Victoria 2 Advanced Military Guide, Part 3: Leaders, War Strategy, and More
Hello everyone! I’m Xarxos and gosh, it sure has been a while since I last released a video huh! But fortunately for me, during my time of inactivity no major developments have occurred in the grand strategy gaming market that could risk making Victoria 2 content, and thus the greater part of my channel, obsolete in any way! So since Victoria 2 is still the one and only undisputed champion of Victorian era grand strategy, I’m happy to bring you the third and final part of my Victoria 2 Advanced Military Guide! If you haven’t seen the previous videos in this series, then there are links to them in the description. So far we’ve covered every land unit type in the game and also talked about the intricacies of land battles and sieges. So in this video I will try to go through everything else that can be considered relevant to warfare, starting with: Generals No matter how good of a strategist you are, you’ll still struggle to win wars without some competent officers in the field. The impact of having a good general leading a battle can sometimes be enough to overcome differences in numbers, technology level and army composition, so it’s definitely not something you should ignore. Let’s start by talking about Leader Stats Generals are recruited through Leadership points, which are generated monthly based on nation status, officer pops and literacy. Each general costs 20 leadership to recruit.
A general’s stats are based on their Background and Personality, both of which are randomly generated upon recruitment, with the exception of historical generals that some nations start with who will always have the same stats. Out of all the different stats a general can have, by far the most important ones are Attack, Defense and Speed. While the other stats can be a nice bonus, they nonetheless pale in comparison to the aforementioned three, so I won’t talk too much about them.
Attack and Defense are applied as flat bonuses to the combat roll of an army when it’s the attacker or defender in battle, respectively. These combat rolls make up the basis of the damage dealt in battle and are thus extremely important, and just to put into perspective how much of a difference a general can make, consider the following: The random dice rolls in each phase of combat can be anything from 0 to 9, dig-in bonuses can be anything from 0 to 6, and terrain effects can be anything from 0 to 4. Meanwhile, a general’s Attack and Defense stats can be anything from -6 to +6, a span of 12 points.
So a general’s stats can often completely nullify the effects of dice rolls, dig-in bonuses or terrain modifiers. For this reason you should as far as possible try to assign generals with positive Attack stats to any army that’s about to engage in an offensive battle, and generals with positive Defense stats to armies that are about to engage in defensive battles. The third stat that is worth looking out for is Speed. As expected it increases the movement speed of the army the general is assigned to. Given the importance of arriving first to certain provinces, which I talked about in part 2 of this series, it should be easy to understand why a good speed stat is desirable. A general’s speed can be anything from -40% to +40%.
As we can see, a general’s stats can be both in the positive and the negative. So does this mean it’s sometimes better to leave an army without a general, if the only options are generals with negative stats? Well, in rare cases it can be, but most of the time it’s actually not, because an army without a general will have many negative stats by default: Both Attack and Defense will be set to -2 and speed will be set to -10%, along with a few other negative modifiers. If the only generals you have available have worse stats than those, then you might consider leaving the army without a leader entirely. But that's pretty rare and especially later in the game you’ll have tons of generals to choose from, so it’s seldom an issue. Also keep in mind that even a general with terrible Attack can still be utilized in a defensive role, and vice versa if they have terrible Defense. But knowing this isn’t going to help you much if you don’t know how to get your generals where they need to be, so let’s now talk about Leader Assignment Generals can be instantly assigned to or removed from any army that is in friendly territory or occupied hostile territory, as well as any army that’s exiled.
A general can only be assigned to an army if it isn’t already leading another, so remember to check not only the list of unassigned generals that appear in the leader assignment window, but also the complete list of generals found in the military tab. The further into a campaign you get the longer this list tends to become, which can make it very tedious to constantly skim through it looking for good leaders. Fortunately, this can be made a lot simpler thanks to a hidden sorting feature that I myself only learned about relatively recently: By default the list in the military tab is sorted by leader prestige, which is gained when leaders participate in battles, and thus this list tends to deprioritize newer leaders even if they have great stats.
However, if you click to sort by Type twice, it will do two things: First, it will group together all generals in one group and all admirals in another, but more importantly it will sort each group based on the sum of their stats. In other words: The best leaders will be shown at the top and the worst leaders will be shown at the bottom. This makes it much easier to identify the best leaders whenever you need to reassign them. If they are already assigned somewhere you can locate them by looking at the location of their assigned army and use the province finder if needed. Finally, when it comes time to engage in battle, it’s good to know about Leader Combat Priority When multiple generals enter into the same side of a battle, only one of them gets to lead it and have their stats apply, while the other generals don’t affect the battle at all. Given how important it is which general gets to lead a battle, we’d obviously like to know how the game decides which general to put in charge when there are multiple available.
I’m not 100% sure on this, but based on some experimentation I’ve done, I think that leader priority is decided primarily by the sum of each general’s stats, where leaders with higher stat totals get higher priority. This is the same metric that is used to sort generals in the military tab using the method I described earlier, so when only your own generals are involved you can reference that list after sorting it to determine which general has priority. But when generals from other countries are involved you’ll just have to do your best to estimate it yourself and I unfortunately don’t know the exact formula the game uses to sum up the different stats. With that I’ve gone over most of the relevant facts about military leaders. This in combination with the things covered in part 1 and 2 of this series make up what I believe to be the most important specific topics pertaining to warfare in this game, so now might be a good a time to go into some more General War Strategy Warfare in Victoria 2 changes quite a bit between the early game and the late game, due to advancements in technology and population increase.
The most significant change is that fighting on the offensive gradually becomes more and more difficult while defending becomes easier. This is mainly owing to the fact that the Defense stat of units improves much more with technology than the Attack stat and both maximum fort level and dig-in bonus increase with technology as well. This combined with the massive population growth that tends to happen over the course of the game means that simply punching your way to victory becomes less feasible. Though I should say that this trend is much more significant in multiplayer than it is in singleplayer, because the AI is not very good at adapting to the new style of warfare. Nevertheless, I’ll first talk about strategy for Early-to-midgame Warfare The best general strategy that I’ve found for this stage of the game, which seems to work well in any war against a reasonably strong foe that directly borders some of your land, is the following: Don’t immediately invade your enemy’s land, even if you’re the one who declared the war.
Instead, hang back in your own land and let your enemy come forward and start besieging you. Then you gather up an army stack that is significantly larger than any one of the enemy’s stacks, assign a good Attack general, and go beat up their siege stacks one at a time, preferably while they’re standing on flat terrain. After each battle, check if any of your regiments are running low on strength, detach them, send them away from the frontline to reinforce, and replace them with full strength regiments that you’ve kept in reserve. Then wait for more enemy stacks to come knocking. Keep doing this, never moving too far out of your own territory, until the enemy is starting to run low on standing armies.
Then and only then should you start sending your armies forward to occupy the enemy’s land. There are multiple reasons why this strategy is so effective against the AI: You take less attrition and reinforce faster on your own territory, while the opposite is true for your enemy. If you have any fort buildings you can benefit from the defensive bonuses they give, while your enemy can’t benefit from their own forts. You have much better vision and less fog of war on your own territory, making it easier to maneuver around and take favorable battles. Once the enemy forces are depleted, you’ll be able to besiege their lands more efficiently and with less risk than if you had tried to invade them right away. And finally, warscore from battles accumulates quickly up to the cap of 50 warscore, which means that once you do start going on the offensive, you won’t have to occupy nearly as much to reach maximum warscore.
But keep in mind that battle warscore only applies to the enemy war leader, so if you want to sign separate peace with any secondary participants you’ll have to resort to occupations to gain warscore on them. Next, let’s move on to Late-game Warfare In singleplayer the aforementioned strategy can actually work reasonably well even in the late game, but due to the ever-increasing defensive bonuses and population sizes it will gradually become less effective. There comes a point where large civilized countries can keep suffering massive casualties over and over again and still never run out of reserves to replace them with, especially when we take into account mobilization. At this stage of the game the most efficient way to win wars is to shut down their ability to spawn more troops as early as possible. Focusing on occupying their most populated regions first is a good approach, but your highest priority should be to take control of their mobilization centers.
I already talked a fair bit about this in my World Conquest explanation video, and because I’m lazy, I’ll just include a clip from that video here: Each state has one province that serves as a mobilization center and is where all mobilized troops from that state will spawn. It can be identified through the recruitment mapmode or through a small factory building on the map if you zoom in, but only if the province is not covered by fog of war. By placing an army on one of these provinces you can get favorable defensive battles against any troops they mobilize, and once you occupy them they can’t spawn any more troops at all. This will greatly reduce the amount of troops the enemy can muster. Thanks past me! While we’re on the topic, let me say a few more things about Mobilization Mobilized troops are all Infantry, which are identical to your regular professional Infantry in all but two ways: First, they’re drawn from your Farmer, Labourer and Craftsmen pops rather than Soldier pops, and second, they reinforce at half the rate of regular armies. Despite this drawback they can be very useful to inflate your numbers when you’re fighting big wars.
In particular, there’s one trick you can do with mobilized troops that gives them a unique advantage: Due to the aforementioned lower reinforcement rate it can take a long time for a badly damaged mobilized regiment to regain full strength. So in situations where the majority of your mobilized troops are running low on strength, it can often be faster to simply demobilize and then remobilize again immediately. You’ll have to wait for the new units to spawn and get into position, but when they do they will all instantly be at full strength again. Just make sure that your standing army can handle things on their own until the remobilized troops are ready and be careful about enemy armies roaming around your territory, picking off your newly mobilized troops before they have time to converge. So, up until now I’ve almost exclusively talked about land warfare, but what about Naval warfare? Well, the reason I’ve barely mentioned it is because, frankly, it’s not very important, especially in singleplayer. Navies are good for only a few things: Transport armies across the sea.
Generate colonial power for colonization. Generate warscore by blockading enemy ports. Blocking enemy armies from crossing certain straits. Boost your nation’s military score.
And of course, preventing your enemy’s fleets from doing all of those things. Most of these don’t come into play too often and can usually be worked around without having a strong navy: If your land army is strong enough you can usually get all the warscore you need without blockading ports. Unless you’re dancing around the threshold of being a Great or Secondary power, the extra military power from capital ships is going to be largely irrelevant for most of the game. And generating colonial power is more about conquering coastal areas and building up your industry than it is about naval warfare. As for transporting troops by sea, it’s perhaps the only time where having a capable combat navy could be truly useful, in order to protect your transports in times of war.
However, even that isn’t essential, because if you plan ahead you can usually do all your transporting before the war starts, or even better, just exploit exiled armies to eliminate the need for transport ships altogether. So in conclusion, my primary advice regarding naval warfare is simply not to worry about it too much. I don’t know if this is a controversial take, but that’s my experience anyway. But wait, what was that about Exiled Armies? Oh, nothing much, it’s just the best thing ever that eliminates so much micro and headaches, on top of letting you pull off some truly disgusting maneuvers.
If you’ve watched any of my Victoria 2 speedruns or my world conquest series you’re quite likely to have seen this exploit in action more than a few times. Whenever an army finds itself somewhere it’s not actually allowed to be, it becomes exiled. While exiled the army can freely move anywhere in the world unhindered and won’t take any attrition, but it can’t engage in battles, participate in sieges or reinforce its strength. To become unexiled the army must enter any territory that it is allowed to be in, such as your own country’s territory, your puppets, a country you're allied to in a war, a country you're hostile to in a war, or just any country you have been granted military access to.
The only inconsistent case is uncolonized land: If an exiled army enters such territory it won’t immediately become unexiled, but if you reload the game while the army is standing there it will no longer be exiled when the game starts up again. The ways this can be exploited is fairly straight-forward: Whenever you have an army that you need to move somewhere it normally couldn’t reach over land, you can simply make it exiled, move it to its destination and then get it unexiled again. This can be very useful to avoid having to transport them by ships large distances and can even let you reach landlocked territories that would normally be completely inaccessible. And sometimes it’s just a nice way to avoid having to micromanage your armies to avoid attrition, since exiled armies don’t suffer attrition at all.
Both becoming exiled and removing the exiled status is a lot more flexible in Victoria 2 compared to for example EU4. The two most common ways to become exiled in Vic2 is either if an army is standing in hostile territory when a peace is signed, or if you get military access somewhere, move armies into that territory, and then cancel the military access. The most useful way to get unexiled is to declare war on someone and then move into their land.
In fact, you can even use the exile mechanic to preposition armies in enemy territory before the war begins, allowing you to instantly start occupying strategic provinces or ambush the enemy forces. This has some restrictions though, since you can’t declare war on someone if you have forces already in their territory. But if you declare war on one of their allies, or if one of your allies calls you into war with them, or if they declare war on you, then there are no issues. Next up, I suppose I could mention a few things about Military Technology I won’t go into too much detail about this because I don’t feel like it, instead I’ll just give you a brief overview and mention some of the more important things when it comes to war.
Most of the technologies relevant to warfare are, unsurprisingly, found in the Army tab. There are five tech trees here, which can be roughly summed up as follows: Army Doctrine provides defensive bonuses, including additional fort levels and dig-in bonuses. Light Armament provides offensive bonuses but also lowers combat width. Heavy Armament provides bonuses to Artillery. Military Science increases Organisation and Mobilization size, and Army Leadership improves military tactics, morale and movement speed. On the whole, I would say the Army Leadership tree is the most important one, since Military Tactics reduce damage taken by a significant amount.
But some noteworthy individual techs include Military Staff System which has inventions that unlock advanced cavalry types, Muzzle-loaded Rifles with the invention that unlocks Engineers, Aeronautics with the invention that unlocks Airplanes, and finally, the single most significant Army tech in the game, Military Directionism, which has the inventions Gas Attack Capability and Gas Defense Capability. Gas Attack adds a flat +3 bonus to all combat rolls when you’re the attacker, which is pretty much equivalent to having an extra general in every offensive battle. Gas Defense Capability meanwhile has the simple effect of negating enemy Gas Attack, which given the immense power of the latter is a very nice thing to have. Aside from the Army techs, there are a few technologies in the other categories that are useful in warfare too. The Psychology tree in the Culture tab gives bonuses to reinforcement rate and starting experience for your regiments.
I haven’t talked about Experience before, but it’s something which is gained on a regiment-basis when your units partake in battle and has a similar effect to Military Tactics, i.e it reduces incoming damage. So these technologies basically give your army a headstart on experience gain. Finally, there’s the Chemistry and Electricity tree in the Industry tab, especially the Medicine tech. All technologies in this tree aside from the first one increases the supply limit of your armies, which is likely to reduce your losses to attrition and gives you more freedom to maneuver around with large armies. The Medicine technology additionally has tons of useful inventions, including attrition reduction and military hospitals.
When you suffer casualties in battle, only a portion of those casualties translates to actual deaths among your soldier pops. Military hospitals have the effect of decreasing that portion even further, so you take less long-term losses to your nation while at war. Those are basically all the technologies that are directly helpful in wars.
But there is of course one other major part of the game that is relevant too, and that is Industry Nearly all unit types require industrial goods in some form or another to be recruited and supplied, so having a strong industry is usually vital to maintaining a large army. Unfortunately how to build a solid industry is not really my strong suit so I don’t have any in-depth guidance to provide on that, but I can at least mention which types of goods are most used by your armies and then wish you the best of luck in getting them up and running: Canned Food is probably the most important type of goods for your military, since it’s used to both recruit and supply every type of unit aside from Irregulars and basic Cavalry, and also most types of ships. Small Arms and Ammunition are also widely used, not the least by Infantry. Artillery is used by, well, Artillery, and also Armor and all ship types except transports, and it’s an expensive product with a complex production line. Liquor and sometimes Wine are used by many different units, and they also happen to be in high demand among your civilian pops. If you end up using Armor, Airplanes, and/or advanced ship types then Fuel is a necessity as well.
Navies obviously also need either Clipper or Steamer Convoys depending on the type. Then there are the resources that are required to produce these products, both base RGOs like Coal, Iron and Sulfur, as well as intermediate industrial products like Steel, Fertilizer and Explosives. Keep in mind though that all of this is based on vanilla, so if you’re playing a mod you might want to look up if it makes any changes to these things. Mkay, I think that’s everything. Or well, it’s not literally everything, this game has a never-ending well of mechanics and interactions, many of which I doubt even the developers themselves know about, but this mostly sums up the things that I myself tend to think about when I play this game. I hope you found this video series useful and/or interesting! Thank you very much for watching and have a fantastic time of day!