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Can you build the greatest empire that the world has ever seen?

Imperator: Rome is a historical real-time grand strategy game developed by Paradox Interactive, released on 25 April 2019. It is a spiritual successor of sorts to Europa Universalis: Rome, taking place after the collapse of Alexander the Great's empire and during the rise of The Roman Republic, using an advanced version of the Clausewitz engine used since Europa Universalis III.

Unlike its predecessor, Imperator fleshes out the non-Roman states that ruled Eurasia during this time period, with a concave map that stretches from Iberia to India. The game begins in 450 A.U.C (304 BCE), with the Roman Republic as merely one power among many note , and the player is challenged to either repeat Rome's ascendancy or guide another power to the greatness that Rome possessed in our timeline. The game itself combines mechanics from Europa Universalis, the Victoria series, and Crusader Kings, featuring population (pops) mechanics, with pops divided by culture, religion, and class, trade mechanics and trade goods, and fleshed out characters and character interaction, allowing for the simulation of both economic growth and political intrigue. The map is the largest yet for a Paradox game, containing over 9000 territories and numerous cultures, tribes, and states. The game launched with three political systems: Roman-style republics, authoritarian monarchies, and tribal clans. Probably unique to Imperator among PDS games, the smallest unit of land on the map is not a "province", but a territory (a rural settlement, city or metropolis); "provinces" here are groupings of territories.


The game was announced at ParadoxCon 2018 in a truly spectacular manner, with the founder of Paradox Interactive, Johan Andersson, himself donning a Roman toga and arriving with a procession of soldiers. The corresponding announcement trailer, a steam page an album of screenshots was released at the same time.

Since release, free patches have hugely revamped many of the game's systems, in response to initially poor reviews and sales. Several DLCs have also been released. All are "content packs" adding flavor and missions to particular areas rather than adding new major features:

  • The free "The Punic Wars" content pack, released December 2019, adds missions for Carthage and Rome.
  • Magna Graecia, released March 2020, adds missions for Athens, Sparta, and Syracuse, and also allows all nations to deify their rulers, potentially leading to the Imperial Cult government type.
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  • The Epirus Content Pack, released August 2020, adds content for Epirus, focusing on its famous monarch Pyrrhus.
  • Heirs of Alexander, released February 2021 along with the major free "Marius" patch, adds mission trees for the Diadochi states (Ptolemaic Egypt, the Seleucids, the Antigonids, Cassander's Macedon, and Thrace), along with new Hellenic deities and the ability to consecrate Holy Sites.

In May 2021, Paradox announced that there would be no new content for Imperator for the remainder of 2021, putting the future of the series in doubt.

Imperator:Rome contains examples of:

  • Ab Urbe Condita: Returns from EU:Rome as the Alternative Calendar used in game regardless of nation.
  • Alternate History Wank: Arguably the main point of the game, as the game challenges the player to emulate the rise of Rome as a great power, no matter which nation the player begins with.
  • Ancient Rome: As the name of the game implies, the Roman Republic will be a rising power, and the player will be able to recreate its conquests or wipe it off the map.
  • Annoying Arrows: Archers only outclass light infantry, which exist pretty much entirely to have more bodies on the front lines. They fare poorly against all forms of cavalry and their only niche is that they have a small bonus against heavy infantry and they're nearly as cheap as light infantry.
    • Downplayed with Horse Archers. While they are nowhere near their memetic status as the ultimate ancient military formation, they at least perform gallantly in combat.
  • Antagonistic Governor: A disloyal governor, especially if the region they administer is richer than the ruler's capital region. In a vast empire, it is possible to have a host of them and if that happens, a civil war is on the cards.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Nope. If pops are unhappy, they will be unproductive at best, and rebellious if conditions don't improve. In Imperator, how much land you control is secondary for the most part; what is primary is how many pops you control and how happy they are.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only assign one governor per region. This means that as your state conquers more and more territories in the same region, that governor's power will only grow.
  • Arch-Enemy: For Rome, Etruria is this at game start, as it's the closest rival in strength. While AI Etruria almost always fall to Rome, a human-controlled Etruria can crush Rome rather easily.
  • Arranged Marriage: Like in Crusader Kings, you can marry your leaders with other families to secure alliances and general politicking.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • The promotional artwork depicts the famous, austere bare-marble Roman statues, but modern archaeology suggests that Roman statues were painted, and brightly and gaudily at that.
    • Turning a rural settlement into a city prevents it completely from having any sort of agriculture infrastructure, period. This ignores the fact most cities all the way until railroads became a thing were surrounded by fields, villages and serving settlements dedicated to providing food to the city.
    • To use the "Military colony" option, the army needs to have troops that aren't loyal to their general and become loyal once settled. This is reverse of how the whole veteran colonisation worked in reality - the most loyal soldiers were given the land first, with best picks, too, and then rest of the legion followed. Not to mention Romans were the only ones who used this kind of behaviour to the extent portrayed in the game, while it's easier to list who can't use military colony mechanics.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Rulers and governors who control most or all of their regions' territories. For rulers, this usually means a solid power base for themselves; for governors, this means that should they feel like it, they can flip the metaphorical table and rebel against their master.
  • Balkanize Me: Like you wouldn't even believe. It's entirely possible to divide an already small country into a whole lot of even smaller tribes, some of them semi-legendary or long eradicated or assimilated by the time the game is set. And it applies to everyone, to an almost ridiculous degree, so it's not only useful against big empires built on conquest. Since revolts also cause balkanisation, it's a perfectly normal sight for Rome to cease to exist and be replaced with a bunch of tribes instead, or Seleucids imploding in the first few years due to constant in-fighting and rebellions.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Both aspects of the trope are used.
    • True barbarians are hostile to every state, and reduce the civilization level of a territory when they occupy it. They spawn more frequently when the region has a low civilization level.
    • Playable tribes are portrayed as less civilised than monarchies or republics.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Characters can have a scheme named "Plotting Quietly". It cannot be stopped and the character will have decreased loyalty while the scheme is active.
    • Also, heads of great families may buy and amass holdings without the ruler's knowledge. Cue the ruler's surprise when the family head gets powerful and wealthy enough to trigger a civil war due to these holdings.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Most formable nations are these. The higher the tier, the lesser the impact. They offer a change of country's flag and name and that's about it. There might be a small reward tucked to it, usually in the form of 3-4 freemen pops in the capital, but when you get them for feats like re-unifying Alexander's empire or conquering all of Iberia as a local chieftain (fending off Carthage, Rome and Greek city-states), it's a joke.
    • The reward for forming nations usually comes with claims for all territories related to the new nation. Thing is, barring some rare occurrences, you will control all of that region anyway, since new territory can be only taken if it has a connection with your existing country. And even if you only took the territories you need for the new nation, you still needed a claim to get there, from either a mission or a diplomatic action.
    • On the other hand, some formable nations allow the use of the "Empire" government type without your nation having to reach a size of 600 territories and enduring stability loss.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Monarchies, not just Egypt, or Zoroastrians for that matter, have the opportunity to implement Egyptian Succession Laws, that allow the eldest child to inherit regardless of gender, and sibling intermarriage.
  • Character Portrait: Governors, politicians, and generals have their own portraits, like in Crusader Kings.
  • Chokepoint Geography: Various areas are absolutely impassable, forcing troops to march over very specific paths. This in turn allows to use forts extensively, as it is entirely possible to block enemy invasion by forcing enemy army to first besiege a high-level fort with no chance of taking it over for years. The most prominent example are various Alpine passes, with most of the mountains being impassable terrain, but there are also deserts of Northern Africa and Middle East and such blockers like the Caucasus or Hindu Kush mountains.
  • Civil Warcraft: Likely, considering the setting. Displease too many people within the great families of the realm or powerful regional governors while controlling a large, unstable country and they will start to plot towards a civil war.
  • Common Place Rare: Most of Europe outside the Mediterranean Basin produces nothing but wood, grain and livestock. The last one is particularly rare around the Med and makes for a lucrative trade commodity.
  • Competitive Balance:
    • While generally neglected by the developers when it comes to content, Maurya Empire is still routinely nerfed each new patch, controlling less and less land directly at the game start. While ahistorical, this is the only way to prevent the AI from steam-rolling over the Indian subcontinent before Ashoka is an adult and then turning against Seleucid Empirenote .
    • Fleets will take months to get from one side of Mediterranean to another, despite it being a two week-long trip at worst, solely because it takes armies weeks to cross from one settlement to another. The logical conclusion from real life to load troops on ships and move them to their destination just doesn't work, partially due to how easy it is to amass huge fleets and how much troops they can move.
    • Carthage starts as the trade power of the game and can both reliably and easily turn into the dominant financial power of the game. This is balanced by the fact it also starts with tiny footholds in numerous regions, forcing her to pay governors their fees, but with barely any land under their jurisdiction, making it unprofitable early on. So despite its great potential, Carthage's income doesn't explode from the get-go, giving other nations time to catch-up. In fact, due to her large fleet, Carthage starts the game losing money per month.
      • Another thing that keeps Carthage in check is the fact that, North African traditions can't use the military colonies mechanic - you can have all the money in the world, but you don't have manpower to wage wars, as you can't settle land with freemen, forcing you to hire mercenaries instead, which obviously costs extra. However, North African traditions can unlock Levantine traditions easily, and that has the military colonies mechanic.
      • One factor which Carthage cannot mitigate is that her state religion is a rarity among pops near her; the other region where large number of Canaanite pops reside is at the other end of the Mediterranean, and usually under the control of major Greek powers. As such, no matter where she expands, Carthage has to spend some effort converting pops' religion(s), whereas Rome and other Hellenic powers just have to convert pops' cultures when they conquer territories containing pops of the Hellenic faith.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Before the Pompey patch, every omen offered the same set of bonuses, with only the names of the god invoked changing. Units are also still basically the same, with traditions offering various buffs and debuffs to differentiate them.
  • Dawn of an Era: The game takes place during the time period that saw the rise of Rome. This can be subverted if players start near Rome and work to bring her down fast.
  • Early Game Hell: Any state whose capital region is near or largely occupied by the great powers of the era; examples include Kamarupa, Samatata (Maurya) and Syracuse (who faces a double whammy of having to face Carthage and Rome).
  • Easy Logistics: Oh yes! Before the mechanics were reworked, besides marching time, there is absolutely nothing preventing you from raising an army in, say, Lusitania (Portugal) and marching it all the way to Bengal. AI is prone of doing stints like that. Unless, of course, it's a fleet, then it has a pretty restrictive range, so you will have hard time sailing from southern Italy to Egypt.
    • In practical terms, due to how unimportant logistics are, the various historical nations that maintained their existence solely due to their ability to concentrate defenses against invading forces that had to first cover long distances to even reach them stand no chance whatsoever, because there is nothing preventing invaders from amassing a huge army and just sending it against the target nation. This way, Carthage swallows Syracuse within a decade, because there is no problem with landing 50 thousand mercenaries on Sicily.
    • This was partially addressed by introducing food mechanics for armies. Without adequate supplies, armies will suffer attrition.
  • The Empire: "Empire" is a special form of monarchic government, which any country can enact once it controls 600 territories. For comparison, getting to Great Power status requires only 500 and is already a feat by itself note . It offers four (as opposed to the regular three) national ideas to be active at once - and one from each type, thus providing a lot of flexibility. Also comes in religious variety, by running an imperial cult instead. Some formable nations allow adoption of this government type without the huge territorial requirement.
  • End of an Era: Most of the Diadochi are approaching their old age by the time the game begins, with Seleucus I Nicator as the youngest. Highlighted by two events: the first grants every Diadochus a claim to ALL the former lands of Alexander's Empire, and the second removes them on that ruler's death.
  • Fog of War: Will exist to hide far-away or remote peoples and nations.
  • Gambit Pileup: By mid-game, anyone who survived till that point is in a pact, league or alliance with someone else, or at least a subject of someone bigger. Declaring war means bringing not only direct allies into the fray, but eventually secondary and even tertiary countries. On top of that, each country has its primary ruling family and other, prominent families, all scheming for power and with often conflicting goals, along with friends and rivals, both at home and abroad. And non-familiar generals playing their own game of politics, by winning loyalty of troops under their command. There are also mercenaries, who might want something more than just a paycheck.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite the bunch of events and a few missions related to them as a food source and part of a diet, in game-play terms, olives aren't food goods, don't produce food surplus and don't engage with food mechanics.
  • Going Native: Playing as Ptolemaic Egypt has an event about the religious and cultural difference between the Hellenistic Ptolemies and their Egyptian subjects. The options are either keep to the Hellenistic gods, introduce the syncretic Greco-Egyptian cult of Serapis, or fully embrace Egyptian culture.
  • Grave Robbing: There is an event chain involving a struggle for Alexander's body, should the Ptolemies lose control of Alexandria.
  • Guide Dang It!: There is a province-level decision for cities regarding improving civilization level of said city and leaving behind a permanent positive modifier toward it. Not only the button to enact it is pretty obscure, but the decision can only be made before hitting 60 Civilization rating. note 
  • Hegemonic Empire: Considering the setting, the rise of hegemonic empires such as the Hellenistic Kingdoms, Persia, Rome, or some other nation is virtually guaranteed.
    • The game also rewards players who set out to do this, by implementing the rule that subject states cannot have foreign relations (other than trading) except with their hegemon.
  • Heroic Lineage: Each of the Diadochi come with a trait that acknowledges their descent/role as generals in Alexander's Army. Even the Argead bloodline is represented in the person of Thessalonike, Alexander's half-sister and Cassander's wife. Her trait is also the only one that can be passed on matrilineally.
  • Hired Guns: Mercenaries. Unlike any other Paradox title, Imperator has them as specific armies existing in specific locations that can be hired by whoever and then head toward their deployment. It is also possible to turn the player's own armies into hire-able mercenariesnote . Mercenaries are twice as expensive as regular troops to maintain and come in pre-defined composition, but they don't take up manpower and provide an instant army after signing their contract. Depending on who you are playing as, they vary from waste of time and money to being the mainstay of your armed forces.
    • Syracuse take it a step further, as they can establish a special mercenary city-state type of subject. This provides them with not only a much stronger version of a feudatory subject, but also decrease Syracusan mercenary maintenance pay, as they instead just gave the mercs a city to rule over.
  • Historical In-Joke: The province ID for Byzantion, at this point a minor Greek city-state, is 1453.
  • Hollywood Atheist: The optional innovation "Militant Epicureanism" turns your country into an early form of this. You get massive bonuses whenever you destroy holy sites, in exchange for being almost totally unable to benefit from religious omens.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Heavy infantry have good all-round matchups, being at an advantage against everything except archers and horse archers and not being as ruinously expensive as heavy cavalry or war elephants.
    • With Italic traditions, they upgrade to Lightning Bruisers due to the sheer number of bonuses in the tradition tree.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The first event for the Seleucid Empire is whether or not to continue the war with Chandragupta Maurya. Choosing not to gets you a few cohorts of war elephants in exchange for a few eastern provinces.
  • Land of One City: The map is absolutely packed with minor tribes that are likely fated to be conquered by a greater power - unless they become a conqueror themselves. And there are of course various Greek city-states, which routinely control just a single settlement, often as an outpost in complete wilderness, surrounded by far more numerous barbarians.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The map has hundreds of playable states - most of them being primitive tribes. In turn, each of these states has about a dozen characters involved in running its day-to-day affairs, plus assorted generals, family members, and possibly assorted other characters.
  • Lonely at the Top: After achieving Great Power rank (500 or more controlled territories), a country can no longer have alliances.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Upon settling a new city, if the settlement was producing a resource qualified as food, it will be replaced with some finished good. Which one exactly is a random roll. Likewise, if you happen to have a mission granting prospecting for minerals, the results are random, chances to find anything at all low and it's a one-time deal, with no retries - including anyone who conquers that entire region later and manages to generate the same mission, which will auto-fail.
  • Made a Slave: You can do this to imprisoned characters; prisoners captured during combat count as well. On a larger scale, grabbing pops as slaves is a desirable goal during wars. Greeks and Indians also are capable of performing outright slave raids during peace-time, snatching unfortunate pops and regardless of their prior strata, turning them into slave pops instead.
  • Master of None: Tribesmen pops. They provide manpower, but less than freemen. They provide tax income, but less than slaves. Unlike slaves, they don't produce trade goods. Unlike freemen, they can't be settled down via various policies. They are so inefficient, a duo of freeman and slave pops out-performs two tribesmen. note 
    • This can be alleviated by building a tribal settlement, increasing efficiency of tribal pops, but other buildings are going to make freemen and slaves even more productive, at the exact same price of construction.
  • Morton's Fork: Post-Menander (v 1.5) changes to how republics operate means you can be asked by a faction to pass a law that will piss said faction off. This means you will lose approval of that faction in your Senate if you do nothing or when you will follow their exact wishes. And that without mentioning the fact the new law is likely to be counter-productive for your country and current situation. But wait, there is more! If you have weighted approval of all three factions below arbitrary set value of 60 (on a 0-100 scale), any action you will take will incur automatic tyranny, which will piss off all three factions, along with your generals and other members of your ruling clique. This includes taking actions that would please any given faction, thus on paper, rising their approval. So no matter what you do, you end up in a bad spot. This change, along with extreme simplification of the previous republican mechanics, was the main source of complaints for the Menander patch, as it turned any given republic (including Rome) into a chore to play, with non-stop tyranny for doing just about anything. Thankfully, republics were eventually reworked. note 
  • Nepotism: Powerful families of every state are expected to be given a certain number of positions (government or military) to fill. If the state is able to give a family twice their expected number of positions, the family is deemed grateful, giving bonuses to loyalty and reduction in wages.
    • It is also one of the top priorities to keep as many seats within your ruling family. This is especially important with governors and army commanders, as it is easier to keep family members loyal than people from rival bloodlines.
  • No Blood for Phlebotinum: There is a small handful of settlements that provide iron. If you don't have it and nobody that has spares likes you, you are going to fight for it. And once you have it, you are going to defend it. Part of the reason why Rome is so strong is easy access to not just iron itself, but a surplus of it.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: A viable alternative to waging wars is to threaten with one. If the disparity of military power is big enough, the threatened side will automatically yield to the demand (and it's impossible to issue the threat otherwise). However, the threat only allows a single settlement to be acquired, rather than whole provinces or even regions and once the demand is met, a regular truce period is issued, as if finishing an actual war. It is still handy for those strategically important settlements. Especially when the "military might" only exists on paper: Seleucids have a hard time to get their armies where they are needed on time, while Carthage is a naval power backed by mercenaries, without almost any means to raise regular armies in meaningful quantities at game start. [[note]]Once Carthage integrates her subjects in her capital region, and cultures with significant number of pops, she becomes a power with naval and land prowess, with the additional option of using mercenaries.
  • The Old Gods: Justified, since the setting is circa 300 B.C.E. The only Abrahamic religion in existence is Judaism, and the religions depicted in-game range from the (compared to modern era) "extinct" (paganism in all its flavours) to "surviving" (Zoroastrianism and Jainism) to "thriving" (Indian religions e.g. Hinduism).
  • Out of Focus: Anyone who isn't Rome, Carthage and the Diadochi kingdoms gets generic missions; this applies even to the Maurya. The generic missions do not have any sort of regional or cultural flavour attached to them. The only way to gain a few more country-specific missions is to buy DLCs, at an average rate of 2 countries per content pack, which only adds to the already poor reception of Imperator.
  • Out with a Bang: A somewhat common cause of death for characters is in flagrante delicto.
  • Overrated and Underleveled:
    • Various city states don't control an actual city settlement, instead being a rural backwater. This is especially jarring in case of Greece proper. Magna Graecia DLC addressed it for the most part.
    • Hellenic countries, regardless if Diadochi or not (so even far-away outposts in Spain), can get an event to welcome in and recruit some of the Argyraspides - old veterans from Alexander's elite unit. They are all dreadfully mediocre characters and on top of that, in their late 50s and older, and so will die any moment from now. But getting them can still piss off local elites for favouring outsiders.
  • Paper Tiger:
    • The ranks for countries are based on number of settlements controlled. However, each rank other than lowest and highest have pretty wide range that still groups countries as "equal". In reality, the disparity of population, income and thus armies possible to field is massive, especially when it comes to Major Powers (100-499 settlements). This makes the rank itself meaningless at measuring real powerbase of any given country - something AI is notoriously incapable of doing. And anyone who barely qualifies for given rank can be usually easily taken down a peg.
    • Both the Seleucid and Antigonid Empires are pathetically weak. While they control some massive tracts of land, this is the very reason why they are so weak: population is spread out note , cities are few and far in between, and moving troops around is nigh-impossible, as it predictably takes years to get from an area with manpower to the place where the war is fought. Money-making is restricted, since apart from the capital, concentrating slaves just won't happen. For comparison, any other country that gradually grows big, rather than starting as such, will be resilient to the issues related to its size.
      • However, despite folding like a paper toy, both of those countries can still use their supposed might in diplomacy, strong-arming city-states and minor nations with mere threats of war.
  • Permanent Elected Official : Republics can, under the right conditions, enact a law which grants their leaders life-time offices instead of them having to step down every few years. The Roman version of the law is even named Princeps civitatis ("First Citizen" in Latin).
  • Power-Up Letdown: Playing as Syracuse and managing to reform into Sicily, which requires beating Carthage, one of the most powerful and wealthy nations at the game start, as a tiny country controlling at best half of Sicily and a bunch of settlements in Calabria, offers nothing in return aside from a new country name and finishing the starting mission tree. Worse, you don't really need Carthage itself for anything; you just have to kick them out of Sicily, so it's a massive war over a literal handful of worthless settlements. The letdown is only topped by the ability to form Magna Graecia, which on top of beating Carthage, also assumes beating Rome and doing it at least twice due to the inherent value of provinces needed for it, as it's just not gonna happen in a single peace talk. Once you achieve that, you gain...a new country name and flag, bordering on Bragging Rights Reward. To put this in perspective - Syracuse is a small, but tasty snack between two land-hungry empires with resources and manpower vastly exceeding your own, while having no other direction of expansion other than to fight said empires, as Syracuse lacks the supply range to conquer anything outside the Magna Graecia region, the southern-most parts of the Italian Peninsula note . It's not helping that a whole DLC, aptly titled Magna Graecia, has as one of its main focuses Syracuse and its possible rise to power... and doesn't address any of this. At all.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: The better the unit is in combat, the more expensive it is to train or build and the more exotic resources it takes to make it in the first place. Inventions, which increase further troops capabilities, are expensive. This leads to situation where one can either muster hordes of light infantry and archers or instead rise a token force of just few cohorts of heavy infantry and cavalry. And it is rarely advisable to do both.
  • Rising Empire: One of the main themes of the game, as it takes place during the historical rise of Rome, with the player challenged to forge an empire of their own. Even the two sprawling empires on the map at the start of the game (the Seleucid and Maurya Empires) fit the theme, as both were established less than twenty years prior and are still ruled by their founding monarchs.
  • Running Gag: Comets, as usual. They typically kill important figures who see them in the night sky and have a heart attack. A variation of the classic "comet sighted" event regards a meteorite being spotted, found once it hit the ground and from then on serving as a sacred relic for your religion, with a dedicated sanctuary built for it.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Money is a dangerous commodity in Imperator.
    • By itself, it increases the prestige of the family.
    • It can be used to purchase holdings in the state, which increases income and adds to the family's power base.
  • Settling the Frontier:
    • Once you have a settlement with at least 8 POPs (and the settlement has a majority of pops belonging to your state religion and culture) adjacent to an uncolonized inhabitable settlement, you can move a non-slave POP into that settlement and claim it as your own, though the native POPs will retain their religion and culture. This is vital to shutting down barbarian strongholds, as they can only be shut down by bordering settled, civilized settlements and having civilization spread to them by those means.
    • Certain cultures have an option to establish a military colony, which turns part of the army into freemen pops in any settlement with small enough populations. It's the fastest and easiest way to turn newly conquered hinterland into your own culture, while providing manpower to form new armies.
  • Schmuck Bait: Hellenistic countries specialise in heavy infantry... but you need iron to make it in the first place and a bunch of traditions to let it shine at even half of its potential.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Megalopolis achievement requires to play as Megalopolis and have a population of 80 in it (thus qualifying for megalopolis city improvement).
  • Slave Galley: By default, rowers are implied to be a freemen. One of the policies for the navy allows to draft them from slaves instead - and it increases manpower recovery of fleets.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: One of the laws for monarchies is a decision if to rely on nobility to serve as warriors (increasing discipline and military traditions) or if to admit freemen as soldiers, which in turn increases quantity, but also starting experience (implying gruelling training). This can be further put into "snob" territory with picking instead a slave-catching policy, taking prisoners in battle to provide servants and labour for the elites.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: Various events, policies and decisions are about deciding if your armed forces should be just rowing bands, ad-hoc citizen militia or noble hosts or a professionals that are paid wage for their service, in turn put through extensive training and fighting for the state, rather than personal reasons. Most evident in tribal nations, where non-ruling families, instead of playing a political game, simply have their own troops, that are always loyal to specific clan, rather than the ruling one (as the concept of a state is absent for them entirely). More civilised nations have instead more or less soldier ethos, but the troops can still pledge their allegiance to their leaders if one isn't careful.
  • Space-Filling Empire: Maurya, Seleucids, Antigonids and Carthage are those at the game start. Rome can steam-roll most of northern and central Italy within first 30-40 years. But the most literal example would be Ptolemaic Egypt and Kingdom of Kush south of it - both countries consists almost entirely out of provinces right next to the Nile and impassable desert around them. Whoever controls sufficient numbers of those provinces, "claims" the desert itself, painting large swath of map in their colour... while it's useless for anything else. note 
    • Conquering land from barbarians, especially when they were in a defensive pact or big alliance, leads to a situation where the conqueror gains huge parcels of land full of nothing in particular. The economic value of such conquests is more tied to slaves gained during the war than the land itself, unless you gain access to some rare trade resource.
    • In case the player still hasn't received the memo, they are to try avoiding this trope as much as possible, as it is how many pops they control and how happy these pops are which is crucial; territory is rather secondary in Imperator. This is reinforced in nation tier levels: a nation only requires 100 territories to be rated a "Major Power" (second highest tier), but needs 500 to be rated a "Great Power".
  • The Starscream: Any disloyal governor can be this, especially if they control their assigned region completely. Inept rulers of vast empires can even have a whole host of them!
  • Tutorial Failure: There is probably a tooltip or a button for something you are looking for, somewhere. Have fun finding it!
    • Imperator has one of the most complex combat mechanics of all Paradox titles to date, where size of units, their type, composition, who and how many of them are on the flanks, who is in the front row, what pre-picked orders were and countless other things play vital roles in how the battle unfolds, often allowing victory against superior numbers, morale and technology. Not to mention composition of the army affecting tactics it can deploy when in combat and how effective said tactics are going to be. It's all explained nowhere, all while the tutorial of the game is about almost nothing but combat and conquest.
    • The game does not explain how food production works or how important it is or how one should deliberately keep most of the region rural aside from strategically placed cities, especially in food producing settlements. This leads to disastrous famines by mid-game and by that point dealing with them, while technically possible, is just not worth it, forcing a game over.
    • Same applies to trade, especially the internal one (you knew it's a thing, right?) and managing imports. Maintaining proper access to goods and their surplus is one of the most crucial elements of gameplay, but aside from throwing at you export offers via diplomacy and producing surplus locally with sufficiently large slave populations, the game doesn't signal how trade works in the slightest.
    • Only pre-defined settlements can operate as ports and count toward trade-related mechanics. That tiny harbour animation isn't just for show, but aside from it, there is no other indication which settlement can work as a port.
  • Units Not to Scale: Fleets take forever to get to their destination, simply because there is a myriad of sea zones and travel time between each of those is counted in days. And due to the level of fragmentation of the map, same applies to armies - travelling over Italian Peninsula takes roughtly four times as long as it would be in real life, even if you were walking through unpaved wildland.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Research speed is tied with number of citizens vs. total number of pops and prices of inventions increase with size of the country. If those two factors are properly tuned to each other, research explodes, while costing pocket change to implement results.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The very back-bone of your economy are slavesnote , with full encouragement of capturing more, with all means possible. Harsh treatment of conquered lands, desacrating of holy sites and outright murder of your enemies are all perfectly fine and provide direct benefits, often greatly outweighting more peaceful or open-minded approach. Prior to introduction of integration mechanics, it was also perfectly fine to trample "foreign" cultures and religions within your borders, as the game was automatically aiming to assimilate everyone into the ruling elite - even if said elite is the only members of that particular culture. And this is all presented as a norm of the time period.
    • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: There is however a sharp divide between what's socially acceptable for the time period the game covers and simply doing things For the Evulz. Tyranny, aggressive expansion, popularity and loyalty are directly tied with how awful your ruler and country are, both internally and to other nations. Go too deep on being a blood-thirsty tyrant and you will end up with world ganging on your country, while the entire court will be plotting against you and your family.
  • War Elephants: Available to anyone who can trade with a settlement that supplies elephants, which really means North Africa and India. They also cost double the supply limit of any unit.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The economy is literally run by slaves, and you need a lot of them to get things done. Since there is no actual slave market in-game, your main source of slaves is going to come from wars. The weaker and more numerous the enemies, the better, because that means just running around their land and throwing pops into shackles. Depopulated entire settlements in the process? No sweat, just colonise it with your own people once the war is over, preferably with your war veterans.
  • Wild Card: Barbarian armies. Not in the sense of barbarian countries, but roaming barbarian armies, spawned at frontiers of civilisation and acting like a special type of rebel army. They can be fought with, they can be paid off (which they might decline, but keeping the offered money anyway) and with proper incentive of military presence and fortifications, directed instead toward other nations. If left to their own devices, barbarians are going to pillage anything in their path and might even forcibly settle somewhere, essentially grabbing a settlement or five in the process.
    • To a lesser extent, minor characters. Unless adopted or married into any of the major families, they are useful outsiders with loyalty to either state, highest bidder or most charming person in the country and can switch sides during civil wars and revolts to their backers or friends, rather than following their relatives (which they usually lack).
  • Young Future Famous People: Icenia is one of the playable nations and the only one in Great Britain to have a unique heritage even though their most famous hour won't happen until around 3 centuries after the game's starting date. All other nations that have their own unique heritage are either from the deeds they have already done, or is set up to be performed by the players when the game starts.
    • A straighter example is the future Maurya emperor Ashoka, who is a baby at the start of the scenario; Chandragupta, the founder of the empire, is his grandfather.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: You can only recruit certain units in a settlement if you have the required resource: iron for heavy infantry, horses for all cavalry, etc. If not, you can recruit any unit to a particular army, but it will have to walk all the way from the nearest settlement with the needed resource. Thankfully, trade routes allow you to allocate surplus resources to different parts of your empire, cutting down the time to get there.
  • Zerg Rush: The primary function of light infantry - they do low damage to all other unit types and take extra damage from them, but they're dirt cheap, recruit quickly, have no military tradition or resource requirements, and use only half the supply weight of most other units. The "Barbarian" military traditions double down on this with numerous bonuses to their light infantry and additional tactics that are particularly beneficial to light infantry.


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