Work in progress...
This guide is for vanilla Victoria 2, version 1.2
Serbia is an extremely challenging (and extremely ahistorical, depending on playstyle) nation to play, but also very satisfying if you achieve your goals. Playing her shouldn't be considered until you've played a few games and are quite familiar with the game mechanics. Serbia also requires some luck (in fact, it requires tremendous luck) to be succesful with. Now, let us begin!
What do we have?
Serbia starts off as a civilized country on the Balkans, and the only slavic one besides Montenegro (an One-Province-Minor). Let's see what does she have:
- Only one region, Northern Serbia. It is surrounded by Austria and the Ottomans, and has a small border with Wallachia.
- An adult male population of 200k. At least they're 100% Serbian.
- A small army. (2 infantry divisions)
- 10% literacy.
- No money.
- Several years behind in technology. (comparable to South-American nations)
Let's see her benefits:
- Cores on Austria (Slavonia) and the Ottoman Empire (Southern Serbia and North Macedonia).
- She has a good place in Russia's SOI. Until you leave her SOI, Mother Russia will gladly come to your aid.
- Aside from Austria and the OE, regional rivals like Bulgaria and Romania will probably never come into being, and Greece most likely will remain as small as you know her. As the AI doesn't give a damn about history, and the Balkans War is never going to happen, later you must liberate all those poor fellows from the Old Man of Europe (The Ottoman Empire).
- A unification event to form Yugoslavia. Homewer, this decision requires you to be a GP, and you have to control many, many regions owned by Great Powers...
- You are an Absolute Monarchy, so you can avoid liberals seizing power, and messing up your spending/industry.
Basically, you're weak and surrounded by two huge, populous warmonger nations. Sounds fun! But as you can see, Serbia has potential to become at least a regional Great Power, and with a little effort and luck, she and Mother Russia can easily dominate Austria and the OE (especially the latter).
- Industry: Early in the game, you don't have sufficient funds to even afford a Cement Factory. Your industry techs are also backwards, so expect nothing.
- Budget: You're going to have a hard time to get everything right here, but think of it as an advantage. You are small, so you must spend less money on Administration, Military spendings and the such. To not have a deficit, set the tariffs on max and the Poor Taxes on about 80%, so you can have admin., education and defense spending in max nearly all the time.
- Military: There's much to do here.. Start to research Military Techs (tactics first!), as you're going to need every bit you can get. Industry can wait. Set your only NF to promote soldiers, and recruit Infantry divisions (take a loan if you must).
On the road to Yugoslavia!
Historically, Yugoslavia was formed on December 1, 1918, after the Austro-Hungarian Empire has collapsed. Yugoslavia was originally a monarchy (it was abolished after the Axis powers invaded her in World War II), and was called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes until 1929. After WW2, it annexed Istria (which previously was a territorry of Italy), became the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and finally collapsed in 1992, amidst the Yugoslav Wars.
Can you change history?
Immediately, or better, before you do this, get an alliance with Russia. If she doesn't accept first, try again. If you don't succeed the second time, start a new game, and try AGAIN. This is EXTREMELY important. Next, declare war on Austria to get Slavonia.
- Why Austria? Somehow, in 1.2, Russia is prone to lose against the Ottoman Empire, despite the superior numbers and equipment.
There is nothing much to do here. Try not to lose your army, and with some luck, Russia wins the war for you, AND she doesn't "liberate" West or East Galicia for herself, then you get Slavonia. Woops, Serbia, you got two regions! Congrats. If you lose, wait for the next war, or simply start another game.
- Alternative strategy: if you feel like "cheating" a bit, you can DOW Austria/OE, save the game, and switch to Russia. If you control Russia, you can easily win the war for yourself, and in the peace treaty, ask strictly for your territorries only. NOTE: If you want to get a Yugoslavian core like Croatia, switch to Serbia to add the war goal for it. Sure, you'll get infamy, but as Russia, you can only "liberate" those regions. We don't want them as other countries, we want them integrated into Serbia. NOTE: With this strategy, it's possible to gain multiple territorries from one war. In my opinion, this takes away to flavor or a serbian game. If you really want your first territorrial gain immediately after the start, you can play as Russia, and get that core. Homewer, getting cores like this makes me feel like I play as Russia, not Serbia. Ruins gaming experience IMHO.
Meanwhile, try to build up good relations with France and GB, so they may not intervene your later wars.
After you've liberated Serbia (Slavonia, S-Serbia, N-Macedonia) from your opressors, move onto the next step.
First, for a while, avoid becoming a GP. Becoming a GP means you fall out from Russia's SOI, which means she probably won't assist you in your wars! Which, in one word, would be a DISASTER.
- Industrialization and available resources: Cement factories are a good start as usual, but if you'd like to maintain a profitable industry, note that Southern Serbia has both timber and iron, Slavonia has timber, and Northern Macedonia also has timber. While it may not seem so, building factories are profitable even in this stage, if you're willing to sacrifice that NF.
- Military: Forget cannons, and even cavalry for a good while. Infantry is the way to go (for a while), and construct forts if you have the funds.
- Budget: Lower tariffs if possible. Always keep Education and Military spending on max. Avoid loans (you must, since you probably went bankrupt in your first war).
- Expansion: If you aren't desperate for sea access, in which case you should get Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro are the way to go. Both have a healthy Serb population and useful resources (Bosnia has coal, while Montenegro has iron). While the Ottoman Empire is a constant danger, for a while, you must avoid liberating the Balkans. These wars cost manpower and infamy. Later, you can pursua these goals, but for a while, concentrate on yourself. If Germany/Italy have formed, not only you get a possible powerful ally, but it's also much easier to wage war with Austria, since it'll lack the support from german/italian minors (it may not seem much, but they still count). It's also a good idea to wage war against Austria amidst an Austrian-Prussian Brother's war, since Austria'll be occupied with dealing with Prussia. Homewer, since 1.2, these wars seem rare, if there are any.