dic­tion, since the vast major­i­ty of Romanians were Orthodox. With the 1.09 patch this was altered to “Magyar” (Hungarian) cul­ture and Catholic reli­gion, but it was­n’t Hungarian vas­sal any­more, Hungary had only a core on it.

As part of these con­cerns, Blaster came up with a bright idea, open­ing the thread ‘Romania’ and start­ing a land­slide:

What about an event for Wallachia to unite with Moldavia in Romania (or even bet­ter… Dacia) if Wallachia isn’t OE’s [Ottoman Empire] vas­sal and has an alliance with Moldavia? Also the Transylvanian provinces should have the Romanian cul­ture and not Hungarian (mag­yar) ; some where catholics but never mag­yar. Wallachia should have all Romanian provinces as nation­al provinces, that’s his­tor­i­cal­ly cor­rect.8

Events are part of the game­play in EU. Usually when an event is hap­pen­ing, the game stops, a panel appears with a short out­line of the his­tor­i­cal back­ground, and with one or more but­tons. Usually the play­er has a choice to decide, trig­ger­ing dif­fer­ent fur­ther events or effects. The men­tioned idea is based on the event for instance the one which is trig­gered when a play­er gets most of the German prin­ci­pal­i­ties and then Germany is found­ed. The user can­not found Germany or what­ev­er coun­try on its own, it must be pro­grammed as event.

Vandervecken added a peace­ful note, which still con­tained some ‘land mines’:

…the idea of a union of three Romanian cul­ture states should only be real­ly imple­ment­ed dur­ing Michael the Brave’s reign. Any ear­li­er union would mean to mis­un­der­stand the men­tal­i­ties of the time.9

Mentioning three Romanian cul­ture states seems to be a curse word in Hungary if one of the three is meant to be Transylvania. In the 16th cen­tu­ry Transylvania emerged as an inde­pen­dent state, and later an Ottoman vas­sal, as a result of a war of suc­ces­sion in the Kingdom of Hungary. It had lit­tle to do with eth­nic­i­ty or reli­gion, but more with geog­ra­phy and Hungarian pol­i­tics. Anyway, Transylvania emerged as a col­or­ful enti­ty which can be viewed dif­fer­ent­ly.

Bluster took the effort again:

the cen­ter of all Romanian his­to­ry was to unite all Romanians that’s why i asked for a event for that, just if both Moldavia and Wallachia are free and allied they should form Romania from Hungarian his­to­ry point of view Transylvania is theres cul­ture but the land was always Romanian, that’s what I’m say­ing and Wallachia should have them at least marked nation­al provinces.10

galus­ka react­ed quick­ly:

Transylvania should change to Romanian [cul­ture] dur­ing Bethlen Gábor’s reign, not ear­li­er […] Until Bethlen [162030’s], the most influ­en­tial — and most numer­ous — part of Transylvania was Hungarian or Hungarian széke­ly…11

Culture is anoth­er part of the game­play. If Hungary con­trols Transylvania, but Transylvania has Romanian cul­ture, then it will be more expen­sive to main­tain sta­bil­i­ty (which affects revolt risk, rev­enues and diplo­ma­cy amongst oth­ers). Of course it stands vice versa: if Wallachia or Moldavia annex Transylvania, they will have trou­bles with sta­bil­i­ty, if Transylvania’s cul­ture is Hungarian in the game.

Bluster tried to make things clear:

Transylvania is Romanian ter­ri­to­ry from the roman times.12

An inter­est­ing twist occurred when a Hungarian gamer linked a book in English over Transylvania. Thus begun a dis­cus­sion over the Romanian pres­ence in Transylvania in the 1516th cen­turies. Then the dis­cus­sion became a bit philo­soph­i­cal, argu­ing over sources, as the linked book was writ­ten by Hungarians and apart from the Hungarians not many users accept­ed it.

Regarding the issue of eth­nic pres­ence user igen777 summed up an impor­tant argu­ment:

…as you see it is not even rare to explain the mid­dle ages and the renais­sance as a nation­al his­to­ry which is stu­pid as there were no nations at that time. […] of course nation­al­ism is def­i­nite­ly NOT the main line of the his­to­ry till the 19 cen­tu­ry.13

It was a very long dis­pute whether Transylvania should have Hungarian or Romanian cul­ture in the game, but the main divide was clear: Hungarians stat­ed Transylvania had Hungarian major­i­ty, Romanians stat­ed the oppo­site. This nuance affects the tax rev­enues in the game: a province which has­n’t got the same cul­ture as the state gen­er­ates 60% less tax in EU2. It also has high­er revolt risk. The thread has 302 com­ments, and the dis­cus­sion lead to anoth­er thread after three months of heavy debate, as the orig­i­nal request was dis­cussed enough.

In the end, a com­pro­mise was made. In the game, Transylvania should have Hungarian cul­ture to start with, and then even­tu­al­ly it would change. Wallachia would have Transylvania as core province, and the request for an event of the birth of Romania was dropped. But then a dis­cus­sion over the province Banat emerged. Wallachia had it as its core, but from a Hungarian point of view the Banat was a main Hungarian agri­cul­tur­al area which never was dis­put­ed. However, user Laur wrote:

As far as I know, Banat was orig­i­nal­ly the name given to the province between the rivers Danube, Olt, and Mures [rivers in today’s Romania] and the Carpathian moun­tains, ruled by the leg­endary Glad.14

It turned out to be a mis­take:

No. Banat(e) is a gen­er­al name of a land which was ruled by a bán [like a gov­er­nor]. there were sep­a­rate banates…15

The province Banat in the game is not iden­ti­cal with the ter­ri­to­ry described by Laur. This issue will have later an effect, but not in this thread.

It is worth to men­tion, as an exam­ple, the atti­tude of the Hungarian com­ments. Europa Universalis 2 was based on a French board game, devel­oped by a Swedish stu­dio, and released by Canadian pub­lish­er Strategy First, whom in this case Hungarians can con­sid­er as ‘French vil­lains’ too. During the first part of the 20th cen­tu­ry France had close polit­i­cal ties with Romania, while Hungary had only Nazi Germany as its ally. By this, the rest of the west­ern world learned rather the Romano-French nar­ra­tive of this region, or so Hungarians claimed at least. Hungary casts itself as an iso­lat­ed orphan, and seem­ing­ly in the EU2 debate this atti­tude remained the same. There are many para­noid ‘you don’t lis­ten to us’, ‘why don’t you read my link?’ or ‘we proved our argu­ment but you just neglect it’ com­ments. It is inter­est­ing how his­tor­i­cal accu­sa­tions in cyber­space can reflect actu­al polit­i­cal atti­tudes.

As it seems, the devel­op­ers weren’t affect­ed by the debate. In the 1.09 patch, Transylvania remained inde­pen­dent, more­over this time it is not a vas­sal of any coun­try, which is very strange since no one in the dis­cus­sion claimed that posi­tion. The province’s reli­gion remained Catholic but the cul­ture changed to Hungarian, which was indeed a request by Hungarian users.

In AGCEEP all the ques­tions were con­sid­ered, and they cre­at­ed an accept­able setup for every­one. Transylvania is part of Hungary, not a state, its cul­ture is Hungarian and its reli­gion is Catholic. Culture is changed through later events, when Transylvania emerged to become a coun­try. By this com­pro­mise, the debate over who was there ear­li­er and who was the major­i­ty faded.

In EU3 there were huge changes. Transylvania starts as vas­sal state of Hungary, with Hungarian cul­ture and with Catholic reli­gion. Hungary has how­ev­er the Banat too. This was an odd devel­op­ment, maybe the devel­op­ers mis­un­der­stood the com­ments in the forum. But hey, it’s just a game. Peace had set­tled by EU4. In this game the world map was final­ly ade­quate, every real-world coun­try got her accu­rate shape, and ahis­tor­i­cal or anachro­nis­tic coun­tries just dis­ap­peared. So did the 15th cen­tu­ry Transylvania and the whole core/culture debate.

Guideline to judge

There was no offi­cial pol­i­cy pub­lished, but sim­i­lar to bug report­ing, Paradox con­sid­ered some of the com­ments on the forum when decid­ing on changes to make in patch­es. Although admin­is­tra­tor State Machine was very clear about this:

Paradox may fix these [report­ed] bugs — there are no guar­an­tees. Also, this is not a wish list forum. Post enhance­ments to the game in the General Discussions Forum (if you must :)). Note, there used to be a Wish List forum, but Paradox does not intend to make any sig­nif­i­cant enhance­ments to the game.16

To judge a request, they tried to avoid biased nar­ra­tion by stick­ing to a third-party source. As unmerged(20844) answered Riddermark’s propo­si­tion about Bulgaria:

…to make an impres­sion, you need to give the cre­ators impar­tial info, that is not a Bulgarian his­to­ry book, bet­ter find some author­i­ty on the Internet.17

In aca­d­e­m­ic sense this is not a secure way to rule out par­tial authors, because it can hap­pen that an ‘out­sider’ rely on biased ‘insid­er’ the­o­ries. But this pol­i­cy was use­ful after all.

Fixing bugs was much eas­i­er than fix­ing false rep­re­sen­ta­tion, as ‘false’ is a mat­ter of posi­tion. Actually the sit­u­a­tion was never that bad, and there was no acute dead­lock in the dis­put­ed region. First of all the time frame of the game cov­ers an era which is already well doc­u­ment­ed in Europe. In addi­tion, the lim­its of the game demand­ed sim­ple yes or no answers. However it also caused some of the debates.

Because of the not so detailed map, the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the bor­ders could­n’t be exact. The provinces on the map don’t cover all the polit­i­cal enti­ties of the era. Some of the provinces should be split at least in half. Theoretically this con­flict was the hard­est to solve, but since the game is also about con­quest, they could bal­ance the prob­lem with the insti­tute of core provinces. This was the case with the Croatian requests. The province of Dalmatia could belong to Venice but also to Croatia, since actu­al­ly it should be split into a coast­line (Venice) and a land (Croatia). Similar to that, Krain by name belonged to Styria but by shape that ter­ri­to­ry should belong to Croatia. That’s how Croatia got core on Dalmatia and Krain itself in the 1.09 patch. But once a bet­ter divid­ed map arrived in EU3, the debate over Krain and Dalmatia was off the table.

Once a polit­i­cal enti­ty was able to be more or less well deter­mined on the map, there was only a bina­ry option for rep­re­sent­ing it: state or rebel. A duchy, a repub­lic, a monar­chy, a horde, a trib­al alliance are equal­ly rep­re­sent­ed as states with a monarch. If the enti­ty had­n’t a monarch-like leader, it could be only rep­re­sent­ed as ‘rebel province’. A province (or more provinces) with its cul­ture and reli­gion, and a high revolt risk. The vassal/independent sta­tus is use­ful to rep­re­sent real vas­sal state rela­tions, but is a bad way to rep­re­sent state in state sit­u­a­tions. Some duchies in a big­ger realm were only a prac­tic­ing field of the heir to the throne, some were more indi­vid­ual, but the game can­not dis­tin­guish by default. This hap­pened with Croatia. In EU2 it was por­trayed as a vas­sal of Hungary while she was a bit less than that, and it ended as a province in EU3 while she was a bit more than just a province. Or this was the prob­lem with Syria and Tyrol too. Both were part of the Habsburg realm, yet not always with­out indi­vid­ual ways. The his­tor­i­cal strug­gle of Austria was to fun­nel the poten­tial of the dif­fer­ent Habsburg pos­ses­sions to defeat the Ottomans, in con­trary to the sit­u­a­tion in the game where Austria can eas­i­ly grow rely­ing on her already forged provinces. But at least both in Austria’s and Croatia’s cases we can name the truth, and we can reveal there is no real dead­lock in the debate.

Most of the debates are over ‘cores’ and the set­tings of cul­ture and reli­gion of provinces, and Paradox can­not pos­si­bly solve all these issues. The pro­pos­al of giv­ing Croatia core on Bosnia was not suc­cess­ful, because Bosnians stat­ed Bosnia was never part of Croatia, and the debat­ed era (810th cen­tu­ry) is the least doc­u­ment­ed, so none of the claims could be con­firmed. In this case Paradox sticked to the facts: there was a Kingdom of Bosnia in the early 15th cen­tu­ry, peri­od.

The issue of Transylvania had also its lay­ers. First of all it was false rep­re­sent­ed as a vas­sal of Hungary. In EU3 it became not just inde­pen­dent but also big­ger. Regardless of this issue, there was an other layer, name­ly the core province debate. Should Wallachia have core on Transylvania and Moldavia as they might belonged togeth­er before the romans, did the lords of the late-medieval Wallachia claimed those ter­ri­to­ries, or did they not? This ques­tion was instant­ly mixed with a third debate, whether the cul­ture of Transylvania was orthodox-Romanian or main­ly catholic with Hungarian dom­i­nance? While the first two issue were easy to solve, the third could­n’t be solved unless the users in the forum made a com­pro­mise.

Gamers gonna game

So what were the guide­lines in the end? The devel­op­ers seem­ing­ly did­n’t always rely on research, and the debates on the forum had a great impact on fur­ther changes. But they also fol­lowed the game logic regard­ing casus belli issues or sim­ply neglect­ed the not so heavy dis­putes. While patch 1.09 was a huge effort to make the ini­tial map-setup more prop­er, EU3 had more focus on accu­rate dynam­ics of the world. EU4 merged these two angles, and imple­ment­ed a lot of changes of the AGCEEP project. AGCEEP was a wiki project, so it can be regard­ed as a bench­mark of the widest com­pro­mise. And since the game was fun after all and can be mod­ded eas­i­ly, Paradox was­n’t like­ly to lose any play­ers over it.

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Istvan Sudar

About Istvan Sudar

Istvan Sudar studies Global History at University of Vienna, Austria. He is also a blogger who creates maps of global conflicts. At the expense of these, he is fond of strategy games.