Imperator: Rome


My impression from reading their dev diaries is that Imperator was going to focus on the core strategy game, get a solid foundation down with a huge map, and go from there. There are republics an monarchies and migrating tribes and stuff, but the focus I saw was on providing interesting strategic situations in various parts of the world instead of unique mechanics and flavor for each region.

In this way, I feel like it follows the path of their other games since CK2. That title was a little different in that they completely restricted you from playing anything but a Christian feudal lord, but expansions for that game as well as EU4 and even HOI4 have tended to focus on a particular part of the world or type of government and expand on it mechanically and thermically. I’m assuming Imperator follows in those steps. Honestly, when making a game this big, I’m not sure how else you’d do it, so no complaints for me.

This is what I expect to see happen:

  • A hotfix or three over the next couple weeks addressing technical problems and pressing gameplay issues that arise now that we have our grubby little hands on it.
  • 2-3 updates that include refinements and some much-requested features. Dual consul for Rome is in 1.1, I believe? Maybe some new events and other content not requiring new code to support.
  • First expansion that focuses on a particular region/culture as well as new mechanics shared across the game.

A military revamp would affect every single nation and is needed to make sense of the period.

I don’t want to seem too much of a downer. There’s a lot of cool stuff here and I’m sticking with it once they start bringing in patches and DLC, but it does feel more underdeveloped than CK2 or HIO4 at launch.


I’m not a military history person, so out of curiousity how do you think EU4 and CK2 handle combat in their respective time periods?

I’ll have to disagree about CK2, at launch the UI in that game was quite bad and there wasn’t anywhere near the depth of character interactions that exist in there now. You’ve also played a game in Imperator that would have been locked out from CK2 from the get go.

I think HOI4 felt like the most developed and ‘full’ of the recent Paradox games at release, but there’s good reason for that. It was repeatedly delayeed so that they could iterate on the core mechanics, and since it’s more modern and iconic there’s less need for fluff/flavour to not let the game feel generic.


Tip from my recent playtime: Don’t slaughter every family that you annex, otherwise you may run out of characters to fill your positions! I had 5 positions vacant as Carthage at one point because I was killing everyone and my original families weren’t breeding fast enough.


The HOI4 AI at launch was pretty awful though, which really took away from my enjoyment. I played as The UK my first game, and beat Germany so easily that I barely needed help from the US.


CK 2 definitely has stuff like raiding and pillaging and non-standing armies that create some nice constraints (I do like mercenaries in Imperator). I would say EU IV focus on the economics make sense too for the level of abstraction.

However, both games do not set themselves to be a simple “paint the map through conquest” experience. Although much developed since then, CK has the character interactions and focus on a dynasty, while EU 4 was clearly a higher level of abstraction.

My problem with this is that it feels like Sengoku and March of the Eagles in that expansion is directly tied to military conquest. Add in the lower level of abstraction regarding cohorts, troop types, etc… and I feel a disconnect I do not feel about the other games.

Also, I’m more into Ancient military history than medieval or Renaissance. So perhaps the flaws in modeling bother me most. After all, a lot of this period’s contemporary history is military. Much more so than in later periods.


What kind of non-military expansions were common in this time period? I’m not a history buff for this time period, so I only know stuff like Alexander’s conquests and Caesar’s conquest of Gaul. That means all the “empire building” scenarios I’m familiar with from the time period was via conquest.

In Medieval and later times I’m more familiar with things like the Hapsburgs and inheriting thrones, I’m just not familiar with anything like that from this time period.

In terms of the military game, I think it feels pretty good thus far. Certainly an upgrade from EU4 – not that I have complaints with the military in that game, it fits the scope of the game fine. The exception would be navy which just seems to be triremes, but navy in EU4 is pretty much just heavy ships or galleys depending on where you’re at, so it’s never been great there either.


I’ll ask again since I still can’t figure it out: Where can I view which provinces I have claims on? Starting as a successor state you get a lot of claims to start out(or so it seems) but I can’t actually find a good view of what the extent of those claims is.


Other than stuff like Pergamon being given to Rome in a will, kingdoms being united through marriages and stuff like that, you have very complex relationships that involve military and diplomatic conquests. Roman Italy itself was not integrated until the wars were long forgotten. It was basically a network of city states owning colonies and having Vassal city states themselves (not unlike a Feudal system like in CK 2, but based on cities and not nobiliary titles). The move towards more integrated states was more social than military. Wars were a means to achieve initial overlordship, but not always direct integration.

CK2 model of expansion is not that far from what an early history looks like. You certainly have more Republic and Empires here, but the basic style of societies (tribes, nomads, kingdoms, city states…) are here, just without the religion and messier/more distinct.

Here it’s just too easy and convenient to assimilate directly through conquest, because there is exactly one single diplomatic stance that allows any progression towards integration. When you can select it as a war result you can just take the province anyway, so it is not useful, and it’smalmost impossible to get there with the diplomatic tools at your disposal.

As Carthage I tried to play a diplomatic game making Vassal Tribal Knigdoms (which is just doable), only to discover that:

  • It’s a dead end that does not allow further integration.
  • there’s a hard limit on the number of Vassals you can have. The diplomatic option disappears after you have enough.

The way to progress? Fabricate a claim, give them freedom, declare war, annihilate them and conquer them into your territory.


Click on your national flag in a province, as you do to get to the diplomatic info of other nations.

You’ll have a list or active wars, vassals, trade partner… one of those is factions you have claims on.


Is there no vassal annexation in this then?


Only Client States/Feudatories, but not tributaries or Vassal tribal states.

Those last two are diplomatic dead ends. To move from tributary to client state you have to free the tributary. And probably go to war.

The issue is that when you can get a Client State/ Feudatory, you can also annex directly. At least in every case in my 6 hours playthrough. There might be exceptions.

I would have preferred annexation to be very limited and force you to go through the Client State route most of the time, which I feel is more authentic for most of the period.





Again, for all the nitpicking his looks good. Make it more like CK 2 and it would be really good. The military stuff is more of a pet peeve of me.


Not to derail this, but Field of Glory Empires has one unique USP in that the battles can be exported, played, re imported.

If there were some version of tactical warfare in Imperator I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

I get the impression combat is very CK2?

If it were like Dominions 5, that could be very very cool.


Yeah, I specifically mention Pergamon in my review, because it’s an interesting case-study. There’s also Macedonia itself, although admittedly the Romans fought 4 Macedonian wars. After the third war they dissolved the monarchy and set-up four republics, which then got invaded by a pretender to the old throne, which was what the fourth war was about.

But after the fourth war, the Romans basically decided to look after the Macedonian’s defence for them, annually sending a Praetor with a legion to garrison the frontier - BUT, as far as can be seen, they didn’t actually 'formally; turn Macedonia into a ‘province’ - they didn’t paint the map. The Macedonian republics were just left to make money while Rome handled defence and foreign policy, as far as I can tell from my reading.

The Kingdom of Bithynia I think also got passed to Rome in a will, and I think one of the Ptolemies also was going to will Egypt to Rome provided they didn’t have a natural heir (which I’m assuming they did, because it didn’t happened that way). Many more states seemed to willingly submit themselves to the Roman’s sphere of influence, especially after the Punic Wars, so didn’t require ‘conquering’ either.

You’re right about Italy itself - the various Latin peoples up and down the peninsular weren’t even given Citizen rights until the Social War of 90 BC.

I would love to see a mechanic where, polities of say ‘Great Power’ or higher can be asked by lesser powers to intervene in a war, provided certain conditions are met.


A strange thing about this is that it takes a long… long time to load. It takes a longer time to load than any other game I own. When I start it, I just get a black screen with a waiting Windows circle for like 3 minutes.

Imperator goes back to the roots of Paradox of being a board game and your enjoyment of it is going to be inverse from how much you expect it to be a simulator. You can convert an entire province, pops in a single day to your culture or religion ie you press a button a pay a cost and you have instant results.

It’s probably because it was designed by the resident grey eminence who seems to like multiplayer centered games; who knows. But Imperator is a classical world skinned board game, not a simulator, and it does a lot of things that are not precisely reflective of history.


So they are going the Stellaris way and again releasing a game they know doesn’t feel “complete” or why is such a roadmap even neccessary for a full price product?


If you choose to interpret it in that way, sure? Honestly, though, I’m not sure how you can look at the $40 price tag and the size and scope of the game and feel like they haven’t built out a game yet. What other $40 games are you playing that have been noticeably larger (content-wise) at launch?

There’s multiple reviews and hundreds of hours of Let’s Play material online to view to determine if what’s there is worth $40. That’s a much better metric than seeing a roadmap for future work to decide if Paradox has shipped an empty box or not.


Er, and I don’t want the above to sound like I’m saying Imperator is the Best Game of All Time or anything. I honestly haven’t had anywhere NEAR the time to figure out if I like it or not. But that’s a separate issue.