I had a chance to start some proper game as Rome. Previously started as Sparta and failed in a great way.
Rome is easy mode of course. Unlike Sparta your legions aren’t terminators from space but they usually overwhelm everyone around you. Rome itself is the only place to get proper legions, I also liked that some Samnium village to the north, near Boii, has an archery range and thus is a great source of velites (skirmishers). Tactical combat shows you what everybody does in a great way, it’s also good at highlighting that your big stack isn’t that useful on its own, especially when you go fight in the mountains.
I’m yet to properly understand what to do with loyalty and economy but I like the economic system. UI leaves a lot to be desired, of course: for some reason many buildings don’t have thier effects listed in the left panel but in the right one where you usually see a historical description. It’s be also nice to be able to get a screen with unit stats (previous AGEOD games had this), not just tooltip. There are also some obvious mistakes like diplomacy screen doesn’t actually show your relationships value which is bizzare.
Overall I look at this game and see the right level of granularity and abstraction. I think Imperator Rome suffered from a desire to have everything as detailed as possible. Here Rome start is defined economically by specific buildings, populace and access to some natural resources as well as trade sources. In Imperator Rome most countries start with a dozen of provinces, and thus dozen of trade goods, and provinces mostly don’t have any special buildings. Here I can see that for hundreds of turns I’ll be very interested in what exactly is happening in Rome even though now I have 11 cities. In Imperator any decent country has hundreds of cities and it’s all a blur.