A Let's Play of Paradox's grand strategy games...like, ALL of them, from Imperator to Hearts of Iron 4

We are not alone in the universe, folks! This is a little scary.

Thankfully Roman territory is still across the Med(for now), their legions seem only to be in Blemmia because of alliances getting Blemmia into that war.

Didn’t mean to hit the post button on that yet.

Looks like Rome actually gave in in that war, hence the Ptolemies getting territorial gains in Greece

Our road system is complete(for now). Behold

And here as we reach 100BC

Socotra has grown into a metropolis! Slave raids send anyone they get back to the capital which provides me a pretty easy way to add pops in a hurry.

Our bloodline has seen better days

And frequent barbarian incursions are making this feel like a bit of a dark age for Socotra

Kheperkare decides that he may be terrible at governing, but he’s sitting on a massive pile of gold and it doesn’t take a lot of skill to hire somebody else to build you a wonder. And so he commissions a structure that will shine the glory of Socotra for all to see. Here are the plans for The Lantern of Bliss.

While we wait for construction to complete Kheperkare is haunted by the (temporary) presence of professional Roman armies across our border and instructs all of his great thinkers to come up with ways to professionalize the Socotran military.

In game terms that means rushing through this portion of the military tree to get to the Cohorts tech.

And the result is that we are able change our military law from the mercenary focused one to Royal Army.

But before he’s able to see that to completion Kheperkare, the disappointing sequel, dies a most undignified death. Long live Isocrates III and his comparably less inept stats!

Previously we had access to the Royal Guard law which would have let us raise a single legion, but we held out on changing from the mercenary army law until we could get this tech that will let us keep a legion for each region. We did recently integrate our vassal in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula which added Arabia proper as a region, which means we now have 3 regions and can raise 3 legions. Each legion is restricted in size by its home region. None of that really explains what makes legions different from our levy armies. The big difference is that legions are standing armies full of professional troops. This means they are always available and can gain experience. They can also develop traits over time. We also have full control of their troop composition, whereas levy composition is purely based on the cultures they are raised from.

Here we raise our home legion, may they stand as firm as their namesake trees.

We fill out this legion the rest of the way and raise one based in Arabia Felix as well. They will spend their days training and fighting off frequent barbarian incursions.

Behold, the completed Lamp of Bliss

And on that bright note, we’ve closed to 45 BC, and here is the slightly changed shape of our great and glorious empire

So fun! I may have to try this sometime. I don’t have Vicky, but i can fix that. ;-)

i wonder what side you’ll be on in WW2.

Out of curiosity, how do wonders work with the converter? In EU4 particularly those can have quite meaningful bonuses. It would feel a little odd for that to just use the default great projects when you went to the effort to create that one.

I suspect our wonder won’t survive the conversion, but I didn’t think to check to see when I did my test conversion. Actually, you’ve got me curious so let me do a quick convert and see.

Ok, forgot that’s not exactly “quick” as it takes forever to load the game the first time, but my suspicion was correct. The Lamp of Bliss will sadly not survive the end of the Classical Era.

Although, I bet that would be easy enough to mod in after the conversion. I’ll have to consider if some custom work like that is worth doing as we move between games.

I mean, plenty of wonders of the ancient world did not survive the end of the classical era. That said, it would be cool to maintain that bit of continuity…

The Colossus of Rhodes only made it 50 years! Assuming no great upheaval in Socotra, though, I trust our wonder would survive. However, it looks like CK3 doesn’t even include the Lighthouse of Alexandria as a special building even though it did survive well into that timeframe.

After years of peace, the vassal we had peacefully integrated, Kindah, foolishly declares independence. They stand no chance and the war is over very quickly.

As that is unfolding, an intriguing situation develops in Blemmia.

While I’d love to declare war on Blemmia proper, they are still allied with the Ptolemies. But the revolutionaries have no allies. A quick side note about civil wars in this game: the wars are very dynamic and chaotic because any territory either side captures is immediately annexed. However, a third party going to war against either side has normal war rules. What this means is we’ll be able to occupy Blemmian Revolt territory and hope they can capture additional Blemmian territory that we could then occupy. Once we occupy it, Blemmia can’t touch it.

Well, that was a nice thought, but while we were focused on occupying the coast, Blemmia retook a bunch of territory and cut us off from the interior. Ultimately, we grabbed what we could and had them release Gwanara from the region we couldn’t reach.

Gwanara was happy to become our feudatory almost immediately.

Shortly after this something changed with Blemmia that led to their allies abandoning them. Understanding that another chance like this might not come around ever again, we strike. We now are advanced enough to be able to use the Imperial Challenge war type. Basically follows the same rules as the civil war which allows immediate annexing of anything you capture.

But I forgot that the big annoyance here is that it means you don’t get the normal provincial capture rules. Normally, you just need to take the province capital and any forts in the province in order to capture every territory. With this war type, though, we need to capture each and every individual territory we want.

And of course, as is tradition, our king dies at war. This one wasn’t planned.

Kheperkare is a cursed name in this dynasty, maybe we should quit using it? His lovely wife, Sostrate, is carrying the whole load of governance while he sits and drools.


Fighting is fierce. Blemmia has an army size advantage and seem to be able to match our mercenary numbers. Our armies are better quality, though, meaning even the battles we lose we tend to have a favorable kill ratio. Eventually this works in our favor as Blemmia’s manpower depletes much faster than ours. With the battle of attrition over we can set our armies to the carpet siege mission and let them handle the tedium of moving territory to territory. I keep our legions in reserve to go after any Blemmian armies that try to rejoin the fight.

Eventually I have to call it as our AE is getting dangerously high(it goes up for each territory taken) and we use the peace settlement to get Karim released.

These conquests made our administration much more complex and it may be worth releasing some puppets to handle some of this new territory.

But first we stop to marvel at the confluence of the White Nile and the Blue Nile and think about how far our people have come, from our humble start on the small island of Socotra to now successfully challenging the powerful people of the Nile.

We end up releasing all of the Egyptian and Nubian regions as puppets. We’ll keep direct control of Punt. I forgot that there weren’t regular releasables in Imperator. Instead, you can release any province as a puppet and then you have to “sell” it additional provinces for 0 gold. Annoying, but we split the holdings up without making anyone strong enough to realistically believe they can fight for independence.

And after moving slaves around to complete colonization in the south, we can finally complete the mission tree we’ve had open since almost the start of the game.

Our new missions will either focus on developing Arabia or regaining control of Upper Nubia that we just handed off. We’ll go with the Arabia one.

We can even complete one right off the bat

And a new confusing decision appears. It’s now 4BC and I can only assume we’ve started to hit mod content intended to bring about the end of the world.

Indeed, things have begun to happen.

And after integrating that little tribal feudatory, we control all of Punt. Which opens up the decision for us to form the nation of Punt. In any other playthrough I’d do it, but we’re Socotra, dammit!

We made it!

As we enter what feels like a whole new era, let us take a quick look around again.
Magadha, Parthia, and Parthian Revolt(I’m not sure what happened there, it replaced most of Armenia) are the big players out east. The Seleukids are hanging around and have even reconsolidated a bit.

Out west Rome seems satisfied with their size and has remained surprisingly small. Carthage hasn’t wasted that opportunity. And in the north we can see lots of tribal consolidation, including a very united Pritania way up there.

Closer to home, Waaqi has caught on in our territories.

As has our culture

I’m excited to see some new events and happenings that hopefully shake things up here in the last few hundred years before we swap to CK3.

I guess our empire just kind of runs itself now? This is just getting embarrassing. On the bright side, he’s a baby so he could get better as he’s older. On the less bright side, he’s too young to have a wife that does all that ruling work for him.

And indeed, he’s grown into the job and also married well.

With the situation in Africa stabilized, we return to Arabia to see what opportunities await. It turns out Maka and Central Omana are willing to become vassals under our wise rule.

And we’ve started to see some pops show up following a new religion

We also get occasional events visible to us

We decided our Arabian vassals would be better off fully integrated

These events have also been popping up with some regularity. Doesn’t seem to be converting enough pops to really have an effect, but worth keeping an eye on.

And oh how far the mighty have fallen. Blemmia becomes our vassal.

Which means that all of Upper Egypt calls us overlord. All of these teal areas are vassalized. Tasm in blue is just a regular ally, our only remaining one.

Rome is finally looking a little more assertive. Not sure what’s going on up there in Gaul, though.

Hey look, our dynasty can still produce some quality leaders!

Long live Nicodemus I!

First order of business is keeping an eye on those weird Christ followers. They’ve started appearing in Socotran lands, and they’ve quickly converted about 1/4 of our capital. Wow!

But the follow-up event for dealing with them only lets me leave them be or crucify the whole lot of them. Since I don’t want to kill 50+ pops from my capital city I choose to let them exist. Our high rate of religious conversion will return them to the fold of the one true Waaqi in time.

Instability in the desert both with the Persian Kingdom(the Seleukids rebranded, I guess X was already taken) and the Maghada Empire has left some uncontrolled territory. Nicodemus jumps on this and shuffles slaves around until we’re able to colonize those territories. We now lay claim to both the Qatar Peninsula as well as some land across the gulf. We’ve long had our eyes on the Maldives and the hope is we can jump on any instability in Magadha to eventually build a chain of ports down the subcontinent until those islands are within our grasp. Long way to go.

Well, Nicodemus didn’t accomplish quite as much as we had hoped.

Numbers of Christians in our capital seems to be evening out. Big hit with the Citizens of the city.

And zooming out a bit it looks like their cult is spreading far and wide. All of the shaded regions have at least some Christian pops, I believe the brighter yellow areas are where it’s become dominant.

Closer to home, opportunity knocks! We declare war on the Magadhan Revolt with the hopes of consolidating our territory.

And of course, as is tradition, Philotheos goes ahead and dies during the war.

But victory is ours.

I’m sure you’ve mentioned this somewhere, but how late does Rome: Imperator go? And assuming it cuts off earlier than the 600s, am I correct that Paradox does not have a game modeling the birth and spread of Islam in the 600s and 700s? Because if that’s the case, your little corner of the world is going to skip what is arguably its most consequential historical event! Which is weird considering you’re more or less at ground zero.

We’re well beyond the point where stock Imperator cuts off. I’m using an Extended Timeline mod and a Crisis of the Third Century mod that sits on top of that other one. Imperator is the only one I’m planning to use mods on but my hope was that this would help cover some of the very important events that happen between I:R and CK3.

But yeah, while this gets us the rise of Christianity and hopefully some destabilized empires before the end, the rise of Islam is still going to be missed. My intention is to have the converter at least get us some Muslim pops(we’ll map Arabic religion and probably one or two others to become Islam) but we’ll miss all of the drama, sadly.

Forgive the off-topic aside, but do you know if there’s any grand historical strategy game that covers the rise of Islam?

I’m not aware of any. Total War Attila never touched it and it looks like Crusader Kings 2 never added a start date quite that far back.

Soqotra is looking strong! What year is it now? :)

We’re somewhere in the 100s AD now. I want to say around 150, but the fact that you have to mouseover the date to get it in a recognizable format in Imperator always makes me feel a little more disconnected from the flow of time here.

This puts a smile on my face every time I notice it while scrolling around the map.

It’s only 148, but this pops up. Rough seas ahead?

My goodness, Parthia is huge and has arrived at our borders. They must have beaten Magadha in a war.

The Magadha Empire is really struggling. We actually directly rule more pops than they do, now. Although, they have a bunch of subjects(so do we) that probably tip it in their favor.

And then the Roman Empire split in a very, uh, border gore way. This started as a Roman Revolt but became the Eastern Roman Kingdom vs the Western Roman Dictatorship. They are still at war so we’ll see how this plays out.

A long civil war in Carthage has led to a whole bunch of breakaway states as well

Can’t let a good opportunity go to waste. Lets see if we can grab some more coast from Magadha.

A hard fought war, but we manage our goals.

Meanwhile, the whole world is in turmoil. The Antonine Plague rages and empires are collapsing. Rome and Carthage have disintegrated.

Chaos reigns in 171 AD. While things appear calm and stable in Socotra, pops are dying at an alarming rate and we’ve had to pay a lot of bribes to keep things together.

Can’t help but think that the Roman Kingdom won’t make much of an impact in the popular imagination of The West after it’s quick rise and fall. Not to mention it’s paltry footprint.

The instability has finally hit us. First Tasm quits paying their tribute and now Rabigh declares independence.

While we move our armies into place we’ll take a quick glance at our religion map mode.

Notice down in the areas of Ethiopia that we don’t directly control the dominant religion has become a mix of Israelite and Christian in a bunch of territories. But more interesting are the cities in Arabia we control that are now Vedic majority(the little orange splotches). I believe what has happened here is that so many slaves were captured in our war with Magadha and sent to those cities that they became the majority. It won’t last, more of those slaves will disperse elsewhere in our empire and others will convert to Waaqi, but it’s still a neat little dynamic you can get with the pop system in this game.

And now Omana declares independence. They are added to the Rabigh independence war.

The rebellious armies were simply no match for us. Was a pain to fight with how spread out the rebellions were(we had another tiny nation rebel in the Egypt region too). I think Imperator is possibly the Paradox GSG where army travel time makes the biggest difference in how a war plays out. It can take a looong time for a reinforcing army to arrive if you aren’t transporting them via navy.

And it turned out we couldn’t afford the war score cost to fully reintegrate those territories. We chose to focus on Oman, puppeted Rabigh and left little Ptolemais Theron to face our wrath later. Might need to look at going after some inventions that lower war score costs.

With our primary armies still in the area we decide to go after Tasm. They started this breakaway trend and need to be punished.

When will this end?

Okay! We’re reasonably whole again and seem to be past the worst of the disloyalty

Remember when the Magadha Empire was big and scary?