Victoria 3: a Historic Economics Sim

So the long-awaited Paradox Grand Strategy game, Victoria 3, has come out today. I haven’t gotten to play yet, but I’m very eager to do so later today. I will probably start things nice and easy playing as Sweden (one of the recommended nations according to the community).

Anyone else planning on picking this game up?

As soon as it comes out on a distribution method other than Steam, which means likely never, but so be it - I have other games I can play.

I have it, but will probably wait for the first hotfix before playing it. (General rule for Paradox games.)

The Victoria series is about the economic and social development of the world during the Queen’s reign until after WWI. There’s less emphasis on wars in this version compared to previous, but it’s not something that can be avoided entirely.

You can play any country in the world. Very different experience depending on your choice. There’s a high replay value.

Official info about the game at

So far I started a run as Sweden, overinvested in construction, overinvested in tooling to feed that construction, overinvested in wood and iron to feed the tools, and am careening towards bankruptcy.

So I kept restarting as Sweden, having ruined my economy each time (aside from the time I picked a fight with Denmark and dragged France in against me). My big problem was wood and iron. It seemed like no matter how much I produced, their price would skyrocket and drive my government funded construction costs through the roof. I’d build more and more iron and wood and construction industry, but the price would always increase.

This run I purposefully kept my construction industry in check while spamming wood and iron. And yet, their price just WOULD. NOT. DROP.

I finally figured it out by digging a little deeper into the menus. Turns out I really AM producing enough wood and iron - but whenever the price comes down, larger markets like France and Russia and Prussia rush in to buy it. This makes perfect sense, and is something I automatically benefit from when my pops import manufactured goods that I can’t produce yet, like luxury clothes or furniture, so I’m not sure why it took me 3 failed Sweden runs to figure that out!

I guess I just forgot that trade in this game is mostly automatic, so that even though I never signed a trade agreement with France, they are free to import wood from me unless I specifically forbid it (or am Isolationist).

Luckily, I AM able to place tariffs on the export of iron and wood. This allows me to make up for the added cost of raw materials in the Construction Industry since that’s funded by me.

Other impacted industries that use lots of iron and wood - like tools - are not as lucky. I may need to consider subsidizing them.

I didn’t know about this series, but it looks really cool. Thanks for sharing. It seems to focus and expand on the parts of Civilization that I like the most.

I tried it last night and had a lot of fun. Still no idea what I’m doing, but I like that…

I had a lot of problems with the launcher which seems to be the case for a lot of people. Launching the game exe directly worked, but I had to manually install some MS libs. Developing for PC must be the biggest pain.

Happy to share! I’m glad to see more players and can’t wait to hear your tales!

It’s pretty complex, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. I managed to unite Scandinavia and build up a decent industrial capacity by 1857. Adding Denmark and Norway directly to my nation has kinda thrown my economy into disarray, but it also gave me access to Denmark’s decently developed colony of Gabon. Its sugar, dyes, and other plantations greatly aided in industrializing even more of the economy, like clothing and groceries.

I think I now understand the broad strokes of the game and am finished with this Sweden run for now. I want to get a better understanding of the details of the economy, and for that I want to build up a smaller, less developed nation from scratch.

I’m debating what country I want to do that with - maybe I can take suggestions.

My options are:

New Granada - militaristic playthrough in Central America

Cuba - one state, small head start in industry

Japan - bigger country with more people, but less industry and tech, isolationist and traditionalist start

That sounds like a fun one, although Cuba would be cool too.

After playing the Belgium tutorial a bit I’m playing a game as Mexico. After putting down the Texas rebellion I’m trying to improve relations with the US so they don’t attack me. Other than that I’m building as much as I can to get people off of subsistence farms.

I saw a video of The Spiffing Brit playing Jan Mayen. Victoria 3 Is A Perfectly Balanced Game With No Exploits - YouTube

It gave me a better understanding of the game than from just reading the copy. I attempted to play the first game but was very confused about what exactly I was supposed to do. I only did this because I loved the EU series and Stellaris on GOG, but the original Victoria is the only one they have up there. I’m guessing the original isn’t all that similar, but it at least tells me it’s much more about economics and industry supply chains compared to EU and Stellaris.

I managed to unite Scandinavia and build up a decent industrial capacity by 1857. Adding Denmark and Norway directly to my nation has kinda thrown my economy into disarray, but it also gave me access to Denmark’s decently developed colony of Gabon. Its sugar, dyes, and other plantations greatly aided in industrializing even more of the economy, like clothing and groceries.

I’ve been going sort of the same route but slower - Denmark was allied to Austria so I attacked Holstein instead (or was it Schleswig?) which didn’t pull Austria into the war. However, for the life of me I can’t find a way to start a diplomatic play or a war to retake Finland from Russia? The diplomacy interactions page for the Grand Duchy of Finland doesn’t show any available plays, while for Russia I only have options regarding the Baltics. I should have a claim (in Victoria II terms) since Finnish territories also count for the up to 15 states that can be made into Scandinavia, but I don’t see a way forward?

Probably abandoning this Sweden run now, my economy tanked suddenly and I’m almost in default - probably a mixture of working on multiple colonies, integrating Holstein, passing Free Trade as law, and overinvesting in construction. Going to take a chill run as Uruguay to see if I can make it the economic powerhouse it deserves to be! Or Cuba, could also be fun.

So I ended up trying Persia, of all places. Big population but very little industry to start. There are also some nice opportunities for expansion early on.

My current run with them is going alright, but I think I will restart because the leader of the Landowners IG is a 30 year old Pacifist. I want colonies, damn it; and I don’t want to throw the landowners out of power.

We’ll see if I can give it another goal. My goal is to conquer a massive empire from India to Africa while ruling with an iron fist, then try to liberalize into a massive republic.

Ancient Persia was known for the way in handled subject people with relative dignity, compared to many other ancient empires - supposedly this helped them manage their subjects, who often viewed them as liberators since they were often replacing a more oppressive overlord. Obviously the Victorian era is a very different time period, though.

That’s going to be my plan for the first part of the game, I think. Discriminate as little as possible while remaining a Monarchy, at least until my empire is nice and mighty.

Persia is really fun actually, they have almost 0 industry early on but a massive population of peasants to train up.

I played a game as Korea. Small, but some good resources, and also one ethnicity and religion. It’s a tributary under China, which means you pay a fee to access to their market and some military protection. I also kept good relations with Russia, Japan, and Britain.

Development was hard. I managed to get religious schools early, which improved literacy, which leads to everything else. I built out railroads in the 1860s. By 1900, Korea had the fourth largest economy, after UK, France, Austria, China. But around 1920, I had the great crash where everything went bad. I think it was a combo of not enough oil and running out of workers. I didn’t have the means to colonize and I was stuck with no migration allowed. (The only time I faced a revolt was when trying to change migration policy.)

There were some strange politics for a while. At one point, the Liberal Party consisted of Priests, Military, and Trade Unions. When that broke apart, only the Priests were in the Liberal Party. Then there was the period where each interest group had its own party. Communists peasants, Radical trade-unionists, Social-Democrat intelligentsia, Liberal Priests, plus some right-wing parties that had no power at all.

In my game, Japan got colonized by Britain around 1890. I guess they failed to industrialize. By that time, I had a small, but well-equipped, permanent army, plus the potential to mobilize a lot more. Not enough to invade anyone, but plenty to discourage any adventures into my territory.

I’m looking at Persia for my next run. Or maybe Netherlands.

The basic game loop is lots of fun: handling the politics, laws, and institutions, and all the economic juggling. I need to learn how to manage a real downturn, probably by selectively destroying some factories, etc, instead of simply growing out of it.

I can definitely recommend Persia. Early on, Russia will get into native uprising diplomatic play with the Khazaks, and the Ottomans are likely to fight Egypt. As soon as Russia gets busy, try to grab a neighbor - Oman’s port or one of your neighbors to the East (as a vassal) is an easy war so long as you don’t claim anything you’ll need a navy to take, if you can be sure that the Russians will stay out of it.

If you do this, make sure you recruit at least one or two additional generals rather than sending your king with the whole army. I’ve found that multiple small armies on a front do better than a single large army.

What are some early goals/strategies for Sweden? For example, should I be expanding logging and harbors first? Do I need to focus on passing any particular laws?

I’ve played 6 games as either Sweden or Chile and I can get some slight growth in GDP and population, but not much. A lot of my buildings go red (or swing wildly between red and green). I’m having trouble making productive buildings and supplying the inputs that they need at reasonable prices.

Maybe I am over-steering and taking too many actions. For example, should the construction queue normally be empty? Or should it usually have something building?

I try to build at all times. As far as goals - just keep making new industries and upgrading your production methods, then gathering the resources you need for that. Groceries are good for increasing standard of living. Glass is good for upgrading your services sector by raising the production type of your urban centers. Steel is good for army. Chemical plants buff your agriculture and mining.

You’ll decide to implement a new industry and realize that for it to run well you need like 10 different things first - so do all that.

A good tip is to look at your market supply and demand and make you are missing, remembering that the new buildings you make will require their own inputs.

Generally, I feel like it’s better to take things gradually. Everything effects everything else, to a greater or lesser extent. You can’t know until you do it, so do it slowly.

I set all my buildings to “auto-expand”. That means that if they’ve maxed their available cash, it looks like expanding would still be profitable, and the construction queue isn’t too long, then the building automatically queues an expansion using its own money. The most profitable buildings will expand more and your overall economy will increase.

Note that buildings become more efficient as they get bigger. It’s better to have one level-20 cannery than four level-5 canneries. Don’t spread out an industry until you need to. But keep in mind that you need the population in a state to work the buildings there.

I think dismantling unproductive buildings is also important, but still figuring out the details.

To get population growth, you need to supply your population with food and healthcare, which generally means them having money. My method is to pass laws to improve education and healthcare institutions, and then fund those as much as possible.

Also, be careful about upgrading your buildings’ production methods. Don’t switch to a method that requires oil if you don’t have a good supply. Tooltips are super helpful with this. If you do switch a building over to oil, just do one and then wait to see the net impact. The tooltips only look at first-order effects, not collateral impacts. Gradual is the key.

I’m still learning the game, so don’t take my advice without some thought.

Reading the official game forums, it seems like a lot of players didn’t get a central conceit of the game: you play as a country, not a government, or a leader, or a party, or an interest group, etc.

I also see there’s a huge in-game exploit. If you import a commodity (say iron) from another country and that country imports the same commodity (iron) from you, it creates an unbounded money loop. Take advantage or avoid as you wish.

So I’ve been continuing to play Persia, after a few restarts trying different things to really understand the situation. In my current game, I have vassalized or annexed most of the minor powers to my north and east, except for Afghanistan and Kokand. Kokand I haven’t gotten to yet, and Afghanistan I did try to invade but had to withdraw to deal with an economic crisis.

Meanwhile, Russia has suddenly gone from friendly towards me, to belligerent. The game informs me that they want to conquer some of my states. This will be dangerous - I have just set up my fertilizer industry and was about to set up steel next anyways, so I can potentially do Ammunition as well and upgrade to Skirmish Infantry soon - but Russia is massive, and has deep pockets.