The Conrad Is On: Victoria II – Heart Of Darkness

By Adam Smith on February 7th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Victoria II has always felt a little incomprehensible to me and it’s not just the time period or the focus on industry and empire. When I play strategy games, grand or otherwise, I tend to prefer taking control of a small entity. I’m no Ozymandias – my pedestal would read “Look upon my works, if ye like, I mean, if ye have a minute to spare” – so I’m more naturally drawn to the small-scale squabbles, exploration and expansion of earlier ages. The next piece of DLC, Heart of Darkness, could be just what I need to give the game another shot. As the title suggests, the expansion concentrates on the ‘scramble for Africa’, but it also promises to make the game more interesting for smaller powers. Details below.

  • New colonization system that emphasizes competition between expanding powers and the possibility for minor disputes to escalate into crises

  • New naval system with greater detail in battles, including gun ranges and positioning, and more types of ships to bridge the gap between ironclads and dreadnoughts
  • International crises that will test the resolve of Great Powers and force them to decide what price they will pay to maintain their prestige. As a smaller power, stir up crises to force the world to pay attention to your grievances.
  • A newspaper system will allow you to track all the most important events in your world instead of relying on the game log. With over 60 papers to choose from, find those that will tell you what you really need to know.
  • The newspaper system intrigues me and reminds me of something that I forgot to mention when writing about March of the Eagles – battles in that game now have flavour text, describing the events. It’s a small addition in many ways, but along with the newspaper system it shows that Paradox are experimenting with ways of interpreting data and representing information to the player in new forms. That’s something to keep an eye on.

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    25 Comments »

    1. AlphaCentauri says:

      If you have the game and it’s first expansion registred to your Paradox forum account, you can also sign up for the beta of this. More information on the paradox forums.

    2. osragati says:

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    3. SamC says:

      That newspaper idea is awesome. I always thought one of the cooler things in Paradox games was watching events unfold in the world, but there was no easy way to keep track of what was going on, and the first you know about it is scrolling around and seeing that the map has changed, but you have no idea why.

      • Sakkura says:

        All their games have a log for that sort of thing. Though you could argue that the options for sorting out all the irrelevant crap could be improved.

    4. Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      So, I’m gonna ask another Steam question. I’ve got Viccy 2 and a the Lincoln expansion of Impulse. Guess I can’t play this then?

    5. sventoby says:

      I could never get into this game because it seems like it requires way too much micromanagement of the economy. I feel the same way about HoI and the military. Maybe I’ll give it another try when this comes out.

      • Sakkura says:

        It doesn’t require any micromanaging of the economy. Laissez faire is quite literally interpreted. All the factories and goods are there for you to tinker with if you like, but it’s optional.

        … of course, the military part of the game can actually become quite a micromanagement mess. Less stuff than in Hearts of Iron games, yes, but also less organized because it isn’t supposed to focus as much on military matters.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        Play a free market country. Capitalist POPs will build everything for you, you just ought to make sure they get their needs. (so there’s more of them to do so)

    6. abremms says:

      I have of late had every free moment stolen from me by Crusader Kings 2. It’s the first time I’v ever managed to sink my teeth into a grand strategy game (or, more accurately, had a grand strategy game sink it’s teeth into me).

      How does Victoria II compare to CK2?

      • Sakkura says:

        A little better as a grand strategy game. Far worse as an RPGish thing. Far better as an economical-political nationbuilder (or nationwrecker, in many cases; running Russia into the ground is not difficult). If that’s even a genre.

      • Vernalagnia says:

        In my opinion it’s a better game. Note that if you play Vicky2 you pretty much have to use the POPdemand mod. It fixes so many things, adds a ton of new goods to the economy and does so in a way that makes the game function so much more smoothly (like allowing you to make canned food out of fish, fruit, cows or grain instead of just out of cows). V2 is more complex than CK2 by leaps and bounds, but don’t be too intimidated by it. It takes a bit of fooling around to learn the mechanics, but it really is simpler than it looks on the surface. If you take your time with a slower going kind of nation like Brazil or Sweden for your first game, by the end of it you’ll have a pretty good handle of the mechanics… and if you need help the people on the forums are always pretty helpful.

        Also you basically have to get the AHD dlc. The later bookmark is kind of meh, but the upgrades to so many of the game systems are excellent.

      • Ganesh says:

        It’s far more complex. And for me, I must add it’s less fun. The main idea of CK2, building a dynasty instead of a country, is vastly more original than the idea of guiding a country through the troubles of industrialization and nationalism. To me, Vicky2 feels to much like the extension of EU3, but unnecessary complicated.

        • Sakkura says:

          The complications open up a whole new type of game. It’s about nation-shaping, and it’s much more advanced in that regard than EU3, let alone CK2.

    7. Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I’ve put in over 80 hours into this game.

      I also prefer to play a smaller country and expand it. Playing as the Dutch was a lot of fun. On the mainland, conquer Belgium and then just leave Europe alone while you carve a hole in Asia! Besides the Dutch, I conquered most of Africa with the tiny state Oranje and made Japan a state to be recognized.

      Uniting countries is another thing to do as a smaller nation. I’ve united Italy as Sardinia. It’s a nice challenge as you have to take land from both France and Austria. Uniting Scandinavia as Denmark was an even greater challenge. Sooner or later you have to deal with Germany to get back Schleswig Holstein and with Russia to get Finland.

    8. Captain Joyless says:

      You know, it really boggles my mind that they’re making a “Heart of Darkness” expansion. Paradox has always taken the line that “we’ll just ignore the nasty bits” of World War 2 and colonialism.

      The “scramble for Africa” was one of the most bloodthirsty and dehumanizing episodes in modern history. The Belgians, in particular, committed Holocaust-level atrocities in the Congo. (See King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild; he puts the death toll at 13 million in Congo Free State alone.)

      Thus I’m not really clear how a “scramble for Africa” expansion is morally much different than a “Holocausts and Gulags” expansion would be for HOI3, other than it takes place a few decades earlier.

      • HypercaneSanvu says:

        Joyless, that’s the thing about the game, it doesn’t force you to recreate all the various horrors of history. In fact, one of the best things about Victoria is it lets you “redo” history and create a best-possible-world timeline. For instance, you can play as France, and turn your country into a liberal utopia by the 1860′s. When the land rush for Africa starts in the 1870′s, you can grant the peoples of your new colonies full citizenship, and bring them cradle-to-grave health care, excellent public schools, the 8 hour workday, and full pensions in their old age. None of this chopping off of hands for our citizens. Then when the 1910′s roll around, you have all the man power and resources of Africa behind you, and no one dares say boo on the continent. Which means no WWI, and one assumes no WWII or Hearts of Iron.

        • Captain Joyless says:

          That’s an interesting idea. I should look around and see if there is a good Vicky 2 -> HOI3 savegame converter…

      • leafdot says:

        I think moral complexity in strategy games is one of the more wide open and fascinating areas in games to explore, though. There’s so much room to be evil “for the greater good” or to be good for the sake of it. And the fact that strategy games tend to be so by-the-numbers makes them perfect little incubators for what-ifs. What’s a shame is so few of them take the human cost into account.

        But they’re starting to, which I think is great.

    9. Vercinger says:

      Was anyone else reminded of the newspapers in Imperialism while reading this?

    10. sinister agent says:

      As a smaller power, stir up crises to force the world to pay attention to your grievances.

      This sounds like a really interesting and fun idea. There’s often so little you can do as a smaller power in strategy games, and being cunning or perhaps a little underhanded in order to manipulate the great powers could be fascinating.

      I’ve never really looked at the Victoria games before. Not really sure if they’d be my thing.

      I tend to play fairly small powers in these games too, although I will often take advantage of a good opportunity to become a big power. “Oh, I just want to reunite the three kingdoms, that’s all, I don’t want you out of Iberia completely, we can be neighbours” may well become “oh hey, Tariq. That’s a nice Portugal you’ve got there. Be a shame if something were to happen to it.”

      The problem for me comes when you get too big. In most games it just becomes a repetitive chore to keep everything in order, let alone expand further, and I almost invariably give up because another war of attrition or thirty turns of build orders is too much hassle.

      It’s why I’d like to see a less buggy attempt to do what Master of Orion 3 did. Yes, I know, everyone hated MOO3, and it was barely anything to do with the first two games. But it was very much a macro-management game, where you’d be expected to hold dozens of worlds and barely pay attention to any of them after first colonising/conquering them, as the standing orders you left for the AI would take care of everything. Grand strategy games like the Paradox collection would be ideal candidates for that kind of system.

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    12. skooma says:

      Mistah GPA; He dead.