Spain is a nation which has been going backwards for hundreds of years, and historically spent the 19th Century riven by political instability and violence: a Western European nation that took until the 1970s to become a mature democracy.
In Victoria, it has several advantages which mean an experienced player can make Spain a Great Power once more for fun; but turning Spain into a real superpower is a very significant challenge.
Spain has several reasonable advantages:
- A strong primary goods economy, including coal and iron, and a political system that will let you raise tariffs to the maximum. This means that you can fund education and defence and colonisation, as well as much industrialisation as your Machine Parts will allow.
- No built-in conflict. European powers are more or less uninterested in you: not for Spain the centuries of European conflict. Even better: once the initial 'Carlist Wars' event expires - a year to 18 months from 1836 - you are immune from the Liberal Revolution event.
- A fair number of Soldiers and Officers, and strong scripted Generals.
These mean that Spain is well-positioned so long as she doesn't seem to get ideas above her station! The disadvantages are:
- Military weakness compared to the Great Powers. You are unable to sustain conflict with France or Britain: even the Ottomans or Mexico can be a problem! This shouldn't be a problem so long as you resist the temptation to join European alliance systems and you don't get any BadBoy wars.
- Small national population. This means you need to manage your factories very carefully: every pop you convert makes an impact on the agricultural trade surplus which your economy depends on in the early game.
1836 to 1870 guide
From 1836 to 1838 you will mainly be playing whack-a-mole with the Carlist Wars revolutions. It is a good idea to build a few more divisions ar this stage: one in Cuba, two in the Phillipines and two at home: revolts are bound to break out in the far-flung colonies and your transport ships will see plenty of action! Put up tariffs and make sure defence and army spending are at the maximum! You may also want to close some of the loss-making factories at home. Also make sure that you're not importing lots of anything expensive and useless. Don't forget to use the Leadership points you generate to get several decent Generals.
After 1838 the war should be over: you are in a position to prioritise the development of the lacklustre economy, coupled with a bit of overseas expansion. On the foreign front: get the hits in early and declare war on Morocco. They are just over the Straits of Gibraltar, have a small army and to add icing to the cake invaded Spain a thousand years previously. It is best to take a two-step annexation (occupy all their provinces and demand all but their capital, then when the peace treaty expires finish them off).
At home, you have no Machine Parts with which to progress. You can help yourself by fully-funding Education and focusing yourself strongly on the techs that will take you towards Interchangeable Parts. You can give industrialisation a big boost by trading off an insignificant colony for the right tech at the right time: is Puerto Rico really worth more than Practical Steam Engines or Experimental Railroad? It's worth picking a trade partner with knowledge you need and improving your relations a bit; it also helps to trade with a small nation which will offer you a lot for the worthless islands you are disposing of. The Netherlands are a good option.
When you have a few Machine Parts, you need to think carefully about how to use them. In no real order, try:
- Building a factory or two to employ armaments workers that you've made redundant by closing the small arms factory. Fabric, glass or wine might work. Don't try to build anything heavier for the time being.
- Starting to railroad your most productive provinces (Castile and Andalucia are probably best).
- Building colonies! Morocco gives you access to North-West Spain; the Congo is generally up for grabs; and there are many opportunities in the Pacific. These will get you valuable Prestige and raise your score.
Railroading and colony-building can continue at an incremental rate with one or two of each a year, as the funds become available. Unless you are keen to try an adventurous war, there is no need to keep fully funding defence or the army.
Not long after 1850 you should be in a position to get Interchangeable Parts and create your Machine Parts factory. Bear in mind that it will be loss-making initially. The MPs it produces, however, will mean you can keep building railroads and keep building more colonies - just what you need to keep going onwards and upwards! The next industrial priority is probably increasing Castile's Steel production by expanding the factory and recruiting more Clerks and Craftsmen. Steel can easily become a bottleneck with further Railroad production, particularly when you start upgrading provinces in the '50s and '60s to level 2 railroads. While this is happening it's a good idea to be researching principally Commerce and Cultural techs: for increased tax and work efficiency on the one hand, and to increase prestige and education and decrease revoltrisk on the other. Military techs will just cost you money at this stage.
While all this is going on, you have several military options. You are still far too weak to take on a major power. However, you can quite happily beat a nation like Portugal or the Two Sicilies, so long as you manage the wars to avoid excessive BadBoy. And you can walk over a minor Central American nation or one of the African uncivilised states. The only question is how much you can take while managing the diplomacy.
In the 1860s you can probably build and populate one or two more factories: build at least one Steamer factory, which will provide a vital strategic good as well as making you money. Other options are Regular Clothes.
Once you have the Steamers you can switch money away from Education - you may well find you are producing Research Points faster you can use them - and build up your military, starting your navy, which by this stage is an obsolete wreck. A strong ironclad navy will be your passport to further colonial expansion, and to a higher Military score. You can probably pick a colonial war with a now-weaker European power!
After 1870: Prepare for war - or run away
From this point on you need to start thinking about the year 1898. Around then, n event will trigger which pitches you into war with the USA. Historically, a US Battleship blew up in harbour in Cuba that year. While the explosion was probably down to engine problems, the US declared war anyway; Spain was thrashed, her fleet sunk and her colonies in the Caribbean and the Pacific taken.
To avoid this unfortunate chain of events you need to do two things: fight the war, or evade it.
Fighting the USA in 1898 is a tough job: by then it is a global superpower and tends to have a large, modern navy and plenty of divisions. On your own, you will probably be defeated. It is important to get allies: the ideal ally is Britain, which tends to be the other naval superpower, though any Great Power with a decent navy is good. And the other important nation to consider is Mexico. Though often well in the US's pockets by the fin de siecle, if you can for man alliance they will at least distract American troops.
Defensively, you need to garrison Cuba, the Phillipines and Puerto Rico: they become American core provinces. Offensiveely, you need to strike at the US heartland. There is bound to be somewhere on the East Coast unguarded; if you can land there an capture a few provinces you will most likely be able to claim an honourable peace.
Avoiding the war is much easier. The event is triggered by your ownership of Cuba. If you grant Cuba its independence, you don't get a war! The downside to this approach is that Cuba will probably fall into the American sphere of influence within a decade or two, and you will no longer have access to its tobacco output.
In Victoria Revolutions, you can avoid the war if your naval power is bigger than USA in June 1898.