Victoria 2: What is Life Rating & How Does It Work?This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Life Rating is a value that represents how hospitable a province is to human settlement.
Provinces with a high Life Rating will see increased birth rates and attract more immigrants. A low Life Rating, on the other hand, will cause lower birth rates and fewer immigrants in that province.
The baseline Life Rating is 30, meaning that a Life Rating of thirty does not provide a bonus or malus. In-game, most settled provinces have a Life Rating of thirty-five, so they get a small bonus.
The main exceptions are France, with a slightly lower Life Rating of around thirty, and Northern Germany, with an average score closer to forty. This is to represent the historical demographic decline of France and the simultaneous German population boom.
Unfortunately, outside of a few special decisions and events, there is no way to directly improve the Life Rating of your provinces in Victoria 2.
Nonetheless, you can research new technology in order to reduce the Minimum Life Rating required to colonize a province.
At the start of the Grand Campaign, this value is thirty-five, but it can be reduced up to three times – allowing for the colonization of extremely hostile African and Asian territories.
How To Reduce The Minimum Life Rating
The Minimum Life Rating value is a threshold preventing nations from colonizing the entire map in the first few decades. It helps delay the Scramble for Africa until around the year 1870. By then, the great powers will certainly have acquired the necessary technologies and they will start occupying new lands.
It is important to note that the technologies themselves have no effect on the Minimum Life Rating: the reduction is tied to three specific inventions.
Inventions are significant discoveries that your nation can make at any time after unlocking the technology they are tied to, so there is an element of randomness, but you can tip the scales in your favor by prioritizing the right technologies and timing your research.
Finally, having bleeding-edge technology is totally worthless if you cannot colonize, and only great and secondary powers (the top sixteen nations of the Victoria 2 world) can do it.
Method 1: Medicine
Medicine is an Industry technology available from the start date of the Grand Campaign.
It’s very important to research this early because some of its inventions provide stacking bonuses to population growth, but it has to compete with early prestige technologies such as Realism and Idealism.
If you’re playing as a large nation, it’s worth considering Medicine as your first pick, especially if you are already a great power.
In any case, the important discovery here is Prophylaxis against Malaria, which will net -5 minimum Life Rating.
Method 2: State and Government
State and Government is a national focus technology.
You will probably want to grab it as soon as it becomes available in 1840, unless you are playing as a very small nation and cannot benefit from the extra focus due to a limited population.
The invention we care about, Mission to Civilize, can only be discovered after researching one of a few 1850 technologies – namely Nationalism and Imperialism, Market Regulations, and Naval Statistics – and will grant -10 minimum Life Rating.
Method 3: Breech-Loaded Rifles
The final necessary technology is an Army one.
The Breech-Loaded Rifles technology is available starting from 1850. It will give you the ability to create guard units, a more expensive and more powerful version of the standard infantry.
But the relevant discovery, Colonial Negotiations, will not be unlocked until twenty years later. Because it requires having at least one of these:
- Machine Guns
- Economic Responsibility
- or Naval Logistics
All of which can only be researched starting from 1870.
Pro Tip: you can stop your research right at the beginning of 1869. This way, you will save up to one year’s worth of research points to unlock one of these technologies faster once 1870 arrives, getting a headstart in the Scramble for Africa. This is much more important in 1870 than in 1850.
Which Provinces to Colonize
As you reduce the Minimum Life Rating, more and more provinces will become available for colonization.
While most of Africa and South East Asia have a Life Rating or fifteen or lower, which prevents early colonization, there are several options for a savvy great power who wants to expand earlier:
- The United States has access to several high-Life Rating territories, although it must be faster than Great Britain and Mexico to avert a war or use the Manifest Destiny decision to take them by force of arms.
- Great Britain is in an ideal position to colonize much of Africa and Asia, but can also settle the interior of Australia and Northern Canada before the Scramble. Similarly, Great Britain has the best shot at South Island, North Island, South Georgia, and New Zealand.
- The Russian Empire can claim both the island of Sakhalin north of Japan (which can’t do anything about it, being a non-industrialized nation) and Turkmenia after annexing Khiva early on.
- Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Portugal can all benefit from their early colonial empires and use the naval bases overseas to get more territory through colonization.
On the other hand, avoid colonizing the least valuable parts of Africa – large, empty deserts such as the Lybian Desert and the Sahara – and focus on the richest regions:
Congo, Benin, and the Horn of Africa.
These are all populous regions which have useful and precious resources.