Victoria 3: War System [Explained]

Learn everything about the new War System in Victoria 3

Story Highlights
  • Wars are started through Diplomatic Plays. The Countries then Escalate through three different phases before War breaks out.
  • War Goals describe what each Country hopes to achieve from the ensuing War,
  • Land are Naval Warfare are the two Warfare types available in the game. Generals and Battalions fight at Fronts while Admirals and Flotillas at Sea Nodes.
  • Wars can be ended through surrendering via Capitulation or proposing Peace Deals.

Victoria 3 offers a fresh take on the War System significantly different from its prequel. So we will discuss everything you need to know about this new and unique War System in complete detail.

Starting Wars (Diplomatic Play)

Diplomatic Play to make a Vassal State
Confirmation Prompt for Diplomatic Play [Image Credit: eXputer]

You might have noticed that you  cannot directly attack any nation in this game. To do so, your Country is required to make her intentions clear first diplomatically. You can do this by employing Diplomatic Plays, which are essentially hostile negotiations between two or more warring countries.

A Diplomatic Play makes your interests clear to any Country in the relevant region so they may choose their next move. A miscalculated Diplomatic Play can cost you an otherwise won war due to unexpected belligerents joining the opposing party’s side.

The Diplomatic Play chosen decides whatever fate your opponent will face after you defeat them. Do keep in mind that declaring Diplomatic Plays increases your Infamy. Thus any nation with an Active Interest in the region will be more likely to be hostile due to the increase in Infamy.

Also, you need to declare a Strategic Interest in the region first before pulling a Diplomatic Play on a nation. The number of regions you are allowed to do this in is dependent on Prestige and Rank. Some of these options also require the Interest to have been declared for a while.

War Goals

War Goals list
A list of all the War Goals available except Country Unification.[Image Credit: eXputer]

Here are all the War Goals available during the Diplomatic Plays in the game:

  • Annex Subject: The Vassals become part of your Country.
  • Ban Slavery: Slavery is banned in the Target Country.
  • Conquer State: The Target State becomes a part of your Country.
  • Cut Down To Size: The Target Country releases any Conquered States or Subjects acquired in the last ten years.
  • Humiliate: The Target Country’s Prestige decreases, and they are unable to make a Diplomatic Play against you for a few years.
  • Independence: You gain independence from your Overlord.
  • Liberate Subject: The Target gains independence from their Overlord.
  • Make Dominion: The Target joins your Dominion. They pay you 10% of their Income without participating in any wars.
  • Make Puppet: The Target becomes your Puppet. They pay you 20% of their weekly income and participate in your Wars.
  • Make Vassal: The Target becomes your Vassal. They pay you 15% of their weekly income and participate in your Wars.
  • Open Market: The Target Country’s markets are converted to Free Markets.
  • Regime Change: The Target’s Government and Laws are converted to match yours.
  • Return State: The Target returns the States that consider your Country home.
  • Take Treaty Port: The Target gives you a Treaty Port that lets you Trade and skip Tariffs.
  • Transfer Subject: The Target makes you the Overlord of the Subject.
  • Country Unification: A select few Countries can Unify Countries if they control all the required States in that Country.

The War will not immediately begin after doing a Diplomatic Play, but you’ll have to go through Escalation first.

Preparing for Wars (Escalation)

A countdown timer will begin on the right side of the screen after you initiate a Diplomatic Play. This timer circle will fill up as more and more time passes. Then it will Escalate from three different phases before ultimately resulting in an all-out War. The War Escalation phases are:

Opening Moves

Opening Moves phase
Opening Moves phase of Escalation [Image Credit: eXputer]

During this starting phase, the Attacker can set their main War Goal. This is the main demand they are hoping to be met by the end of the War. Neither party is allowed to back down during this phase. Other countries are also not allowed to take any sides yet.

Diplomatic Maneuvers

Diplomatic Maneuvers phase
Victoria 3 Diplomatic Maneuvers phase of Escalation [Image Credit: eXputer]

Diplomatic Maneuvers constitute the next phase of the Escalation. The amount allotted to you is dependent on your Rank and Prestige. Maneuvers can be used to set additional War Goals. This is also the stage where other countries get to decide whether they remain neutral or take a side. So, you can also choose to Sway other countries to your side instead. 

Now, to Sway a Country to your side, you need to open the Sway tab and choose the green thumbs-up icon. They’ll join your side in the war if they accept your offer. You can also offer an Obligation to get them to Sway more easily. But they might force you to return this favor in a future war for that Country.

Furthermore, It is also possible to Sway a Country on the opposing side to neutrality. But there is no way to get them to change sides altogether.

Countdown to War

Countdown to War phase
Countdown to War phase of Escalation [Image Credit: eXputer]

After both sides have chosen their Maneuvers, there is a brief Countdown to War. Both countries get an option to Back Down at this phase. The side that chooses to Back Down will have to give in and oblige to all the War Goals of the victor. But this will save them from economic turmoil and loss of Pops.

As the gameplay loop discourages Wars because they are often long, drawn-out endeavors that empty your coffers. So, simply Backing Down at the right time might be the better option to take in some cases. The AI understands this, and it generally surrenders if you have a massive numbers advantage.

Land Warfare

Battles are going on at Fronts
Land Warfare at Fronts [Image Credit: eXputer]

Finally, the War begins if neither side Backs Down during the Diplomatic Play. Unlike Victoria 2, you do not have to micro-manage all your troops tediously on Land. Instead, you only have to decide which Fronts to send your troops to. Fronts are the lines where two opposing forces collide.

The Front keeps on going deeper and deeper into the losing nation’s heart with each passing victory from the opposing side. The opposing nation gets more and more likely to give in to your demands with each battle won and land conquered.

Generals

Generals screen
Military screen [Image Credit: eXputer]

Generals are your Commanders required for Land Warfare. Your troops are useless without a General to command them in the Victoria 3 War System. Even if you have soldiers stationed at your HQs, they cannot be mobilized without a General commanding them.

Generals can be hired at the military screen. To hire new generals, you need to spend Bureaucracy. So be mindful of your resources before going to war. Generals can only command a limited number of troops within their Command Limit at each Commander Rank. Be sure to keep promoting them according to your required needs while keeping the increasing Bureaucracy cost in mind.

Each general is also affiliated with an Interest Group. So, every promotion of a General directly affects the Political Strength of their respective Interest Group. This increases their Clout. As a result, Generals are prone to take sides in Civil Wars and can be lost during them.

Lastly, every General has Traits that dictate their advantages and disadvantages. For example, an Ambitious General will be better at Offense but will also contribute to more Radical Political Movements. Thus, you should always consider a General’s Traits while choosing the appropriate Front to send them to.

Battalions

Battalions are the basic Army Units of the game recruited at the Barracks in the current War System of Victoria 3. They are used to fight battles at Fronts while being commanded by your Generals. Your Barracks determine the quality of your Battalions which directly translates to their efficiency in battles.

Conscript Battalions

Conscript Battalions are the Battalions temporarily recruited during a Diplomatic Play or the actual War. We advise you to conscript these battalions from states with a significant peasant population. Otherwise, you might see a dip in goods production which can have adverse effects on the economy.

Generals have a separate capacity in their Command Limit for Conscript Battalions so you don’t have to worry about managing Battalions along with Conscript Battalions. 

Fronts

Fronts are your battlefield in Victoria 3’s War System. Deciding which Generals and how many battalions to send to a Front can decide the outcome of your whole War. You can check your currently active Fronts from the War Overview screen or by simply looking at the border of your Country shared with the Target.

To start fighting in battles, you need to go to your desired General’s screen and choose Mobilize. Then choose either Advance Front or Defend Front, depending upon the current scenario. Your Generals will take their Battalions, along with any Conscript Battalions, to the chosen Front within the time shown.

Since it takes a bit of time to reach the Front if it is far away and Fronts are accessible during Diplomacy Maneuvers, We advise you to move troops ahead of time. However, you might want to see your enemy’s cards first.

Each Front will show your chance of winning or losing the battle depending on the quality and quantity of troops. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect at each Front and plan accordingly. It updates in real time as your AI Generals start battling it out when the timer runs out. At the same time, you can see the results from the War Overview screen.

Naval Warfare

Naval Invasion screen
A Naval Invasion in the works [Image Credit: eXputer]

In naval warfare, Admirals and Flotillas fulfill the role of Generals and Battalions, respectively. Similarly, Admirals are the Commanders that control Flotillas. At the same time, Naval Bases are used to recruit Flotillas. Although, Naval Wars do not have any Fronts. Instead, these battles usually take place at Sea Nodes in the Victoria 3 War System.

Admirals can give four different types of orders with completely different objectives and playstyles – Patrol Coast, Raid Convoys, Escort Convoys, and Naval Invasion. However, Naval Invasions cannot be ordered during a Diplomatic Play. All orders have varying amounts of preparation time.

Patrol Coast

In the case of the Patrol Coast order, the Admirals will stay in the friendly HQ that has a coast touching it. They will patrol all the sea nodes adjacent to the HQ dealing with any hostile flotillas that cross their path. Patrol coasts will engage with enemy fleets doing either Naval Invasions or Raiding Convoys. Patrol Coast order requires 14 days of preparation time.

Raid Convoys

In Victoria 3, most countries sent their trade goods through the naval route like it was the norm for the era. Convoys also dropped off armies to faraway colonies and annexed states through convoys. You can order your Admiral to raid these convoys at Sea Nodes.

Enemy naval fleets fulfilling Escort Convoy or Patrol Convoy orders at the same Sea Node can target the admiral Raiding Convoys. The preparation time for this one is 30 days.

Escort Convoys

Escort Convoys order is the defense against Raid Convoys. You can order your Admirals to Escort Convoys by selecting an HQ to Patrol Toward. This will assign a naval fleet to patrol all the Sea Nodes along the route. You can check if the Admiral is patrolling the correct Sea Node by checking the Admirals assigned to the required Node.

We advise you first to analyze the enemy fleet’s prowess and send out the escort accordingly. Otherwise, it might be useless to send a fleet too powerless even to stand a chance of defending the convoy from oncoming raids. This order requires 20 days of preparation time.

Naval Invasion

Naval Invasion is a bit different from the other three orders as you cannot order it before going to all-out War. To carry out a naval invasion, both an Admiral and a General are needed at the same HQ. You can select any General sharing the HQ with the chosen admiral for this.

Both General and Admiral prepare for 43 days before going to the enemy area chosen. The naval fleet will intercept any patrolling or raiding fleets along the way. In case of defeat here, the General will return unharmed to the HQ.

If the Naval Invasion is successfully able to land, the General will start a battle with the enemy. This will create a new Front if you win the battle. Upon a successful invasion, the Admiral will automatically start an Escort Convoy from the HQ to the invaded area until ordered otherwise.

Civil War

A Civil War has started
Civil War due to a Revolution [Image Credit: eXputer]

There are two ways to get thrown into a Civil War – Revolutions and Secessions. These two might not always be mutually exclusive. Civil Wars are more difficult than regular Wars as you might lose your Commanders, troops and resources during the War. The gameplay is the same as the regular War System in Victoria 3.

Revolution

A Revolution is starting.
A Revolution is brewing due to a Political Movement [Image Credit: eXputer]

A Revolution occurs when a Political Movement is left unchecked for too long. The Movement will start gaining support among the Pops and rapidly Radicalize. The States that the Movement’s Interest Groups have significant Clout in will start a Diplomatic Play to Annex your nation.

A Revolution timer will start counting at a rate determined by your Laws. You can stop it by gaining the Approval of Interest Groups aligned with the Movement or forcibly subjugating them through Home Affairs.

Secession

If Cultural Turmoil in a nation gets higher than 0.5, Secession occurs, and the Secessionist Cultures will secede their States from the Country. This will enable an automatic Diplomatic Play to win them back. Reduction of Turmoil or the Home Affairs institution can solve Secessions.

War Effects

Devastation in the war-torn State
The devastation caused by the War [Image Credit: eXputer]

Attrition

Your troops start experiencing Attrition the moment you Mobilize or Conscript them. Attrition results in wounds or deaths for your soldiers. It has a massive effect on the War before the actual battle even starts. Attrition can almost wipe a whole side out and make them lose the numbers game in some cases. 

Morale

Both Battalions and Flotillas lose Morale as the battle goes on. Various Modifiers on the Generals can positively or negatively affect the Morale of the troops involved. The side that runs out of Morale first loses the Front or Sea Node, which results in the opposing side advancing.

Morale gradually recovers over time after troops are out of battle. It is possible to get troops back into a conflict before Morale has fully recovered, but it can make the battle harder.

Devastation

Warring armies leave behind nothing but ruin in their wake. The extent of this Devastation is dependent on the size and quantity of the battles held in a State as well as the technologies employed by the belligerents. A Fire icon over the affected States represents the inflicted Devastation.

Devastation negatively impacts State Infrastructure, Mortality, and even Throughput in extreme cases. The Devastated State starts healing after the conflict has been resolved. But healing takes a lot of time, depending upon the extent of the Devastation conflict.

Ending Wars

The Target signs a Peace Treaty.
The War finally ends [Image Credit: eXputer]

There are several ways a War can end naturally or prematurely ended by either party in Victoria 3’s War System. You can capitulate of your own volition. Otherwise, a War Support value of -100 might force you into an involuntary capitulation. Lastly, either party can strike a Peace Deal at any point during the War.

War Support

Each nation has a starting value of +100 for War Support in the Victoria 3 War System. War Exhaustion directly decreases War Support per week based on the following factors:

  • at a fixed rate of -0.25
  • -1 for every 10% of Occupied Land
  • from 0 to -2 based on the amount of War Goals the enemy controls
  • a value based on both dead and wounded Casualties taken
  • -0.2 for every 10% of Radical Pop

The War Support cannot go below zero if the War Goals targeting a nation are Conquer State or Annex the Subject. It will only go below zero after the Capital has fallen.

Capitulation

An Involuntary Capitulation of the Target
Target has no other choice but to Capitulate [Image Credit: eXputer]

Capitulation can be either voluntary or involuntary. In either case, the opponent will enforce all the War Goals on the losing nation.

Voluntary Capitulation

You can always capitulate your nation in the War, but this will enforce all the War Goals on you without any sort of negotiation. Sometimes, it is in a nation’s best interest to give in before suffering from any more losses. We still recommend you try proposing a Peace Deal first.

For nations that have no War Goals targeted at them, Voluntary Capitulation simply bars them from taking part in the respective Wars. They will not face any other repercussions except any losses they might have already incurred.

Involuntary Capitulation

When a nation’s War Support reaches -100, they will capitulate. The victor will enforce all their War Goals on them, and they will leave the War. This might mean the end of the War as a whole or just for the nation capitulating, depending on the number of belligerents and their respective motivations.

Peace Deal

it is also possible to propose a Peace Deal instead of outright Capitulation. This will let the proposing nations choose which War Goals to press and which to let go of. The nations can also choose not to press any War Goals at all, essentially a white peace. White peace returns the status quo to how it was pre-war.

Nations are very unlikely to accept Peace Deals at the start of the war. But as weeks go by and the War Support dwindles due to the increasing War Exhaustion, nations get more and more likely to take you on your offer. Be sure to try Making Peace with Peace Deals instead of Capitulating outright when a War has gone on for long enough.

Summary

Victoria 3 is the latest offering by the Paradox Games, the minds behind grand strategy classics like Crusader Kings and Hearts of Iron. Victoria 3 boasts a complete rework of the War System from the ground up. Unlike its predecessor, the Economy and Politics are the main focus this time around.

This concludes our comprehensive guide about all the inner workings and quirks of the War System in Victoria 3. If you’re looking for an explanation of the War System, you will find everything from starting a War using Diplomatic Plays to squashing niche scenarios like Civil Wars. We have also explained all the Army Units and types of different Warfare in ample but concise detail. Let us know if you’re enjoying Victoria so far in the comments below!


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Moiz Banoori.


Having worked at various Video Game sites, coupled with 7 years of Content Writing Experience. I presently monitor teams, create strategies, and publish qualified pieces through my aptitude.

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