"There is a homely old adage which runs: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American Nation will speak softly, and yet build, and keep at pitch of the highest training, a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far."
Building a navy is similar to building an army. You go to the same screen and go through the same process. Even though they are ships, they still require manpower to run, and you still must choose a culture for the men as well as a home province. There are many different classes of ships in Victoria,
These are the small sail ships that represent quick mobility on the seas at the start of the game. They include frigates (F), sloops of war (SlpW), brigs (Bg), & schooners of war (SchW) and were often simply armed and impressed merchantmen. They are useful for protecting transport groups, but given their lack of firepower, that is pretty much their only advantage. Frigates become obsolete very quickly.
The large capital ships of the age of sail, Men-o-War include the 1st & 3rd rates that are the backbone of modern navies at the outset of the game. These ships remain competitive for a little while, but the success of the exploding Paixhans guns required the development of ironclad hulls.
These represent the flotillas of schooners, barks, brigs, clippers, and packets which are your first transport units. Amphibious invasions are still difficult matters, so landing a province away and moving by land will often be best.
Unlike other sail ships, except for their speed, clippers don't go obsolete. They are often still as useful in 1915 as they were in 1840.
Representing the first incorporation of steam engines onto combat ships, Commerce Raiders are quick, efficient combat ships.
Replacing Clipper Transports with steam engines, these ships are just faster transports, though they have better defense and lower visibility as well. They can still do all that Clippers did, and they can still only hold one division per ship.
These were wooden ships that had iron plates bolted to their hulls, making them more resistant to cannon shots than wooden-sided ships. These can do a great deal of damage to old wooden ships, and their arrival signals the true end of the age of sail.
Unlike Ironclads, Monitors were made entirely of metal, but as a result, they tended to remain in coastal waters as they were difficult to navigate and manage and tended to fill up with smoke from their boilers. In many important areas, Monitors are weaker than Ironclads even though they are higher up the development tree.
Cruisers represent a successful implementation of Monitor technology to a high-seas ship. They remain as powerful as Ironclads except in one area, speed. Cruisers can move twice as fast as Ironclads. Cruisers are the first ships that can launch torpedo attacks. Beginning now, all combat ships will remain effective at least to a certain extent until the end of the game.
These ships represent large developments in defense and in gun attack strengths. They are not as fast as Cruisers, though. Countries building large amounts of Battleships should begin considering scrapping their Ironclads and Monitors. Unlike the ships around them, Battleships cannot launch torpedo attacks. However, thanks to an ability to bombard, Battleships will contribute to a land battle when placed in an adjacent coastal square and not engaged in naval combat. A naval force with a large number of Battleships can significantly alter the outcome of a land battle, potentially cancelling out an opponents' advantages of either manpower and/or entrenchment. Each battleship will lower the enemy land unit's fighting effectiveness by 2%.
These seek to combine the speed of Cruisers with the strength of Battleships, and succeed in finding a happy medium between the two. These, like Cruisers, can also launch torpedo attacks.
These ships represent the culmination of capital ship technology in the game. Far outpacing Heavy Cruisers and Battleships in defense and gun attack strengths, Dreadnoughts rule the waves. Unlike Heavy Cruisers, though, they cannot launch torpedo attacks.
Previously, the dreadnought shore bombardment was not working. In v1.04, the dreadnought shore bombardment has been restored. This is how dreadnought shore bombardment works in v1.04. For each dreadnought in coastal zone, enemy land unit effectiveness is reduced by 3%.
These seem almost an afterthought in the process of naval design. Indeed, their strength in combat is low compared to Battleships and especially to Dreadnoughts. Their one advantage is their torpedo attack strength. At four, it is twice that of a Cruiser and four times that of a Heavy Cruiser. A group of submarines, used effectively, can make life hard on a Dreadnought-based navy, but without surface support, a submarine-based navy will never rule the waves.
When building ships, you must keep in mind that there are five ship classes in Victoria:
- Men-o-War and Frigates
- Commerce Raiders
- Monitors and Ironclads
- Cruisers, Battleships, and Submarines
- Dreadnoughts and Battle Cruisers
Each class is progressively more powerful, and can defeat any ship in the class below it. This is important to keep in mind because, by looking at its stats, you would think that a Commerce Raider would be defeated by a Man-o-War. This is not the case; a Commerce Raider would actually defeat a Man-o-War because it is in a higher ship class. This has the effect of rendering ship stats effective for comparisons only with other ships of the same class. Note: Clipper Transports and Steamer Transports are not included in the ship class system as they cannot actually attack.
The stats for naval combat are also different than those for the army:
This represents how much damage the ship can take before it sinks.
This represents how well the ships are used in attacks, as well as the rate at which its morale regenerated.
This represents the early means of defeating your enemy's strength factor. It causes low strength damage.
This represents a more modern means of reducing your enemy's strength factor, causing high damage.
This shows how well the ship can bombard enemy land units in coastal provinces when combined with an assault from land.
This represents how well the ship can defend itself from attack while at sea.
This shows how quickly the ship can traverse the seas and oceans of the world.
This shows how costly the ship is to maintain, a figure added to your overall naval maintenance costs in the budget window.
Sea Detection Capability
This shows how good the ship is at locating enemy ships while at sea.
This shows how easy it is for the ship itself to be found at sea by the enemy.
Capital ships & prestige
Note that capital ships also have one more aspect to them: prestige. For each capital ship you build, you receive a certain amount of prestige. As of the newer patches, disbanding those ships costs no prestige, but having them sunk in battle does.
As with land units, you can assign "brigades" to naval squadrons as well:
These give small boosts to detection and gun attack, as well high bonuses in morale and organization. They also give a speed bonus.
These give their squadrons a torpedo attack bonus of two, on top of morale, organization and detection bonuses.
These give a hefty gun attack detection bonus, along with substantial morale and organization bonuses. They also give a slight advantage in gun attack, speed, and torpedo attack.
These give small bonuses to detection, morale, and organization, but they take a hit on speed in order to do it.
These, like Minelayers, give small bonuses to detection, morale, and organization, but take a speed reduction in the process.
Note: in regards to Minelayers and Minesweepers, you cannot actually lay mines. These are just representative additions to the battle fleets.
As with the army, you can assign Admirals to run your navy. Like generals, admirals cost twenty leadership points to train and will be "killed in battle" eventually. These men can modify your ship's modifiers just like generals can modify those of their armies.
There is a widely held belief that navies in Victoria are underpowered. Those making the argument say that it is possible to run a huge empire without any naval strength at all. To a certain extent they are correct, but it all depends on geography. Russia, for example, should be able to succeed without a correspondingly large navy, as should a conquest-oriented Prussia/Germany, but for island nations such as the United Kingdom or for countries that wish to leave the balance-of-power in Europe stable, navies continue to be an important facet of force projection.