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Empire: Total War is the fifth entry in the Total War series of strategy games, released in 2009. Like other games in the series, it features a mixture of turn-based and real-time strategy, allowing the player to move armies and manage cities on a grand-scale strategy map, then zoom in to fight epic real-time battles when two armies meet. It is the first game in the series to make guns a major part of the gameplay, and the first to include real-time naval battles.

Taking place in the 18th century, it allows the player to control one of several European or Asian powers in a bid to found colonies, fight off rivals and establish a hegemony on the world stage. Changes in thought brought along by The Enlightenment allow experimentation with new kinds of governmental philosophy and research of more new technologies than ever before. The world is changing rapidly, and any rulers who wish to survive this turbulent century must adapt or die.

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In addition to the Grand Campaign, the Road to Independence tutorial campaign follows the founding of the United States while teaching the basics of gameplay to the player. The Warpath DLC includes new playable Native American factions as an addition to the main campaign.


This game provides examples of:

  • All the Little Germanies: Set during the era's latter period. Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Westphalia/Hessen, and Prussia (the only playable one) are all factions, along with the Austrian Empire. Playing as Prussia brings how confusing and precarious the political situation was at the time; declaring war willy-nilly will quickly get your struggling kingdom in a war with Britain, France, Austria, Poland-Lithuania, and Russia in short order if they aren't dealt with carefully (You can also use it to your advantage: for example attacking Saxony gives you the ability to wage war with Poland-Lithuania without immediately provoking Russia).
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  • All Your Powers Combined: The games in the series that came before this one have the Assassin and the Spy as agents. This game just has the Rake.
  • Alternate History: Take Over the World as Poland? It's in the cards! A united Germany by 1750? Actually pretty easy! Native Americans expelling the European colonists? Go right ahead! All these and more are possible scenarios.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Pirates are at war with everyone and you can't even engage with them diplomatically.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Amazons of Dahomey, actual Real Life Bodyguard Babes (albeit appearing slightly too early).
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Done in the Steam achievements. Killing a hundred thousand enemies is called "Bloody Madman", half a million is "Tyrant and Ogre", but killing a million is "Conqueror of All".
  • Anachronism Stew: Several examples.
    • Empire and Napoleon both feature Moscow as the capital of the Russian Empire. While Moscow was the historical kernel of the Empire and later became a capital once more, St. Petersburg filled this role from 1713 to 1918. This also includes the Russian unique buildings the Winter Palace and the Kunstkamera museum, which are located in St. Petersburg in Real Life but can only be built in Moscow in the game. Part of this is the fault of the game's design, which prevents the changing of capitals, which are the only places where the faction-specific capitol buildings can be built. And to be fair, in the year 1700, Moscow was still Russia's capital city.
    • The Flag of Prussia, which was not in use before 1895, the flag of Republican Prussia which is modern day German flag.
    • Quebec, if gaining independence, will use the post-WW2 flag to represent it.
    • The flag of the Republican Maratha Confederacy is the same as that of today's India.
    • Some units can also be available before they were historically, if player has good economy and research. Although most notable example are steamships at the end of the naval tech tree - which can be achieved around late 1740s with dedicated enough research.
    • Nassau starts out in 1700 as a British colony, but for most of the first two decades of that century, the Bahamas were a pirate haven. It wasn't until Woodes Rogers cleared them out that the colony returned to direct British administration.
    • Maine and the rest of New England are separate regions. In Colonial America, Maine was a part of Massachusetts Bay, and New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were separate colonies. There was an attempt at centralization, in the form of the Dominion of New England, but that experiment ended when James II was overthrown in 1688.
    • The capital of the British Province of New York was New York City, not Albany.
    • There was no Britain in 1700; England, Ireland and Scotland were three separate countries in a person union until 1707, when England and Scotland joined to become Great Britain, and Ireland wasn't absorbed for nearly another century.
    • Line infantry, the most common infantry available to European powers, start the game with no access to bayonets. Three different types of bayonets must be researched in sequence before they can be used: the plug bayonet, the ring bayonet and the socket bayonet. However, in real life, the socket bayonet was already in widespread use by the time of the game's start (1700 A.D.), while the player likely won't have access to it until two decades have gone by.
    • The University of Évora (in Portugal) was extinct 59 years into the game's timeplay, by the Marquis of Pombal who expelled the Jesuits (who directed said university); this, however, is not reflected in the game, and the University of Coimbra, which was older and continued to exist all along, does not show up on the map (nor its city).
  • And Zoidberg: The Mughal Empire is the only one of the game's major powers that is not a playable faction (except, of course, using a mod).
  • Anti-Cavalry:
    • At the game start, while being declared as obsolete, pikemen are still serving this role. Until bayonets of any kind are researched, your musket-armed troops need to be covered by pikemen as effective anti-cavalry measurement. As you progress with construction of more advanced buildings, you simply lose ability to train new pikemen units. And while indeed obsolete and very niche in their application, pikemen are far better at stopping cavalry than your line infantry is going to be for next few decades.
    • The square formation is the infantryman's very eloquent and persuasive argument against cavalry, but charging your cavalry head on into infantry is a bad idea in general. Cavalry are largely restricted to flanking and maneuvering when battling infantry by this time in history, and the vast majority of infantry can hold their own against any force of cavalry stupid enough to try a full frontal charge, thank you very much. Cavalry are best used as flankers; failing that, they are best concentrated against small segments of line to break units in detail while the infantry focus on keeping the other side's infantry from turning their guns on the cavalry. Some infantry units are also capable of placing a long row of spikes that are difficult to see and will shred any charging cavalry formation. AI-controlled cavalry regiments are happy to charge straight through the spikes and lose half their men.
  • Arcadia: When the game starts, all the agricultural buildings are small and peaceful farms (that is, when enemy armies aren't raiding them). This changes over the course of the game, as agriculture becomes centralised and industrialised.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • For whatever reason, AI will absolutely refuse to build or upgrade its roads, unless swimming in cash and having everything else already build. It's not that bad when it's some tiny province that can be easily crossed within a single turn regardless, but becomes a problem when it's Russia, Ottomans or anywhere in India or Americas. On top of that, roads are intended as a counter to the penalty of Absolute Monarchy (where almost all countries start) to wealth generation, so AI not only is making army movement needlessly hard for itself, it also ends up leaching the wealth base for taxation it its provinces in no time due to combination of over-taxation and various innate penalties, ending up even poorer.
    • If AI has a religious minority within the province, it will turn every new town into a church school, madrassa or an ashram, along with building those in free slots at the campaign start. That despite the fact short from colonial provinces with population below 50 thousand it will never be possible to fully convert the population in any meaningful quantity, while AI won't even hear about building other structures than religious ones until reaching 100% of national religion. This is particularly egregious in case of France and Great Britain, who actively gimp themselves, as their capital province starts with huge population and 20% of it being of non-dominant religion. It makes it flat-out impossible to convert more than 0.1% per turn for no real gain, as the religious minority is small enough to not provide any instabilities, but AI will still chase after 100% unity. However, nothing beats Indian theatre, where every single province short from Goa has population counted anywhere between 5 to 30 million, and AI will gleefully try to convert locals to own religion anyway.
    • Your artillery captains may need to be hanged in Empire. When told to cease fire, they tend to discharge their loaded guns directly into the line of battle. If they aren't relentlessly baby-sat, expect embarrassing friendly-fire incidents the second their target moves within musket range of friendly infantry. God forbid cannon arranged in a line, and the target moves to their immediate right or left. However unintentionally hilarious it is to see them shooting each other in the back from mere feet away, the fact that in many campaign battles friendly fire causes far more deaths than the enemy is frustrating indeed.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Due to the way how alliances and protectorates are handled, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth starts in a fantastic position due to an alliance with Russia, rather than being at a verge of political collapse, like it was historically.
    • The game, and especially unit and technology descriptions, are heavily biased toward British achievements. While at least somewhat understandable when navy and textile industry are involved, this also leads to weird situations where anything related with army and cavalry is quickly ignored, because hey, Great Britain didn't do that, so no point talking about it. The game is predominately decided by your land forces marching into battle.
    • Girardoni air rifle is described as "not a success". While prohibitively expensive to mass produce, it was anything but a failure when deployed in military engagements and substantial effort was made by the Habsburg empire to at least get a full regiment equipped with those due to how advantageous the air rifle was in combat.
  • Artistic License – Ships:
    • The steamships, at least in form presented in the game, never entered service in any navy, for plethora of reasons. Not to mention steam-powered vessels didn't show up until 19th century outside a small handful of (failed) experiments.
    • All ships, including merchantmen, are shown as capable of fighting with both broadsides at a time. In reality, most warships had their crew size limited by logistics and the navy's budget, and would often keep just enough gunners to fight on one side of the ship. Navies with lower budgets often had to settle with a single crew for multiple guns, let alone merchant ships.
    • The Dutch fluyt is depicted as a 42-gun Lightning Bruiser akin to a proper frigate, while in real life it was a line of light merchant ships designed for maximum cargo space, with minimum accommodation for speed and combat power.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: First-Rate and Second-Rate Ships. Especially the HMS Victory. They're so slow and they hurt your economy so much just by merely existing.
    • Is a standard First-Rate not good enough for you? Well, some European nations didn't think it was big enough either so they invented the Heavy First-Rate. A literal barge that can absorb a thousand cannonballs but pays for it with sluggish speed and less firepower than a normal First-Rate. Oh, and you'll most likely bankrupt yourself in the campaign by building more than one of these.
    • Demi-cannons and Sakers are nigh-useless in field battles and siege assaults as they cannot move once deployed and lack the range to hit a fort without receiving counter-battery fire.
    • The Puckle Gun, much like the historical weapon it was based on, is an example of something with a lot of flash and almost no practicality. It's a very late-game technology that fires slightly faster and farther than a musket but is an expensive novelty that is purely defensive which means it's not going to do a lot of good for you in field battles and sieges unless you're the defender.
  • Badass Bookworm: Gentlemen can serve as both scholars and duelists.
  • Balkanize Me: Sometimes, capturing enough "home" provinces of a country results in its colonies declaring independence and forming their own minor nations.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Units will answer to your commands in their respective languages.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Sweden has a typical European army list, with only one unique unit, the Hakkapeliitta light cavalry. They're also the only faction in the whole game to not receive any new units through DLC. However, to compensate, their base-line units have fairly good statistics: Their Line Infantry are surpassed only by those of Britain, France and Prussia. While they're criticized as a boring faction to play, they remain high-tier in multi-player and quite a few players swear by them.
    • Most of Austria's available units are average if not weaker compared to their French or British counterparts. On the other hand, it's compensated by there being more men in each unit, the light infantry Grenzers and the Hungarian variants.
    • Line Infantry lives and breathes this trope. According to the ingame wiki, Line Infantry is THE backbone of every single army in the game. Their whole job is to bring their guns and shoot them at the enemy. And if all else fails, they'll give them the bayonet.
    • Roads. Not even the improved ones, just basic roads. For measle 750 coins, they provide your units with substantial increase of movement speed, while also giving you +3 wealth generation. This in turn allows to negate higher level of taxation put on nobility or ignore the penalty of Absolute Monarchy government type. And this can be further improve to cobbled roads, which cost the same, double the movement speed and further rise the wealth to +4.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Inverted. If a war is going poorly, it might seem like a good idea to buy a dlc that adds more elite units to give your nation a leg up, but depending on who you are and who you're fighting, your purchase might give your enemy the advantage.
  • Cannon Fodder:
    • The Armed Citizenry are little more than local townsfolk hastily given muskets and would break before just about any other unit. They are mainly used in sieges, either in massed rushes or for garrisoning buildings.
    • The Brig and the Sloop-of-War are too small to be useful in naval battles. They're fast enough to execute flanking maneuvers and have sufficient firepower to outgun trade ships but they die very quickly to even Fifth-rates and Sixth-rates.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Rakes can sometimes have crossdressing as a trait that makes his job easier. The creepy part is that Rakes are assassins/spies/saboteurs, meaning that they murder people and blow up buildings for a living.
  • Crutch Character: Great Britain start with sir Isaac Newton, while Prussia has Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. They are significantly better than just about any other gentleman that can be spawned for next 30-40 years, in turn greatly speeding up research for their countries. Both will also die soon, so use them until they last.
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • Most, if not all of your problems, can be solved with some degree of violence. Troublesome Minor Nations? Go to war and crush them. Unhappiness? Wait for the rebels and then murder them all, which will put the populace back in check. Pirates raiding your trade routes? Wipe them out to the last man.
    • Generals too, are more easily dispatched in battle than by assassination or duels, since being surrounded by an entire army makes a Rake's mission difficult and being practiced blades make Generals formidable duelists.
  • Cycle of Hurting:
    • AI will end up trapped in an endless revolt spam by mid-game. Since various technologies increase clamour for reform and so do higher levels of universities, while Absolute Monarchies by default suffer from highest clamour and industrial buildings provide their own discontent (unless one is a Constitutional Monarchy), this leads to just insane levels of unhappiness. AI will be unable to quell or control this, leading to a three-turn cycle repeating non-stop: unhappiness pop-up, riots (damaging building and decreasing population) and revolt. If the revolt wins, it will auto-raze the province, decreasing its wealth further. To make matters worse, AI will try to solve the problem by building inns and churches, which will be nowhere near the required level to deal with the unhappiness, but will prevent from generating money for armies. And if the revolt in capital province wins, then the new republic is very likely to collapse into the same cycle anyway.
    • Another vicious cycle covers AI inability to handle taxation and population growth. To unlock new towns and thus gain opportunity to speed up research or gain additional income, it takes first population to grow to specific level and construction of advanced farmland to support it, too. AI is eager to rise taxes on lower classes to the max, providing negative population growth. In the same time, all possible ports (one of the most profitable town slots) will be used to build fishing ports, to offset the negative population growth. Since AI suffers from budget shortage because of this, it keeps taxes high, which means still negative population growth, which means no new slots, which means no money... And if more than single religion is present in the province, AI will fill all the towns with religious buildings, trying to convert the population to 100% of state religion - even if not suffering from any kind of religious unrest (it stops being a factor around 60% dominance of the state religion) and reaching the 100% value would take rest of the game.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In contrast to the previous installments, conquering the whole map by taking territories has become a counter-intuitive (perhaps even impossible) practice. This is because every additional territory you capture increases the costs of your administration until you reach a point where you can hardly make a tidy profit. And the problems with public order in those conquered territories become increasingly harder to deal with. You can very well pop your empire like a balloon by overexpanding and collapsing from bankruptcy, invasions, and rebellions.
  • David Versus Goliath: There are mods that let you play as minor factions, giving you the opportunity to stand up to or even surpass the major factions.
  • Dawn of an Era: The medieval era has become a distant memory as Europe enters the Enlightenment.
  • Death from Above: Get yourself a decent number of heavy howitzers and bombardment mortars with percussive shells and watch your enemies get blown to smithereens. Incidentally, this function is actually what makes it safe to stick your own units in front of them... as long as you're not aiming there, anyway.
  • Decadent Court:
    • Beware when you're playing as an Absolute Monarchy and you keep ministers in their offices for life. Even if they start out good, they will slowly, but surely start to amass negative ancilliaries and traits, unless already having full list (which is hard, to say at least). Worst of all, ministers can gain "Corrupt" trait, which starts to cause direct problems and financial setbacks faction-wide.
    • Ottomans opening situation is about having extremely incompetent cabinet combined with insignificant ruler and corruption so high, provinces lose 40-50 coins of wealth per turn, destroying entire tax base in about 10 turns, as there will be nothing to tax in just few years. Human player can and should switch the starting ministers with the possible candidates, or it will quickly get out of hand. AI, meanwhile, never sacks those ministers, which is the main reason for Ottoman decline in 19 out of 20 games.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Military alliances matter in this game; declaring war on a country with a lot of them can pit you against half of Europe, a kingdom in India, and a couple Native American nations all at once.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Elite units have more fancy uniforms that make them stand out from the rank and file units.
  • End of an Age:
    • It must appear this way from the point of view of the Native American Nations and the Mughal Empire. Several other nations, Poland-Lithuania being a good example, will often succumb to their aggressive neighbors.
    • By game's start in 1700, the European continent is looking forward to the end of the feudal model and the beginning of a new age of reason and progress. The Enlightenment will come to a close as you approach 1800, with the western world's optimism in progress being choked out by all the conflict and rebellion in the last 100 years.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: It is generally more profitable to have more countries on the map (thus guaranteeing their survival), as that means more trade partners. The more trade partners you have, the easier it is to keep prices of luxury goods high, while in the same time selling bigger amount of them.
  • Eurabia: This can happen if you manage a Muslim faction, especially the Ottoman Empire.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Prussia starts in the unenviable position of having two discontinuous territories separated by hostile Poland-Lithuania, and bordering hostile Austria to the south, and Wild Card German microstates to the west. None of them start out as allies, and warring with one will likely bring more into the fight.
  • Evil Luddite: Certain buildings cause unhappiness due to industrialization. If this industrialization causes too much unhappiness, then the people will launch a rebellion. Whether or not they win, between hundreds and thousands will die. For whatever reason, luddites don't rise under Constitutional Monarchy, representing British parliamentary monarchy - the very place the luddites were ever active.
  • Faction Calculus: Every faction has unique differences in their unit rosters.
    • Britain: Superior ships. As the foremost naval player, Britain has a high number of ports and ships to start with and three good admirals to lead their navies. The faction is well-situated to make early inroads into India, as long as the Netherlands don't beat it to it and take over Mysore first. Overall, lots of potential to become the Big Red Blob by making gains at the periphery while the rest are stuck fighting in Europe.
    • France: Fastest ships and elite infantry units. France has the biggest army in Europe with a very secure position (loyal Spanish ally to the south, weak German states to the west and a troublesome Savoy and Dutch Republic offers the only resistance) and a lot of money, but the situation in the Americas is somewhat less rosy.
    • Prussia: Superior line infantry. Very easy to become the dominant military power in Europe with a nice technology lead, but they start as two small provinces split apart and surrounded by potential enemies. Prussia also is surrounded by a dogpile of alliances, heavily constricting its initial expansion.
    • Russia: Grenadiers and line infantry excel in close-quarters, but are relatively poor at shooting and lack discipline. Russia starts with nine provinces, but they are complete backwater in serious need of development.
    • Spain: Cheaper, if slightly weaker units. Galleons give Spain a hefty naval advantage early on and their many American possessions are their main asset. However, they also start under Charles II of Spain.
    • Sweden: Weaponised Humans Are Average, to the point their main advantage is simply ability to recruit Superior Line Infantry. Other than that, they are a Vestigal Empire that's on par with minor countries.
    • Dutch Republic: Presence on all theatres and easy access to trade nodes. The Dutch army is made of generic units, so is almost all of its navy. But they have exclusive access to India early on with a base in Ceylon, giving them a good headstart in that area.
    • Ottoman Empire: Artillery and an entire slew of locally-hired, unique auxiliaries. Many Ottoman troops are outright antique when compared to European ones, but their artillery is a cut above. The main obstacle is god-awful political situation and then having to play a catch-up game with rest of Europe in regards of technology.
    • Maratha Confederacy: Cavalry, elephants and wide selection of melee infantry, but serious problems with fielding a "modern" army. This is the most melee-centric major faction in the game.
  • Fair Weather Friend: Don't count on your allies to support you when you really need them. Conversely, abandoning your allies to fight a war on their own is bad diplomatic form, and will result in a hit to foreign relations.
  • Fake Difficulty: Ottoman opening situation is set up as a tough challenge, but it really isn't
    • A whole lot of issues Ottomans face at the game start come from having a Decadent Court - almost all ministers are corrupt and incompetent, creating all sorts of problems and sacking provinces for substantial value of wealth each turn. For AI, that's a disaster. But in hands of human players, it's a matter of replacing those ministers with the semi-competent alternatives that Ottomans have as candidates to the offices at the game start. Except for the lackluster ruler, the cabinet can be made functional and productive before even finishing first turn.
    • Similarly, numerous provinces have juuuust enough Muslims in them already that a token effort of imams will push the percentages enough to decrease the religious unrest by a point.
    • War with Russia? Simply let Peter take over Crimea, bleeding his initial army on it. This way you can reconquer it as your own province few turns later, rather than having an useless, underdeveloped and underpowered protectorate that everyone will try to conquer and will require non-stop saving.
    • Barbary States are at war with pretty much everyone... which is great, because they are going to loot trade routes of just about every country that has ports in the Med, providing substantial income, percentage of which goes to your coffers. AI will need decades to deal with Barbary State and by then, you can easily muscle it out.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Each form of government can be overthrown and replaced with another, ultimately allowing to even go back to your initial position. The key is to know that lower classes will always try to set up a republic, while upper classes will try to turn your government one step closer to absolete monarchy, with constitutional one as a mid-point. You can't however form a constitutional monarchy without first becoming a republic.
  • Geo Effects: Few, both on global and tactical scale
    • Hills and uneven terrain obscure your view, along with line of fire for artillery. Bushes and forests offer protection during battle, allowing to sneak closer.
    • Indian theatre, along with Persia, are by default "hot" climate. Any unit that lacks specific trait will suffer double the fatigue.
    • Russia and Maratha start in the corners of their respective theatres. This means they are much harder to overrun or even invade in the first place. Doubly so in case of Russia, which on top of being in the corner of the map, also comes with really big provinces, so you will spend quite some time just marching toward their cities. And anyone who isn't Dutch will have to spend half a dozen turns to even sail to India in the first place, hoping for the best with their landing party.
  • Gentleman Thief: Besides serving as scholars and duelists, gentlemen can also steal technology from rival factions.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Artillery. Despite being the core of a proper army, even moreso in the latter, they are extremely vulnerable in close quarters unless immediately supported by infantry (preferably line) or cavalry to check a charge... or with canister shot ready and waiting to be fired to do the same. Part of the role of cavalry in the game is to destroy (can't capture 'em) any undefended guns that they can charge... from the side or behind, that is.
    • Light infantry are incredibly powerful. When deployed en masse and managed skillfully, they can rip an army of advancing line infantry to shreds, but there are only 80 men to a unit, they cannot form squares, and any frontal engagement usually ends with them being overwhelmed. Properly used, however, and they can cause disproportionate casualty ratios in every battle.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: The Barbary States are at war with every single nation, the Ottoman Empire being the sole exception.
  • Historical Domain Character: The starting generals and leaders are historical figures from the time of the War of the Spanish Succession. To give an example: Britain's starting generals are the Duke of Marlborough and the Earl of Galway, its fleet admiral is Sir George Rooke, and the first head of government is Sidney Godolphin. Occasionally, you will be able to recruit real historical figures as generals and admirals later in the campaign.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: George Washington (the classic example) in the "Road to Independence" campaign.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: One of the possible non-fatal pistol duel resolutions: Both shoot simultaneously, both guns jam, so one of them throws his pistol into his adversary's face.
  • In a Single Bound: Boarding fights in a Naval Battle are quite ridiculous as the crewmen of the attacking ship will jump at unrealistic heights.
  • Inertial Impalement: You are suddenly missing an entire cavalry regiment? They have probably all impaled themselves on a cheval de frise while you weren't paying attention...
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Very late in the game, Machine Rifling technology allows to recruit riflemen regiments. Great Britain, Prussia and Austria take it a step further, having access to special variants. Those are all excellent skirmishers, with unmatched accuracy and in case of Austria, so powerful, there is a recruitment cap on how many you can get. On top of that, all riflemen have a special ability to deploy improved fougasses before battle starts - essentially land mines.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Third-Rate Ships have the best balance of Cost, Crew Size, Firepower, Hull Strength, and Mobility. For the price of one First-Rate you can have 2-3 Third-Rates instead.
  • Killed Off for Real: Westphalia is the only faction that will never come back if destroyed. If a local rebellion recaptures Cologne, the emergent faction is Hesse, which is the only emergent minor faction that arises by displacing another minor faction entirely.
  • Land of One City: Several factions (including the majority of the minor ones) start out with a single city. Exaggerated in that some minor factions only start with one small town.
  • Logical Weakness: Factions exists only if they have at least a single province under their control. Take over the Leeward Isles and Trinidad provinces (something that can be done even with colonial militia) and pirates disappear - globally.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: There are rocket troops and rocket ships, but their tactical effectiveness is limited compared to simply getting proper artillery (although rocket ships can kill any large and slow ship in the game, due to their forward firing weapons, long range and ability to start fires).
  • Magikarp Power: Artillery is at a point were it has matured enough to be practical but is not practical enough to be convenient and decisive, even with veteran crews to provide reliable accuracy.
    • Traditional Cannons have a very niche role in breaking structures and infantry squares with solid shot and shotgunning masses of enemy troops with canister as a last resort. Outside of that, solid shot is almost useless in any other situation. Shrapnel shot is a significant upgrade that gives them some utility in field battles but is a late-game technology requiring years of research.
    • Explosive shells offer a better alternative to solid shot but, due to being a very recent concept that's still in its infancy, are not reliable as they detonate at random intervals. Percussive shells are the best option for devastating field armies and fortifications from long-range but is another late-game technology.
  • The Missionary: Your religious buildings will occasionally spawn these, and you can use them to convert a province to your religion. If you send them to India or the Americas, they will eventually gain traits that can help or hinder their ability to seek converts there.
  • The Musketeer: Ranged infantry and cavalry can befit the trope with varying effectiveness depending on unit stats and abilities. Dragoons are the best example, but are limited to melee attack when on horseback (since they're basically "infantry who ride to the fight"), while several minor nations have cavalry who can fire carbines from horseback.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Once fire by rank becomes a thing, the firepower of your regiments will increase to the point where melee units become painfully obsolete, as they have hard time to even get close enough to engage in combat. And to fire by rank, you first need to at least have ring bayonets, meaning musket infantry is going to do fine in close quarters.
  • Nintendo Hard: Being a shadow of its former self, The Ottoman Empire truly is "The Sick Man of Europe" as their starting situation is potentially perilous. They have a lot of territory that is underdeveloped and whatever few troops and ships they have available are really behind with the times. Their economy has also stagnated heavily ever since the Europeans discovered the new world and established new trade routes, effectively circumventing the Ottoman's position as the gateway to Asia. All of this means that the Ottomans are hard-pressed to defend themselves against bold invaders seeking to annex their lands and rise back up to being a prestigious power in Europe.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: French-controlled province of Quebec in Americas has Army Encampment already build and option to add to it Cannon Foundry. This allows to recruit Line Infantry from the start and quickly add artillery to support it. No other European power will have access to those buildings for next 18-20 turns, while natives don't have anything even remotely similar in their unit roster.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Austria can recruit only 2 regiments of Windbüchse Jaegers, insanely powerful skirmishers that don't have to reload and are very accurate. Historically, the real limit was in how expensive and time-consuming it was to make Girardoni air rifles, but given this is a game, there would be nothing stopping players from simply amassing more money to get yet another regiment, hence the unit cap.
  • One-Hit Kill: There's a small chance for a cannonball to go right into the powder magazine of a warship and set everything off in an instant, turning what was once a well maintained vessel into a drifting pile of smoking timbers. If the enemy ship is close enough, this can also result in a Mutual Kill, as the flaming debris will set your own ship on fire, likely causing the crew to abandon ship in short order.
  • Paper Tiger: Ottomans, Mughals and, at least early on, Russia, are large countries that appear fearsome. Attack them and they fold like a house of cards. In fact, Mughals are so weak, nearly just as weak Maratha Confederacy can easily defeat them on its own within first 30 turns... and becomes the new Paper Tiger of India, ending up underdeveloped both economically and technologically under AI, while lacking units capable of fighting against even the mid-game European infantry.
  • Pirate: They are in the Caribbean and the trade theaters. The Barbary States also count.
  • Please Select New City Name: Averted. This is the first game in the series to NOT include this mechanic. In previous titles, capturing certain historically-prominent cities with some factions would automatically cause this city to be renamed (e.g. a Muslim faction captures Constantinople and renames it Istanbul). This is a limitation of the new engine that also results in some Anachronism Stew, such as St. Petersburg being named that while in Swedish hands (it was only a fortress with a tiny settlement around it, which the game at least acknowledges since it has no buildings apart from level 1 capital at the start).
  • Politically Correct History: Game takes place in the 18th century, with hardly a mention of slavery except that you can abolish it. The West African trade theater, which historically was at the heart of the Atlantic slave trade, is wholly an ivory market.
  • Power at a Price: Enlightenment technologies provide you with passive (and quite substantial by late game) growth of wealth. They are also a source of raw unhappiness, along with further increase of clamour for reform generated by any schools and universities you have build, so the more you research into it, the harder it is to keep masses under control as a non-republicnote .
  • Protectorate: An option for minor nations is to become one to the larger nations, and you can even force a great power to do this. This provides no benefit other than military access and an alliance, which you can get in one package peacefully with a bit of diplomacy, as well as the protecting power getting to keep half the protectorate's gross income, and since you're likely only to get a protectorate after a war, you might as well just go the whole nine yards and wipe out the faction. Britain starts with the Thirteen Colonies, the French with Louisiana, Spain with New Spain, Poland-Lithuania with Saxony and Courland and the Ottoman Empire with the Barbary States and Crimean Khanate.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: You will need to send a missionary to missionary convert a province in India or the Americas if you want to keep people happy. He can do well and get a bonus for conversions there, or do poorly and get a penalty.
  • The Republic: The United Provinces, Venice, and the United States are of this government type, but any faction can become one if the player sides with a middle class revolution in the capital region. Republics are powerful in that they give bonuses to economic development and provide the most freedom in getting a good government, but elections and term limits prevent any government from staying for more than twenty turns. Also, there is a greater chance for public disorder due to a clamor for reform.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The cutscenes for the two different kinds of revolutions play into this. When an Anti-Monarchy revolution is successful you're treated to a cutscene of the deposed King being marched to the guillotine and decapitated by it, and when an Anti-Republic revolution is successful you're treated to a cutscene of a conspirator setting fire to a stack of gunpowder barrels and blowing up the capitol building while parliment is in session.
  • Rising Empire: Naturally, this is your goal.
  • Schmuck Bait: So you've decided to expand your plantations and send extra ships to the trade nodes? Congratulations, you supplied more goods to the global market, decreasing their price! Hope you've got extra trade partners to make up the price loss by number of exports going...
  • Sinister Minister: Averted. This aversion is noticeable because this type of priest sometimes popped up in the game's predecessor.
  • Shout-Out: Prussian starting rake? Karl Moor.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: You must develop ring bayonets if you plan to continue any sort of military research. This means you gain a (hefty at this point of the game) -5 reload speed debuff to all troops that are carrying bayonets. And you won't develop a tech that counters this debuff until you research two technologies and upgrade one of your barracks - in total some 15-25 turns, depending on your situation. Similarly, Government by Consent and Separation of Powers, two of techs that predominately provide your with clamour for reform, are pre-requested to even get to meat and gravy of the Enlightenment techs and, by extent, late-game industrial and military technologies.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil:
    • Each province taken from a country by force nets a massive diplomatic penalty of -60 to relationship with the loser. And it's rarely profitable to just stop on a single province. Since there is no way you will fix that penalty, you might as well go with complete conquest of that country or at least aiming to do so.
    • Conquering any province provides a "territorial expansion" penalty of -5 to everyonenote . Conquer too much too fast and the world will start to hate you, leading to the situation you either keep conquering, or end up with a Gang Up on the Human scenario. However, if the conquest is done at slow enough pace, the penalty can be avoided.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Empire introduces the "garrison building" mechanic which allows you to put infantry in selected buildings and turn them into defensive strongpoints that are resilient to musket bullets but are inviting targets for artillery. Two problems introduced with this innovation are that you can actually garrison a building that's already on fire and that garrisoned infantry will not evacuate a burning building unless manually ordered to do so. Because of this, it is actually possible to lose a whole unit of infantry in a structural collapse.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Despite various counter-mechanics, the research can be very easily manipulated to allow 10 or even more technologies to be researched alongside each other, turning the entire concept of Tech Tree into a joke. The main reason why from Shogun 2 onward only one tech can be researched at time is due to Creative Assembly realising the problem.
  • Vestigial Empire: There are a few. Portugal, Venice, the Mughal Empire, the Knights of St. John and the Papal States are just a few of them. Most of these factions are unplayable without using mods.
    • Portugal isn't so much a vestigial empire as most of its territory was located in Brazil and Africa, which do not appear in the game except as trade theaters you can't conquer or colonize. (It was, however, one in India, which was one of the war theaters, as well as in Asia in general).
    • Maratha becomes this once defeating Mughals. They lack any sort of modern army and any European that comes knocking to their door is going to have a field day with them.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Part of your job is going to be brutally quelling rebellions of people asking for voting rights or, frankly, any rights at all, along with opportunity to influence their own government. On top of that, once you have fully developed region, there is no downside to setting taxes to maximum, since you don't need population growth anymore, while doubling your income is always great. There is also the whole American and India theatre, where you can opportunistically join local wars or outright conquer indigenous people for your own profit.
  • Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: In real life, the Fluyt was a trade ship that was designed for maximum transoceanic delivery. Here in Empire, the Fluyt is a trade ship that is strong enough to bleed and sink any pirates looking for an easy score. Having a few Fluyts in a Trade Fleet can be sufficient enough to remove the need to protect it with an escort.
  • Zerg Rush: Encouraged at a strategic level. Being able to churn out four to seven units per turn in big cities allows for decisive blitzkrieg campaigns. Prussia, which starts with two big cities, is practically required to do this, since they are surrounded by a larger, hostile power, Poland-Lithuania, and little opportunity for economic development in Brandenburg or East Prussia.

 
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Duel Failure

A possible (non-lethal) outcome to a duel.

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