Victoria 3 is mind-bogglingly complicated. Like other Paradox grand strategy games, it is open-ended and vast in its mechanics and playstyles.
The complexity of Victoria 3, however, has made the developers include a choice of different playthrough goals at the start screen. This can help you sweep through the labyrinth of choices the game bombards you with. But whatever your endgame, or if you have one at all, you will always need to have a strong beginning: a foundation built of stone, not sand.
Economics and money is important
Even if your goal when playing Victoria 3 doesn’t have an economic element, you will still need to have a solid economic backbone in order to develop your nation. That said, not all economies are equal and there is no set path to making money. What is important, though, is to assess your economy. You can do this by first looking at what is providing the most wealth in your nation and what are you spending a lot on.
You can read more about making money in Victoria 3 by clicking here. But the upshot is that you will want to maximise your successful industry and find ways to limit your spending. It seems easy, but it is far more difficult than it seems, especially as you will also want to lay the groundwork for later.
One of the greatest costs, especially at the beginning of the game, is the cost of government goods. Construction and infrastructure only inflate this cost even higher. By going to the building overview on the left, you will be able to see your current construction, its production type and its cost.
If you can, then increase your construction centre’s level or use a more expensive production type (some nations will have the second level already available). Improving your states’ construction time makes it easier to react to problems or exploit opportunities.
Be aware that going over your balance can make you death-spiral ending on a constant default and you won’t be able to build your way out.
It’s often worth expanding the early game resources such as wood and fabric (you can get this from cotton plantations or ranches) as this helps keep construction costs low. It may be easier to trade for these resources if you can (read more about trade in Victoria 3 here) so you can get your construction sector firing on all cylinders. If you are already a great-power then trade may be the best while looking to higher end goods to manufacture.
Ask yourself important questions
Developing a solid groundwork of construction is important no matter the political make-up of your nation. However there are sometimes issues that will be more urgent to deal with. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I collecting enough tax?
- Am I creating workers to fill the needs of my economy?
- Are my people loyal?
- Am I safe?
If any of the answers to these questions is no, then you need to look at changing this around. The way to do so is by changing the laws that govern your nation.
Make necessary changes
If you have an inefficient tax law, you will need to switch to one that is better equipped at lining your pockets. Read more about changing laws here.
If you don’t have a population that is able and willing to work in the businesses you need, then you will want to change this. You should make the industry pay better, through law, subsidy or helping it earn more profit (lowering input costs or increasing demand). If qualifications are the problem then you will need to help educate your population through the educational institution that you can create through law.
If you have a low ratio of loyalists to radicals then you will be in trouble. This is because you will be prone to turmoil and this will hurt your nation in various ways. You can read more about radicals and turmoil here, but a simple look at the numbers of loyalists and radicals will give you an idea as to whether or not instability is hindering your nation.
Lastly, if you don’t feel safe you will have to prepare for war. Heck, you may already be at war at the start of the game. You will want to look at your military by clicking the military tab to the left of the screen. There, you will be able to view what armed forces you have, how many generals and admirals you have recruited and how many conscripts are ready for battle.
You may also want to check on your troop make-up, what gear are they using and whether or not that gear is sustainable. It also may be prudent to change how your army is modelled. You can see this in the law screen and judge whether it is worth changing.
Most problems can be solved with a little work
Most of these problems can be solved by either building/expanding an industry, trading or changing a law. The order to which you build, trade and change laws and to what you build, trade, and change the laws to, is dependent on what you believe is the most pressing concern.
Whether or not you are able to expand your industry and develop your construction is down to how urgent these other issues are, but don’t put it off too long as it gives you the tools to fix these issues in the long term.
But most likely there will be something you need to change, either straight away or in the near future, and changing laws is especially difficult at the start of the game. The beginning of the game is unique for having extremely powerful yet counterproductive interest groups. If this is the case for your nation, then overturning them will be trickier and more long-winded than normal and you will want to be sowing the seeds of change straight away. Our guide on clout – and how to increase and decrease it – may be helpful here.
To overturn these powerful groups, you need to be active in opportunities. Slight advantages need to be exploited. If you have a popular general then dismiss /promote him based on the group he represents. Party leaders also have different political personalities, this may mean they will not oppose certain laws that you want to change.
Some laws can be used as a stepping stone. They may not be exactly what you want, but may hinder the clout of the group that is stopping you.
This still might not be possible in the short term, but clout is affected by your population, their wealth and jobs. If your main hurdle to fortune is a stubborn interest group then it’s worth constructing buildings that increases the wealth and total population of opposing interest groups.
Stay aware of any potential problems
In short, before you begin in Victoria 3, start laying the foundations of expansion by growing your ability to construct. However, don’t do this at the expense of highly urgent matters, such as war and rebellion. Be aware of any hindrance to your growth and what the solutions are and that you are not adding to the problem with the actions you chose.
As you can see, there is a lot to do before pressing play in Victoria 3 – and even more to think about. There’s no magic formula for success, as success depends so heavily on the context of your nation and your long-term goals. Instead, hopefully we’ve provided you with the questions you need to be asking yourself and pointed you towards answering them.