Victoria 3 - Dev Diary #25 - The Cost of War

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Today marks the final entry in our 4-part overview of the warfare mechanics of Victoria 3. If you’re just tuning in now, we have previously covered The Concept of War, Fronts and Generals, and Navies and Admirals which introduces many of the core concepts fleshed out in this diary.

That war costs substantial money and resources is hardly a novel concept. Most strategy games impose a cost for creating military units, some have upkeep costs, and even in Pop-less Paradox GSGs a metric such as a Manpower pool often has to be regenerated in order to replenish damaged units. A few games even encourage you to peace-out of wars that are so costly your treasury can’t bear the expense for as long as it takes to win, even if you still have armies left standing.

In Victoria 3 we aim to take this to the next level by modelling the truly astronomical, often lasting expenses of war in the economic system. This includes letting players and Pops profit off of wars; employ economic tools such as trade disruptions to gain military leverage; encourage upgrading not only your military but also industrial output to match; reform your Laws to fit your military to your economy; ensure your Infrastructure is sufficient to maintain your country while at war; and invest in medical corps and medicine to treat your population traumatized by the frontlines.

The intention here is not only to give the player a lot of economic levers to pull to prepare their country for war, although that is certainly part of it. A big reason for making wars approach the real-life cost is to encourage the player to think hard about the opportunity cost of war - that is, what you’re missing out on by spending your resources on war instead of something else - and incentivize solving your diplomatic conflicts before war breaks out. If war was a cost-effective way both of increasing your power and decreasing your enemy’s power, diplomacy would be relegated to nothing but faux formalities before fighting begins. But if neither party truly desires a war, no matter the power discrepancy between them, that’s when the Diplomatic Play intimidation game to see who blinks first can become real and tense.

It also means that it’s a skill to know when to stop. If war was an all-or-nothing affair this would not be an issue, but in Victoria 3 wars rarely result in one side getting everything they asked for (as we will learn more about next week, when we cover the Peace Deals system). Once you have hurt your enemy enough you might accept a consolation prize and sign a truce, knowing you will recover better over the next five years than they will.

With that said, let’s dig into the details.

Your ability to sustain your war machine is of crucial importance in peace as well as war. At the start of the game many countries can get away with maintaining an army of self-supporting Irregular Infantry to keep the costs of arms down, but this won’t be possible for long. And while wages might be affordable when your country is underdeveloped, increased productivity and labor competition will eventually raise expectations.
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Your country’s Army Model is a type of Law that governs who makes up your military and how they are organized. We currently have four Army Models planned:

Under a Peasant Levy model, a permanent military force supported by Barracks is non-existent or minimal in size. Instead the country may raise large numbers of conscripted levies of irregulars during wartime, led by Officers originating from the aristocracy. This model is cheap to maintain during peacetime but can get very expensive (particularly in lives) during war. Conscripted Battalions can also take a long time to organize, and provide no Power Projection that affects the country’s Prestige.

The National Militia model limits your standing army and Power Projection in much the same way as Peasant Levies, but permits you to conscript a large part of your population into a well-rounded national defense force if needed. These conscripted troops cannot be mobilized and are therefore automatically assigned to their local garrisons, unavailable to Generals to use to advance Fronts. It’s the model of choice for countries who want to focus on homeland defense, or countries desiring to democratize the military and limit the power of the Armed Forces.

Mass Conscription becomes available once you have unlocked the Society “tech” Nationalism. It lets you enlist the same large number of conscripts as National Militia but does not limit the size of your standing army, and all these conscripts are assigned under Generals as needed. In addition, conscripts are trained faster but are limited to infantry troops only. This is the correct choice for countries fighting no-holds-barred existential conflicts where sending regular waves of fresh meat to the frontlines is imperative.

A Regular Army model lets a country maintain an army of any size even in peacetime. While it also permits for conscription of a smaller number of civilians as needed, its standing army is the pride of the nation and confers considerable Prestige onto it. This model has the greatest flexibility in terms of military Production Methods, letting countries configure their armies without restrictions. Technologically advanced countries relying on more expensive crack troops rather than sheer numbers favor this Law.

Like all Laws, changing your Army Model will be popular with some Interest Groups and not with others, and in most cases you need to have at least a semi-legitimate government that favors the Law in order to have a chance to pass it without major complications. The icons you see for these Laws are not yet finalized.
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Conscripting the civilian population into military service is an option available to all countries, but only during wartime or when the country is at threat of war (i.e. when it is actively participating in a Diplomatic Play). Conscripted Battalions do not Project Power and therefore do not impart Prestige, and under some Army Models they do not have access to certain advanced Production Methods that require specialized training.

Conscripts can be activated state by state or all across your country at once. Activating conscripts creates a Conscription Center in the state where civilians are recruited into temporary military service, and the cost of these conscripts are only incurred as they become active. This means relying on conscripting civilians as needed can be a compelling strategy to keep the military budget down, but it does not come without its own costs.

First and foremost, when the Conscription Center appears, recruited Pops will leave their regular places of work en masse which could cause major temporary disruptions to your nation’s economy. If the conscripts in a certain state happen to primarily originate from the lower strata of its underpaying Lead Mines, this will reduce output and thereby affect the Glasswork and Munitions Plants that consume the lead produced in your market, which in turn will impact all its Urban Centers as well as your very military machinery. If you have enough Pops in search of labor this situation will correct itself over time as the Lead Mines rehire their lost workers, but in the long run this simple action of initiating conscription in a single state will still mean a shift in Wealth distribution, political allegiances, population distribution, industrial profitability, and so on. Even after a successfully prosecuted war those men returning home alive may need to look for new opportunities to regain their old Standard of Living. Everything has consequences.

Second, conscripted Battalions are always created from scratch which can take a lot of time. This means they lose any experience gained in the last armed conflict as they stand down, while your standing army units will get more and more impressive over time. Soldier for soldier, conscripts give you less bang for your buck.

Third, conscripted Battalions are distributed among your Generals by their normal Rank-based proportions and aren’t automatically mobilized as soon as they emerge. So first the conscript Battalions need to be recruited and created from scratch, and then any conscript Battalions assigned to mobilized Generals must also mobilize in order to be able to leave for the front. As we explored in the Front and Generals diary, when such a large number of Battalions are raised all at once it is Infrastructure that governs how quickly they will be able to get ready, so this needs to be taken into account when choosing where to recruit your conscripts.

While all of the above happens automatically with the press of a button, the impact can be complex and will be experienced over time. Choosing to activate conscripts in the populous but rural vineyard valleys of Rhone will have a very different effect on France than activating conscripts in industrialized, well-connected Paris.

Mass Mobilization may provide access to vast numbers of fighting men, but redirecting up to 25 percent of your capable workforce to the war effort (in this case 60 Battalions, or the equivalent workforce required to staff about 12 levels of farms, mines, or manufacturing industries) could play a real number on your economy. These visuals are a work in progress, but demonstrates how the player functionally interacts with the map through the “lens” system either through clicking directly on regions of the map or by selecting options from a list.
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A very tangible cost is of course the actual money you are spending on military goods for mobilized troops in the field. While Barracks consume military goods at all times in proportion to the number of Battalions it supports, units that are mobilized consume twice the normal maintenance level of goods. Not only does this double the quantity you need to buy, it also puts a lot of additional demand on the goods, raising the price-per-unit as well. As long as they can keep their production levels steady, your domestic Arms Industries, Munition Plants, and War Machine Industries will see profits skyrocket off of this increased consumption of your mobilized troops.

This also means other nations - allies or neutral parties - will see the sudden benefit of exporting arms to you. If you normally export military goods to others you may wish to cancel these routes to keep prices down, while if neutral parties import arms from you this may be a good time to Embargo (or at least Tariff) these goods. Every little bit helps your treasury and ultimately your frontline troops.

Trade routes criss-crossing the ocean are susceptible to your enemy’s Convoy Raiding fleets. Until a patrol discovers them and sends them to home base for repairs, such a fleet can do considerable damage both to your supply network as a whole (affecting all Trade Routes as well as the supply of overseas Generals) and to some shipping lanes in particular, possibly crippling your country’s access to strategic goods like Small Arms or hard-to-find imports such as Radios. Compromising a country’s access to industrial, luxury, or even staple goods can also be devastating to their ability to stay in the war, as we will learn more about next week!

Convoy Raiding fleets can also damage connections to overseas markets, for example by compromising the East India Company’s connection to London. This could potentially devastate the economies of clusters of dozens of states who may have come to rely on such a connection to survive, particularly if their economies aren’t locally well-balanced but relying on cash crops or specialized manufacturing.

Many countries rely on foreign trade to supply them not only with the additional arms they require during wartime, but also the consumer goods required to keep morale up on the home front in this difficult time. Ending up on the opposite side of your trading partners during Diplomatic Plays could be catastrophic for the war effort. On this screenshot we can see the British used to supply the Ottomans with 100 units of Artillery each week, but with Great Britain now siding with Russia they will have to try to find a new trading partner as soon as possible - or try to hold the Russians off despite an Artillery shortage. Another potential crisis the Ottomans have to deal with is the imminent stoppage of a smaller amount of Liquor and enormous quantities of Luxury Clothes, at least the latter of which is prone to make many wealthy Pops feel this war might carry too high a price.

(on this screenshot we can also see some suspiciously round numbers of Available vs Required Convoys - these are currently placeholder values, which will be replaced with values properly scaled to the number of units traded across the number of nodes)

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The goods, technologies, and in some cases Laws you have access to practically limit which military Production Methods you have available to you. These determine the composition of your army and navy and include both “upgrades” and “options”. As always, this list is not finalized but represents what is in the current build of the game only.

Your Infantry Organization Production Methods govern the organization and doctrines of your army’s core fighting force. They consume mostly Small Arms and Ammunition and include Irregular, Line, Skirmish, Trench, and Squad Infantry. Offense, Defense, and Training Rate are the most commonly affected attributes.

Artillery Support Production Methods consume expensive Artillery and Ammunition to boost the Offense, Morale Damage, Kill Rate, and Devastation attributes of the Battalions. Cannons, Mobile, Shrapnel, and Siege Artillery are represented.

Your Battalions’ Mobility options affect their ability to get around and scout the terrain, impacting their ability to do damage during an Offense and capture larger amounts of territory at the conclusion of a won battle. Cavalry forces are the default, which can eventually be supplemented with Bicycle Messengers, and after the turn of the century Aerial Reconnaissance or even an Armored Division supplied by late-game War Machines Industries producing Aeroplanes and Tanks.

Your standing army can unlock various Specialist Companies for Barracks to focus on. These include Machine Gunners, Infiltrators, Flamethrower Companies, and Chemical Weapon Specialists. These specialists consume various goods to inflict quite specific effects.

Medical Aid determines what sort of battlefield medicine your troops have access to, from the default of Wound Dressing, through First Aid, to fully fledged Field Hospitals. These consume Fabric and Opium to treat the sick and wounded to minimize the casualties inflicted by attrition and combat alike.

Access to Opium permits you to care for your injured population during wartime, but while the country is at peace the excess Opium floating around your market may result in Pops developing an unhealthy Obsession with the drug. This is less of a problem if you are the producer than if you’re relying on imports for your supply, of course.
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Similarly, Naval Bases also consume goods to produce Flotillas with different attributes. These are due for a design pass so I won’t go into details which are prone to change anyway. But in broad strokes, the fundamental Production Method determines the class of the central vessel that defines each Flotilla: is this a Man-o-War, Ironclad, Monitor, Dreadnought, or Battleship? In addition to the class of your central vessel, do you have Submarines or even Aeroplane Carriers accompanying your fleet? All these have pros and cons for different types of missions, letting you specialize your fleet for protecting or attacking trade routes, performing naval invasions, or blockading ports.

If you’ve paid especially close attention you might now ask: we know you must mobilize your army and Generals to see effective use of them in wartime, but what about mobilizing your navy and Admirals? In fact, navies are considered to always be ready and in active service and do not need mobilization. You also cannot recruit conscripts to start manning your warships just as a war breaks out, for obvious reasons. This means expanding and upgrading your navy is both a long-term process and a long-term investment. Navies are excellent at Projecting Power however, so while an impressive navy might not be particularly useful outside of armed conflict it will at least grant you considerable Prestige even as it burns its way through your treasury.

Since navies do not cost any more during war than in peace you may as well use them! You can set up most Orders for your Admirals any time, even while at peace. Once they spot ships flying hostile flags they will take action automatically.

A less direct cost of war which nonetheless can have severe consequences is Devastation. This reflects direct damage to an entire state and its infrastructure caused by battles transpiring in that state. Particularly large degrees of Devastation is inflicted by battles involving heavy and sustained artillery barrages. Devastation directly impacts Infrastructure and thereby Market Access, making the state economically unsustainable. It also tends to cause migration away from the state, an increase in Pop mortality, and other very detrimental effects. After the war this damage will be gradually reversed, but this rebuilding effort can take a long time and cause a lot of economic upheaval in the process.

Wallachia and surroundings before and after substantial Devastation has been inflicted on the region. Numbers are, as always, a work in progress.
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Finally, of course, there is the human cost of war. Some wars end with only a few hundred casualties on both sides; some wars claim millions of lives with no peace deal in sight. In Victoria 3 it is your actual population who fight and die for your causes - the same population that harvest your fields and work at your assembly lines, who vote for their preferred party or rebel against your enlightened rule, who learn to read and write or pack up and move in search of greener pastures.

Many men fall in battle of course, but more commonly they perish on the way to the battle, or after the battle, whether from disease, starvation, infections, or exposure. Simply mobilizing your forces to the front will increase their risk of dying or suffering lifelong disability. To counteract this you can research and invest in good frontline medical care, or favor Generals with proven ability to reduce such needless casualties.

Those casualties who do not recover from their injuries and return to the frontline will either return home as Dependents or die outright. As a result of both of these effects, after a major war your Pops are likely to consist of an outsized proportion of Dependents to Workforce. While this will self-adjust over time (especially if birth rate is high) there may well be a post-war period where you’re forced to deal with a large portion of your population not being economically productive. It’s in cases like these you’ll be glad you’ve enacted a good Pension System to ease this impact during the recovery period.

In closing and to reiterate, Victoria 3 emphasizes the cost of war for several reasons, including:
  • It raises the stakes and thus increases the payoff for solving conflicts diplomatically
  • It creates meaningful economic interplays between the economy and military, increasing the need to prepare and build a reliable “engine”
  • It enables cost/benefit analysis as a strategic tool, making the best strategist not necessarily the one that uses overwhelming force but the one that uses just enough force to get what they want

Next week we will learn more about how you can leverage the effects of these exorbitant costs by making Peace Deals favoring you look relatively attractive to your opponent. Until then!
 
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Whoa; I was not expecting this level of detail.
Also, aircraft carriers confirmed!

On another note, would you consider adding multiple types of cavalry, like hussars, dragoons, etc.? It seems a bit limited for there to just be a generic "Cavalry" unit that everyone uses until tanks and airplanes come along.
 
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This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for when it come to warfare in V3. I love the idea of making war and the consequences therein so important. Coupling this with the significant rise in the Infamy cap has made pretty much the perfect combination. "Well done" is an understatement and I am stoked to see those effects in action.

Except...

Except....

Except...

Paradox has apparently decided that automating warfare and removing strategy from what is, to many (though not actually myself), the most fun part of the game is the solution. That disastrous, slow-moving train wreck had better have some way to fine-control things without moving units (because who needs actual strategic movement of units), because there might be some reason I want to march my men to a place that is not something a computer would want to do because I want to escape a Doom Stack headed on my main front.

With automation, such actual strategy is punished because the routes units take, as far as I currently understand, are automated in a manner so broad that HI4's automated front assignment is about the level of detail it gets.


I hope I am wrong. I pray I am wrong.

If I am wrong, I will personally apologize to Paradox and everyone else here. If I do not do so immediately after buying the game, someone banned me. Again.
I hope I am wrong.
 
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From my understanding so far, this game is as close as we can get to a modern political simulator, from top to bottom.

The player must guide their country by protecting and growing its economy and therefore keeping its people happy. War is a tool and not fought because its fun or for glory, like in previous time periods such as Imperator's or Crusader Kings. We depend on others as much as they depend on us, that is my favorite part about this game. The most realistic part as well.

Just tell us when the game is dropping.
 
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Thank you for replying to my question, but wouldn't this system be horribly unbalanced for larger countries with specialized regions? Especially in later game, where you have general conscription and workers in miliitary industries are draft-exempt? It may actually punish strategic planning in a way.

For example, suppose I am playing Russian Empire. I know that German / Austrian invasion is a real threat for me. So I concentrate my military industries - all the artillery works and powder mills deep within my country - Moscow, Urals etc. Westernmost regions (which also happens to be my breadbaskets) I develop as agrarian / light industry / whatever.
As a result I probably have higher population density in agrarian Western Ukraine and Poland, than in industry-heavy Ural (which also has worse climate). Plus the workers that I need to make draft-exempt are in Urals.
Therefore it makes sense for me to draft most of the army from western agrarian regions with high population.

The war comes and enemy overruns some western provinces. I use the traditional Russian strategy of trading territory for time and making enemy overextend their supply lines. In real life this will affect morale of the soldiers (although it can go either way - some will fight more tenaciously to liberate their homes from the Hun). But my ability to supply soldiers with guns and bullets will not be affected - all the materiel is produced in provinces safely behind the frontlines.

But in the game system (as I understood your answer) the supply situation of battalions raised in Western Ukraine will be hurt. IMO this is just unrealistic.

Likewise - real Ottoman ruler will be wise to place industry in Western Anatolia, but draft soldiers from Egypt or Libya. But in current system if Egypt is occupied this may leave him with surfeit of both guns and soldiers - but soldiers will not be receiving the guns because their paperwork has been occupied by the enemy.

Please explain where I am wrong.
Once you've lost the western Ukraine states, you'll find that replacing the men in those battalions impossible. The general will be able to get supplies from his barracks for his troops from other parts of the region - this may be limited by the infrastructure in the states still controlled containing those barracks/conscription centres.

It still is a good idea to conscript every man from a state you may loose in the peace - if lost, dead men/dependents don't work for the enemy, if not, the state wasn't going to be productive for years any way due to devastation, so less people to be less productive is a win?
 
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Can women be conscripted under a specific law? Paraguay conscripted women during the War of the Triple Alliance. The Russians also had women during WWI but in a more limited quantity.
 
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It looks good. Especially that the game does not shy away from the significant effect of disease and exposure. Warmongers and map painters will surely lament that their state of the art army melts away without firing a shot.
 
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Ojodeaguila

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Temporary legislation in war times, There will be the posibility of change your laws only during the war times?

For example cersorship was stablised in UK during the WWI, this must be possible without penalties for a while specially if your people support your war effort.

Other options could be women in the workforce, suppresion of the trade unions etc.
 
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I like what I'm reading :)

However, one thing doesn't look quite right. I know it's WIP and I hope you get some better graphical effects done since the "devastated" landscape just looks like some mud was spilled on some diorama. It lacks depth.

1637915472097.png


What I'm saying: The picture above just looks like you could get your garden hose and wash the dirt away.

While - in reality - the devastation from WWI is still visible today...
1637915755501.png

1637915785120.png


1637915892599.png
And some areas are still "devastated":
Restrictions within the Zone Rouge still exist today, although the control areas have been greatly reduced.
[...]
Some areas where 99% of all plants still die remain off limits (for example, two small pieces of land close to Ypres and Woëvre), as arsenic constitutes up to 175,907 mg/kg of soil samples.[4]
 
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Nis Baggesen

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Since we don't actually distinguish Pops by sex but rather by Workforce and Dependents, we can't infer an effect like this directly. However, as the Workforce part of the Pop dies off, the Dependent part of the Pop will have a much harder time financially and as Standard of Living declines, so does population growth.
IIRC, the earlier dev diaries on living standards implied that at lower Standard of Living the birthrate was actually higher, and the lower population growth was due to high death rates. That would seem to be a quite different phenomenon, so some sort of explicit birthrate malus due to the after effects of war would not seem out of line.
 
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crowdemon

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Interesting read, thanks for the upload.
 

wine3243

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This development diary has been the most interesting of the development diary so far. But I am concerned. In this development diary, I am unhappy with the simplification of the quality of weapons, such as soldiers' rifles and cannons, into any "branch of the army"

In the past, Vicy 2 expressed the quality of soldiers, but it also expressed in detail the weapons that were in the past, such as flintlock musket and muzzle loaded musket



if vicy 3 simplify quality of weapon into branch of the army like Line, Skirmish, Trench, and Squad Infantry. I will be very sad.
I'm curious about Whether I can meet detailed weapons like flintlock musket and muzzle loaded musket ,
I want to meet more accurate and detailed weapons than Vicy 2.
and whether allowed to express the quality of weapons in more detail in mode.
 
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T80U

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Devastation looks kinda out of place. If we get an infrastructure, building, pop system and everything else, then why there's modifier such an abstract and unconnected to any ingame object?
Wouldn't it be better if damage to infra and factories/RGO caused unemployment, emigration and decrease in birthrate than just arbitrary midifer with no less arbitrary decay?
 
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The second strange thing with this DD is "conscription laws". AFAIK regular army and conscription were never exclusive, every coutry always had regulars to defend the coutry here and now and some sort of mobilization system which was modernizing from feudal militia to mass conscriprion over time.
As generally these laws follow this logic, I don't get the meaning of "Regular Army", because no mobilisation at all is by no way better than having any and it doesn't give any boost to standing troops in reality.
 
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I don't like the extend to which army and navy composition are abstracted. It does not feel right period.

It seems like there will be a lot of nonsensical situation like tanks replacing light cavalry as integrated scouting parties. Or fleets based on dreagnoughts/battleships going on raiding.

If I understand right, the player has no control over which pops are mobilized except through localized region/state mobilization. It feels like a forced punishment to the player. In real life, states which fought in WW1 quickly demobilized workers involved in weaponery factories in order to sustain the war effort when it became apparent this would not be the Franco-German war of 1870-1871 redux. As a side effect this led in France to an over-representation of rural pop as war victims with long term effect on the country's economy and society structures.

Likewise I am not sure how this army system can model some of the majors states like France which mainting effectively two armies type at the same time : a big mass mobilization army for continental wars and a smaller profesionnal standing army for colonial warfare.

Edit : typos + more context on France during and after WW1.
 
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Gulielmissimo

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Unrelated to this specific Dev Diary, but since I have seen elsewhere that the American flag can change depending on the number of states in the union, is something similar planned for which country unites Germany or Italy? (For example, in Victoria 2 if the Two Sicilies unites Italy, the Savoy crest is adopted in the center of the flag!).
 
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Al-Khalidi

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We're currently collecting statistics on the military casualties associated with specific wars. We're not currently keeping track of civilian casualties due to devastation, maybe in the future!
Thanks for answer!
Another thing that looks very promising are those declarations that war will be so costly that in many cases both sides, even the stronger one, might want to avoid it. I really really hope that AI can understand that and act accordingly.
In vic2 AI furiously attacking you every five years bcz you had their cores (even if they were much weaker at that point) was a real nightmare.
 
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Knollinator

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A less direct cost of war which nonetheless can have severe consequences is Devastation. This reflects direct damage to an entire state and its infrastructure caused by battles transpiring in that state. Particularly large degrees of Devastation is inflicted by battles involving heavy and sustained artillery barrages. Devastation directly impacts Infrastructure and thereby Market Access, making the state economically unsustainable. It also tends to cause migration away from the state, an increase in Pop mortality, and other very detrimental effects. After the war this damage will be gradually reversed, but this rebuilding effort can take a long time and cause a lot of economic upheaval in the process.​

I like that Devastation is more significant compared to other paradox games, and I know that numbers are subject to change, but with a daily decrease rate of 0.1% at the moment even the most devastated state will automatically rebuild itself 100% simply by waiting a couple years, right? Even if numbers will be adjusted, that seems rather arbitrary, and because it's passive and automatic, kind of underwhelming as a game mechanic.

Are there any plans to implement features that will make rebuilding a nation more of an active challenge?

Perhaps the building mechanics could be used here, so that the player has to actively provide workers and resources in order to restore a devastated state? (which will be extra difficult if most of your workers died as conscripts and your economy is in ruins). It would add more depth to the post-war, and war in general.
Another idea could be something like building (and manning and supplying) relief centres, reducing mortality due to devastation in the short term. Maybe some interest groups would be against measures like that, and some for it, adding more even more depth. Seems to me that the mechanics are all already there.