How To Play Portugal in Victoria 2 (Nation Guide)

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Portugal was the first European power to build a maritime trade and colonial empire. It can return to its glory days through soft and hard power in Victoria 2, with your help.

Your starting situation, however, is pretty dire:

Portugal has very low literacy and lacks vast resources or population to make a grand comeback. This old kingdom seems destined to fade into obscurity as younger powers rise to claim their rightful place in the sun, leaving it behind.

In this guide, we will attempt to reverse the course of history and bring Portugal back among the great powers through ruthless expansion and shrewd administration of a new colonial empire.


Portugal Quick Guide

  • Stabilize your economy as soon as possible by raising taxes and tariffs as much as you can, and conquer small, non-industrialized nations if necessary.
  • Stay at least a secondary power to be able to colonize as soon as possible. Settle Mozambique and Angola early for prestige and resources.
  • Use your starting position to claim large swathes of Africa before the other great powers can by surrounding unclaimed territory with your own.
  • Keep friendly relations with Spain unless you see a clear opportunity to conquer the Iberian peninsula.
  • Enjoy being a Great Power in the twentieth century.

The Portuguese Economy

Even the Reactionary Party endorses free trade in Portugal / Victoria 2
Even the Reactionary Party endorses free trade in Portugal.

Earning money early on is going to be hard.

Because all of the Portuguese parties have the free trade economic policy, meaning that you will not be able to raise tariffs above 25%.

Furthermore, your industry is non-existent in 1836, so you will need to kickstart it with the help of capitalists, and your middle-class POPs will not become capitalists on their own.

Adjust the sliders until you reach a somewhat comfortable, if not balanced, budget before unpausing the game. Take the time to take a look at what you have to work with.

Getting more than two national focuses will not be easy because of your population. You will likely want to use the two you have in your most populous states: Douro and Estremadura.

You can promote capitalists to help your early economy or promote clergymen to improve your abysmal literacy rate.

Clergymen will get you more research points, which will be key to colonization later.


Finding Gold as Portugal

The nation of Johore, with a small, primitive army, is ready to be plundered / Victoria 2
The nation of Johore, with a small, primitive army, is ready to be plundered.

An easy way to raise some extra money is conquering Johore for their precious metals, although it will come with some infamy attached.

Start justifying a war against them on day one, using the establish protectorate casus belli.

Split your main army in half and bring the cuirassiers and two infantry divisions on the Portuguese Royal Navy.

You have three infantry divisions spread across the remnants of your once global empire:

  1. One in West Africa
  2. One in East Africa
  3. And one in India

Build clipper transports for them all and unite the fleets as you send your embarked army off to Johore.

Now with 18,000 men, you should be able to trample a small, non-industrialized nation with minimal losses. Annexing Johore will grant you some prestige in addition to the income.

There is however much work to do as your troops sail towards Johore.


Early Colonization

Mozambique can be settled early on, and doing so will help you immensely / Victoria 2
Mozambique can be settled early on, and doing so will help you immensely.

Portugal has exclusive access to some of the few provinces that can be colonized from day one, in the states of Mocambique, Zambezia, and Lorenço Marques.

On day one, send expeditions to two of them – doesn’t matter which, but you do not have enough colonial power to do all three simultaneously. In late September 1836, you will be able to establish protectorates in both the states you chose.

This means annexing uncolonized provinces and states, and the process grants a bit of precious prestige, which is another key factor in staying a secondary power long enough to benefit from your starting position.

To keep colonizing, you will need to prioritize the right technologies:

  • Medicine
  • State and Government
  • And Breech-Loaded Rifles

So pick Medicine as your first technology.

Now you can unpause and proceed with your colonial ambitions.


Staying a Secondary Power (1836-1870)

While the initial moves are easy to follow and roughly the same for all games, you will need to keep your eyes open for situational changes from now on.

As only secondary (and great) powers can colonize, you will need to hold onto your status until the best colonial technologies are available. if you can manage to stay a secondary power until 1870, you are set to claim most of Africa.

How do you do it?


Increase Prestige

Increase your prestige at all costs, through technologies such as Realism and especially through warfare.

If you need more troops (you will, eventually) then take advantage of your Equality national value and mobilize to get up to 30,000 men up and running for free.

This can be repeated, but do not abuse it.

Wars against non-industrialized nations are not worth a lot of prestige on their own, but the battles you will fight to win them quickly add up.

Prime targets on your list should include:

  • Oman holds part of the African coast that you will want to take as soon as possible to encircle a large piece of uncolonized land to occupy it exclusively (as other nations cannot settle on land you have surrounded with your own).
  • The Zulu are on the African coast and have a large standing army that is worth quite a bit of prestige once you defeat it.
  • Yemen is easily annexed in a single war and grants you a safe harbor that fits nicely between Southeast Asia and your lands in Africa.
  • Ethiopia can become a priority if it manages to take coastal lands from Egypt, otherwise, you can leave it alone until later.
  • Atjeh and Brunei are both very easy targets once you have conquered Johore.
  • Transvaal is a special case because it’s a civilized country, but it is definitely worth annexing if you get a free casus belli via event. If it happens, also conquer Oranje.

Finally, using the Humiliate casus belli on fellow secondary powers can keep you in the top sixteen, but this is an extreme option that will rarely be worth the damage to your economy and the opportunity cost.


Colonizing Angola (1850)

Angola, with a Life Rating of 25, can be colonized in 1850 / Victoria 2
Angola, with a Life Rating of 25, can be colonized in 1850.

As you wait for your time to shine, remember that East Angola and South Angola can be fully colonized as soon as you discover Mission to Civilize in 1850.

The colonization will provide a small prestige bump that will help you keep up, but most importantly this provinces will be a stepping stone for further expansion once 1870 hits.


Colonial Power

This is a great time to build up your colonial power.

Colonial power represents how much non-core territory your country can actually administrate overseas.

And it’s important to raise your Colonial Power because the game will not allow you to go above your limit: it’s a hard cap, not a soft one.

Expeditions cost 80 Colonial Power when launched via land, or 100 Colonial Power by sea, and protectorates will tie up some of your Colonial Power for each state, so you will not be able to colonize all of Africa in a few months.

You can obtain additional colonial power by:

  • Building and upgrading naval bases in core provinces. Each new naval base provides 30 points and each additional level beyond the first will net 20.
  • Maintaining a large navy. The most efficient ships are ironclads and monitors by far, but man’o’wars can be used as a substitute in the early game.

The Scramble for Africa (1870-1900)

A larger colonial empire, ready to expand even more in 1870 / Victoria 2
A larger colonial empire, ready to expand even more in 1870.

When the time comes, you will have to carefully surround as much as you can of the African interior to deny other powers the chance of colonizing it.

The plan here is to prevent the other great powers from colonizing Africa at all.

But to execute it you will need to be careful about what you colonize:

  • Start by claiming states south of Angola, namely Hereroland and Botswana, to block British expansion from South Africa.
  • Close the gap between Zanzibar and Somaliland, which you should have taken from Oman, by settling the Kenya state.
  • Complete the encirclement by uniting Angola and Kenya with a line of protectorates.
  • Avoid getting involved in crises with other great powers, you are not able to fight an open war against them at this point.

The land you have surrounded cannot be colonized by other great powers, so establish protectorates at your leisure and eventually integrate them as full states to free some additional colonial power.

You will acquire a large population that can be turned into soldiers and many RGOs that few industrialized countries possess. You have de facto established a new empire, and the game will notice as your prestige and military power rapidly increase, securing your great power status.


Relations with Spain

Spain is surrounded by Portugal and France, so its position on the continent is far from ideal / Victoria 2
Spain is surrounded by Portugal and France, so its position on the continent is far from ideal.

As your power increases, your relationship with your larger neighbor will change as well.

Spain usually drops from the top eight and stops being a great power, so you can sphere it with ease to access its large market.

If you decide to do so, do not forget to put some token foreign investment in its economy: it can be worth up to 50% of the Spanish market.

If the relationship sours, on the other hand, you might want to conquer a piece of Spain to feel less threatened.

To do so, it’s advisable to seek strong allies, even if you have a large army.


Being a Great Power (1900-1936)

It’s hard to give directions at this point in the game because some games will be wildly different.

But I can leave you with a list of tips to help you navigate the twentieth century:

  • Germany is a great ally: a military and industrial power with no interests overseas who will not get mad at you for colonizing too much and will oppose other colonial powers.
  • France is the ideal partner for invading Spain due to its proximity and the sheer size of its army.
  • You can wait for the right time to go after great Britain and seize Australia, South Africa, or even parts of India.
  • As the game proceeds, do not be afraid to declare wars on non-industrialized nations such as Siam or Korea, if you want to: your new army is capable of handling them.

And with this, the future is yours.

Lead Portugal as you see fit and make the last thirty years of the game the start of a new golden age.

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Andrea Liuzzi

Andrea Liuzzi is an Italian nerd passionate about history and storytelling. His first favorite game was Pokémon Sapphire, and he started playing Paradox titles in the last days of EU3. Always looking for one more Pathfinder campaign to join.