War

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“Peace is merely the curtain between acts.”

-Georges Clemenceau

Introduction to wars

Naval battle.jpg

War in Victoria is arguably the most complicated action a country can take. Especially late in the game, wars can drain both your population and your treasury, and, of course, there’s the constant chance that you’ll lose the war and be crippled as a result.

Starting a war

War in Victoria can only be begun after there has been a formal declaration of war, either of full war or colonial war. Once this has been declared, both sides are free to march their troops into one another’s territory. Note that if you are allied to a country that you have to break the alliance to declare war, and that it takes a week before you can send another diplomat to declare the war.

Leaders

Generals and Admirals can make or break a military. A nation with an otherwise weak navy can have its way on the seas if it has a powerful admiral while the other nations have none. Generals can make the difference on the battlefield between a victory and a rout.

Every general comes with two modifiers: background and personality trait. These affect the way the general commands. For a full listing of these, take a look at Leader Traits.

When it comes to admirals, they will have personality traits and backgrounds taken from the same list, except that modifiers that would increase or decrease a generals “fire” and “shock attack” instead modify an admiral’s “gun attack” and “torpedo attack”, respectively.

Each general costs twenty leadership points to create. These generals can then be assigned to specific armies. To assign a general, click on the picture of the default leader of the army. The game then takes you to a list of your existing generals, and you can then select the one you want to lead the army. Note that once a general is assigned he cannot be removed unless being replaced with another specific general. Generals cannot be replaced with default generals. Generals do not live forever. At some point after their creation, a general will be “killed in battle” and disappear from your list. You will not receive a reimbursement of the leadership points it cost to create him.

Certain countries have historical leaders that will appear at their proper points in history. The Confederacy, for example, can create Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Battles

When two armies enter into battle, the game calculates the strength of either side according to several variables:

Terrain

First is terrain. Units defending in mountainous or wooded provinces get a heavy advantage, as do armies defending an attack from across a river. There are also certain straits that can be crossed by armies in the game. The strait between Sweden and Denmark, the Kattegat, including the islands of Odense and Copenhagen, can be traversed by land troops in either direction. This ability can be negated, however, if there is a navy of the opposing side controlling the strait. Attacking over a strait is more difficult than attacking across a river.

Leadership

A second variable is the leadership of the armies. Generals, as mentioned earlier, each have specific fortes or foibles which can add or detract from the strength of their armies. One thing to note with generals is that the default generals an army receives are almost always worse than the generals you create. While a general created by you may have a serious deficiency in speed or in rate of fire, he is competent in the other levels. Meanwhile, the automatically assigned generals are deficient in every level, so it is almost always to your advantage to use your generals, even if they seem terrible.

Force size

A third variable taken into account by the computer is the size of the armies. This seems natural: all else being equal, a 50,000 man army will defeat a 20,000 man army.

Quality

A fourth variable is the quality of the armies themselves. Due to the influence of military technologies, one army can have an advantage over another. For example, an army whose country has discovered breech-loading rifles will be stronger on the battlefield than one that still uses older kinds of rifles. The strength, organization, morale, and other modifiers of the specific divisions (see section “The Army”) also help determine the outcome of the battle.

Entrenchments and fortification

A fifth variable is the effect of specific entrenchments or fortifications. Forts can be built in provinces during peace or war, and add great strength to the defending unit. Forts come in seven levels, from basic fortifications all the way up to complicated trench systems. One thing to keep in mind, though: if a fort is lost, it can be utilized by the enemy with no penalty. Forts are represented on the map as small hut-like buildings appearing within the provinces (different level forts have different icons). Army units, if given time, can also dig-in. This requires that the unit have had a certain amount of free time in the province before hand, and a unit that has had time to dig-in receives a substantial bonus, though not as large as one in a fortification. At higher technological levels, the entrenchment bonus can be quite large. Railroads also provide a bonus to defenders.

Attachments

A sixth variable is the effect of any particular attachments to military units. Artillery units add to the strength of the entire army attacking or defending, and even one Engineer attachment can add to the entrenchment and organization of the entire army.

Experience

A seventh variable is the experience level of any of the units involved. An experienced unit receives a bonus in combat reflecting its veteran status. The bonus is 1% per experience point above 10, and it is capped at 20% bonus. So a division with 5 experience will get no bonus, while one with 20 exp will get +10% combat bonus, and one with 30 exp or more will get "only" a 20% combat bonus.

Strategy

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, is the effect of strategy. Units that have been encircled receive a tremendous penalty when being attacked, and if a unit is defeated when it has no province to which to retreat, it is destroyed. Units being attacked from more than one direction also receive a penalty, as do units making amphibious assaults. The combined effects of successful encirclements and multi-directional attacks can quickly bring your enemy to his knees. Thus in Victoria, as in real life, the more effective your strategy, the quicker and the more successful the war will go.

Occupying a province

Allies take beijing.jpg

When an army unit reaches enemy territory, it immediately begins to occupy the province. The speed at which it does this depends on the strength, level of technology, and number of units in the army, but generally speaking, it will always take at least a few days to occupy a province. Once a military unit has occupied a province, that province counts towards the occupying country’s war score calculation.

Hindering enemy occupation of provinces

If a unit gets attacked while occupying a province, the occupation process will be suspended while the combat lasts, but if the occupying unit wins the battle, it will continue occupying at the point where it was when combat was initiated. This can be used by sending a fast unit first to start the combat (e.g. cavalry) to stop the occupying while slower units (e.g. infantry) are on their way to really throw out the occupiers.

Units do not have to stop in and occupy each province they cross. On the contrary, sending cavalry units or fast generals on raids behind enemy lines to create multi-directional attacks and encirclements is a common tactic, but be forewarned that moving through unoccupied enemy territory takes considerably longer than moving through friendly or occupied territory.

Reinforcement and manpower

Manpower is utilized to reinforce divisions in the field, or to create new divisions. To reinforce an existing division, click on it so that its own sub-window opens, and then click “Reinforce to maximum strength”. This will draw as much manpower from your pool as is necessary to reinforce the division. If you do not have enough manpower, it will take as much as it can before it runs out. To find out how much manpower it takes to reinforce a division, simply hold your mouse over the reinforce button and a popup will inform you.

Reinforcing whole armies at once

You can also reinforce entire armies (conglomerates of many divisions under one leader) at once. To do this, simply click on the small fist in the top right hand corner of the army’s information box. Just like with a single division, the manpower to reinforce will be taken from your pool. To find out how much you need to reinforce the entire army, simply hold the mouse over the fist as you did with the reinforce button.

You can only reinforce a unit or an army in either a friendly province or in an enemy province that has been occupied by you. You cannot reinforce an army unit that is in territory still controlled by the enemy.

Attrition

One last concept affecting warfare is attrition. This represents the gradual loss of military strength through disease or desertion. The attrition rate varies by the province, and there are certain generals that reduce it, but in general it is around three percent. As the number of troops in a province increases, so will the attrition rate. Attrition affects your units not by the day but by the month, so be aware that if you can get your troops into and out of enemy territory within the span of one calendar month (i.e. January 1 to 31, not as in March 15 to April 15), you will not suffer any attrition. Troops never suffer attrition while in their home territory, but they do suffer attrition in all enemy territories, even ones occupied by you or your allies.

Province terrain effect on attrition

Attrition is also affected by the life ratings of the provinces you invade. The lower the life ratings (as in the desert, for example), the higher the attrition rate will be. Conversely, if your army marches through amber waves of grain and such (territories with higher life ratings), there will be less attrition.

(Note: there are some provinces on the map that experience fixed attrition for any military units positioned there, even if you own them, even if you are at peace. These include Iceland, Greenland, and several provinces in Siberia and in North Africa)

Grabbing colonial claim building

A commonly unrealized tactic by new players is stealing colonial buildings in wars. If there is a colony that you wish to claim, you can send a fast cavalry unit or a quick general at the head of an infantry division and seize the claim buildings in that colony. To take a claim building, your troops need only have been stationed in that province for one day. They must be stopped though; a unit simply passing through will not take over the building.

Also, these buildings are yours permanently once they have been taken. They do not count towards War Score, but they are yours forever after being stolen. You do not have to negotiate to keep them in the peace treaty as you do provinces. Remember, claiming colonies gives a great deal of prestige, and the AI tends not to be very good at using this same tactic against other AI players or against the human. The AI also has a blind spot when it comes to defending its own claims againt you.

Amphibious invasion

One last important tactic in many successful wars is the amphibious invasion. To invade from the sea, you must first load your army onto transports, be they steamers, clippers, or any combination. One division will require one full transport, no less. To load them, simply place your transports off the coast of the province in which your army is stationed. Then select the units you wish to load and right-click their destination as the transports offshore. They will walk onboard in a few days.

Once they are onboard, sail the ships to the coast of the province you wish to invade. Select the ships and click “Unload troops”. Then right click on the province to which you wish them to go. This begins a naval invasion. Be forewarned that if the province is defended, your attacking troops will receive a stiff penalty for fighting while making an amphibious attack.

Partisans

Barricade.jpg

There is one more aspect to wars in Victoria, an aspect that has been the downfall of many an ambitious campaign—partisans. Once an enemy army has occupied a province, there is a chance that loyal citizens will rise up to defend their homeland. These citizens are called partisans, and they carry the flag of their home country. They are not standard military units, and are, in fact, of a lower quality, but they can spring up in any occupied province, even ones in which there is currently an occupying army. Partisan divisions, like all others, can range up to ten thousand men in size, and they can liberate provinces and move around like other armies. Unlike normal divisions partisans cannot be reinforced.

The chance of a partisan unit appearing and the size of the unit when it does appear is closely related to the population of a province. This means that holding Southern China or the Ganges valley will lead to more 10 000 unit partisan units than holding a Saharan province where a partisan unit, if one does appear, is likely to only be a couple of thousand strong at most.

Note that you get partisans too. If your country is invaded, your citizens can rise up and fight their occupiers as well.

Keep partisans in mind. Leave sufficient holding troops behind your lines to put down these troops, or else your victorious army may find itself cut off by an army of angry partisans you never knew existed.

Ending wars and negotiating peace

Upon winning a war, you can demand several things of your vanquished opponents:

Annexation

Yes, you can annex a civilized country that you have completely occupied, but only if it is three provinces or less. Any civilized country larger than this requires more than one war to completely absorb. But on the other hand, uncivilized countries can be annexed in one go, whatever their size. Yes, the result of this is that Ecuador is not immediately annexable but China is. This is true, but it is an extreme example. This will come into play more frequently with nations such as Madagascar, Oman, Morocco, Korea, and other prized imperial holdings. It also prevents Sardinia-Piedmont or Guatemala or Texas from being gobbled up in one go.

Provinces

You can demand specific provinces from a conquered enemy. Though you can demand only those provinces which your troops currently occupy, in asking you for peace, a defeated enemy may offer any of the provinces under its control, regardless of their location or occupation status. Each province you take in a peace treaty gives you a certain amount of Badboy (see section “Other Concepts”).

Humiliation

As you will have noticed, declaring war costs a certain amount of prestige. At least part of this cost is determined by the prestige of the country against which you declare war. A humiliation treaty removes three hundred prestige points from the defeated and gives you a substantial amount of prestige in return. It also makes the next declaration of war against that country less costly in prestige, assuming the humiliation has brought them below -100.

Military Access

This treaty allows you to move your troops through the defeated country’s territory. Your ships can also use their ports.

Forced Disarmament

The intent of this type of treaty is to cap the amount of military units a defeated enemy may produce. NB: There is substantial disagreement as to whether or not forced disarmament actually has any effect in the game, and whether this is intentional or not. Even if it does have an effect, nowhere has anyone been able to show to what extent the enemy’s military strength is reduced.

War Indemnities

This treaty forces an enemy to pay to the victor of the war a certain amount of its monthly income for the extent of the agreement (three years). Depending on the size of the country, this can add up to a substantial amount.

Satellite

This treaty will install a government loyal to you in the defeated country, bringing them into an equal position with any satellites you might have released during the game. Making a country your satellite effectively ends your ability to conquer them, as you will be allies, but you can always break the alliance and take them over.

Getting your core provinces by force-satelliting

One more thing to mention about satellites as a result of peace treaties: land acquisition. Looking on the diplomacy map, you may see that there are certain provinces which have dots on them when it is your country that is selected. These are provinces to which you have claims. For example, Prussia has claims to Karlsbad, a province of Austria; Sardinia-Piedmont has claims to all of Italy; France has claims on three provinces in Sardinia-Piedmont. When you satellite a country, all your claimed land goes over into your possession.

This means that, if you are playing as Sardinia-Piedmont for example, you can satellite The Papal States in a war and get all their land—except their capital, which will always remain in their hands in any peace treaty except for outright annexation.

General notes to peace negotiations

You cannot take claim buildings in peace treaties. To get colonial claims out of a war, you must take them yourself through outright occupation.

These treaties can be combined in any way, individually on in groups. But remember that each costs a certain amount of war score to demand.

Nationalism in newly conquered provinces

One more thing to keep in mind before going on a conquest spree: not only will conquering increase your Badboy, but the conquered provinces—even if you claim them or they are of your national culture—will try to revolt for the next ten years. There’s little to nothing you can do about that, just stick it out. Nationalism starts strong and gradually diminishes to disappear completely after ten years have passed.

Gaining prestige from wars

The main benefit of going to war for many players, over and above the seizure of land, is the prestige benefits incurred from a successful war. Even if you fail to take land from an enemy, a successful war will net your country a positive gain in prestige (though it will not necessarily be larger than that spend on the declaration).

Every province you annex from an uncivilized nation will yield 5 prestige points.

Annexing a single-province independent nation, e.g. El Salvador, will earn 30 prestige points.

Closing remarks

Before undertaking expansionist wars, be sure you fully understand the ideas of Badboy and War Score, explained in “Other Concepts”.