This is the thirteenth in a series of reviews of Paradox’s empire management games. See the earlier reviews here:
Europa Universalis II: A Tale of Two Europas
Hearts of Iron: Europa of Iron
Victoria: Nineteenth Century Essay
Crusader Kings: A Dynastic Adventure
Hearts of Iron II: Return Engagement
Europa Universalis III: A Whole New World
Europa Universalis: Rome: Make a Desert and Call it a Game
Hearts of Iron III: One Plus Two Equals Three
EU III: Heir to the Throne: Not Done Yet
Victoria II: Same But Different
EU III: Divine Wind: Winds of Change
Sengoku: Shogun: Only War

Victoria II was part of a string of successes for Paradox Interactive around 2010, and its first expansion was announced a year after the release of the game. A House Divided was released for download only for PC on February 2nd 2012, with a Mac version following at the end of March. As the title suggests, much of the attention, and hype, was around enhancing the American Civil War inside of the game, though there were also a number of other features.

As part of this primary focus, a new start date of 1861 was included, with the South already separated and organized in the Confederate States and at war with the USA. The initial country selection map even moves to focus on the United States instead of Europe, though the rest of the world is playable as always, and some players find it handy for playing Italy and Germany, who are much closer to forming than in 1836, but have not yet done so.

Note that this review is just on the expansion, and you may which to go back over my review of the main game, listed above.


Overall, the interface was cleaned up a bit and added to, with some new buttons in various screens to make things easier. Additionally, new information was added. When you click on a particular commodity, it brings up an info screen that shows the price history for it, how much you’re producing (and how), and what your consumption is. There’s also a section showing what things may consume it, but currently aren’t in your nation.

And similar to Divine Wind, the number of map modes was doubled, with new informational modes for population density, spheres of influence, supply limits, and the like.

American Civil War

Victoria’s Euro-centric model of politics has always been a problem for one of the bigger events of the mid-19th Century: the ACW. AHD spends a fair amount of effort trying to come to grips with the problem, and is partly successful.

The Second Great Awakening will happen at the beginning of the game, which will make Moralism a dominant issue (a stance all the existing parties agree with), and start triggering Moral Crusaders events that increase consciousness, and start shifting opinions to Secularized. In addition, The Slavery Debate event adds a country modifier for a small increase consciousness over time. A number of other events also increase consciousness, and others (like granting statehood) shift it around.

The net result is the US will have a high level of political consciousness relatively early in the game, forcing appropriate POPs into supporting liberalism (and the eventual liberal Republican Party), and pushing for issues, with slavery allowed/not allowed being likely choices. There are a number of decisions that lower consciousness again, but they are also lead-ins to the Civil War, with the main A House Divided event set to fire while the Upper House is at least 40% liberal (actually electing a liberal president is not necessary). At that point the split between the CSA and USA is judged by slave state status, and possibly whether a secessionist event has fired for that state (which starts happening early), with no events or decisions around border states, or initial attempts contain succession without war.

Despite being more fleshed out, there are still major problems with this model. The pre-war era saw bitter fighting inside the US government, and this still isn’t represented inside V II: AHD. Territories can be made states at the will of the player, and can be made slave or free at the player’s whim (the decision does have consequences), while antebellum politics would be better served by forcing statehood to go through decisions that force effects, slave/non-slave statehood etc. (For example, the Kansas-Nebraska Act is a decision in-game, but just shifts POP consciousness ratings around.)

Moving to Rebellion

Rebellions in Victoria II have the problem of often being based on popular movements, and there’s no consequences for shooting down what essentially seems to be civilian protesters.

AHD improves on this situation in its final big feature, movements. These are non-violent groups established to pressure for a particular reform. They get their own section in the Politics screens, and only exist there. However, if ignored too long they can ‘radicalize’ and convert into an incipient rebellion of the same nature as nationalists and more violent agitators for a change of government.

POPs join movements just as they would a rebellion, and as their numbers swell, moderate factions in the government will bow to the pressure and start voting for the particular reform. This should be different than in the base game, where the system wasn’t refined enough for the upper house voters to start voting for a particular reform, but for some reason (bug?) the upper house will still start voting for any reform of the proper type, instead of just the particular one.
Movements can radicalize if they start feeling like they can’t get their reform passed, at which point they have a chance to turn into a normal rebellion. They can also be suppressed, which will disband the movement for a time, and lower pressure for that reform, but when the movement starts again, it will have a higher chance to radicalize, so it can only be put off for so long.


In regular Victoria II, Westernization worked the same as it had in the first game: an ‘uncivilized’ nation needed to research some basic technologies and hit certain prestige and military goals to escape being considered little more than potential colonies by 19th Century Europe.

A House Divided changes this by barring uncivilized nations from researching technology at all. Instead, they have a different reform screen from normal nations, and research goes into military and economic reforms that overcome a number of starting deficiencies, and can grant some of the basic technologies. Each reform contributes to Westernization, and once it reaches 100%, the country becomes a Civilized Nation, the normal reform panel shows up, and normal technologies can be researched.

As usual, Japan gets some bonuses in this system. They start with the basic land reform already active, which increases mining and farming efficiency, and gives 10% Westernization. The Meiji Restoration gives a bonus to research (which is already good for an uncivilized nation thanks to a good literacy rate, and that literacy rate makes the reforms cheaper), and actual research points. As well as the historical option, Japan can choose an ‘early’ Restoration, at a cost in militancy, which should be easy to deal with.

Less easy to deal with is the events that start up once a country is well on the road to Westernization. Each reform will raise militancy in the population, and partway through, there will be an event to embrace or resist Western influences (pretty much just like the events for Westernizing a country in EU III), which will either anger the population, or delay reform progress.

Paradox stated that overall, money should be a bit tighter in this version of the game, partially through re-working some of the technology bonuses. With an economic model this complex, it’s really hard to say how much effect there has or hasn’t been….

However, the most interesting part of this re-work is that infrastructure/railroads are now limited by terrain. Hills, mountains, swamps, and the like now impose a penalty on the maximum level of railroads allowed in a province, so that only clear terrain can build railroads after the discovery of Experimental Railroad, and then hills can get level one after discovery of Early Railroad, and so on. This is one of those ideas that’s obvious once you see it, and keeps the rougher terrain areas as something of an economic backwater, since they lack the bonuses of higher infrastructure.


The last major new feature of the expansion is the sub-state. This basically an unbreakable loyal alliance between two countries that are supposed to represent one decentralized country. While available for anything in mods, Paradox only uses it for China.
The primary function is to keep the single Chinese economy from wrecking the world economy with its millions of Artisan POPs. Now, the Chinese Empire is China and six substates, each one of which can dealt with, and put into a sphere of influence, separately, breaking up the economic unity of the region. If China manages to fully Westernize, it can then inherit all the sub-states to make itself a unified nation.

This seems like a purely practical solution to a bad problem with V II’s model without really getting at what happened to China in the 19th Century any better. However, the various sub-state’s best relations at the beginning of the game are with China, so they still form their own economic pool of resources and production. When the various sub-states start falling into European spheres of influence, much of that gets diverted to the appropriate great power, weakening the overall Chinese economy, which actually does get closer to the situation.


As a package of improvements to Victoria II, this is definitely a good expansion. The new features do help with the Victoria model of the 19th Century. However, they aren’t quite as sweeping as some of Paradox’s other expansions.

That would have been okay if there had been big sweeping changes centered around the ACW as suggested by the title. Instead, there was just a large number of additions to the existing system of decisions and events. They don’t do a bad job bringing the USA to a boil of tensions before starting a war, but considering that a lot of the forces at work played out inside the national government, which is one of the things that the Victoria series tries to focus on, it still feels lacking.

For someone who already likes Victoria II, this will improve the game, and for someone just getting into it, it will not complicate things any more, and should not be avoided. It doesn’t deserve a strong recommendation as a ‘large’ expansion, but it is still recommended.