What is a Grand Strategy Game?
Grand Strategy Games are what the company Paradox Interactive specializes in: games that involve a detailed, realistic representation of a historical time period and allow you to control any country during that period. As opposed to games like Civilization, things are kept within a framework of reality, so some countries are obviously much more powerful than others. They are thus typically sandbox-type games, where you set your own goals and try to push your country of choice as far as it can go. So, if you pick England, you could try to colonize the world as in real life, or you could potentially try to pursue a Continental empire, but if you pick a one-province minor in medieval Germany, your goal becomes merely to survive and possibly become hereditary Holy Roman Emperor. Some of the more popular games Paradox has published are Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, and Hearts of Iron.
What is Victoria II?
Victoria II is, naturally, the sequel to the excellent game Victoria (and its expansion pack, Revolutions) that was really innovative and expansive in scope, but suffered from many problems, including a poor interface, a sometimes nonsensical economy, and excessive micromanagement. Victoria II aims to fix those problems and let players experience the fun of ruling a country in the period 1836-1936, or the Age of Imperialism. You can literally play every single country in the world during this time, though some will be much less fun than others. The really cool part about Victoria, though, is that it splits each provinces' population up into individual POPs, such as Farmers, Clerks, Capitalists, and Aristocrats, that determine their role in society. Each POP has a certain level of needs and its own political alignment based on which party it thinks will further its interests most. Some other interesting features include:
- A fully developed economic system that runs all the way from extraction of natural resources to factories to having rich POPs loan out money to other nations
- Gunboat Diplomacy for when countries default on their loan payments
- Warfare on a large scale as the Great Powers (an actual system for the top 8 countries) compete for Prestige
- A well-developed political system based on parties in each country's "Lower House" and ideologies in the "Upper House"
- Seven different political alignments, with parties (sometimes more than one) in each country that represent each: Conservative, Reactionary, Liberal, Anarcho-Liberal, Socialist, Communist, Fascist
- For people who played the first game: elimination of manual POP "promotion" to higher status, which is now done automatically, making your farmers advance to Artisans or Clerks, for instance
- Taxes and (Consequent Revolutionary) Death
If you think you might be interested in this type of game (I think it certainly could wind up being Paradox's best), click on the forum link above and read over the Developer Diaries. I only touched on some of the basics here.