Victoria 3

Victoria 3 Beginners Guide

Victoria 3 is a grand strategy game about taking charge while growing and shaping a Victorian-era country. The primary focus of the game is on economics and politics.

I love the game and when I played it for review I gave it our highest score of Two Thumbs up. So as is usual on LadiesGamers, we thought a guide was needed to help you through the first steps of the game.

Aim of the Game

victoria 3 LadiesGamers

In Victoria 3 (lovingly nicknamed Vicky), you will attempt to construct a large society of your imagination while overcoming internal and external obstacles, and while you do that, you will also have fun, I hope. Politics, economics, diplomacy, and war are all tools that help you in your quest to shape a country, but war must only be started with care, it’s a costly business as you can imagine.

Your population have needs and desires of their own. So your decisions will also impact them, and they will attempt to influence you. Since Victoria 3 is a dynamic simulation with many moving parts, every action you do will have consequences, even unintended consequences!

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Victoria 3 UI

You will make plenty of mistakes; my advice is to take it slow and read everything and all the tooltips. Don’t expect to know everything about the game in one playthrough, as it is deep, and there is a lot to learn. Vicky is a game you will be playing for many years to come.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
War is afoot.

Keyboard and Mouse Controls

Camera controls: Use the keys W, A, S, and D to look around the map, or use the mouse.

Camera Zoom in and Out: Use the Scroll Wheel to zoom in and out or hold it to pan the map. You can also pan the map by moving the cursor to the edge of the screen.

Instant Overview of the World: By holding Tab, you can see an instant overview of the whole world. You can then click anywhere and release Tab to go there instantly.

Hot Keys

F1: Politics
F2: Budget
F3: Buildings
F4: Trade Routes
F5: Military
F6: Diplomacy
F7: Technology Tree
F8: Cultures
F9: Population
F10: Journal
F1 & Shift: Outliner
Q: Map List
ESC: Press Esc to leave any Menu screen.

Change Game Speed

The timeline of Victoria 3 spans 100 years from the 19th century, 1836 to 1936. You can adjust the game’s speed yourself. While the game is paused, you can still interact with it, but many actions won’t happen until you unpause the game, and some actions require plenty of time to complete.

Adjust the game’s speed by pressing the number keys from 1 to 5 to change the game’s pace from the default speed to fast. Pause the game: pause and unpause by hitting space on your keyboard or press pause in the speed controls in the top right of the UI.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers

Tooltips, Nested Tooltips and Info Panels

The game is full of tooltips everywhere; it pays to pay attention to them as they contain important information. Underlined text in tooltips, such as a coloured name or a concept, can be hovered over with your mouse to get more info on the subject.

If you hold the cursor still, the tooltip changes to a solid border around it and locks in place. This is handy as the game will give you more information on that topic.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Nestled tooltip

On the left of the UI is a column of info panels; you will spend a lot of time using the info panels as it’s where you will find all the information for every aspect of your growing nation.

The Lens

The lens can be found at the bottom of the UI, you’ll find this a very useful tool that again you will use often. Each Lens has its own map mode. Clicking on each lens and looking at the map can give you a good idea of what’s currently happening in your country. Zoom out to look at the map to see what details have changed.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Lens at the bottom of the UI

From left to right, the lenses are as follows:

Production: Production lenses are used for expanding your industries to produce Goods and it also provides details about your economic output.

Politics: The Politics lens is for managing the Government and your Pop (population) and provides details about the power balance in your country.

Diplomacy: The Diplomacy lens is for initiating or breaking pacts you have made with other countries or starting Diplomatic play against them. It also provides details about how other countries perceive you.

Military: The Military Lens is for expanding your Army and Navy, for recruiting Commanders, and providing details about wartime events.

Trade: The Trade lens lets you expand trade infrastructure, establish Trade Routes, and give important information overview about the Markets.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
using the map lens

The Journal

The journal is the orange icon at the top middle of the screen, it’s also found in the column to the right of the UI. Clicking on it will bring up tasks; think of them like quests to complete. As you play the game, more challenges will appear in your journal.

You can either try to complete the challenge yourself without guidance or click the “Tell Me How button” for more information. You can also click the “Tell Me Why” button for a more in-depth explanation of why a task is essential. The Tell Me Why and How are essential to learning the ins and outs of the game fully.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers

Pops (Population)

The pops the game refers to is the population of people in your nation. The population is full of pops of different categories. They are grouped in the menus in their type, culture, location, faith, and where they are employed. The pop menu details their wealth, income, living standards and everything else that is important.

Pops have dependents, the families of worker pops who don’t work for some reason, be it ill health or in the case of laws. However, the pops that don’t work still bring a little cash to your economy. Pops spend their income on Goods to fulfil their needs, goods such as food and luxury goods. So the higher their wealth, the more goods a pop will purchase, much like in real life.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers

Though pops gain more diverse and luxurious needs as their wealth increases, they have more money to spend and want the Goods to be of better quality.

A given need can often be satisfied by various goods via Goods Substitution. Wealth will increase if a pop has money left over after their needs have been fulfilled. The reverse is also true: if a pop cannot afford their needs, they will still purchase them, and then the shortfall will reduce their wealth.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
pops screen tooltip

Employed Pops

A pop’s profession dictates what job the pop’s workforce does for a living, influencing their wage and interest groups they might support. Each trade is considered part of the Lower, Middle, or Upper strata, which can affect their Tax Rate, among other things.

A pop does not switch professions at once. Instead, when job openings are created in a building of the same stat, the pops who qualify for the new job will be offered a specific number. If the new job is better than their current one, some pops in the workforce will take their families and join an existing pop of the suitable profession, or create a new one if one does not already exist.

All this happens without your interference, and you will rarely be aware of it other than when new positions aren’t filled, in a reasonable amount of time. Over time you will notice how the pop demographics move along with the professions offered in your country,


victoria 3 LadiesGamers

The three capacities measure a different aspect of your country’s power. They can be found on the top left of the UI and are Bureaucracy, Authority and Influence, the final number is your Treasury or money in the bank.

You earn capacities from some government buildings, specific laws, and your rank worldwide. You can decide how to allocate them to further your interests. Additionally, unspent capacity will provide a minor boost to one aspect of your country, while overspending will incur a significant penalty and can lead to bankruptcy.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Literacy info screen


Money in the treasury is used to fund the state. As the songline says, “money makes the world go around” and the same is true in Victoria 3. You will use it to expand industry and infrastructure in your country.

You’ll also use the money to influence minor nations to support the state and pay for your military. However, the vast majority of your country’s capital is circulated by buildings and your population and is outside your direct control.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Using the building lens

Buildings and pops (population) can be taxed to grow and improve your economy. You can decrease your expenses by minimizing the operating costs of government buildings and adding a tax to certain popular goods. But beware, by doing so you can make the pops that work in that building turn into Radicals and Rebels.

The balance shown in the top UI bar reflects a weekly change. Unlike capacities, money can be saved to be spent later. Though going into debt by running a negative weekly balance can often yield a better return on investment. Additionally, loans will be automatically repaid while your weekly balance remains positive.


Buildings drive your country’s economy via the production and consumption of Goods. They can also produce several other valuable effects, such as Bureaucracy, Infrastructure, and Convoys.

To perform their functions, they require a workforce made up of pops of different professions, who receive a wage in return for their labour. Professions range from labourers, shopkeepers, servicemen and clerks to name a few.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Building menu

What functions a particular building serves is determined by its active production methods, and the enormity of its impact is determined by its level.

You can construct new or expand existing buildings in each of your states using your construction sector. But remember you must have the money in the treasury to pay the workers and the construction of the building.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Rural development

Output Goods for Trading and Consumption

Pops take goods and turn them into output goods for trading and consumption. Leftover goods create supply chains which are valuable for creating advanced goods for your pops. You can set your buildings to upgrade manually. Or if you wish, you can set them all to upgrade automatically, but you do need to have the money to fund the construction. Buildings come in different forms, urban, rural, development and construction.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
The trading market for Britain

Military buildings, ports and railroads are all development buildings. Rural buildings are the buildings that produce essential goods such as food, coal and metal. Finally, urban buildings are where you find an advanced building, such as factories and government admin. Your technology determines the buildings you can build. It can be constructed if you haven’t completed the tech for a particular building.

Interest Groups

Now let’s go a bit deeper and talk about governments and interest groups. An interest group is a party within your country whose pop supporters share a political interest. Interest groups can have one of three different statuses in your country. In Government, they play the part of the ruling class, whether by free elections, divine right, violent force, or other means.

An opposition party can assert their influence outside of the Government halls of power. A marginalised party is not strong enough to matter and is dormant for all intents and purposes. All countries have the same kinds of interest groups, but many have unique variations depending on religious, historical, and cultural conditions.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Britain’s politics screen

A country’s Government consists of one or several interest groups. For example, if your country has voting rights, the interest groups may be organised into parties, such as industrialists, intelligentsias and armed forces. A lot depends on your country’s laws. The mix of interest groups will result in higher or lower government legitimacy.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Interest group

Any new law you wish to pass must have support from interest groups that make up the Government unless an active political movement supports it.

Therefore, the ability to quickly and painlessly push the law through the legislature depends on how unified your Government’s support of it is.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Laws screen

Pass Laws

Unfortunately, sometimes there isnt any support for a law to pass. However, you can bolster an interest group, but first of all, you must have a law that permits it. This is defined mainly through your stance on Free Speech or the Right of Assembly laws. By enacting different Laws, you can grant yourself more or less power to impact this.

You can decide freely which of your interest groups to include in your Government, but your current laws determine how legitimate that interest group is. You’ll want a high-legitimacy government that is more efficient in enacting new laws. In contrast, a low-legitimacy government takes longer to get things done and is more prone to fall to revolutions.

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Countries map list

Interest groups also share the total political strength that Pops across their country generate. Clout is the concluding factor in how influential an interest group is. It affects everything from legitimacy and the passing of laws if the particular interest groups are in Government. Clout also affects whether the interest group is considered powerful, influential or marginalised.

Technology Tree

victoria 3 LadiesGamers
Three screens of the tech tree

The tech tree is split into three areas, covering three screens on the tree. It covers Production, Military and Society. Technologies have nationwide effects, ranging from changing the country’s operating limit via modifiers to unlocking new production methods, buildings, laws, decrees, and diplomatic pacts with other countries.

Progress is made towards new techs through Innovation, which is primarily produced by university buildings. In addition, the technologies may also generate from Countries that already have them to those that do not and occur via technology spread. The amount of progress required in a Technology to acquire it depends on its Era.

That’s all for this guide for Victoria 3, have fun ruling the world!

One comment

  1. Just a couple hours in and still feel really lost in this game, so I appreciate this guide. I’m having a particularly hard time grasping what population segments make up the various interest groups, how to influence them most effectively and how I can translate this into passing specific laws. Any tips?

We love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.