Part 9: Update 8 (Feb 1881 - Jan 1890): A Great Power
The war between Austria and Prussia soon comes to a close, and we are immediately elevated to Great Power status in Austria's old position.
We're no longer in The United Kingdom's sphere of influence. Sphere of Influence map mode displays us in our own nation's color now. All of the other nations of South America sans Venezuela seem to be up for grabs, so we will attempt to expand our influence on them.
On the diplomacy window, I click the 'South America' button to filter out all nations from the list which aren't on our continent. This makes it easy to see the nations which we want to see.
We now generate a force called diplomatic influence as a Great Power, and setting these priorities determines which nations our influence is focused towards and to what degree. I click the 'Priority' buttons for each nation in South America once, setting them all to the same priority. Left clicking the priority box increases your priority by 1 tick, and right clicking reduces it by 1 tick. If I set one of the nations to 2 ticks, they would get slightly more than the rest. Likewise for 3. The only nation that I don't direct influence towards immediately is Venezuela, since they are already in the UK's sphere. I want to get them eventually, but the UK will hinder our progress and I want to focus on sphering the uncontested nations first.
Some of the other great powers actually have had some influence trickle into our neighbors prior to us becoming involved. They can use this influence they've built up to try and sabotage our own attempts at influence.
Being discredited reduces our influence gain in Paraguay by 75% for some time. I go ahead and remove my priority setting for Paraguay. until the discredit effect wears off. It should be easy to beat the other great powers in influence over our South American neighbors. Notice that we have a +50% bonus for bordering Paraguay. We share a border with every nation in South America other than Chile and Ecuador, so that will help us quite a bit. There is also a penalty for trying to influence a nation on another continent than your capital, so that's another thing in our favor. The UK actually does share a border with Venezuela due to British Guyana, so they get the influence bonus of being a neighboring nation of Venezuela, but they still get a penalty for being on another continent.
Another thing we can do now, which we haven't been able to do for a while is to spend like crazy. Not being in a sphere means that we can once again get large benefits positive tariffs, and since our current regime allows us to subsidize our industry there's no reason not to set them high.
Having a large treasury means we can help along all the projects are capitalists have begun, as well. There are a couple of shortcuts on the project window. Normally, you would need to click the Invest button, select how much you want to invest, and hit the Invest button. This tooltip states that ctrl-clicking on the invest button here automatically invests the maximum amount into that project. Another thing you can actually do is to shift-click the invest button for any project. Doing so will invest the maximum amount into every project on this list.
Now that we're a great power, it will be useful for us to catch up on Market Functionality techs under the Commerce tab. These increase the amount of diplomatic influence that we generate, allowing us to sphere other nations more quickly and hold onto them more easily.
There are some other worthwhile techs open to us in the 1880s as well, such as the Combustion Engine. This one contains inventions which grant the ability to construct automobile and airplane factories.
You may also notice that when you're a great power, it shows you places in other countries where you are capable of constructing infrastructure. There's a reason for this.
If I click on a province in Paraguay, I can click on the small railroad investment icon (or control click, to invest in the entire state). This queues up construction for railroads in that foreign country using our own funds.
Those funds are kept track of in diplomacy as foreign investment. If another great power tries to expand their influence on a nation in which we have invested, it will give that opposing nation a penalty to their influence gain. The more we invest, the harder it is for others to influence.
Eventually, our level of influence reaches 50 with Argentina, allowing us to increase our opinion in that nation.
We simply open diplomacy with Argentina and then 'Increase Opinion'. This will spend 50 of the 50.5 influence we've generated with them and raise our their opinion of us in return.
This increases Argentina from Neutral to Cordial with us. If we generate another 50 influence, we'll be able to raise their opinion of us from cordial to friendly, and then once friendly we will need to generate another full 100 influence to add that nation to our sphere.
Our influence rises with our neighbors quickly, and I don't hesitate to raise their opinions of us when I can.
We get an event involving our Temperance movement. I use the opportunity to just pick an option that makes all of our liberal pops more angry with the hope that it'll be enough to allow us to push through a reform. It wasn't enough.
The UK takes note of our new status as a great power and offers Brazil an alliance. Since we were a member of their sphere for so long and have enjoyed good relations with them, I agree.
I notice that we can now enact a decision to attempt archaeological expeditions in Egypt. This decision petitions the nation of Egypt for permission to enter their territory for that purpose.
They agree, and Brazilian excavations begin in the Valley of the Kings. This raises our prestige and increases our relations with the distant country.
The UK beats us to Colombia and then constructs the Panama Canal. I wanted us to do that, but I guess being allied with the controller of the canal is the next best thing.
Our first rebel uprising occurs in the mid 1880s. Jacobin rebels are essentially republicans. If Jacobin rebels successfully occupy your capital and hold it for a few weeks, they will collapse your government and reform it into a more democratic form with a basic set of political reforms. The end result of Jacobins collapsing your government will be one step in this direction: Absolute Monarchy -> Prussian Constitutionalism -> HM's Government -> Democracy. I believe that they switch other forms of dictatorships directly to a democracy. Collapsing under rebels will damage your prestige, as well. Allowing rebels to cause a sudden big change in your government might be something you want to do, but in this case I want to maintain my prestige, so I send in the troops.
Electricity is another useful tech we can research now. It opens up inventions for more advanced factories that generate components for more advanced finished goods. There's also another nice invention here that further increases population growth.
I attempt to set a higher influence priority for us in Colombia to push the UK out. Notice that I already have 100 influence there, but I'm still neutral. I'm not spending it on purpose, because when you have max (100) influence in another country, any additional influence you would gain there is used to reduce the influence that other country's have built up.
After allowing this to run for some time, we completely push out every other great power's influence from Colombia. This doesn't reduce their opinion levels, but consider this: If we go from neutral to cordial now, we'll drop to 50 influence. The actions which remove and temporarily ban another nation's influence gain in a country costs 50 or 65 influence, respectively. So in order for say, the UK to ban us from Colombia temporarily, they will need to go from 0 to 65 influence before we can go from 50 to 100, at which point we'd start reducing the UK's influence.
Our next election cycle sees the liberals in power again along with big liberal gains in the upper house. This is the party with a lassiez faire economic policy, so we're going to have to cut back on tariffs again to baby our industry along.
While I am fiddling with our budget screen, the UK gets us banned from Colombia temporarily, removing our influence. We still retain our cordial opinion level there, but we won't be able to generate further influence there until the ban ends.
Argentina is the first nation to be added to our sphere. Our other neighbors are not far behind. Members of your sphere of influence are greatly predisposed towards allying with you, so we will end up with pretty much all of South America in a Brazil-lead alliance bloc.
Advancements in some of the later industry techs allow for events which greatly improve the productivity of your provinces. The effects of these events last until the end of the game, and they give fantastic bonuses.
A warning icon lights up that I didn't want to see. Another nation has risen above us in total score and we're in danger of losing our great power status. It looks like the Chinese Empire has modernized, shooting it up to right around rank 8. If we lose great power ranking, we'll lose our own spheres and be in a position where we ourselves can be sphered by another great power again. I don't want that to happen, so I need to figure out a way to raise our total score.
Probably the quickest way to inflate our total score would be by increasing our military size. We have unused forcelimits, so this seems like the best option. I queue up 8 more infantry and 8 more artillery to split between our two standing armies.
We also get a pretty great event. Apparently we're managing our colonies so well that it's been recognized internationally as a model for the ideal colony. We need all the additional score we can get right now, so this is a welcome event.
We also begin to get events focusing on our lackluster social policies. Our upper house's support for social reform is even lower than their support for political reform right now though, so I wouldn't hold my breath just yet.
We won't be able to research these in time to save us this time, but my next research goal is to fill out these naval base construction and ship construction technologies. A powerful navy is a great way to inflate our total score. Capital ships, especially battleships and dreadnoughts are very prestigious things for a nation to have, and just a handful of them would raise our military store by several times over.
I split the newly recruited infantry and artillery between our two armies, then add on an additional infantry, engineer, and hussar in each army. This brings our two standing armies to a total of 60k men in 9 infantry regiments, 7 artillery regiments, 2 engineers, and 2 hussars each. This is just enough to bring us back into great power status. I hope that my naval project is complete before I have to worry about losing status again.
New naval bases are very expensive. Luckily, we only need 1 per coastal state. I go through each province where we already have a naval base and begin upgrading them all to level 2. It's a long process, so it's best to get started as soon as possible.
Our archaeological expedition pays off! Their discovery of a tomb raises our prestige and gives us some free research.
Our liberal parties win big again in the January 1890 election, beating any possible conservative coalition by double digits. Things are going well for Brazil, and I'll go into a bit more detail on our standing in a short status update to follow shortly.