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Espionage idea group.png Espionage
Spy network construction.png Efficient Spies
+50% Spy network construction
−10% Advisor costs

Diplomat.png Agent Training

+1 Diplomats

Trade power.png Vetting

+10% Provincial trade power modifier
+33% Foreign spy detection

Liberty desire in subjects.png Additional Loyalist Recruitment

−10 Liberty desire in subjects

Cost to fabricate claims.png Claim Fabrication

−25% Cost to fabricate claims

Embargo efficiency.png Privateers

+25% Embargo efficiency
+33% Privateer efficiency

Yearly corruption.png Audit Checks

−0.10 Yearly corruption

Idea bonus.png Bonus:

+50% Rebel support efficiency

Associated events: Espionage idea group events

Espionage is a way to weaken enemies without actually going to war. Covert actions are diplomatic actions that spend spy network points, which are built up over time by Diplomat.png diplomats. Espionage has an associated idea group in the diplomatic group of ideas which enhances several espionage aspects. As the game progresses more covert actions become available for use by progressing in Diplomatic tech.png diplomatic technology.

Spy efficiency[edit]

Spy network construction[edit]

Covert actions are executed by sending a Diplomat.png diplomat to construct a spy network in a foreign nation. As the spy networks' size grows, more costly covert actions can be executed in the target nation. A spy network which isn't being actively maintained by a diplomat will slowly decay over time. As long as the aggressor has a big enough spy network it is possible, if so desired, to perform a succession of covert actions on the target; all of which will be instantaneous and successful upon execution, along with most of the actions also having the effects lasting for a duration of Time Icon.png 5 years.

It is important to note that it's not possible to construct a spy network in a subject nation. The aggressor has to build the spy network in the overlord's nation instead. That one network can then be used to execute covert actions in the overlord's and any of its subjects nations.

Spy network construction has a base construction speed of 1.50 per month modified by distance and the following:

Spy network construction.png Triggers
  • Advisor Spymaster.png Spymaster advisor
  • Target is a Rivalry attitude Rival
+25% Ruler has personality “Intricate Webweaver”
+20% Trading in Spices.png Spices
-50% Corruption.png Corruption (at 100%)

Spy network construction.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
  • Espionage idea 1: Efficient Spies
  • Daimyo traditions
  • Ito traditions
  • Aztec idea 7: Pochtecayotl
  • Hosokawa idea 6: Yamabushi
  • Kuban idea 4: Usurpation of the Chiefs
  • Lunda idea 7: Lord of the Vipers
  • Pattani idea 3: Smuggling Networks
  • Trebizondian idea 7: Greek Scholars Abroad
  • Uesugi idea 5: Nokizaru
  • Italian idea 6: Italian Diplomacy
  • Sligonian idea 4: A Different Way
  • Takeda idea 3: Information Network
  • Diplomatic-Offensive: The Underhanded Diplomacy Act
  • Espionage-Offensive: The Field Agent Act
  • Innovative-Espionage: The Espionage Act
  • Offensive-Expansion: Risk Assessment Policy

Passive Benefits[edit]

Having a spy network in a foreign nation grants several passive benefits for the country creating the spy network when certain DLCs are enabled. The benefits scale with the networks' size and at a 100 spy network will apply:

  • Siege ability.png+20% Siege ability
  • Aggressive expansion impact.png-10% Aggressive expansion impact (in that nation)
  • Technology.png-30% Technology costs
    • The applied reduction is -5% for each tech level the target is ahead in a certain tech field compared to the nation building the spy network (in case of multiple same-field reductions only the highest is applied).
    • This benefit is unlocked at Diplomatic tech.png Diplomatic technology 9.

Foreign spy detection[edit]

Foreign spy detection determines the chances of discovering actively built spy networks in the nation.

Foreign spy detection has a base efficiency of 100% modified by the following:

Foreign spy detection.png Modifier
+25% Trading in Tobacco.png Tobacco
+25% Ruler has personality “Secretive”
  • Per Icon stability.png Stability Positive point
  • During Parliament.png Treason Act (10 years)
+10% Prestige.png Prestige (at 100%)
-10% Prestige.png Prestige (at -100%)
-15% Per Icon stability.png Stability Negative point
-25% Corruption.png Corruption (at 100%)
-25% Ruler has personality “Loose Lips”
Foreign spy detection.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
  • Espionage idea 3: Vetting
  • Dahomey idea 4: Lagredis
  • Venetian idea 4: Found the State Inquisition
  • Chimu idea 4: Watchfulness of the Moon
  • Defensive-Administrative: The Spy Discovery Act
  • Espionage-Administrative: The Royal Commission Act
  • Espionage-Expansion: The Black Chamber Act
  • Espionage-Plutocratic: Public legitimacy
  • Exploration-Defensive: The Naval Secrecy Act
  • Innovative-Espionage: The Espionage Act
  • Religious-Espionage: Enforce Religious Law
  • Creek traditions
  • Sligonian idea 4: A Different Way
  • Takeda idea 3: Information Network
  • Italian idea 3: Italian Aristocracy


Counter-espionage is performed by sending a Diplomat.png diplomat to a foreign nation with the intention of hunting down the foreign nation's spies in the diplomat's home nation. As long as the diplomat continues the action, the diplomat's nation gets Foreign spy detection.png+33% Foreign spy detection against the foreign nation in addition to applying further Spy network construction.png –50% and slowing the foreign nation's network construction. This hinders (if not outright precludes) the target's efforts to execute covert actions.

Discovery chance[edit]

Spy network construction has a discovery chance upon reaching size 25; meaning, an aggressor can fabricate a single claim or generate a trade conflict CB without risking the chance of being discovered if the network size is smaller than 25.

The discovery chance is calculated as the sum of the yearly discovery chance, which has a base of 25%[1] (or a 2.083% monthly discovery chance), and the difference between the defending nation's foreign spy detection and the attacker's spy network construction. While there are modifiers reducing (or increasing) the discovery chance, it cannot be reduced below approximately 0.06% per month.

A nation which has been discovered building a spy network will have its diplomat sent back and restricted from further developing the spy network for Time Icon.png 12 months.[2] In addition, the size of the spy network will be reduced to 25, 50 or 75 (the closest of these that is still less). For example, being discovered at spy network 70 will reduce the spy network to 50.

Covert actions[edit]

  • All actions are instantaneous and successful upon execution; most actions have a duration of Time Icon.png 5 years.
  • Actions can still be executed even if a diplomat can't further build a spy network (due to discovery).
  • Same type (covert action) effects are not additive; e.g. Agitate for Liberty effects will apply only once per nation even if 2 or more aggressor nations executed it on the target.
  • In addition to adjacency, the following situations allow a country to use "Fabricate Claim":
    • The country has completed Exploration ideas and the province is in a colonial region
    • The country has completed Expansion ideas and the province is in a trade company region
    • The country has Castilian idea 3 "Inter Caetera" and the province is overseas for both claimant and owner
    • (requires Mandate of Heaven.png Mandate of Heaven) It is the Age of Discovery, the country has unlocked the Splendor ability "Transfer Subject", and has a claim on a neighboring province
Action Cost Diplomatic tech.png Requirements Effects Notes DLC
Fabricate Claim 20 + 5 per existing claim on target
  • War.png Not at war with target
  • Yes Has a shared border (by land or sea-zone) with target or is allowed to fabricate on that province for some other reason – see above
Gain a claim on selected province owned by the target for Time Icon.png 25 years (will give Conquest casus belli) Claim duration is automatically extended to account for war or truce times with the target
Justify Trade Conflict 10 In the same trade node:
  • Merchants.png Has a merchant present
  • Trade power.png Has at least 10% trade power
  • Trade power.png Target has at least 20% trade power
Gain a trade conflict casus belli against the target for Time Icon.png 2 years Often the best way to get a CB on a distant nation; however, the CB does not allow to take land, revoke cores, or release vassals/nations in a peace Wealth of Nations.png
Support Rebels 60 National unrest.png Target has any rebel faction with above 0 unrest Rebel support efficiency.png+10% Revolt progression chance per month for the selected rebel faction for 5 years This action also requires a one-time monetary payment proportional to the supported faction's size at the time the action is undertaken
Steal Maps 50 6
  • Yes Target has discovered a region unknown to us adjacent to a region known to us
  • Yes Has a unit in a known region adjacent to said unknown region
Steal target's maps of a region Mare Nostrum.png
Slander Merchants 70 12
Trade power.png −10% Global trade power

for 5 years

Mare Nostrum.png
Sabotage Recruitment 80 15
Manpower recovery speed.png −20% Manpower recovery speed
Sailor recovery speed.png −20% Sailor recovery speed

for 5 years

Mare Nostrum.png
Sow Discontent 80 18
National unrest.png +2 National unrest
Legitimacy.png −1 Yearly legitimacy
Republican tradition.png −0.2 Yearly republican tradition
Devotion.png −1 Yearly devotion
Horde unity −1 Yearly horde unity

for 5 years

Target gets higher stability costs and a higher revolt chance
Sabotage Reputation 60 21
Diplomatic reputation.png −3 Diplomatic reputation

for 5 years

Target has a higher difficulty to recover its reputation from recent expansions or betrayals, make alliances or other diplomatic agreements
Corrupt Officials 25 24
Yearly corruption.png +0.1 Yearly corruption

for 5 years

Mare Nostrum.png
Agitate for Liberty 90 27 Yes Target is a subject Liberty desire.png+25% Liberty desire for 5 years The Cossacks.png
Infiltrate Administration 40 30 Lift the Fog of War from the target nation

Cost modifiers[edit]

Fabricate claim[edit]

Main article: Claim

Claims that are granted by missions behave just like fabricated claims, although their duration may be different depending on mission parameters.

Besides providing a conquest CB, claimed provinces have the following benefits when conquered:

  • Province warscore cost.png −10% Province warscore cost
  • Core-creation cost.png −10% Core-creation cost
  • Local autonomy.png −10% Local autonomy

Fabricate claim cost is modified by the following:

Cost to fabricate claims.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
  • Naxian traditions
  • Espionage idea 5: Claim Fabrication
  • Chiba idea 3: Coalition with Kamakura Kubo
  • Cypriot idea 1: King of Jerusalem
  • Imagawa idea 1: Claim to the Shogunate
  • Isshiki idea 4: Reclaim Old Territories
  • Lorraine idea 3: Lotharingia
  • Northumbrian idea 2: The Memory of Northumbrian Hegemony
  • Papal idea 4: Donation of Constantine
  • Polotskian idea 1: Legacy of the Werewolf Prince
  • Provençal idea 1: Memory of Angevin Claims
  • Yaroslavlyian idea 1: Between Hammer and Anvil
  • Nizhny Novgorod ambition
  • Thomondian ambition

Decisions and events:

Cost to fabricate claims.png Event modifier Trigger Time Icon.png Duration
−25% Aphra Behn Flag of England Flag of Great Britain Women in History event: “Aphra Behn
Option: ‘Keep this a close secret!’
for 20 years
Emperor condemns Tuscany Flag of Tuscany Tuscan event: “The Emperor Condemns Tuscany's Elevation
Option: ‘The Emperor will not stand in the way of God's will.’
for 20 years
+50% Limited Claim Fabrication Diplomatic ideas event: “Incompetent Diplomats
Option: ‘They are of noble blood though...’
for 5 years

Note: Inter Caetera the third national idea of Flag of Castile Castile / Flag of Spain Spain allows the use of fabricate claim on colonies which normally wouldn't be in reach of that action. This allows Castile/Spain to target colonies both inland and distant overseas, making any colony in the world a potential target (this can no longer be used once the colony turns into a city).

Justify trade conflict[edit]

Justify trade conflict cost is modified by the following:

Justify trade conflict cost.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
  • Genoese idea 1: Reuniting the Nation
  • Hanseatic idea 4: Reformed Hanstag
  • Venetian idea 6: Defend the Law

Support rebels[edit]

Main article: Rebellion#Support for rebels

Supported rebels will be treated as allied units, regardless of when the action began. If the rebel faction has spawned rebel units in multiple countries, then all those units will be treated as allies once support is given to that faction anywhere.

Allied rebels that are sieging a province that is an objective of theirs will not transfer leadership of the siege to the player in a war. If allied rebels cannot complete their objectives because the province they are trying to occupy is under another nation's control, they will instead wander the countryside and may engage enemy units.

Support rebels efficiency is modified by the following:

Rebel support efficiency.png Traditions Ideas Bonuses Policies
  • Full Espionage
  • Espionage-Economic: The Foreign Support Act
  • Irish idea 7: Unconquerable Ireland
  • Humanist-Espionage: Cultural Understanding
  • Palatinate idea 3: Center of Reformation in Southern Germany


Networking icon
Have 100 point spy networks in 3 rival nations.
Just Resting In My Account icon
Just Resting In My Account
Corrupt the officials in a rival country.
Time Bandit icon
Time Bandit
Successfully steal a map from another nation.


  1. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/defines.lua: BASE_SPY_DISCOVERY_CHANCE = 0.25,
  2. See in /Europa Universalis IV/common/defines.lua: SPY_DISCOVERY_COOLDOWN_MONTHS = 12,
Subject nations Client stateColonial nationMarchPersonal unionTrade companyTributaryVassal
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