Victoria II is a grand strategy game similar to the Hearts of Iron and Europa Universalis series, the difference being that this game focuses on economics. As the second game in the series, the game is easier to play due to automated features. The purpose of the game is to build a nation through the age of industrialization, colonization and modernization from 1836 to 1936.
Games produced by Paradox Interactive invariably have many versions. There are essentially two types of versions:
- Patches: Each release of Victoria 2 has patches specific to that release, with the last official patch for the "vanilla" game being 1.3 (there was a 1.4 beta patch), while the latest patch for A House Divided is 2.31. (note: the original Victoria 2 game is referred to as the "vanilla" version). Patches to the game improve stability, gameplay, and add new features to the game based on user input from the forums. As a result, it is absolutely essential to apply patches—these represent a more complete and "finished" version of the game.
- Expansions: The game has two expansions called A House Divided and Heart of Darkness. Expansions are considered important for high quality gameplay. This wiki uses a versioning system to ensure that content on a page is correct for only the most current game versions: pages that are marked as obsolete should be updated as needed by readers.
Choosing a nation
Proper selection of a nation to play is essential to learning the game. For players who have never played a previous Victoria game, selecting a nation that is a reasonably small size is a good starting point. Possible starting nations might be:
- Brazil: Brazil starts as secondary power and is far away from the most dominating and threatening nations of the game in Europe. Brazil offers a sort of sandbox to learning game play in a way that will forgive errors and mistakes rather easily. The nation is fairly uncomplicated economically, allowing a new player to dive into the details a little to understand the different components of game play. Perhaps most interesting of all, Brazil can be made into a Great power and offers some opportunities at colonization should a new player be so inclined. It is not hard to remain the greatest power in South America, as Brazil already starts in that condition, but there is room for even greater accomplishments.
- Sweden: A relatively safe nation to play that is closer to the action in Europe, Sweden's primary threat comes from Russia. Sweden is possible to bring into Great Power status with good strategic choices, and thus offers a fairly big upside. The unification of the Nordic countries to form Scandinavia is a relatively easy way to comprehend the formation of greater nations, as can also happen with Italy, Gran Colombia, Germany and others.
- Japan: Japan offers a player the chance to experience the rise from uncivilized status to a Great Power with relative ease. The geographical isolation Japan starts in allows them to remain mostly undisturbed for most of the game, and their literacy rate- for an uncivilized nation- is phenomenal. Their only natural enemy is Russia due to early Russian colonization of Sakhalin and, potentially, colonial Hokkaido.
- France: For players who want to dig deep into the politics and war of Europe, France offers a good starting point. The French have a good-sized army, some extra-European colonies from which to start colonizing Africa, and their only natural enemy is Prussia due to German cores in Alsace-Lorraine. France also starts as the second Great Power, and has potential to easily overcome the United Kingdom as the greatest nation in the world, with a powerful navy, strong industries and a big piece of Africa.
- China: With the Heart of Darkness addition of uncivilized nations gaining research points in conquering land after certain military reforms have been unlocked, China is now much more suited to a beginner's style of play than it was in A House Divided. China offers sub-states that will fight for them in wars (pre-westernization), the single largest land military in the world (post-westernization), and neighbors that are uncivilized but rich in valuable resources.
- Belgium: A really small nation in the middle of Europe, Belgium is a decent nation to learn how to play. It has only one natural enemy - the Netherlands -, which is quite easy to hold back if the player can work diplomacy well with the United Kingdom, who are well inclined to spare Belgium. With this nation the inexperienced player can learn a bit about both naval and land combat, a lot about diplomacy (which will be very important to not be swallowed by the European Great Powers), and can even watch from a privileged seat the brutal fight between Prussia and France.
- Oranje: A small nation with not much potential, but a very forgiving one. There will not be any threats by surrounding nations and one can choose to attack Transvaal, Zulu and Madagascar. Transvaal is almost the same as Oranje.
Every nation produces goods in three ways: factories, RGOs, and artisans. In the early game (1836 to 1860), RGOs and Artisans dominate production on the world market. By around 1860-1870, factories become more efficient due to research and larger POPs of craftsmen, clerks, and capitalists. As a general rule, when manually creating factories, it is best to focus on creating factories whose input requirements are produced by the local economy. This creates a cyclical benefit that benefits both factories and RGOs. Finally, note that factory subsidies are useful in several circumstances:
- When starting to build an industrial base with few workers
- When going through an economic depression in demand
- When unemployment is a major concern
- For strategic goods, such as artillery or goods that POPs need that would not otherwise be met due to supply shortages
Production is influenced by the economic policy of the political party currently in power. Laissez Faire policy gives all control over factories to POPs, while the other extreme of Planned Economy gives all factory control to the government (the player). As a general rule, more government control can be useful in the early game when few if any Capitalists even exist, while Laissez Faire is generally more useful in the mid and late game where capitalist populations are large enough to be active and eager to invest in the economy. This is especially true for large nations where micromanagement of factories would be difficult and time consuming.
Managing the Budget is one of the most important components of game play. The bulk of national revenue is derived from taxing the poor. Since POP types in the middle and upper classes are generally more desirable, players often set High class taxes at or near zero to maximize capitalist investment in the economy. Middle class taxes should typically be set at lower levels (going to zero in the later stages of some games) to encourage successful lifestyles for those POPs. Tariffs are a useful way to generate income as well, but should be used carefully and sparingly, with notice given to whether or not POP needs are being met (refer to the pie-charts in the budget window: large sections of red will create POP demotion and increase militancy). As a result, tariffs are ideally set at 0%, but when necessary can be used in the 1-20% range for periods of time. Tariffs typically restrict economic growth in general (POP spending ability, factory efficiency and profitability, etc.), thus when possible they should be used on a limited basis.
In terms of budget expenditures, the simplest rule to apply is that all sliders should be set at 100%: e.g. maximum spending. This is problematic for some nations at the beginning of the game, but as a general rule this is a sound approach because all expenditures significantly help the nation. Education spending increases research, administrative spending increases the efficiency of collecting taxes, military and national stockpile spending make it possible to field an army, and so on. Thus, the primary areas that ever see cut backs for some nations, depending on national circumstances and a player's goals, would be reduced spending on the military slider first, and reduced (generally not to fall below 50%) spending on the national stockpile.
Research is a fairly simplistic part of game play. Strategy choices highly depend on national circumstances. For example, for a Prussia that seeks early unification, a jingoistic strategy would be in play which means all-out military research. For a nation like the Ottoman Empire, colonization would be an important way to maintain great power status and thus colonization technologies would be a point of focus.
In general strokes, however, certain strategic parameters can be followed:
- Navy and Commerce technology trees are generally less important than other trees.
- In the Industry tab, the Power and Chemistry tab are generally highly important.
- In the Culture tree, Philosophy, Social Thought, and Political thought are most useful (note that being first to research makes a big difference)
- In the Military tree, military tactics is hugely important.
- Clergy (2% nationally) and Clerks (4% nationally) play a seminal role in research point generation and should be sought after.
The political component of game play is an area where the player does not need to interact too frequently and player decision making is generally restricted by various game mechanics. Each political party has a set of party issues that impact how that political party, when it is the ruling part of government, affects the nation. When the consciousness of POPs are high and the composition of the upper house is liberal enough, it is possible to first enact political reforms which can meet POP demands and attract immigrants. Once political reforms are enacted, it is possible to enact social reforms if the upper house is liberal enough. Note that player control is limited and restricted by the game mechanics: for example once a single reform is implemented, the upper house immediately becomes more conservative delaying a nation's ability to enact further reforms for a period of time. As a general rule, all reforms should be pursued for nations that are Great powers.
While population (POPs for short) makes up the foundation of the Victoria 2 game's mechanics, player interaction with POPs is fairly limited. For general strategy advice, national focus (and to some degree taxes) is the main lever that players can use to influence POPs:
- Research is important. Therefore national focus points should be used on clergy until the national level is 2% in the early game.
- Administrative efficiency is important, thus bureaucrats may be useful to focus on in the early game.
- Capitalists invest in the economy and improve factory efficiency, and are a good choice for the mid game.
- Factory efficiency & research is important. National focus can be used on clerks in the late game.
The trade system in Victoria 2 is somewhat complicated and opaque in terms of its functionality and where players can have actual and meaningful control. The good news is that automating the trade system works quite well, and it is easily possible to play entire games from start to finish without ever interacting with the trade system. That being said, one common tip for nations that struggle with budget issues at the beginning of the game is to turn off automated buying for artillery and steamers as both are quite expensive to stockpile.
In diplomacy, it is firstly important to understand national prestige as well as national status in the form of great power, secondary power, civilized and uncivilized. Naturally, being a great power is the most beneficial because it allows the use of spheres of influence, which is a potent way to expand a nation without resorting to military force. Alliances are similarly important to utilize: the AI often creates significant webs of alliances, thus when declaring war a player will often face multiple adversaries. As a result, it is important to build up military alliances in defense. Finally, it is important to understand and carefully use the casus belli system to avoid any problems with infamy that can lead to vicious "wars of containment" that are survivable only by a first rate military.
The land combat strategy guide provides in-depth advice on military strategy. To understand the mechanics of how combat works, visit the Land combat reference guide. The following will simply provide a brief overview to the basic strategic concepts of the military game.
Nations have a limited amount of units to train, and the reinforcement and availability of those units are directly tied to soldier POPs. Thus, manpower is at a premium and as such, regular infantry and artillery (in roughly equal parts) should make up the bulk of any competent military. Mobilization is a way to rapidly field an army, but it has significantly negative effects on the national economy. As a result, it should only be used as a last resort and generally reflects bad military planning and a lack of adequate preparation. In land warfare, the defender has a significant advantage. The attacker should always outnumber the defender or be ahead in technology if the attacker wishes to win the battle. After enemy forces have been flushed from a province, it must be occupied. To speed up an occupation, regular cavalry (or aircraft towards the end of the game) can be used.
In naval management, the ship-attrition system is important to manage. Ships will take damage if they are too far away from a level 2 port. Level 2 ports can be constructed anywhere, and are represented on the map by a shipyard. If they are close enough to a level 2 port (determined by tech), ships will be supplied coal by supply ships, but by the time they leave that distance, it becomes inefficient to supply them, and thus they will continue eating supplies and taking attrition damage. In order to coal ships and allow them to recover their strength, they need to dock at a level 2 port. It should be noted that a level 1 port (fishing wards) will allow ships to dock and cease taking attrition damage, but cannot be used to repair or supply ships. As a general rule, a developed navy is only necessary for Great Powers that intend to have a significant overseas empire through colonies.