How does trade work in EU4

In EU4, trade is variable income and usually dominates more than 33% of the total income. In this post, I will briefly talk about how trade work and how to maximize it. First, let’s get familiarize with these terms:

  1. Trade nodes: static locations that player can put their merchants at. They can transfer, collect or steer market share of that area.
  2. Upstream/Downstream: trades are steered from upstream to downstream
  3. Mercantilism: giving bonus to your provinces in that local trade node, making your own nation more profitable, isn’t it?
  4. Trade value: represents the monthly sum of locally produced and incoming trade goods in a trade node. Trade value is generated from the quantity and price of produced trade goods in each province.
  5. Trade power is a raw number representing a country’s control over trade in a node. Can be influenced by lightships, competitors, developments, mercantilism, trade power… basically everything on the list
  6. Main trading port: Where you collect money

Here is the map of trade nodes:

1279px-Trade_nodes_with_arrowsDifferent colors represents different trade nodes. The down stream is the node where the arrow is pointing to. In another word, Australia, California, Lhasa, Girin, Amazona, Ethiopia, Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, Katsina, Patagonia, Rio Grande and Siam are the highest trade node. Genoa, Sevilla and English Channel are the lowest. If your main trading port is in those trade nodes, you might want to move it to a lower trade node to increase your trading income because that’s where your main trades flows. You can change it another province in another trade node with 200 diplio points.

Case Study:


Q: If Japan is fully conquered all provinces in the Girin and Nippon trade node, controlling most of Beijing and Hangzhou’s trade node, is it a good idea to move capital or main trade port to Beijing?

A: Yes, player can take the advantage of the new provinces in China because Japanese trade will eventually flow into China anyway. Plus controlling most of Hangzhou and Beijing, Japan can collect more in Beijing than in Nippon. If no other nations are collecting in Nippon, Japan can choose not to use merchant there to be “more competitive”. In fact, put it in Hangzhou because trade nodes in Hangzhou can flow to Malacca and Xi’an as well (not all Xi’an trades will go to Beijing if Yumen is transferring).

20160403224913_1Yes, this is Patch 1.15 because there’s no corruption and Central Africa is still empty

Q: Which is the best trade node for Ming? Japan is transferring power to Ming; Bengal and Delhi are independent nations, Bahmanis and Tabarestan are allies. Also Ming controls California and Mexico.

In this case, Ming is a huge empire stretching from Girin to North Sea. We can set the main trading port to most western place, as long as Ming dominates all the way there. First, even Japan exists, it only takes partial trades from Girin and Nippon and it is transferring its trade power. So no worry on thus. Second, we will see how much trade power does Tabarestan and Ming get in Samarkand. Tabarestan is transferring their trade power to their main port at Persia. If Ming wants to collect in Samarkand, Ming will share the trade powers with Tabarestan and all of the trade powers from the East will be shared with Tabarestan. Therefore, collecting in Yumen would be the best choice for Ming unless player wants to share. However, Ming still can put a merchant at Novgorod or Astrahkan to make extra income because Ming only got a cut off from Samarkand.

Time to show off my Ryukyu game in Patch 1.15


This is not my highest income in all the games I played and I could have maximize it better, but you get the idea, right? Only 7 nations’ total income is higher than my trade income! Here I show you how:

  1.  Monopolized Malacca, Molecules, Australia, Canton, Philippines, Hangzhou and most pars of Girin, Mexico, California, Siam, and Chengdu.
  2. As I moved my main trading ports to Malacca, all upper trade nodes will be steered to me.
  3. Embargoed Bengal, its main trading port is in Bengal. This largely deceased its source of trading income and need to look for alternative higher trade nodes like Doab or it will become a “highest trade node” because very few trading nodes are flowing into it. And here’s a comparison when it comes to higher vs lower trade node:
    • Benefit of being higher trade node: when embargo, lower trade node are usually the loser because less trades are flowing to them
    • Benefit of being lower trade power: when you conquer lower trade node, you don’t need to change main trading port and always have bonus when transferring trade power from higher trade nodes! I changed by trading port from Hangzhou to Philippines, Molecules and finally Malacca, That’s 200 Admin point and 400 Diplomatic point because I changed my capital from Ryukyu Islands to Manilla, then change trade nodes after conquering new territories.
  4. Appoint merchants and ships where higher trade nodes that has more competitions. I regret I didn’t use my merchants like Mexico, Rio Grande, Nippon and Lhasa because I hadn’t figure it out that time. But we all learn from our mistakes. I realized light ships and merchant will only increase your portion in the trade node but it won’t expand the pie, or increase trade value.
  5. Build markets, especially at trade centers and river estuaries. These can increase trade value in the trade node.
  6. Building factories for expansive goods, watch the price change though, some event will change the price forever like spices and chinaware. Increase production will eventually increase trade. Also, go for the bonuses too!!



PS, Continuing on the Ming case study: Tax and production are very important when most of your trade isn’t doing great because your collecting trade nodes has too many competitors. This is how it looked like when I moved my collecting trade port into Kazan (if I remembered correctly). In between, there are many nations were eating my shares like Bukhara and Tabarestan. I should’ve keep it in Yumen thus, still relying on production.

That’s all for now. If you have more questions, comment in the section below =D


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