Yeah, that guide is spot-on for anyone learning the ropes. I do really like the military aspects of Imperator, it’s just the right level of detail for a game of this scale. It’s a massive step up over EU4 but it also beats the pants off of Stellaris in a few key ways.
For starters, you can intelligently counter an enemy’s composition. Not only can you see what their specific composition is (unlike Stellaris), but you can also have a pretty good idea just based off of what military Tradition they have. Going up against Barbarians, you know they’re likely going to be fielding a ton of light infantry and the like. For the Greeks, you’re going to have to tangle with some nasty heavy infantry.
Secondly, there isn’t really a “this unit is superior, just spam this unit” meta that a lot of these games suffer from. Are Heavy Infantry better than Light Infantry? In a fight they absolutely are in pretty much every way, but context matters. If I’m fighting deep into Germania, massive legions of heavy infantry are just going to melt from attrition. I prefer to build more skirmish-oriented armies of light infantry and archers for those regions. Elephants may be the 'best" but good luck fighting with them up there or marching them through the Alps (wait a minute…).
It seems like a change that would please alot of people. I’ve never really had a problem with abstract currencies. If it were me I would reduce the number from 4 to 3, so that there were more interesting tradeoffs in the spending of them.
The very first Imperator dev diary said the whole game was guided by a comment from a forum user - for better or worse that feedback is part of how PDS develop their games. I thought the monarch points were fine, but the new systems sound good too?
I don’t think PP are going away. A balance a little closer to EU4 would be well-received, though. Pretty much everything in Imperator takes Mana and there’s very little way a player can influence what they gain.
EU4 still derived from the monarch stats, but the can use a National Focus to focus on gaining one type. You could hire anywhere from +1 to +5 advisors in each category. Gaining 50 power projection gave you a bonus.
EU4 also allows you to do more outside of monarch points. You can fabricate claims and thus expand without them. You can work on diplomacy, fiddle with your trade network, establish colonies, all kinds of stuff. If you lack the MP in Imperator, you’re largely stuck.
I like the idea of abstract Mana, I think it makes for a good strategy game when deciding how to allocate a limited resource. Imperator likely pushed the needle too far, though, and some rebalancing would be good. For example, in the 1.1 update bribes cost gold from the character and not oratory power.
I didn’t mind the various currencies, so I’m not sure I’m thrilled about this change. Will replacing the four currencies with one political currency mean that a character’s stats matter less? E.g., what will the religion or oratory skills mean now?
I’m disgruntled by those news for this reason as well.
Stellaris walked that path. Many people like it as a toy, but it never become a working strategy game: instead of spending time on teaching AI to play they rework mechanics again and again. It results in me switching the game after a next rework, doing obvious and very boring stuff like clicking “build station” everywhere and after a few hours of obvious choices and couple of one battle wars it turns out that I’m the strongest power in the universe. I can now sit for a 100 years preparing for a crisis to come, such joy. This is an obvious result of working on adding features instead of making sure those features work.
I thought that I:R has a very solid fundamentals. I could see myself spending hundreds of hours in that game after they fix UI and polish it here and there. But even if their changes result in a better design (which I seriously doubt) it would mean that this is another game designed to be launched once every patch, marvel at new stuff and turn it off once you get how it works.
Another thing is that I’m irritated by the fact people regard MP as abstract but not money. Money is abstract thing by design! Money buys you stuff and is worthless on its own! Now instead of government ability and will to do military/civic/oratory/religious stuff you’ll have a single currency for all of this. It’s beyond me how can anyone call this less abstract.
I really hope it won’t end up like this. Johan is usually quite good at maintaining his vision, even though in this case he has bowed to immense fan pressure. It’s also one of the more innocuous changes to the mechanics of the game: all of the ways you interact with it are the same, it’s the costs that are changing. Although I need to see more detail on how they will implement it.
Money is an exchange good that is universally understood, even if it is nominally abstract. You accrue gold from tax and then spend it to buy a granary, it makes perfect sense. Now consider accruing 1000 Oratory Points over years and then using it to demand 100 subjects support your heir. What does that even mean? It is definitely more abstract (not that I have a problem with monarch points at all).
The problem is with the term. Good term shouldn’t include the word “points”.
I think envoys worked well as a system but it’s very hard to work out bonuses and percentages with them. It worked fine in EU3 when you had a gain of 3 colonists per year and 6 magistrates, and each action consumed only one of them, but EU4/IR systems are much more flexible. A thing costs 100 points and you can have modifier making it cost 90 points, and your monthly income may be 10 or more. It would be strange to say that you have hundreds of envoys/agents stockpiled even though it’s clear that points simulate something like this - how much stuff your specialists are going to do.
I don’t want to open that can of worms, but gold only makes sense cause we’re used to it. Government collecting taxes and using it to conjure a granary is much, much more out of touch with reality than government using its political power to force people to worship other gods or something, especially in this era. In reality goverment would probably never conciously authorised building of a granary or a market, or would use force to make people build it where they need it. It won’t ever be a question of gold - in that case it’s likely that no money will change hands - but a question of moving goods and slaves. Gold as a thing that you get on a schedule, can instantly transfer half the world away, don’t need to convert, store in a pocket dimension, shield from inflation, use in the way that it instantly evaporates instead of circulating in the economy - it’s much more fantastical and abstract thing then “how much military stuff a government can do in a year”.
Buying things with currency is and really should be pretty much a sure thing. But oratory power should only increase your chances of swaying people, it should definitely not be a transaction. And the effect of treating it as a transaction similar to a monetary purchase is to minimize the need to attend to this aspect of your nation.
Pretty much everything requiring one of the mana types ends up a dessicated shell of the reality. Mana transforms it from a struggle to accomplish these things, to a box that you must pay to check off.
If this sounds weird, consider how it would strike players if military mana could be saved up and converted into conquered foreign provinces. That province next door is going to cost you 400 points. Save up the points, click, and it is yours… You’d still have the military part of the game, but it would be a dried out husk.
Ironically, I do not get the sense that Johan’s new plan really alters that fundamental game design. As best as I understand, it is just a different system of dessicating the same parts of the historical situation.
And, tbh, this is because relatively few customers want to take part in an uncertain struggle against internal disloyalty, they want control over that part of the game so they can spend their game time doing what they find interesting, fighting wars. It’s not so much that this is a map painting game, but rather that the most of their customers think that the interesting impediment to map painting is the foreign military. Not the internal problems of an expanding empire.
I will be extremely intersted when Field of Glory: Empires comes out in a few weeks, because they have clearly made a very different design decision in this regard. But I suspect it will be for a rather niche audience, because from what I can see, most gamers want to re-live the military history, not the other parts of history.
As a social critic, this annoys me because it perpetuates a lot of misconceptions about history, very conservative misconceptions. As a gamer, it disappoints me because I do not share the majority tastes. But I really can’t criticize Paradox for trying to give their customers what they want.
I really liked the fundamentals as well. As I posted a little earlier, I liked the mana system, I just thought it needed some tweaks and more player agency like EU4 has.
Stellaris was a different situation for me, as I understood what major design obstacles they faced and why certain systems were being removed and replaced. Wiz did a good job making the case and explaining the vision. In this case, it is clear that Paradox is caving to massive fan pressure. They have a lot longer view of their games than initial box sales, so that Mostly Negative tag must have pushed them, because as of a few days ago Johan was still full on with mana.
Listening to feedback and giving customers the game they want is laudable, I just worry about losing the vision for the game and designing by committee. I don’t know that’s what will happen but it’s a concern. Wiz’s changes were his vision and they were bold, this is clearly a reaction to fan complaints. It could result in a better game, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worrying.
The Roman Empire as unique for it’s time in how it forced currency on other peoples. They had to figure out a way to force the colonies to provision their troops, so they decreed that taxes had to be paid back to Rome using Roman currency. The main sources of Roman coins in the colonies were soldiers and administrators, and the locals had to work for them in order to afford their taxes.
So Romans reached the point where they could spend currency to achieve their ends, but only after exercising military and political force to reshape the economy. This seems like an argument in favor of diverse currencies, but I can’t speak to the gameplay dynamics. After following this thread for awhile, I’ve realized I think of Paradox games as investments more than purchases, and I’m feeling like I should invest in one of their proven titles rather than go with my affinity for the setting.
I like that dev diary a lot. Holdings and schemes will increase the importance of characters, which is good news. Province policies to redistribute pops are very welcome.
I’m a bit less sure about the new requirement that we put a character on trial before dismissing them from an office, with the possibility that the trial will backfire and induce backlash or even a civil war. I do like the idea in principle, and it certainly has some historical basis. But I’m risk-averse, so knowing me I’ll be a lot less inclined to fire people now. But that’s part of the point, and if it adds interesting decisions, I’m all for it.