Victoria II is a strategy game set in the 19th century, more exactly between 1836 and 1937. In comparison to other Paradox strategy games like Hearts of Iron III the focus lies less on warfare (which is still important, after all the time period covers World War I) and more on domestic politics.
The core gameplay takes place in menu screens. There the player analyzes numbers and adjusts them. He has to take care of the five main pillars of a state: army, naval, industry, trade and culture. Each of those sections has multiple subdivisions, e.g. research, diplomacy, budget or production. Trading is fully automated but the player can still things. It is also important to note that all these settings are interconnected and have long-time consequences.
The world map is important for warfare. Here the player moves his armies from one province to another. Of course there are multiple factors to keep in mind, e.g. tactical troop movement for offense and defense, replenishment lines or morale. The game is played in real-time, but it can be paused or accelerated. There are about 200 nations available for play (depending on the starting year); ranging from big players like Great Britain or Austria to small countries like Texas.