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Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, affectionately known as "Vicky" among its fans, is a complicated Real-Time Strategy / Turn-Based Strategy 4X game created and published in 2003 by Paradox Interactive.

Chronologically, it follows its sister series Europa Universalis and precedes its other sibling, the Hearts of Iron series. Vicky starts in 1836 and ending in 1920 (or 1936, if you bought the Expansion Pack). The game is noted for being arguably the most complicated of the Paradox Interactive games, dealing not only with war but also with an impressive economic and political system. It is noted as one of the better aversions of the Command & Conquer Economy.

The game was noticeably buggy at release, but some patches, the Expansion Pack (which radically changed the way the economy works) and some great work by modders have made the game far more stable.


The game covers the Victorian and Edwardian eras, beginning a year before Victoria took the throne and ending shortly before the death of George V. As it displays the entire globe, it also covers such periods as The American Civil War, World War I, Imperial Germany, the Meiji Restoration, and The Roaring '20s. Since an important part of the game is European Imperialism, Darkest Africa comes into play at times.

The game is (in)famous for being almost incomprehensible to newbies, due to the vast array of interlocking factors, especially in politics and economy and how those two affect each other. The effect of these is often to create a rather fascinating effect where as an autocracy you are desperately trying to keep popular support from overwhelming you while a democracy has to take it relatively easy to avoid reactionary or dictatorial insurrections.


A sequel to the original game, titled Victoria 2, was released on August 13th, 2010, turning this Paradox title into a new series. Two major expansion packs have been released:

  • On February 2nd, 2012, an Expansion Pack called A House Divided was released. Ostensibly focused on The American Civil War, it added a 1861 start date and made the Confederacy less doomed. Additionally, many new mechanics were added, such as new ways to influence other nations and generate Casus Belli, a system of political movements and repression, new map modes and interface improvements, and most importantly, this expansion recolored Prussia from a sickly yellow to the proper Prussian blue.
  • On April 16th, 2013 a second Expansion Pack was released, titled Heart of Darkness. It overhauled the colonization system, expanded naval combat, balanced the land combat, made twinges to the industry system, and added a more in-depth diplomacy system for Great Powers. Specifically, "crises" can now develop in high-tension areas (such as Greece demanding land from the Ottoman Empire), prompting all Great Powers to pick a side to support, or stand aside. These situations can escalate until one side backs down, or a Great War is triggered between both sides.

Development on Victoria 2 ceased with patch 3.04 in January 2016 and Paradox has not conclusively stated whether there will be a Victoria III. The majority of dev investment since then has gone to its sister titles Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron (whose fourth installment released in 2017), and Stellaris.

The games provide examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Well, not really, but he's kind of a tsundere. In wartime prices of weaponry can increase quite spectacularly. Of course, this increase also makes it more profitable to build said weapons factories...
  • A.I.-Generated Economy: The purpose of Capitalists, who invest their money into factories and railroads, taking a cut of the profit in return. Under Lassiez-Faire and Interventionism economic policies, this is the only way to have factories built.
  • The Alliance: Spheres of influence in Victoria II can become this, to some extent. Especially true for Prussia and any Great Power looking to form Italy.
  • Alternate History: The inevitable outcome of every game. It's pretty much alternate history the moment you unpause the game.
    • Victoria 2's main menu art is a picture of Confederate soldiers fighting British redcoats. The expansion A House Divided changes this to show American ironclads bombarding London. As of Heart of Darkness it's an Imperial Russian boat in an African jungle.
    • The box art shows Otto von Bismarck leading Prussian troops against the Americans.
  • Anachronism Stew: Provinces and states are divided according to the post World War 1 map, which doesn't always correlate with actual historical divisions. This is most obvious in the Middle East, which is divided along the lines of the Sykes–Picot Agreement rather than the original Ottoman division.
    • The different flags of a country uses imagery from certain movements within those countries, even if said movement wasn't even conceived at the time. For example, the flag of a communist Colombia and fascist Afghanistan use the flags of FARC and the Taliban, respectively, even though neither group would exist until roughly thirty to sixty years after the game's end.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Averted. It takes quite a bit for citizens to actually take arms against the government, but it's usually about lots of little things (unemployment, political repression, nationalism) rather than one big thing that upsets them.
    • A House Divided adds an additional step where POPs will join political movements. If you ignore them or repress them too much, they will take up arms against the government eventually.
  • Appeal to Force: In the first game, there is absolutely nothing preventing Prussia from declaring war on any of the German states and unify Germany by force in less than a year. Since they are all allied, Germanic countries will all bravely unite against Prussia. And since Prussia is military power No. 1 fighting against a coalition of city-states and tiny princedoms... AI will of course never do that, but all player has to do is call conscripts to arm, deploy them in crucial points and declare war.
  • Appeal to Tradition: Modus operandi of reactionaries.
  • Artificial Brilliance: People automatically try to find the highest quality of political and civil freedoms, even though it's not actually a stat. Playing a particularly liberal power with an oppressive Britain? Expect lots of Indian immigrants.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • In the first game, the only country that starts with ability to produce more machine parts was the United Kingdom. Everyone else was gaining miniscule amount of them from early industrial techs and the one unlocking ability to build machine parts factory was granting the exact amount of parts needed to build said factory, so your top priority was to build it regardless of anything else, or further industrialisation was virtually impossible, as the entire planet was trying to buy parts from the UK, which under AI was always under-producing, thus making top prestige countries to be the only one allowed to even try buying from Brits due to heavy competition. AI never, ever bothered with those issues and instead was eager to build a cement mill or a liquor distillery from the parts gained from industrial techs. And those were optimistic choices, because it might just as well build an artillery factory, without producing imput goods (explosives and steel, both requiring their own factories). Part of the reason why artisans were introduced to the second game was how stubbornly AI refused to "properly" use the machine parts it was given to kick-start industrialisation. On the flip-side, should player pick the UK or be the only other producer of machine parts, it allowed to both explode with own industry and slow competition to the crawl, as there weren't any parts on the market to buy for them.
    • Something of a problem in Victoria II. The capitalist AI loves to build luxury clothes factories in countries where nobody can afford them, while other countries will happily continue to research philosophy while you're slaughtering their armies with machine guns and poison gas. To add to this, the AI frequently marches its soldiers in massive columns through harsh deserts and freezing mountains, leading to some truly horrific attrition levels which can leave armies decimated before they even see battle. Watching armies lose significant numbers of soldiers before even crossing the border is not that uncommon.
    • In early versions of the game, Prussia would sometimes demand the wrong provinces from Denmark (necessary to unite Germany). This could sometimes delay unification by a decade, and also lead to Jutland being absorbed into Germany. Paradox eventually stepped in to write specific code just to ensure that Germany would take the correct provinces, and use excess warscore to claim Danish colonies around the world.
    • In the first game, Chinese AI was purposefully written to do stupid things, thus follow the historical path. The most prominent example was a script forcing AI to make 90% of all troops in China as irregulars, despite having access to money, resources and manpower to train absurdly large armies of standard infantry. But this was the only way to make sure China will fold down when facing even the smallest Western invasion. Second game toned down the meddling with AI decision-making and instead used gameplay mechanics against the country.
    • Capitalists react to price spikes by building factories making related goods. Since spikes are temporary and obviously short-lived, once the factory is finished or expanded, the demand is long gone and sudden increase of production not only floods the market and drops the price further, but ultimately bankrupts the entire business... which causes a new spike.
    • Another issue with capitalists is their obsessive desire to continously build new or expand existing factories. A very common result by mid-game is bunch of OPMs having a level 40 Winery and/or Distillery, which could employ about twice as many people as the total population of said country... while also generating world-wide demand for glass, thus creating price spike. If the countries in question are low on prestige, this only translates into increasing glass prices (which could be useful if you happen to be a producer), but if any of them will manage to be within top 10-20 countries by prestige, they will instead buy all that glass they create demand for. Never mind they will be incapable of processing it due to insufficient number of workers and the demand only existing on paper - it will still be bought, while also collapsing global economy due to glass shortage. Then the massive factory in question will bankrupt itself (costs of importing high-priced glass plus insufficient wine/liquor production), meaning the glass supply is lost for everyone. AI is utterly unable to manage such situations (which in players hand are trivial to fix), as it has issues with subsidies, controlling tarriffs, which businesses to run or how to cover for them and so on an forth. Multiply this by a factor of about 30 and you have the answer why the economy regularly collapses.
    • Artisans are going to always try to compete with your industry, trying to produce the current most-priced commodity. This clashes with any sort of industrialisation you are trying to pull, especially when trying to use capitalists for it. Say you just discovered telephones. Your capitalists might consider it profitable to build a factory... but artisans are already hand-making those, meaning the lion share of demand is already met. So rather than starting new business, capitalists will invest in pre-existing one or set up yet another luxury clothes factory. Meanwhile your artisans will either persist to exist (hurting national economy, as they are far less efficient than factories from about 1850s onward) or go bankrupt anyway, but not enough to demote, so you will have angry conservatives that are unemployable, but create all sort of problems. And if they are somehow well-off in the end, they won't promote to clerks either, so you are screwed anyway.
      • All of that goes without saying that artisans are trying to produce most expensive goods they can make, regardless of how much input resources are going to cost them and if there is any demand for the finished product. This can easily create a situation where they bankrupt themselves, while your country still has to import some crucial goods to start up industry, rather than "commission" your own artisan population or make them useful in any way.
    • Separatist rebels must occupy all of their proposed nation's core provinces for thirty days in order to successfully secede. You'd think the rebel AI would then focus exclusive on occupying these provinces, but instead, separatist rebels will often march off and try to occupy provinces they don't have cores for. The result is that separatist rebellions are very rarely successful, even when the mother country has no little or no troops to fight them with.
  • Artistic License – Economics:
    • Embargos don't exist, just like any sort of trade restrictions. For extra irony points, trade embargo is a key component of both Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron, but isn't part of Victoria, the economy game from Paradox.
    • There is a single, unified, global price of all goods. There are no national differences and supply-demand ratio only matters on global scale. All goods are also accessible globally at instant, there are no supply issues other than insufficient production, there is no inefficiency on any stage and transport technology, while important for production output, doesn't matter at all for delivering goods or affecting supply-demand balance. Combined with listed below prestige mechanics, this can cause quite a lot of trouble, especially if you are playing as populous backwater that absolutely depends on imports.
    • As far as the game is concerned, setting up workshifts and limiting the time a single person can work per day decreases the productivity. Somehow people working until they drop unconscious or doing 14 hours shift are more productive than the modern set of three 8 hours shifts or any other shift system. The modifier would make sense if it was increasing how expensive it is to run factories (since you need more workers to man the shifts and that means more wages to pay), but it explicitly affects output of the factories.
    • The capitalist AI in Victoria II at launch only looked at the maximum possible profit for a good when deciding what factories to build - even if nobody in the world could afford it, with the effect that capitalists would sink thousands of dollars into building luxury clothes factories and then immediately go bankrupt. This has been patched, thankfully.
      • The infamous problem with capitalists was made even worse by changes in production system introduced by Heart of Darkness... that the capitalist POP never take into account or consideration. The entire new system relies heavily on production bonuses gained by setting up factories in the same state as their input resources and making chains of production with other factories within the state. AI is quite literally unable to do it and acts on random. So you can expect things like setting up wineries in coal and iron state and construct steelworks in a middle of desert with miniscule wool production. And in all of the total overhaul mods it goes another notch further, since they all have tiers of factories and their historical efficiency... and AI always sets up the most basic ones. Hope you like those bronze cannon foundries build in 1930s in a state that would be a perfect spot for luxury clothes (and the irony it brings). The worst part is that even if you set up basic industry under either state capitalism or outright central planning policies, the AI will gleefully continue building random factories the second its allowed to if there are any spots left in given state.
    • Even then, there are often problems with economies under the Laissez Faire policy (where the player has almost no influence over their industry) as there is a tendency for AI to sometimes never build advanced factories (Automobiles, Electric Gear, etc) because they are not profitable in the short run.
    • Global market and trade operate in tandem with abstract concept of national prestige. In theory, the system encourages each country to gain and maintain as much prestige as possible to stay within top 10-15 nations and access the market without much issues. In practice, it means the global economy is decided by a handful of states with advanced cultural technology, thus gaining large amount of free prestige points. It also means that the actual size of economy or purchasing power parity of a country or relationships between nations don't matter at all, but who has the most modern painters and composers does dictate who can buy small arms or telephones.
    • A close examination of the economy mechanics reveals that underneath of the fairly normal-looking (if obtuse) hood, many of its workings—especially anywhere it interfaces with politics—are utterly bizarre and seemingly counterintuitive. Case in point: one player figured out that the reason the number of goods on the world market is greater than world production totals is because spheres of influence act as matter replicators.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Any tier of infrastructure below most basic railroad is considered equal. This means there is no such thing as "roadless wilderness", as provinces without railroads, regardless if in the middle of plains of Belgium or newly claimed colony in jungle-covered Congo, will have the exact same basic infrastructure. As far as the game is concerned, the only roads that count are end-game motorways. And no other form of transportation other than rail and cars exists, including, say, navigable canals, which were widely build all the way until 1870s (and sometimes later), precisely due to advances in technology that by the game logic make canals obsolete. This lack of most basic, pre-rail infrastructure is a glarring ommission, considering how many countries didn't build rail system at all until late 19th century, yet had highly functional road infrastructure or how important it was to first drive things to a railway station.
  • Artistic License – Geography: At the game start in 1836, all of the map is fully discovered and accessible to all countries in the same way. Aside obvious issues like some Central African petty chiefdom having access to accurate global maps, this trope covers everyone. For example, it wasn't until 1848 Sakhalin was confirmed to be an island rather than a peninsula, large sections of both Americas were still terra incognita until 1860s (and in Amazon until early 20th century) and obviously Darkest Africa didn't came to life from knowing what's in the interior.
    • And all of this doesn't prevent your country from participating in exploration for the source of Nile... even if you can clearly see it on the map from the start.
  • Artistic License – History: While this may seem to be the case to the extreme for the Population figures which can all seem far too small, POPs actually only represent Healthy Adult men, a demographic that only makes up 25% of the population or less. However, even with this in mind, populations can still frequently end up being smaller than they should due to the way the game handles population growth.
    • Truces being completely inviolable short of an ally calling you to war or being dragged into the conflict via the crisis system however, is most certainly this.
    • Everything that's within borders of any given country is considered to be "tappable" for taxation, resource extraction and general manpower, regardless if they were even fully mapped back in the day, not to mention having functional administration or any sort of transport infrastructure.
    • All countries have a set "state religion" that minorities will assimilate into if certain conditions are met. This includes countries like the United States (which will rapidly convert its POPs to Protestantism), which has explicitly no state religion, and in which minorities have generally kept their own religions.
      • In addition, in the second game religion is portrayed as of minimal political importance, despite "religious policy" being one of the listed party policies. The only impact religious policy has is on a handful events and decisions.
  • The Assimilator: Democratic states (especially the United States) and countries in both Americas get a bonus when assimilating immigrant POPs to their primary culture.
    • The USA in the first game got a special, country-specific stat. It was not only one of major factors attracting people, but also allowing US to assimilate virtually any kind and amount of immigrants, pronto. It was almost impossible to see non-American POPs in the States. This was modified in the second game, which instead eases assimilation in all American nations and allows other immigration-dependent states to achieve similar assimilation rates to the USA.
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the first game. Countries with multiethnic populations like Austria and the Ottomans, would, by the turn of the century, usually have completely marginalized all their minority populations and replaced them with their primary culture. This was mostly a result of these countries having few accepted cultures, motivating their minority populations to assimilate ASAP.
    • A House Divided modified the system for the second game to keep conversion under control. POPs get an absurdly high penalty to conversion if they are in their core provinces, e.g., the Irish can't be converted into British while in Ireland, but will gladly turn Yankee when emigrating to the USA. Colonial POPs were hit with this modification and a colonial penalty to conversion, meaning Africa is no longer ethnically European by the end game.
    • One of the most important factor to assimilation in both games is the citizenship policy of the ruling party. In the first game, the only reason why the USA was able to convert immigrants was the mentioned above national modifier - normally, with Slavery being in force, it would prevent any kind of conversion.
    • Religious assimilation is far, far too fast in Victoria II. For instance, the United States will usually be 99% percent Protestant by the end of the game. This is an especially egregious example, as the US even has flavor events concerning the country's growing Catholic minority in the 19th century- a minority which doesn't actually exist in the game.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: The primary strategy in the early part of the game. However, mid-game tech developments such as the machine gun start favouring the defense.
  • Autosave: The game autosaves periodically, at intervals that can be set by the player (e.g. every 3 months in game time, 6 months, etc.). The player can also save manually at any point in the game.
  • Back from the Dead: The Byzantine Empire can be reformed by Greece if they can be turned into a Great Power and have taken all the provinces in Thrace and the Asia Minor coast. Quite fittingly, this take quite some patience and skill, but can be achieved by a determined enough player.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: A rather "gamey" tactic by players who wish to change their government type is to encourage a specific type of rebels and then let them take over your country and enforce their demands - the player takes a prestige hit, but it's not the end of the world. In fact, the game itself uses this technique with Garibaldi and his Redshirt army, whom the game treats as ordinary rebels that, if successful in taking over any other Italian state, unite Italy under Sardinia-Piedmont.
  • Balkanise Me: One of several war goals is forcing another country to release states from under their control. Inverted with fragmented countries like Germany and Italy, which have to annex several other countries in order to properly form.
    • Unification and Balkanization are typically rare given that the AI never puts drastic effort into its wars. Expect countries to only go to war for one wargoal and quit despite possibly being able to tack on more if they stayed with the war.
    • The Heart of Darkness expansion makes this more likely, as any area with sufficiently high nationalism will eventually create a crisis, which will allow a new nation to form without any war.
    • United Provinces of Central America will implode in early 1840s thanks to a historical event. There is a very, very small chance at least part of the union remains, but usually it leads to historical and complete dissolution of it, ending up with Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica emerging as separate nations.
    • Certain mods allow to turn American Civil War into this: each state has a choice to stay in the Union, side with Confederacy or go on their own, based on their location and what policies are preferred by local population.
  • Boisterous Weakling:
    • China. It (and its substates in the expansion) starts out with an absolutely enormous population and huge armies to draw on. Yet, when actually engaged in battle, folds over like a paper tiger. But in hands of human player China is beyond the scale of game-breaking powerful.
    • Downplayed with the Ottoman Empire, which starts out as a Great Power and gradually declines as its highly illiterate and conservative society refuses to modernize with the rest of Europe and eventually becomes a pushover. Averted when the AI decides to research specific techs early on (they are picked at random), or with a skilled enough player who can work with the Ottoman Empire's weaknesses while developing their strengths.
  • Brick Joke: In the sequel, there's an event called Comet Sighted. At least with the expansion pack, there are two options, which both increase research points, one called "Thank God we live in such enlightened times." A reference to EU3, which has an event with an option added each expansion, which all give you negative stability points, also called Comet Sighted. If you decide to explore the Valley of the Kings, though, there eventually pops up an event which says your people think it is cursed. One of the responses is "What next, comet sighted?"
  • Character Portrait: Generals and admirals have unique portraits.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Want to take over a country, but don't want the Great Power they are allied and/or in sphere of getting involved? Simple, become friendly with that nation and make them break the sphere or alliance. Then go to war.
  • Colour Coded Armies: All civilized nations use basically the same soldier model with a different colored coat. Some countries' models are a bit more unique — for example, South American soldiers wear sashes and Prussians wear pickelhaubes.
    • Subverted by the time the 20th Century rolls around, as everyone starts wearing duller browns and greys. However, the design of the various uniforms also become more unique.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each country has an associated colour (Britain: red, France: blue, Russia: green, Germany: grey), some of which carry over into other Paradox titles. At the start of the game these color borders are easily distinguishable, but as colonization goes on countries with similar colors can end up bordering each other.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Oh so averted. You don't even technically earn money from producing stuff: Instead your population does, and you can either tax them (which means they can't buy as much stuff...) or raise tariffs (which makes imported goods more expensive). All POPs have their own "needs" of stuff they want (everything from grain and coal to opium and radios) based on their class and type. If you can't satisfy them they'll move somewhere else or starve. Oh, and did we mention that under two of the games' four economic policies you don't actually build factories yourself? Instead your capitalists do (using their own money, that disappears if you tax them too highly). The problem with capitalists, of course, is that they build factories that are the most profitable to them, not the factories that you would prefer built. (For instance, the ones that produce guns).
    • Downplayed under Planned Economy. You're in charge of deciding where to build the factories, and you can put them where they'll benefit the nation the most. One of the perks of being a Dirty Communist. You can't though tell people what to consume, which still adds in some difficulty.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Averted. If you play above 'normal' difficulty, then the AI does get some bonuses to production, but otherwise it follows the exact same rules as the player. If the computer appears to be cheating, it is making use of some sort of mechanic that is not readily apparent. (Such as: The second game opens at the beginning of the Texan Revolution; if you play as Texas, you will soon discover that the Mexican army has better morale than you. But not because of this trope, rather because it has an Engineers brigade attached, which gives +10 to morale.)
  • Cool Boat: Starting with wooden frigates and ships of the line, and moving on through ironclads until reaching powerful battleships and dreadnoughts.
  • Creator Provincialism: Sweden receives a handful of unique decisions and events, granting it, among others, a free cruiser, a new political party, extra research and production bonus to machine parts. Should Scandinavia be formed by Sweden, all the bonus content will be passed down to the new country. Paradox Interactive is a Swedish company.
  • Darkest Africa: Treated as a malaria-infested uncivilized hellhole populated entirely by subhuman savages that only machine guns can tame - in other words, exactly like the European powers of the time saw it. In second game it's actually impossible to colonize 95% of Africa before your army got machine guns.
    • The Heart of Darkness expansion for the second one makes it so that you can colonize it without machine guns, but you still either need an equivalent technology or to be late to the party.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The game encourages the players to stomp over peoples' rights, colonize huge patches of land and violently suppress political movements in the name of progress, science, tradition or downright profit. All of these match the actions of the real life nations of the time.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In the second game, states that are not completely controlled by one country have their names show as <owning culture> <state>. This leads to gems like "British British Columbia", "Hawaiian Hawaiian Islands", "New English Northern New England" and "Luang Prabangni Luang Prabang".
  • Dirty Communists: They show up in 1848 (when Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto) and remain an important factor for the second half of the game.
    • More specifically, Socialists show up around 1848. Communists (basically radicalised and angry Socialists) don't show up until much later.
  • Divided States of America: Taken Up to Eleven. Although some of them, like California and Texas, were nations in their own right before being absorbed into the USA, there is also a number of ahistorical nations. Among the nations that can be formed from United States Territory are: the California Republic, the Cherokee Nation, Columbia (with parts of Canada), Deseret, the Manhattan Commune, New England, and the Republic of Texas.
    • The Pop Demand Mod has a mechanic allowing for every single state to leave the Union if things get bad enough.
      • It also adds a reversed American Civil War — if the USA favours slavery enough that the southern states never secedes, the northern states will instead secede as the Free States of America.
  • Eagle Land: The United States starts as a Great Power, ranked #7. They are the only Great Power to start as a democracy with extensive political freedoms, and as such get a huge boost to immigration. They also start with slavery still legal, which is important later on.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first game, while having the same setting and similar design goals, is wildly different than the sequel both in aesthetics and gameplay. Perhaps most notably, pops had to be promoted manually, and military building was much closer to Hearts of Iron than Europa Universalis. There was also a highly abusable mechanic whereby the player could buy and sell provinces, but on the flip-side, it was possible to peacefully settle border and colonial disputes.
  • Easy Logistics: To some degree. Your units requires a ton of different kinds of resources to produce (basic infantry requires small arms, canned food and manpower) but upkeep "only" costs you money.
    • No longer the case in Victoria II, where upkeep requires small arms, ammunition, explosives, and other military supplies.
      • Though they can still get this no matter where they are stationed, and are just peachy as long as you aren't putting them in a high-attrition province.
  • Easter Egg: In the second game, if you manage to play as Jan Mayen (an island with an extremely low population that is almost always controlled by Sweden) and become a Great Power or Secondary Power, you can take a decision which allows you to be a country of polar bears.
  • Elite Mooks: Guards in Victoria II are a form of this — they're much stronger than standard infantry, and have a higher reconnaissance value than cavalry, but are expensive and can only be recruited from your primary and accepted cultures. French AI just loves to build them, never looking on the costs.
  • The Empire: Accept no substitutes.
    • What every player strives to be.
    • Certain countries under certain forms of government are also listed as Empires, be it unified Germany, imperial China, tsarist Russia or Mexico during French intervention.
  • Event Flag: Abused in the original, almost as much as in Hearts of Iron. Breaking the first game's reliance on these was one of the major design goals of the sequel.
  • Evil Is Easy: Picking highly conservative (or outright reactionary) options, keeping your subjects utterly apathetic and ignorant, trumping cultural and religious minorities, brutally taking control of new colonies and subjugating weaker, less advanced nations in blatant imperialistic expansion are all much easier, more profitable and less complicated paths to economic and political success. Hell, you really need those colonies, if not for raw materials, then at least for the prestige they generate upon establishment to even be able to trade in the first place. And by late game purposefully building your military-industrial complex into absurd size and letting fascist to power are pretty much "easy mode" when compared with anything else.
  • Evil Pays Better: If there is an un-westernized nation that has resources you want and you have the colonial power and infamy to spare its generally better to conquer the target rather than sphere them. While sphering an unwesternized nation does give you first dibs on their resources conquering them accomplishes the same thing AND applies your far superior technology to the region, particularly bonuses to RGO output, infrastructure and population growth making the territory far more profitable. As an added bonus a conquered territory can't be stolen out of your sphere via diplomatic means and the population can also be recruited into your army.
  • Failure Gambit: It can sometimes be advantageous to let a movement radicalize into a rebel uprising, and then purposefully let the uprising succeed, if the reforms they demand are desirable to the player but they just can't get the support from the upper house to pass it normally.
  • The Federation: Any reasonably liberal Great Power arguably counts. The US, UK, France, Italy, and even Imperial Germany (if formed through a liberal revolution) are all particularly likely candidates.'
  • Flaw Exploitation: Once the Obvious Beta was patched, Rebels became laughably easy to pacify when revolting; you only need to pass a Reform with a high amount of support behind it and the Rebel armies will disband within days.
  • Fog of War: The standard version: The player can only see what goes on in his or his Allies' territories, and only into foreign provinces bordering his own.
  • Game Mod: As per Paradox Interactive tradition, many exist.
    • Historical Project Mod and its offshoot Historical Flavor Mod are the most popular mods for the sequel, both of them largely designed to facilitate a more historical game than vanilla, primarily by making far heavier use of scripted events and unique decisions than the base game.
  • Global Currency: The Pound Sterling is used for international trade.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: Entirely possible. Russia starts as Great Power, but it's technology and political freedoms are lacking, while it's starting tech-group favours culture over such silly things like industry, commerce or military. Under the AI it will either be on the tail of Great Powers or the most powerful Secondary Power and the Red October is inevitable.
  • Good Pays Better: The way the assimilation system works. The harsher the citizenship laws, the worse the conversion rate toward the accepted culture. Under Residency (where most countries and their parties start), conversion pretty much doesn't happen at all. Meanwhile full citizenship and voting laws to everyone grant a large bonus to conversion rates (and in case of the USA, basically makes them unlimited).
  • Great Offscreen War: The Napoleonic wars are referenced occasionally in some events as a ground-shattering event that brought forth the ideas of Liberalism to the Ancient Régimes of Europe.
  • Harder Than Hard: Keeping United States of Central America united is by design bound to fail. It's an endless spawn of nationalist rebels. Reforming it into an actual state, rather than a sketchy federation, requires to let the constituent regions go their own way, turning in the process into Guatemala. Then gain Great Power status and sphere the splinter nations, forging UCA back again, this time with cores and proper political structure to make it work. You know, as Guatemala. The country mostly known for being the Banana Republic.
  • Hegemonic Empire:
    • Great Powers can increase influence by building factories and railways in minor states. Some nations can even be formed through influence mechanics, and cab be quite large if done right.
    • The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth can be reformed this way in particular, if Krakow or Poland in some form have Lithuania, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine in their sphere of influence.
    • Germany can be formed this way as well, but either way needs Prussia or Austria to be knocked from the Great Powers list, and neither is particularly easy. Doing it with Austria, though, allows the player to form Greater Germany, which is huge and includes many other nations as part of it.
  • High-Class Glass: Various graphics for elite members of society, like army officers and capitalists, feature monocles. A Funny Background Event in the newspapers describes prices for the eyewear reaching a plateau.
  • Hopeless War: Texas and Tripoli are set up to be like this; Texas starts off with armies named after the three battles it lost! Both are weak nations facing down secondary powers with far more divisions. However, this can be averted by a skilled player (or rather, a player who knows how to hold out until the US comes in, in the case of Texas, and who can exploit the attrition mechanic, in the case of Tripoli). The Victoria II wiki has advice on how to survive as both powers.
  • An Immigrant's Tale: Not the focus of the game, but implied via the international migration mechanics, which motivate emigrants to head for the United States to escape destitution in Europe and Asia. Other democracies in the Americas and Oceania, especially Australia and Canada, can compete for immigrants if they become powerful enough.
  • Insistent Terminology: In A House Divided, foreign countries refer to The American Civil War as such. The USA calls it "The War of the Rebellion", and for the CSA, it's "The War of Northern Aggression".
  • Joke Character: The Heart of Darkness expansion introduces the nation of Jan Mayen, a tiny island in the North Sea, that even today has a total population of about 18 people. That is, until you start getting Polar Bear POPs...
  • Land of One City: Minor countries such as Moldavia or Texas start with only one State, usually made up of several provinces. However, some really small countries like Krakow and many German Minors have only one province within a single state. Also, it is impossible for a country with only one State to become a Great Power, no matter how powerful they actually are.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • A civilized, industrialized China is truly a thing to be afraid of. Heck, even just civilized China can curb-stomp pretty much everyone, since their absurdly big population of artisans can make up for lacking industry for decades.
    • As pointed out below, Any German State, from mighty Prussia to middle-power Bavaria to little Saxe-Coburg-Gotha can form Germany through multiple paths.
      • This includes Luxembourg. Besides being a micro-nation, Luxembourg is the only German state that also has French POPs as an acceptable culture. If you manage to form Germany as Luxembourg, you can potentially have a Germany that can take over France with none of the usual rebellions from the population that would usually provoke.
    • Chile starts as an underdeveloped backwater wedged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific. However, they're a democracy and get a huge boost to immigration, meaning they can become a Great Power much easier than Argentina (Presidential Dictatorship) or Brazil (Constitutional Monarchy with slavery). Having a precious metal province also doesn't hurt, since it both provides sizable profit and attracts immigrants.
    • Japan starts out as an uncivilized nation just like the rest of East Asia, but gets a huge bonus to its westernization ability. This, along with its relatively large and hugely educated population, means that it can become civilized relatively quickly and immediately become at least a secondary power with an ideal position to dominate China and Southeast Asia.
    • Panjab starts out as one of the few, yet largest, Indian minor states not a puppet of Britain, and thus stands the best possible chance of eventually working itself up to GP status and kicking Britain out of India. The AI will never accomplish this, but a skilled player can actually unite India around 1870 and with luck - by 1865. One of the most award-winning After Action Reports for Victoria 2 is from Panjab perspective.
    • The United States, by virtue of one very simple advantage. it's a full-on Great Power surrounded by nothing more than colonies and pushovers. Besides the single stumbling block of the Civil War, it stands to just roll over all of the Americas while everyone else is just squabbling with each other.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Suppose you've worked up the diplomatic relations to add China to your sphere of influence. They're an uncivilized country at the start of the game, so having them in your sphere means your population has 100% access to their market of natural resources, as if your country made them (your population is coded to buy domestic goods before importing, having a country in your sphere of influence means that country no longer counts as an importer). However, China has such a large population, that they will outproduce anything your country can make. Even manufactured goods made in your factories can't compete with Chinese artisans who craft them by hand. Your population will therefore spend their income buying resources from China instead of your own market; demand for your nation's domestically produced goods goes way down; the owners aren't making money anymore; they can't pay their workers anymore and unemployment goes way up; unemployed workers make no money to spend, exacerbating all of the other problems; your whole economy collapses. Nice job bankrupting yourself.
    • A House Divided had a partial solution: China was divided into several 'substates' (like satellites/dominions, but with somewhat less independence) under Qing China. Conquering a substate still requires going to war with all of China, but sphereing one does not, allowing for roughly-historical zones of influence in China (and making it significantly harder to sphere all of China).
  • Nintendo Hard: China deliberately receives many crippling penalties to it (such as having 90% of its population be non-accepted, terribly inadequate military, and constant rebellion events) such that players complained China was unplayable/unfair. Paradox simply responded that China was made to be unplayable on purpose because China really was a political quagmire at the time and also because if they didn't, China would constantly turn into an a-historical superpower.
    • Romanian unification is actually one of the most difficult things to achieve in the game, as the player has to play either Wallachia or Moldavia, both of which are puppet states to the enormous Ottoman Empire. It doesn't help that both countries are poor and backwards, with no industrial base, low literacy and research points, and a military that is both low tech and small in numbers. And even if the player manages to unify both Wallachia and Moldavia, escape the Ottomans' hold, and get Romanian cores, they still have to steal other core lands from the Austrian and Russian empires, both of which are vicious wolves compared to the Ottoman Empire's yapping dog.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: What colonial wars actually are, especially when fighting over territories already taken as colonies by other civilized nations. At least when fighting against non-civilized, there is the prestige bonus from winning and establishing a protectorate, but against other civilized nations it's all about resources you don't have and are too hard to come by to simply buy from world's market. Your goal is to gain access to some crucial resources for your industry, which given the time period can be anything from crude oil or natural rubber to such "trivial" things like cattle or timber. In fact, in Victoria 2's late game, timber shortages are so severe, you will end up waging wars for it.
  • Non-Entity General: Even though in-game messages are addressed to the leader of the country (eg "King" or "President") you most certainly can continue playing even if your country falls to a revolution.
  • No Swastikas: The flag used to represent Fascist Germany displays an iron cross rather than a swastika.
  • Notice This: To differentiate them from the hundreds of ordinary events that pop up routinely, truly momentous events (the American Civil War, the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, the writing of Heart of Darkness, etc.) have a special, major banner with fancy bordering and your flag flying suggesting the public notices used in the period.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Excluding Prussia and Austria, most German countries are rather weak and will usually end up just being annexed by whatever powerful neighbor happens to border them. However, occasionally some lucky German nation will expand enough and can form either the Southern German Federation, or the Northern German federation, both of which are usually ranked as great powers in the game and can (when they're not controlled by them) match Prussia and Austria in status and power.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: There's an optimum number of civil servants you need to run your country. Any more than that and all they do is draw a paycheck.
    • Conversely, if you don't have enough bureaucrats, your civil service will quickly descend into chaos and your country will suffer as a result. Passing social reforms requires a larger bureaucracy to keep the government running properly.
  • Obvious Beta: As traditional for earlier Paradox games, both games were extremely buggy on release with subpar AI. One of the most egregious parts was the impossible to pacify political radicals who often stage massive rebellions when it made no sense for them to; AI democracies would often be overrun by Jacobin rebels demanding a democracy, for instance.
    • Some developer oversights still persist, particularly involving colonization and empty territory. An uncolonized province in Canada oftentimes leads to the United States colonizing Alberta, and the way that cores on uncolonized territory works means that there will often be uncolonized 'holes' near Liberia and Ethiopia. A broken decision intended to form Yugoslavia from Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia causes one country to turn into Yugoslavia without annexing any territory.
  • Old Save Bonus:
    • You can import games from the Europa Universalis series. You can export them to Hearts of Iron 2. Considering Crusader Kings has an export feature to Europa Universalis II, you could in theory pilot the same faction from 1066 (or even 769) all the way through 1964 via the four games, a true feat of Paradox fanboyism.
    • At least one person has actually done so, leading to a world that's...quite different from our own by 1836 - for one, the Spanish Reconquista failed, and America was first discovered and colonized by Muslims; taking the place of real-world Mexico is the Islamic Republic of Mazula - and that's one of the smallest changes. Here's the state of the world in 1946 (at the end of an enormous war) as a result of the events of this playthrough.
    • Vicky II is similarly the third step in a chain from Crusader Kings II to Europa Universalis IV to Hearts of Iron III or IV (either works).
  • Paper Tiger: China before becoming civilized nation.
  • Pretext for War: The casus belli system functions like this. A House Divided expands the system so you can manufacture them, your ability to do so depending on how free your press is.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The entirety of the original game's soundtrack was classical music from the era. Averted in the sequel, which has original music composed by Paradox's in-house composer, Andreas Waldetoft.
  • Puppet State: Satellites (civilized) and Dominions (uncivilized), using the same mechanic as in most PI games. As of Heart of Darkness, the AI tends to release these more often and become more efficient rather than remaining monolithic and bureaucratically choked.
  • Pun:
    • The Dye Works Accident event in the second game, which has two options: "They shall not have dyed in vain!" and "We shall all dye sooner or later."
    • There's also the "Mummy Found!" event (involving Eegyptology), the response to which is "Orphans Rejoice!"
  • Reality Ensues: This post from r/BadEconomics analyzes the economic model that Victoria II uses, specifically how it is designed to ensnare players in the sort of bad economic decision-making that, in real life, led to The Great Depression. In short, playing it like one normally would a strategy game of this sort — namely, seeking to always run a surplus of gold and resources — will lead to a liquidity trap where the government, through high taxation and low spending, is taking money out of the economy and letting it do nothing in a vault. Sure enough, the endgame in the 1920s and '30s is often characterized by economic crises. Ironically, the first game did not have this kind of problem, as with technological progress, the upkeep of various things was increasing, so the money was spend automatically, rather than being amassed, while the player was forced to keep finding new sources of income, or being forced to cut down significantly on military or colonial ventures.
  • Red Scare: If you turn Communist, expect everyone to hate you. Truth in Television, of course.
    • With good reason: as of A House Divided, Communist nations immediately get a permanent "Spread the Revolution" casus belli on all their neighbours. Well, their non-great power neighbors.
  • Refining Resources: Factories (and Artisan POPs in the sequel) turn raw materials into finished products. For example, cotton is spun into fabric, and then combined with dyes to make clothing, which is then bought by citizens or used by the military for uniforms.
  • Relationship Values: Two different scales. One, Relations, measures a country's government's of another's, which translates to easier alliance and military access deals. The second, Opinion, is available only for Great Powers, and measures how much influence they have over a smaller nation's government.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: The game has over 2000 provinces, where people live, resource-gathering operations are run, and armies are stationed. These are grouped into states, where national foci are set and factories are located.
  • River of Insanity: There are event chains that simulate expeditions up the Nile, Amazon, and so on. More often than not, they disappear without a trace...
  • Royal Mess: When playing as a monarchy, in-game text boxes address the player as "King". Even if you're playing as a not-Kingdom like Austria or the Duchy of Baden, or if you're the United Kingdom.
  • RPG Elements: Military leaders have "backgrounds" and "personalities" which have positive or negative effects on the units they lead. A House Divided introduced the idea of leader prestige: the positive effects of leader traits increase with prestige.
  • Scare Chord: The sound that accompanies the message that someone has declared war on you.
  • Schizo Tech: Depending on your research focus in Victoria II, it's possible to have such combinations as dreadnought battleships powered by water wheels.
  • Shout-Out: Tons, mostly in event texts, especially the "You have lost X amount of X resources" random events. After getting these dire news the "accept" option is usually a witty remark, for instance, for cotton it is "Frankly, I don't give a damn!" and for Precious Metals it's "My precioussss!"
    • In Vicky 2, one of the in-game events that happen if New England achieves independence is the foundation of the Miskatonic University.
    • Also in the sequel, the existence of the Manhattan Commune as a possible nation is a reference to The Difference Engine.
    • invoked One of Victoria 2's election events is on immigration, with one possible choice being "Immigrants? In 'my' <province>?" Doubly hilarious if it happens to the island of Victoria.
    • Getting a surplus of goods also leads to references, such as the event for cotton: "In Them Old Cotton Fields", with one choice being "Rock me in my cradle!"
    • You might just have a ship sunk by a certain submarine.
    • One of the news stories added in Heart of Darkness references the Spanish language short story "A Letter to God".
    • Another news stories makes reference to Mass Effect 3's ending controversy by using Sherlock Holmes. The article states that new ending for Sherlock Holmes will provide "additional clarity and closure".
      • This pulls double-duty as a reference to the actual Sherlock Holmes franchise, as Conan Doyle's first attempt to end it ("The Final Problem") was... not well-received itself.
    • The flag for a fascist Siebenbürgen (a releasable minor state that starts out as part of Austria-Hungary) has a vampire bat as the central device. Siebenbürgen is better known in English as Transylvania, home of the fictional Count Dracula.
    • Yet another news story references Adam West's Batman with crime-fighting action by a masked vigilante calling himself 'The Catman', repelling sharks as he goes.
    • The name of the Manchurian Anarcho-Liberal party is A Very Unlikely Candidate.
  • So Last Season: All preceding military developments become pretty much irrelevant with the invention of the machine gun. Then the machine gun itself becomes outdated with introduction of tanks.
    • For naval combat, that would be introduction of destroyers. They are stronger, faster and more durable than anything up until that point and by such huge margain, any ship prior to those becomes instantly obsolete.
  • Stupid Evil: Out of the ideologies that seek to impose some form of dictatorship, the Anarcho-Liberals tend to be the least practical, especially if you're playing as a less-industrialized country short on capitalists, since the economic policies will seriously hinder industrialization. If you wish to attract immigrants, their reversal of political reforms, and establishment of a dictatorship, will also hinder immigrant attraction.
  • Tank Goodness: These start appearing towards the tail end of the game.
  • United Europe: A difficult but achievable goal for advanced players. To at least become the absolute dominant European power is very possible, in particular as someone like Germany.
  • Unwanted Assistance: The sequel sees Belgium start the game in the United Kingdom's sphere of influence. This would be a great military advantage if there wasn't a world iron shortage coming on, and the UK didn't have first pick of its sphere-members' iron.
    • Of course, if the UK WASN'T helping Belgium, it would be called "Southern Netherlands."
  • Useless Useful Spell: As in other Paradox games, most naval technology is questionably useful, since ships cannot occupy provinces and Great Britain tends to dominate the sea for the majority of the game. It's worth taking the leftmost two techs in the tree, however; a large navy, even with poor combat stats, is still critical for colonization, and large flagships (especially Battleships and Dreadnoughts) can artificially bolster a nation's military score.
  • Vestigial Empire: Supposed to happen to the Ottoman Empire, which is lagging behind in tech, has a huge number of releasable Balkan states, and suffers from having a huge non-accepted population of Arabs and Slavs. The game often averts this, however; sometimes the AI will play the country competently and avert its fall from Great Power status, and most of the time the empire's enemies could seemingly care less about releasing the Balkan states or annexing Middle Eastern territory (except perhaps for Greece's cores.)
    • Austria is intended to gradually fall into a similar state. Unless it forms Greater Germany, Austria will usually lose most of its sphere members to the formations of Germany and Italy, prompting the Austro-Hungarian Compromise as a last-ditch attempt to preserve the country's integrity.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: It's entirely possible to build a democratic utopia where the rights of workers and minorities are protected. However, it's also much much MUCH easier to be an oppressive bastard, and the game generally rewards you for acting that way. See below.
    • For example, enforcing labour regulations such as limited work hours and safety standards make factories more expensive and will hurt your economy.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: It's entirely possible to end the game with the world under the domination of a fascist dictatorship with institutionalized slavery.
    • Plus, it is almost impossible to play a great power without committing atrocities, colonial or otherwise. Drive Native Americans off their lands and set up mining operations? Yup! Forbid Africans from teaching in schools in their native tongue? Sure! Execute minorities for trying to oppose your foreign rule? Why not?
    • Do you have lots of weapons factories? Do you have gunpowder, ammunition, small arms, artillery, and the panoply of modern war churning out of your Arsenal of Whatever-ocracy? Is there world peace such that no one wants to spend money on your goods of death? Start a war, preferably between two Great Powers far away from where you are! Watch as your people grow rich and prosperous, and your tax coffers fill, as other states buy your weapons at outrageous prices to slaughter each other!
  • Video Game Historical Revisionism: Due to the high level of detail present in the game, there are often mistakes made, sometimes for Acceptable Breaks from Reality reasons, sometimes because they can't be arsed to fix it (somewhere though, a modder will) most divisive tends to be the allocation of minority cultures and POP's.
  • War for Fun and Profit: One war cause lets the victor demand concessions from the loser. Plus, countries can actually create a military-industrial complex, which boosts army/navy/industrial research, but hampers both cultural and financial research.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: It's fully possible to have rebels rise up when their party is in power (Jacobins when the liberals are in charge, etc.), or when you have a system of government they want already (Jacobins when you have a democracy, Commies when you have a communist dictatorship, etc.). One particularly bad example is when you have a revolution only for the same rebels to rise again. Players agree this trope is likely the best explanation for why this happens.
  • We Have Reserves: Played literally with the 'mobilization' option that lets you conscript a large amount of ordinary workers into your army, ostensibly as canon fodder since they aren't nearly as effective as regular soldiers.
    • The AI typically like to group soldiers into gigantic armies, which often times causes horrible attrition on long marches through territory that can't support so many soldiers at once. Combat also usually devolves into throwing huge amounts of armies into one battle trying to overwhelm the enemy. In fact, it's the only way uncivs even stand a chance against the Great Powers.
    • China in particular suffers this most of the game, as trying to fight the Great Powers results in your armies dying by the thousands just to kill hundreds of their guys.
  • Wrong Turn at Albuquerque: The "botanical expedition to the colonies" events in the sequel have a fairly high chance of resulting in the party either disappearing or turning up again much later and worse for wear, as in real life. However, they don't check to see which province the expedition was sent to first, and generate a random destination. This leads to such situations as a character going to Canada and ending up in Morocco.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: No less than 47 different resources. Basic types like iron, coal, wheat, and wool are all present, as well as more esoteric goods such as tea, opium, tanks, and luxury furniture. Raw materials such as coal or wheat are mined/harvested by worker POPs in provinces, and are either consumed ore refined into other goods. Some advanced goods, like Radios, Aeroplanes, and Tanks require a production chain that is pretty complex. Luckily you can buy all resources from the world market, assuming there is SOMEONE somewhere who is producing the stuff...though price fluctuations can make an import-heavy economy very vulnerable to shortages.
    • Different powers have different levels of priority for resources, and some resources repeatedly prove problematic. For starters, liquor is required for a variety of units and you can find yourself in dire shortage of it. Cue the British Empire not being able to build artillery because they can't get any liquor.
    • Also an economic powerhouse for any economic policy capable of choosing its factory type rather than leaving it up for the AI to decide since anyone making these low priority but high demand goods will earn absurd amounts of money for them due to their demand.
    • Some major mods add even more resources, namely the Modern Era Mod.

Alternative Title(s): Victoria II


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