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    • Aldrahill
      Europa Universalis IV (EU4) is a game that I endlessly come back to – I broke the 4 digit club (1000+ hours) over a year ago, but I still keep coming back to it. Paradox’s continuous release of expansions, patches and DLCs means that there is always something fresh for me to return to. This is both a good and bad thing. On the one hand, I get to experience a game I love and enjoy somewhat new each time, enjoying new features and changed mechanics. On the other, it feeds an addiction that sees me going to bed at 1 in the morning, despite previous obligations.
      Paradox Interactive, one might say, is the most friendly Swedish drug dealer I know.
      Europa Universalis IV’s most recent expansion, ‘Rights of Man’, focuses on increasing the control you have over both your subjects and your leaders. Paradox love to alter the game mechanics of their games quite drastically with new expansions and ‘Rights of Man’ is no different.
      To start, numerous nations have updated government forms, as well as increasingly interesting Dynamic Historical Events, particularly focusing on Prussia and Ethiopia. There’s a lot of really interesting changes to Prussia’s government, for example, that makes them more of an Army with a State, rather than a State with an Army. If that makes sense.

      The meat and bones of this expansion however is the addition of Traits. Now, both leaders and rulers can gain traits that affect their stats that they bring to the table, as well as how they govern. Maybe your ruler is greedy and gets more tax revenue; he could also be Loose Lipped, so you can expect that he’ll spill the beans to other nations about his plans to attack that tasty neighbouring minor nation. These traits are gained over time and really help to build a sense of identity and character for each of your leaders.
      The most significant change I experience in the game is the change to technology. Previously, all nations existed within technology groups – these groups dictated the cost of going up a technology level, thus providing access to better buildings, different army types and a myriad of other benefits. You existed within those technology groups based on where your nation started – it makes sense as after all, a Native American nation is clearly not going to progress at the same rate technologically as a European nation, right?
      Now however, all nations start on the same footing – they progress and purchase new technologies at the same base cost. However, we now have a lovely new feature called Institutions. These essentially represent an idealism, a way of thinking or great change in the manner in which life is lived. Most nations start with Feudalism already in existence (not all nations, though! Tribal nations understandably do not!). The Renaissance is next, followed by the outbreak of colonialism. These Institutions spread across the world through provinces, getting more and more accepted each month – a nation can pay to have it accepted nation wide, with a diminishing gold cost associated with the amount of provinces that have been ‘converted’ to that Institution. Alongside cheaper tech, you also get access to a few mild benefits – for example, having Feudalism means you can enjoy an extra Military leader on your staff.
      This is all really interesting, but it comes with a few problems. Firstly, Institutions appear in a random province when they do appear. Basically giving that nation those benefits for free straight away. Nations that don’t have that Institution receive a yearly 1% tech penalty, up to 50%! Problem is, even if you’re playing Prussia in Northern Germany, you might have to wait about 50 years to get the Institution to take effect in your nation, essentially giving you a massive malus to your technology in comparison to some other nation that was lucky enough to get it first. It just takes waaaaay too long for it to spread.

      Another problem it brings is the dependence on gold – because you can pay gold (dependant on the amount of your provinces so far converted) to convert your whole nation, gold becomes even more insanely important to a game of EU4. Countries with the most cash can now essentially buy cheaper tech in comparison to others. So, money improvement is now fantastically the most important aspect to EU4. I’ve actually declared a pretty major war in Europe, simply so that I can nick some of that other nation’s cash to pay for the institution, so as to get a tech lead on those around me.
      While it adds a really nice layer of strategic depth, the irritation of needing to manage technology maluses to a far worse extent than previously, coupled with an excessive focus on gold generation, means that ‘Rights of Man’ is less about Thomas Paine’s treatise on the innate rights of his fellow man, and more about living in a rich man’s world.

      You can see Aldrahill’s YouTube channel right here, where he’s currently playing Ethiopia in EU4, doing some achievement hunting.
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