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Dealing with Rebellions


Live and Let Live: Dealing with Rebellions

I have been playing this game for nearly a year now, however there are a few things regarding rebels which I have only recently discovered and which lead to some quite useful techniques when dealing with rebellions.

In regards to dealing with rebellions, most players have two main aims:

  1. Trying to prevent rebellions in the first place by reducing your POPs’ militancy and keeping it low.
  2. When a POP does rebel, trying to avoid killing too much of the POP itself when crushing the resulting rebel unit.

The following three techniques I have found to be excellent in achieving the two aims above.

Technique 1: The Rebel Police Force

Note: the advice in this paragraph is outdated, in version 1.04 rebels no longer decrease militancy in their province.

Most players would be aware that when you have an army unit stationed in one of your provinces, all of the POPs in that province get a -0.20 (per year) “military presence” militancy modifier. Therefore, spreading your army around your provinces as a “police force” is one means of keeping your POPs’ militancy down. Many players however may not be aware that a rebel unit in your province will have exactly the same effect! Yep, your POPs don’t care who is policing them, so long as somebody is! It will take some time for the rebel unit to capture your province, so in the meantime you can let it do your police work for you whilst your precious army units do the same in other provinces (why do all the work yourself?!).

Another point worth remembering is that a POP can only rebel and generate one rebel unit at a time. So an existing rebel unit will prevent the same POP from rebelling (and generating another rebel unit) again whilst the first rebel unit is still in existence.

Technique 2: The Incredible Disappearing Rebellion

As noted above, it will take a rebel POP some time before it captures your province, and in the meantime your POPs in that province will benefit from the -0.20 (per year) “military presence” militancy modifier.

However, SOME rebel units will NEVER actually be able to capture your province, even if you never bother to crush them. This is because rebel units suffer attrition just like normal army units do. Unlike normal army units however, rebel units always suffer some amount of monthly attrition (usually about 6% per month, more in some provinces). And some rebel units, if left alone, will disappear entirely through attrition before they are able to capture the province they are in. So, these rebel units can be conveniently ignored (and in the meantime will happily provide the “Rebel Police Force” effect). Most importantly, by doing so and not crushing them, you will not kill ANY of the rebelling POP (attrition losses suffered by rebel units do not affect the rebelling POP – really they just represent people quitting the rebel unit and going back to work).

How do you know which rebel units will disappear without capturing your province?

There are a few factors which appear to contribute to the rate of progress for a unit in capturing a province (there may well be others):

  1. The size of the unit. The larger the unit, the quicker the progress.
  2. The population of the province. The greater the population in a province, the slower the progress.
  3. The fort level in the province. The higher the fort level of the province, the slower the progress.

So, small rebel units in well populated provinces with a high fort level are those that may disappear without capturing the province, without needing to be crushed. Personally, I have seen rebel units of approx 2200 men in European provinces with a fort level of 5 disappear this way, and rebel units of only a few hundred men capture sparsely populated provinces without forts in Canada and South Africa. Fort level seems to be of more importance than province population – I have seen smaller rebel units capture heavily populated provinces in India without forts than those that failed to capture less populated provinces in Europe with high fort levels. You will have to use your judgement and experience in estimating which rebel units may disappear without needing to be crushed; there is no formula that I am aware of for making an exact calculation.

They May Have Disappeared, But They Will Probably be Back (The Downside)

There is one downside to using this technique when dealing with a rebellion. Whenever you crush a rebel unit, an immediate and once-off militancy reduction of -1.00 is applied to the rebelling POP (reducing their probability of rebelling again in the near future). If you let the rebel unit disappear instead, you don’t get the militancy reduction to the (for the moment no longer) rebelling POP.

Technique 2b: Landing a Late Punch

There is one way to get the once-off militancy reduction of -1.00 whilst not doing too much damage to the rebelling POP: crush the rebel unit just before it disappears, when it is at its very smallest. Now, if you don’t crush it, the rebel unit will actually disappear at the start of the month when attrition takes it below 100 men. Therefore the ideal time to attack and crush the rebel unit is when it has between 100 and approx 106 men (if it has 107 or more men it will probably still survive another month’s attrition). This way, at the very worst, you will reduce the size of the rebelling POP by 106 men (often it won’t even be by that much, due to some quirk of game mechanics – the effect of shock in the rebel-crushing battle perhaps?).

Technique 3: Fooling the Children of the Revolution

If a rebel unit is too large to disappear as per above, then at some point you will want to crush it, lest it capture a few provinces from you and cause you some mayhem. However, doing so will inflict some, and possibly a lot, of damage on the rebelling POP, especially if the rebel unit is large. There is however one rather curious way to keep the damage to the rebelling POP to the bare minimum.

The Three Day (Almost) Bloodless Battle

Normally to crush a rebel unit in battle you have to either annihilate it completely (and correspondingly damage the rebelling POP), or preferably, break it by shock (this is where cavalry find their best use). However, if you allow the rebel unit to capture your province first and then attack it before it has left the province, the rebel unit will ALWAYS be defeated in THREE DAYS, with fairly minimal casualties, no matter how large the rebel POP is and how weak the army unit you fight the battle with is (provided that your unit is strong enough to actually survive three days of battle). There is practically NO easier and more bloodless way to crush a rebel unit and limit damage to the rebelling POP.

The advantages of this technique are that you can use any army unit to defeat the rebel unit (even crappy irregular divisions of only a few hundred men), your unit will take minimal losses during the battle, which itself will be over quickly, and most importantly of all the rebelling POP will suffer very little damage (usually less than 100 men killed). Also, another high militancy POP in the same province might rebel whilst you are waiting for the first rebel unit to capture the province, in which case you get to kill two birds with one stone (both rebelling POPs will have the -1.00 militancy modifier applied once the “Three Day Bloodless Battle” is won). The downside is that you will have to capture your province back, and will lose any production from it until you do so.

Speed is of the Essence

For this technique to work, you MUST attack the rebel unit after it has captured the province, but before it has moved into another province. Once it arrives in the next province, this technique won’t work, and you will have to wait for the rebel unit to capture that province to get another opportunity to use this technique.

A rebel unit will attempt to march to and capture another province the moment it has captured the first one, so the window of opportunity is not large (especially if the rebel unit is a cavalry unit and therefore able to move quickly). You will need to act as soon as you get the message saying that the rebels have captured your province, unless you have anticipated the capture of your province and already have a unit on the way (beware, if your unit arrives before the rebel unit has captured the province this technique won’t work – you will instead fight a normal, potentially long and bloody, battle).

The “Cav Followed by Inf” Method

The best way to ensure that you don’t miss the window of opportunity to employ this technique (and also recapture your lost province quickly to minimise disruption to your economy) is to position a cavalry division, and in a separate stack a large army with at least one slow moving infantry division, in a province next to the one the rebel unit is in the process of capturing. It is easiest to arrange this when you get the initial message alerting you to the new rebel unit. Then when you get the message saying that the rebels have captured your province, immediately send both the cavalry division and the large infantry stack to the just captured province where the rebel unit is. The cavalry should arrive quickly enough to catch the rebel unit and defeat it in the three day battle before the infantry stack arrives. The large infantry stack will then recapture your province far more quickly than the cavalry division alone would have.

When Best NOT to Use This Technique

Because this technique involves temporarily losing a province, there are some cases where it is best not used:

  1. In your capital province. Whilst the rebels would need to hold your capital for a year for you to suffer a revolution, at any time when you are not in control of your capital province you will not be able to deploy any mobilised troops. This could be potentially disastrous if you are in a war.
  2. In a “factory” province (as denoted by a little factory icon on the infrastructure map). These are the provinces in which the factories in your industrialised states are deemed to exist. Losing one of these provinces will mean that you lose all the production from all of the factories in that state until you capture the province back. You will have to weigh up the cost of the temporary but possibly large disruption to your economy against the (permanent) cost of the damage to the rebelling POP, when deciding whether to crush the rebel unit before or after it will capture one of these provinces.
  3. In a province with ships in port. When you lose the province your ships in port will be forced to sortie out into the adjacent sea-zone. If a stronger fleet from a country with which you are at war is in that sea-zone this could be bad news for your fleet.
  4. In some other economically important provinces. If the rebel POP is in your only iron / coal / sulphur / etc producing province, or one in which you have a ton of large clerk / craftsmen POPs who work in important factories (but is not a “factory” province), or lots of capitalist POPs, you may not want to let the rebel POP capture that particular province.

Is this Technique for Dealing with Rebellions Exploitative?

Personally, I doubt that being able to crush a rebellion in the “Three Day Bloodless Battle” is a WAD feature of the game, so in that respect I do think that this technique is somewhat exploitative. However, if you believe as I do that looking after your POPs and maximising their size, growth and numbers is a key to being successful in the game, then this technique for dealing with rebellions is rather hard to ignore, exploitative or not. It is for each player to judge for themselves.

Implementing the Techniques: The Passive Policing Policy

Here is how I go about dealing with rebellions using the three techniques above:

  1. A rebellion occurs and you get the rebellion message. Click “Goto”, note the location and check the size of the rebel unit.
  2. If you already had an army unit in the province, it will now be in battle with the rebel unit. Always retreat it ASAP (NB You will not be able to retreat your unit until two days have passed). You will now have a “Rebel Police Force”, whilst your army unit can “police” another province.
  3. Choose (guesstimate) whether you will use technique 2, 2b or 3 to deal with this rebel unit.
  4. If using technique 2, you can now ignore this rebellion totally. If the rebel unit turns out to be strong enough to actually capture your province you will get a message, which will allow you to switch to technique 3 if you have a nearby army unit.
  5. If using technique 2b, check in on the rebel unit periodically (no more than once per month is necessary, and far less often than that until it gets below about 120 men), and bring a unit up in time to crush it when it is between 100 and approx 106 men in size.
  6. If using technique 3, bring a cavalry division and a large infantry stack up to an adjacent province. Then ignore the rebel unit completely until you get the message saying it has captured your province. When you do get that message, click “Goto” and immediately send both the cavalry division and large infantry stack to the just captured province. Leave them there until you have recaptured the province.

The “Passive Policing Policy” is the best way I have found to deal with rebellions whilst achieving the two aims listed at the top of this guide. It is quite counter-intuitive: the natural reaction to rebellions is to want to crush them as soon as they appear; it is best NOT to do so. Adopting the “Passive Policing Policy” actually causes less stress for the player as fewer rebellions result overall than when trying to defeat every rebel unit straight away; consequently there is less time spent hunting down and crushing rebel units. By adopting this policy you no longer have to really worry about the damage caused by rebellions at all – it becomes quite minimal.

You Say You Want a Revolution? - How (and Why) to Get One

Another tactic to dealing with rebellions: occasionally, especially when hit with events, your homeland territories can generate so many rebels that policing them (using whatever methods) can get expensive in time, lives, and treasure. During such times, one might consider fomenting a revolution.

  1. Get your army well clear of the ensuing mess. Lower crime fighting to the minimum. Get out of any wars (revolutions and border wars don't mix well).
  2. Watch as the rebels slowly take over your country. As they get close to capturing your capital and half the nation, the revolution is about to happen...
  3. The Revolution. If you tweak poor taxes to make a majority of your nation liberal (as opposed to conservative, socialist, etc.) you will probably get a Liberal Revolution. Your government becomes maximally democratic, a liberal party takes power, your national value is set to Liberty, your nation is no longer a satellite or dominion, and your Clerks, Craftsmen, Capitalists, and Labourers have their militancy set to 2.

There are a number of downsides: Farmers, Aristocrats, Clergymen, Soldiers, and Officers with militancy of 8, loss of any satellites or dominions of your own, and the potential rebellion of emergent nations rank high among them.

However, a properly-managed Revolution can instantly turn your ungovernable country into one with a real future. In LM+’s Mexico AAR he has deliberately fomented two Revolutions (so far).

Some Other Things to Note

Rebel Units generated by Events

Rebel units generated by events do NOT have an associated rebelling POP, so you can crush them without fear of actually killing anyone from any of your POPs. They do however provide the “Rebel Police Force” effect, so you might want to let them live for a little while first. If they do capture a province, they can be crushed in the “Three Day Bloodless Battle” in the same way as any other rebel unit.

Some Notes on Revolt Risk

  1. There are four factors that contribute to the revolt risk in your provinces: the militancy of your POPs, nationalism, war exhaustion and the amount of money you are spending on crime-fighting. The effect of each of these is explained below.
  2. Apparently, the revolt risk in each province is supposed to be checked by the game engine daily (and rebellions generated accordingly). However, the revolt risk as displayed in the interface when you click on a province (eg “Revoltrisk: 1.92%”) does NOT represent the percent chance that a POP in the province will revolt per day. For example, a province with 100% revolt risk will NOT generate one rebellion per day (as it should if the revolt risk percentage was a per day figure)! At this point I am unsure as to what length of time the revolt risk percentage holds true for (but it is definitely longer than daily).
  3. POPs with a militancy of 7 or higher will generate / add to revolt risk in their province and may rebel.
  4. POPs with a militancy of 10 generate the same amount of revolt risk as POPs with a militancy of 9.
  5. POPs that are not one of your national cultures (and have a militancy of 7 or higher) generate double the revolt risk that national culture POPs do.
  6. The revolt risk for a province is the sum of the individual revolt risks generated by each POP with a militancy of 7 or higher that are in the province (excepting the effects of nationalism and war exhaustion as explained below). For example, if a province with only one POP with a militancy of 7 has a revolt risk of 0.25%, a province with only one POP with a militancy of 8 has a revolt risk of 0.63%, and province with only one POP with a militancy of 9 has a revolt risk of 2.50%, then a province with three POPs with a militancy of 7, 8 and 9 respectively will have a revolt risk of 3.38% (ie 0.25% + 0.63% + 2.50%).
  7. In a province where there is nationalism (ie one that you have annexed from another nation less than 10 years previously which is not one of your cores), any POP can revolt (even one with a militancy of 0). Nationalism adds revolt risk to each of your recently annexed provinces without changing the actual militancy of any of the POPs in the province. Nationalism lasts for 10 years after you have annexed the province, and then disappears suddenly and completely.
  8. War exhaustion appears to increase revolt risk by a uniform amount across your entire nation. Similar to nationalism, it can cause any POP to revolt (even one with a militancy of 0), provided that its province currently has a revolt risk greater than zero (ie, is coloured red on the revolt risk map). If your POPs are suffering from war exhaustion it will be listed amongst their consciousness modifiers when you look at the POP (AFAIK it doesn’t directly affect their militancy). The effects of war exhaustion will continue for from one month to several years after the conclusion of a war, depending on the level of war exhaustion reached during the war. (NB Even though the percentage war exhaustion disappears from being shown on the main page of the interface once you make peace with your last enemy, it still affects your nation, and will continue to do so until it no longer appears in the list of consciousness modifiers for your POPs) War exhaustion reduces at a slow but uniform rate from the time you make peace with your last enemy until it reaches zero.
  9. Revolt risk is modified by your crime-fighting spending. The higher your crime-fighting spending, the lower your revolt risk, and vice versa. At 100% crime-fighting spending revolt risk is multiplied by 0.5, while at 0% crime-fighting spending revolt risk is multiplied by 1.5 (with crime-fighting spending of 50% being the “neutral” setting where the modifier is 1.0).

Notes Concerning This Guide

Dealing with Partisans

This guide is concerned with rebellions only. None of the above techniques have been tested with nor are necessarily recommended when dealing with partisans.


This guide was originally posted on the Paradox forums (Victoria - General Discussions forum) here by oxmonsta.

The section entitled “You Say You Want a Revolution? - How (and Why) to Get One” was kindly provided by LM+.

Some of the information regarding revolt risk presented in this guide is taken from that posted by Lord_Richmond in the “Guys, I’m confused about militancy” thread at the Paradox forums (Victoria - General Discussions forum).

Discussion / Questions / Feedback / Additions

I would be quite keen to hear the thoughts of other people regarding rebellions and revolt risk. There are still a few things I am yet to work out in regards to revolt risk in particular.

Further questions which I need to find answers to:

  1. What does the revolt risk percentage actually represent? (It is decidedly NOT the precent chance per day that a rebellion will occur in the province)
  2. What exactly are the effects on revolt risk of the five techs in the Psychology branch of the culture tech tree (the ones that purportedly "change revolt risk by -1 for the next 2000 months")?
  3. Does the minority policy of your ruling party have any effect on revolt risk (especially in regards to non-national cultures)?