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Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Victorian America: Part 01: 1836-1844: Manifest Destiny
So I decided to learn how to Victoria 2, going with very easy mode - playing America, and pre-modding the game to remove all infamy and jingoism restrictions on adding wargoals.
I still remember infamy minimization minigame from EU3 and what pain in the ass it was before I figured out how to sidestep it with proper technique (declaring 5 wars with Remove Kebab CB same day, then get some forward provinces to border as many different kinds of kebab as possible).
If I end up liking this game (and my computer likes running it), I'll probably try playing with infamy and jingoism systems enabled, but first let's have an easy campaign.
Oh and I'm going to use console for everything I don't like.
• resolve any technical issues
• figure out how to mod Victoria 2, because what's the point of playing unmodded games?
• don't lose horribly
• become #1 great power
• annex Canada, and control in one way or another the whole Western hemisphere, and possibly Japan and parts of Africa
• pass social and political reforms including obviously abolition of slavery
• figure out how to industry
So let's start by turning off the music, and getting something nicer on youtube instead. The main downside of recording video games is that I can't play any Christina Perri or Nightcore or anything else good or I'd get the video b& for copyright reasons, fortunately this campaign is not on the video, so I can play something good.
Group armies and navies near Texas, send some settlers, influence random countries we're at good relations with, call new elections, research education tech, encourage clergy, nothing special.
First thing I discovered is that watching Victoria 2 videos and playing a few other Paradox games did not prepare me for figuring out how attrition works in this one. Ships take attrition while docked because they're underfunded? Army "supply weight" is not equal to number of soldiers? What is this all even?
Next question was what the fuck religious policy does? Game doesn't provide any information whatsoever, and wiki is just as worthless.
I had to intervene with Mexico-Texas war on Texas side, admitting it afterwards as free state. Apparently unlike with Europa Universalis, I can't burn colonies in progress of countries I'm at war with, unless that option is somehow hidden somewhere.
Next big problem was my textile factories unable to purchase any dyes - I failed to find them in game. Apparently the only production is in India (not that one), Dutch Moluccas (can I sphere them or something), and Mexico (let's wait for truces to expire first).
I kept calling for new elections every 6 months, but not much actually changes - electoral events affect just one county, not even whole duchy.
After colonization race with Mexico ended I disbanded all my wooden ships as waste of money, and built some steamer transports and commerce raiders instead.
I passed decisions to get cores on Cuba and Western USA under Mexican occupation.
Well, 5 year truce was up (imagine Victoria 3 with 15 year truces...), so it was time to get my cores back - and USCA provided surprisingly much help. By the way, game giving me +5 attack general and +5 attack admiral out of nowhere, what's up with that?
I got 4/5 cores from Mexico. Of cores, I still need Arizona, in addition to Cuba, that one county in New England Canada holds.
My sphere is expanding nicely, with Britain trying to compete for Venezuela, but leaving the rest of Americas to me unopposed. As for industry, capitalists are happily building it, but there never seems to be enough workers (I have interventionism, so I can't build factories, but I can subsidize them).
I admitted all newly acquired states as free states, and there were a lot of them (by colonization, by war, by evolution of existing territories). This resulted in max consciousness of everybody in the South (including African slaves), and zero consciousness of everybody in the North.
I guess it's time to have some fun in Africa while I wait for truce with Mexico to expire?
Still one core, and they're making dyes there on the other side of Rio Grande, so it's like I plan to stop
Way too much Mexico in this start
Sphering a bit
Victorian America: Part 02: 1844-1852: Warscore nonsense is back
About 1/3 of my armies were Dixie, so I sent them all to Africa, but I had to add some Yankee brigades as well. Since we're playing without silliness like infamy, it was time to bring liberty to everybody in Africa. Once I got some land I packed my army home and recruited some locals to fight future wars.
Meanwhile I discovered some silly things:
• reassigning commanders to different units while at war costs prestige, like WTF?
• I accidentally had a rally point for ships in a county next to one with naval base, not one with naval base. That meant that tons of docked ships just sunk.
• Every elections I get spammed by tons of messages about political issues, the choice is approximately irrelevant.
• Without elections I still get spammed by tons of messages about political issues, the choice is approximately irrelevant.
• Pop consciousness doesn't seem to be doing anything whatsoever
• My population is supposedly huge, but max number of brigades I can support is consistently tiny
Anyway, second Mexican war. I justified war for Chihuahua (as it had dyes and gold), then I wanted my core in Arizona and state of Durango (also with dyes and gold), but that was too much warscore, so I've chosen Sonora instead, which is fairly useless but would at least mean nice borders. Total warscore 98%.
And somehow during the war it increased to 102%. All the horrible memories from EU3 are coming back... EU4 had that happen occasionally, but much less frequently. Well, I can skip Arizona, as it's a fairly worthless land, but it's a fairly bullshit way to lose 10% of my prestige and fall from #2 to #3 greatest power - the only thing holding me there is prestige anyway, my military is mediocre as my pops dislike being soldiers, and my industry is mediocre as my pops dislike being craftsmen.
I'm not sure how I can convince my pops - I could use national focuses, but I'm trying to use them to make people read better.
By the way, this only cost me some prestige, how annoying would it be if it cost me 10 years' worth of infamy as well...
My impressions of the game so far are not amazing. It feels like they had a fun idea, but never polished it properly.
That Arizona-sized hole cost me 10% of my prestige
That Spanish Ethiopia should go if I want to do proper colonization, but my pops don't want to soldier, and Europeans don't want to ally me.
Victorian America: Part 03: 1852: Debugging Interlude
I wanted to figure out why I'm not getting any soldiers - and the answer is game being stupid. I have 81.89k soldier pops, and that could be tons of brigades - unfortunately instead of using national manpower pool, or even duchy manpower pool, brigades come from individual counties.
Even worse - soldier population in each county is divided into multiple nationality/religion combinations, every one of them having separate manpower pool. So county of Kano has Sunni Hausa, Protestant Hausa, Animist Hausa, and Sunni Fube - all of them to small to support even one brigade.
Spain has 89.03k soldiers, just a bit more than me, but can support 31 vs my 14 brigades because they're in fewer counties and less diverse. Panjab has 77.40k and support for 27 brigades.
This isn't gamebreaking for USA, as they get enough immigration coming, and enough assimilation of weird nationality/religion combination immigrant pops, that eventually their low density countries will be able to support brigades, but it's another example of "game came out without any QA" problem, and causes a lot of brigades not reinforcing or disappearing because their tiny pop base couldn't reinforce them, while most of my soldier pops take wages but don't contribute to anything because they're in manpower pools to tiny to do anything with.
On the other hand, sailors don't use any kind of manpower, so it's much easier to be competitive on the sea.
I'm not sure what would be a good mod fix - it's possible to relocate pops from one county to another by event (Trail of Tears decision relocated all my Cherokees this way), so maybe we should just move all soldier pops from various counties to duchy capital? I'm not sure how much that would mess with promotion/demotion system.
By the way, I'm not sure if I'll ever have civil war at all. It needs John Brown's Raid (prerequisites - high consciousness in free state), Dred Scott Decision (prerequisites - high consciousness in slave state; and it already happened), and 40% liberals in upper house.
As I'm adding free states only, free staters don't give a shit about slavery, so they shouldn't be any raid. As far as I can tell, taking either side consistently will avoid civil war. Unless it can trigger off consciousness in some colonial state, or in New Mexico where there's some unrelated silliness involving natives, or something like that.
Not to mention I don't know why of 4 parties (conservative Democrats, reactionary Southern Democrats, liberal Whigs, recent liberal Free Soil Party), liberals should ever get 40%. I haven't been consistent in values I promote. Whenever there's a popup I try to go:
• Protectionism (which Southern Democrats and Free Soil Party share)
• State capitalism (Southern Democrats only)
• Secularism (none of them)
• Full Citizenship (which both liberal parties share).
• Jingoism (which Democrats and Southern Democrats share)
And yet conservative Democratic Party keeps winning huge majorities regardless of my choices, in spite of universal voting, secret ballots, free press etc. Presumably if someone actually wanted to avoid civil war, it would have been fairly easy.
Not like there's much reason to avoid it - unless CSA somehow suddenly gets allies, it would have same problems I have except a third of my size, not even counting Africans, and no navy. It would probably only be a problem if it happened during some other war or serious crisis.
Another thing - so far I'm not sure game has enough happening for someone located outside Europe.
• I can't seem to be able to affect my country's politics in any way whatsoever in spite of trying my best.
• I can't do any diplomacy as nobody bothers competing for my sphere (even Britain decided it's not worth it), and Europeans won't ally me because I'm too far.
• Industry does what it wants on its own.
• Research is mostly just tied to specific dates, so there don't seem to be any tricky choices here.
• Major events so far were driven by scripted decisions and events.
I guess I could try invading China or something?
Maybe it's a lot more interesting as some minor power or as someone in Europe where the action seems to be.
Victorian America: Part 04: 1852-1858: Spanish-American War
So I was actually wrong and election events operate on duchy not county level.
I changed Panama / Suez canal decisions to make requirements visible in-game.
I got correct tech to get Establish Protectorate CB, planning to use it against Morocco - turns out requirements were phrased in a dumb way Paradox titles use, as it "has less that 5 states" - key number being 5. Real criterion with sensible wording is "4 or less states".
I need naval bases, so I attacked Oman. That got Egypt into war, which means I can add Sinai as wargoal (assuming I can peace them out separately, otherwise that's over 100%). And that somehow made Spain take over the war? No idea how. They're friendly with Egypt, but Egypt wasn't war target or even war leader (I think...). Oh and they were also allied with Abu Dhabi, but who cares about that.
Of couse game did not consider it reasonable to inform me of it in any way.
OK, I'll just call my sphere allies, they wanted to join my original war, but I didn't call them as it seemed pointless. Oh wait, everyone is at impossible. Why? Nobody knows. For fuck's sake, that's like worst parts of EU3 all over again.
And they even landed in Florida without any kind of hint from the game. Fine, let's see what this mobilize button does and start blockade of Cuba.
Then they landed in Hawaii, but I couldn't reall do much about it. So much for my naval base I'm building there.
I assigned some general to peasant mobs, and cleared Florida invasion, then embarked them on ships and landed on small stack in Cuba. Why are they fighting like shit? Oh, when I said embark, 18/19 peasant brigades decided to embark ships as that's how much space there was, but general stayed with the last one. For fuck's sake game, how much crap like that is there going to be!
Now for some weird reasons I can't separate peace Egypt, but I can separate peace Oman (but that wolud be 85% warscore). So I guess I need to attack Oman first to get them out of the war? Well, Yemen allied with them mid-war, but didn't join the war, and neither Yemen nor Nejd want to let my troops through. I guess I need to attack Yemen so it lets me through? That's going to be a big war.
I sent all the peasants to Arabia, where I annexed Yemen, Oman (including its African ports which were what the war was really about), Abu Dhabi (just because screw them), I got Sinai from Egypt.
During wars I changed research to some army techs - I have tech group which gives bonuses to culture/industry/commerce research and penalties to army/navy research, so I'm mostly prioritizing those, especially since some techs outside army tree also give army bonuses (mostly chemistry group), but that was sort of needed.
Spain was sort of anemic, they mobilized like twice the army I could get even with peasants, but they mostly tried to send 1-2 transports all over the world. That actually worked with Hawaii (and it was not worth trying to recover it without Panama canal - peasants had much shorted way to Egypt), but nowhere else. Their navies were too small, so I could just do whatever I wanted. Well, whatever naval attrition allowed me to do.
Now I have tons of places to build naval bases, which was the point of all this, but I got rather deep in debt with all this.
To build canals I need two more techs - one in industry tree I'm going to do anyway, the other is Iron Steamers which unlock in 1860, so I guess these are going to be the only techs.
So far no signs of John Brown's Raid, so Civil War might very well not trigger (in 1866 slavery debate modifier goes away and I can ban slavery by reform if I understand correctly).
By the way what I did would have cost me:
• up to 10 infamy for Oman (depending on when I'd get caught)
• up to 10 infamy for Yemen (depending on when I'd get caught)
• guarantees 10 infamy for Abu Dhabi
• guaranteed 5 infamy for Sinai
• 0 infamy for Cuba
Which added together is Literally Hitler range, just for this one war.
I can't say I feel this is reasonable. I've been somewhat aggressive, but nothing crazy. The game has this very strict infamy system, and then gives scripted infamy-free CBs, to get very rapid expansion, but only of the approved kind.
For example Prussia into North German Federation into Germany is crazy fast expansion, and it would cost like 10 Hitlers worth of infamy if it didn't have supporting events. Same amount if you tried to get yourself colonial empire by conquest instead of by getting Sokoto/Ethiopia early and rushing colonization spree on the clock in 1870.
Infamy feels like punishment for going off scripted path instead of punishment for rapidly expanding. I can't say I'm fond of this design. Even EU3 did it better.
Victorian America: Part 05: 1858-1863: Civil War after all
Events that give everybody extra consciousness kept coming and coming at much faster rate, until I actually got John Brown's Raid. Also they're super annoying and spammy as hell. Just ask once, I'm going to answer the same way in every county, probably.
No matter, I have unfinished business with Sokoto and Mexico. I called all my allies to my war with Mexico, all were "very likely" to accept, and not one of them showed up, which presumably means it's another one of those tooltip bugs.
And I got civil war after all - with my stack liberating Mexico fighting each other, unfortunately CSA got teleporting +3 general and somehow they were defenders with +2 terrain and +1 dig-in bonus. And they start at same tech at me. Not that it helped them much in that battle, total stackwipe once my reinforcements from neighbouring province showed up.
This is exactly the situation where civil war is most dangerous - they are big (as Cuba was admitted as slave territory, I can only make it free when it becomes slave, so they got Cuba), I'm in 2 other wars, with 1/3 of my army in Africa, and all my allies are lost because of game bug. Lovely.
Time to press mobilize button for the second time. And after I blockaded their ports there's a decision that gives them a bit of monthly war exhaustion.
In good news, my pacific fleet was blockading all of Mexico's fleets, and they attacked me, 15 on 30. Like I don't know something maybe? Turns out Mexico had reactionary rebels who sieged down just the province where their fleet was hiding.
After Sokoto war ended, my spherelings decided to really me and some were willing to join war against Mexico - turns out allies can't join civil wars, but I could move all my troops to carpet siege CSA - as they would not take a hint otherwise.
During civil war I passed Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery, Homestead Act adding +50% immigrant attraction (and again, game stuck prerequisite in wrong block, so I have no idea what the fuck enabled it), and built both Suez and Panama canals.
After finishing war with Mexico in which I got two of their states, but not my Arizona, I disbanded all armies backed by understrength pops, recruited new armies (immigration is crazy fast), and paid Russia 72k for Alaska.
So here's the question - how the hell can I get Canada? I'm #3 in the world, but that's really just prestige, my industry is 6th, military 12th, and probably seriously underteched compared with Europeans. Numbers #1 and #2 are Britain and Germany, and they're best buddies - everybody else in Europe is getting wrecked by their coalition.
Spain and Portugal are allied to Britain, Netherlands are allied to Spain (so by chain to Britain) and France - so I can't really challenge any of them for colonies by force. I guess Ottomans aren't allied with anybody strong.
I think I ran out of scripted content. The only decisions still on potential list are sign Geneva Convention (which seems awful), and restore the academia (which removes my bonuses to culture/industry/commerce techs and penalties to army/navy techs - I might do that late game if I need to catch up and once most techs are unlocked, right now it seems pointless). It's still possible that there's some scripted stuff which will come out of nowhere.
So far I have all political reforms and zero social reforms except trinket minimum wage I started with. Sadly dreadful parties like Republicans (Laissez Faire) and Socialists (Anti Military) seem to have nearly half of the vote.
First battle of the Civil War was fought in Mexico. After that CSA only had peasants.
Arizona-shaped hole in warscore system
Victorian America: Part 06: 1863-1865: First Chinese War
Weirdly non-military technologies are not in the ledger (unless they're somewhere I can't find them), only army tech, but I was curious how we do compared with other great powers.
Here's in power order, army/navy/commerce/culture/industry:
• Britain - 8/10/13/9/14 - total 54
• Germany - 14/7/7/12/13 - total 53
• USA - 8/8/11/16/12 - total 55
• France - 10/9/12/11/13 - total 55
• Russia - 8/5/8/11/6 - total 38
• Belgium - 8/9/11/10/10 - total 48
• Austria - 9/5/11/9/8 - total 42
• Ottomans - 8/3/5/6/7 - total 29
So unfortunately we don't have any kind of advantage over other top powers.
By the way, I'd say Victoria 2's tech system is by far its best part. It's a gem of amazing game design - just a bit of extra complexity, but it's so transparent and offering so many meaningful player choices without bullshit like EU4's "I need extra military access, I guess my ships will suck now" mana-based research. I don't think I've seen a better tech system in any game.
Oh and since no I have some kind of sensible army pools, it's time to get sensible army composition, which is supposedly 30k stack (operating in pairs if necessary) of:
• 4 infantry + 1 hussar in front
• 4 artillery + 1 engineer in the back
So I got 4 such stacks, and 4 stacks of 10 steam transports + 10 commerce raiders to transport them around. Well, approximately. The game makes it unreasonably hard to figure out what's good army composition, and even harder to balance armies, with every brigade having separate one-pop manpower pool.
Anyway, we can't really overcome European great powers with them with armies, research, or industry. We can win in prestige, that's what keeping us that high in the ranking, immigrant attraction, and thanks to zero infamy mod in rampant expansionism.
Every independent country in Americas other than Mexico is already sphered. They barely put any effort to stop us.
Najd was in Ottoman sphere, but Ottomans were just borderline great power, fell out, so I sphered them instead.
Most of prime colonial lands are already taken. So pack 60k stack, get Brunei and Atjeh on the way, and on to fight Korea - protected by China. We need so much clay for naval bases, and if they make some of the stuff we're currently importing, so much better. With Panama and Suez canals, Asia looks so much closer than before.
Now, war with China without researching much military tech was going to be hard. So step one is to find good generals to lead my armies - and oh god, this is the worst interface they ever made for any game. Well, not really, there's a lot of competition in this category, but it's fucking dreadful.
Of course that's not the end of it - if you reinforce the army, another shittier generals can take over losing you all your defense bonuses because fuck you (fuck that shit, reload, try again etc.).
And you lose prestige if you reassign generals at war, which would be a really fucking dumb idea if interface was actually working, and with this fucking UI mess, quit, mod that fucking shit out of the game, continue.
OK, now that I got this silliness sorted out, and Korea is annexed, I need to figure out how to defeat China. I need to queue at least a few military techs, penalty be damned. After a few experiments it became clear that the best way is to get my +5 attack general (who's somehow still alive), make doomstack, ignore 5% monthly attrition, and wreck them for +10 warscore per battle. It seems battle warscore is scaled by just number of people who died, not relative to their army size - destroying all of CSA armies was like 5 warscore total, and here I get 10 for a battle that doesn't even reduce Chinese manpower by 10%.
Chinese and Korean people just rushed to join my army. I'm actually quite competitive now in terms of manpower. Oh, and I have massive silk shortage - and there's a Chinese state just next to my borders which could help...
So the plan right now is to wreck Mexico and China a few more times while they're still defenseless, sphere a few more countries nobody competes at like Dai Nam, and Persia, and then maybe sphere 4 Northern China substates? It would be helpful if Russia wasn't great power, as it currently sphered some of them, and it's not exactly that high on the list, so if I wrecked them a bit they'd lose their sphere - and even if they regained it later it would be too late.
In terms of industry Britain, Germany, and France are in league of their own at 317-437 range, next are Belgium, Two Sicilies, and me at 98-108, then nobody else has more than 35. Without ability to manually setup what I want to build, I'm at mercy of capitalist AI, so I probably won't have much chance of breaking into top three anytime soon.
In terms of military, if I did another round of Chinese expansion and got a few techs, I'd probably be able to match Britain alone on land, or block Germans from showing up thanks to naval superiority, but they're allied, so they'd dominate on land and sea.
My population is now:
• 40% Beifaren Chinese, 13% Korean, only 17% Yankee
• 53% Mahayana Buddhist, 10% Sunni, only 32% Protestant
Yeah, it just doubled in two years. Every soldier who died fighting in China meant ten new Chinese recruits.
Oh by the way I'm not sphering Japan. Japan gets faster westernization speed if sphered, and when they westernize they'd become great power right away, so sphering them is basically pointless. Maybe I could invade them for some clay instead? It's not like it's far from Korea.
Of course pretty much none of this gameplay would be possible with infamy enabled, even if I reduced infamy to a somewhat more reasonable levels from what base game wants.
For some infamy calculations:
• Prusssia has 15 spherelings
• It needs Saxony, Baden, Wurtemberg, Holstein, at one state each
• It needs Hannover, Bavaria, at two states each
• It needs Alsace from France
To form Germany without game help would take 21 conquests (22 infamy), and 3 acquire state (11 infamy), total of 495. As these CBs take 400 days to fabricate, expected number is something like 80% of that, so let's say 400. During entire game if you're at peace, you'd lose 0.1 infamy a month or 120 per game if you were always at peace.
It's not even close to reasonable to get historical expansion without scripted stuff.
China would actually be dangerous if they were allowed to westernize at full size
Victorian America: Part 07: 1865-1869: I'll just wait for Victoria 3
I got a bit more clay from Mexico, zero trouble except I ran into even more bugs.
I'm sitting on ridiculous amount of income and manpower. Colonization is starting next year, but getting two states from China is basically already winning the game and I feel it's pointless to continue.
I can support 109 brigades, and this number keeps increasing very rapidly. If I went to second war with China that would be like 160. Germany with all its scripted blobbing gets 64. They have better tech, but not by much, and I could stop bothering with industry/commerce techs and just go for military ones - even setting poor/middle class taxes at half and spamming all infrastructure I can I'm just flooded with money.
As for navies, I'd need to research fancier bases and ships, but once I get there I can afford bigger fleet than all other powers put together. My naval supply limit is now 482, only half of British 954, but it's really just a matter of time to match it, as I have no idea what else to spend all my money on.
So, some conclusions:
• Game feels like I'm playing some early access title. It's supposedly patch 3.03 and I'm not trying to exploit anything, and yet I keep running into new bugs all the time.
• It has some promising aspects. Technology system is just amazingly well designed. Why didn't other Paradox games copy that, I have no idea. CK2 and EU4 could both use something like this.
• There were loads of point systems like research, diplomacy, leadership, influence etc. but none of them felt bad like EU4 mana invariably does. Their inputs were logical, and outputs limited.
• Interface is awful, worse than EU3 somehow, and EU3's interface was pretty bad.
• Gameplay is just dubious. So many parts of the game that don't do anything. Like endless popups that can't be turned off (another province got +50% mining because we have proper tech - you're literally going to pop this up for every single county with a mine? and that's not the only one spam popup).
• It's so infuriating that aspects of the game which could be most interesting like setting up your country's industry are locked out. It's like, who came up with this? This is the kind of area where player could make a difference and come up with some interesting plans (even simple like - I'll build this luxury clothes factory because I'm working on sphering a country producing silk - already way beyond AI capitalists), but nope, you can't do anything. If they want to lock out stuff, they should lockout boring stuff - like a party that prevents me from getting dumb popups. All strategy games have trouble coming up with engaging gameplay during peacetime, and they found something here, and decided to lock it out. I don't even.
• So many bugs... Like generals tooltips showing wrong generals. Or artillery in battle not getting assigned anywhere so only infantry is fighting unsupported, somehow, sometimes. Sadly every single Paradox title has massive failures in design of their battles - they're always overcomplicated for no gain, and as a result have ton of poor interactions between mechanics, and usually tons of bugs as well.
• Fog of war display indeed annoyed me. A bit less than I thought, but it was getting in a way a lot. Why do they fog of war when I'm trying to view what province produces or state borders.
• There's this whole political system, but player's influence is so minimal. I put serious effort into influencing it, but it did absolutely nothing. Same party whole campaign, and they didn't even have majority of voters supporting them.
• I know POP system is the big thing here, but I'm not really convinced it's worth it and if something simpler couldn't work just fine. So many things like soldier manpower pools, elections, weird national focuses etc. don't work well because they're tied to pops, and they'd probably get much better mechanics (national focus - encourage literacy) without pops.
• There are so many unit types, I'm pretty sure game would be better off with half as many. Like why have 4 different cavalry types, just make cavalry upgrade to different cavalry when you unlock some tech or something if that's really needed for flavor reasons. Units change how they look and what their stats are based on tech anyway. Just inf/cav/art system would be fine, with cavalry upgrading to tanks at some tech, and uncivs having irregulars instead of infantry.
I think I'll just wait for Victoria 3, even if the wait is long. Of course there's no guarantee that it will be any good, considering direction EU4 is taking.
This font size really should be bigger
One bug too many. Tooltip based interface, and tooltip displays information for wrong general...