In Victoria, you can choose to manage any of hundreds of historically accurate countries from 1836 to 1920. Gameplay consists of managing the size, occupation and political affiliation of the population units which inhabit your country, as well as handling international diplomacy and trades.
War is handled similarly to other games in Paradox Interactive's Europa Universalis franchise. You recruit individual divisions and build ships using the resources you trade for or produce in your country, and you move them across the tile style interface to combat enemy divisions and ships, and capture pieces of the enemy's territory.
POP - Is the population unit in Victoria. It ranges from 1 to 100,000. There are ten different types of POP. Aristocrats, Officers, Clergymen, Capitalists, Clerks, Craftmen, Farmers, Laborers, Soldiers and Slaves. A POP have a culture (such as Dixie, French or South German) and a religion. They are less likely to revolt against you if their culture is considered your nations culture or if your county gives full citizenship to minorities. When a POP reaches 100,000 it will split into one 25,000 and one 75,000 POP. Each POP have demands. Rich POPs such as capitalists need more than poor POPs like farmers to keep happy. There are three types of demands from a POP, life needs, everyday needs and luxuries. POPs also have different political ideologies such as conservative or liberal. Each POP also have one major and one minor issue that they feel strongly about such as free trade or pacifism.
Resources - Every province in the world produces resources. There are dozens of types of resources ranging from cheap grain to expensive precious metal. There are three types of POP who can work at gathering these resources and they are farmers, laborers and slaves. Farmers gather such resources as cattle and opium while laborers gather such resources as coal and iron. Aristocrats give a bonus to the productivity of farmers and laborers. Slaves are only used in a few countries and as the population become more liberal having slaves can make you unpopular. Also it makes very little gameplay sense to have slaves since free men are better for the economy and contribute more.
Factories - While basic resources will make some money and industrial score for your nation you gain most of your money and score from factories. Factories are built by capitalists or by the player depending on the country's political policies. They take resources and produces more refined goods such as lumber which is produced out of timber, lumber can in turn be made into furniture. Only accepted cultures can work in factories unless you have a policy of full citizenship for non-accepted cultures.
Politics - In Victoria most countries have several parties, although not all countries have elections. Parties can be anything from anarcho-liberal to fascist. The population will vote depending on ideology and issues. If the party is considered a major party or a minor party will also affect votes. Usually the population will start being conservative and move towards being liberal or socialists later in the game as they gain literacy and more and more people work at factories instead of farms.
Research - All POP types contribute to research, but clergy and clerks produces the most research points. These points are spent on technologies divided into groups such as industrial, cultural, military etc. As literacy raises the population will produce more research points.
Alliances - There are three types of alliances. Defensive, in which you and on or more countries agree to help each other in war only if attacked. Normal, in which you agree to help each other in war no matter who is the aggressor and satellite, where the satellite country is a sort of vassal to another country.
Ships - Early in the game you start with clipper transports, frigates and Man-o-War ships. As steam ships are discovered you can build steam transports, monitors and iron clads. When steel ships are discovered you can build protected cruisers, cruisers, dreadnoughts and submarines among other ships. Unlike games such as Rise of Nations or Civilization a modern ship is not simply slightly better than an old ship. One dreadnought can easily fight of many more ships from the age of sails and barely take any damage. Therefore as steel ships are introduced wooden ships become completely obsolete.