Essential Imperator: Rome Tips

By Edward Mass 16 Jul 2019 0

Paradox started a new grand-strategy journey with Imperator: Rome, but even in its raw state there's still plenty to learn and master. You can always check out our review, but let's go over some essential tips for the game as it stands since the 1.1 'Pompey' update dropped.

Want to space things up with some Imperator mods? You should check this article out.

The guidance below will have something relevant both for new timers looking to conquer their first Paradox game as well as how to maximize these new mechanics for veterans. We'll separate this short primer into three categories: basic tips for the game as a whole, optimizing realm management, and warfare. Veterans and those looking to really get some some hyper-specific info on some of the game's inner workings should check out this reddit thread as well, which has over 300 different factoids about the game.

The 1.2 Cicero update is expected to be just as game-changing, so we'll update our advice accordingly when it lands.


Actually Play the Tutorial

This may seem like a non-tip especially for a veteran player, but it's surprisingly important for all. Why? Because if you're a new player, the benefits are obvious: it will meticulously and gradually introduce some of the vast array of mechanics that Paradox is (in)famous for having in a game.

For a veteran player, however, it will actually allow the player to intuitively understand which mechanics are taken from other paradox games. In essence, the veteran player can “speed” through the tutorial and, from his or her memory, carefully piece together where the developers have taken from previous games in a succinct manner.

Imperator 8

Avoid Resource Bottlenecks

You can really boil down the game into a series of resources. Aside from the most obvious resources of money, manpower, the four powers (civic, religious, oratory, military), civic points, etc., you can actually treat all other “values” in the game as resources. Loyalty, unrest, corruption etc. The goal, then, is to find “balance” and “efficiency” with these powers. Decisions, events, laws, policies, etc all somehow “alter” these resources usually trading one for another. Focus on which resources you need at the time. Having too little money, for example, can cripple your ability to expand and so expending different powers in economic religious blessings or technological advances can balance out your needs.

In essence, don't be too intimidated by the plethora of different numbers on the screen. Simply study through experience how each affects each other and what can be transformed into what at any given time or through policies and it will be easy enough to avoid resource bottlenecks. Keep in mind which resources are given every month so that you can leverage the precious “few” resources that change little throughout the year.

Perhaps the most valuable powers as of this version of the game are the civic and oratory powers as civic powers are used in technology and oratory in government decisions like laws as well as forming casus belli. They also are important in assimilating pops to your culture. Religious power is used to grant various bonuses as well as convert pops. As of release, military power seems to only be limited to the constant stockpiling necessary for traditions as well as building roads (I personally find supporting rebels in other nations to be a total waste of time). My prediction is that these powers will become more dynamic as DLC get released.

It's worth noting that the four power pools are going to get replaced come 1.2 'Cicero', due to land in September. For now though, the above advice is sound.

Plan Goals Ahead of Time

Almost every action requires some kind of resource stockpile in order to accomplish properly. Warfare is the easiest example: not only do you need oratory points for a proper casus belli, but you also need to ensure that you have enough money and manpower in order to squash your enemy. More on that in the later section. Still, with a “finite” amount of time to play your civilization, it's important to make every “day” count. Although it's not a turn-based strategy game, the pause button is still your best friend and planning out your next few months can mean the difference between a fun game and a truly inspired campaign.

Also remember that, with the new Pompey update, important metrics such as Stability, War Exhaustion, and Legitimacy are no longer instantly fixed by actions but are affected by “ticking” ongoing modifiers. Play the careful dance of starting your remedial actions ahead of time so that you can head off crises in these fields. Plan your Omens ahead of schedule, for example, so that you are not caught flat footed with too low Stability or too high War Exhaustion later on.


Take Advantage of Character Bonuses

Our ambition may be infinite, but our resources are not. Thus, make use of the leaders that you get. Carefully read what each leader will give you as a bonus and plan your next move accordingly. If you have a religious leaning leader, for example, that gives bonuses to conversion, then you may wish to convert a bunch of pops this year before doing anything else lest you miss out on some relevant bonuses.

Imperator Character

Overextension is Deadly

Unlike other games which reward rapid expansion willy nilly, uncontrolled growth in Paradox games can cause massive internal struggles and rebellions. Keep in mind that you may need time for your armies to recover their manpower and your administrative apparatus to assimilate pops. Use excess oratory points to convert alien populations to citizens of your culture as well as keep armies around in order to keep rebelliousness in a province down until the region is pacified. Position your army in a central location that it can respond to rebellions or barbarian border raids before the fortress is sacked.

Optimize Your Realm Through Laws

Look over your laws and find the “path” you wish to lead your nation. Accept maluses on resources that you don't normally use or prioritize so that you can bolster yourself with useful attributes.

Imperator 3

Money is Still King

Pursing a sound bankbook is still one of the most important parts of any Paradox game. Enacting policies and inventions that increase your income as well as building marketplaces might be a great way to increase efficiency. Don't forget, however, that maintenance can be adjusted for forts, armies, and navies. Especially if you have conquered a new area and have a vast hinterland, it would be wise to destroy the hinterland forts in order to focus paying for only those fortresses at the fringes of your empire. This will drastically increase your income.

Be Wary of Disloyal Characters

Disloyal characters may choose to start a civil war or take control of armies or navies on their own so always keep your characters above thirty percent loyalty or at least make sure that the disloyal characters have no power or ability to raise a sizable army against you.

This has become a whole new focus in the Pompey update where the power base of each individual factors into whether or not a civil war will trigger. Loyalty Oratory ideas at the start of the game will help stabilize this problem until more permanent solutions can be found. It is perhaps the best beginning Oratory idea to take at the start especially as it is no longer possible to get rid of disloyal characters from their post as they must be brought to trial which is a tricky process. Try to avoid this in the first place by carefully managing loyalty from the start of the game.

Imperator General

Be Aware of Government Types

Imperator: Rome is set in an age where the nation-state has not yet become de rigueur in the body politic. Thus, a whole plethora of different government types are available to play including sub-types of every major type. There are three major types of governments: Monarchies, Republics, and Tribes. Each have different sub-types with different bonuses.

Just to give one example: Migratory Tribes are, perhaps, the most dynamic as they represent not only different power-struggle mechanics but also the option to move about the map by uplifting their pops into temporary armies before plopping them down again.

Unlike most other Paradox games where you have almost total control over every aspect of your realm, different government types also exert different levels of control over the game mechanics. Clan Chiefs, for example, may recruit on their own.

Imperator Migration

It would take an entirely separate government guide to go through every iteration of this mechanic so it's best to simply learn on your own.


Play Katamari With Your Foes

It's easy enough to check how powerful your foes are by going to their diplomacy screen. You are going to want to look for three things: what kind of tradition they come from, the number of cohorts they have, and their technology levels. This will allow you a relatively decent estimate on their capability to win (or stalemate) a war with you. As Sun Tzu says: “if you know your enemy and know yourself you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles.” Thus, study your own army size and traditions while you size up your enemies. Check who their allies are and how effective those armies are.

This way, you can always choose foes that you are sure to crush. Avoid enemies that are large enough to force you to run out of manpower or money during the course of the war. The goal is to swallow up smaller powers until you are large enough to challenge your rivals. Focus on easy conquests until you're strong enough to take on your “real” enemies.

Imperator Army

Attrition is Always a Killer

Don't underestimate the power of attrition to whittle down your numbers to nearly half their original stack. Plan ahead your routes to make sure that you have enough timing and supply to take on enemies that may appear. Don't dig too deep into enemy territory without considering how much it's going to take its toll on your armies. Even in peacetime, check if your armies are suffering from attrition in any given province as the local supply might be too low for the size of the army.

Automatic Peace Mechanic

Unlike other games which have perpetual war mechanics and “take as you go” conquests, Imperator: Rome, like other Paradox titles, works off of discrete claims for wargoals. Added to this is the fact that unless a certain “wargoal” (such as taking a province, usually) is achieved in a given amount of time, it will automatically “force” a peace onto you. Pick a wargoal close to your border so that it's easy for you to accomplish a total takeover within a given timeframe. Otherwise, you may have fought a long and protracted war for nothing even if you are crushing your enemy.

Plan Your Invasions Based on Forts

Forts in any given area restrict your movement through adjacent provinces. Thus, you want to plan your invasion so that you achieve “breakthroughs” in the fortification system. Once you take a fort, you can also allow that fort to takeover neighbouring undefended provinces.

Make note that with the new Pompey update, heavy ships can now aid in taking coastal forts. This will be incredibly important in creating salients in quarters your enemy will not expect or allow your troops to advance to reach their objective faster. Siege is a big deal in Imperator: Rome and Heavy Ships are a good investment not just in policing one's waterways but also in supporting land campaigns. This is especially true as ships can now travel certain rivers. Keep this in mind when planning invasions.

Imperator Forts

Lure Enemies into Defensive Battles

A classic strategy is to split your army into portions that can easily communicate with each other should one unit get attacked. Keep enough of a stack that it's less than the massive doomstack of the enemy but enough to hold out until your reserve armies arrive. Wait for the enemy army to be “locked” into moving into your province (this will be shown with a literal lock icon on their unit) before you reinforce your troops as the AI may see your reinforcements and pull out of the battle. In Multiplayer, make sure that your reserve force is in the fog of war so that you can lure your foes into a honeytrap.

Conversely, always scout ahead if you can with smaller throwaway units to make sure you yourself are not being forced into a bad pitched battle. Do not be afraid of retreating if you foresee the battle going poorly. Better to regroup far away than to lose more men in encirclement.

Imperator Gaul

Mercenaries as “War Bets”

Sometimes playing it safe until you find an opponent that you can topple can take too long. If you have excess money, or can at least finish a war fast enough to pay off mercenaries, then taking up these auxiliary soldiers can give you that edge in actually accomplishing a crushing victory over a similarly sized foes. While it's never a good idea to have a standing mercenary army because of the wildly inefficient cost, using them early on might help 'prime the pump' for you to snowball your way to victory.

Betting on mercenaries early can mean tipping the balance of power against a larger neighbouring foe that's been hampering you or hemming you in. It's best to time this strategy while they are busy at war with someone else for maximum effect.

Always Fight According to the Wargoal

While it may be tempting to just take province after province, the game will only care if you've taken either the whole nation or achieved the wargoal you had in mind. Thus, keeping your wars goal-oriented first and foremost and, then, if you have the luxury and ability, seeking out other goals is the only way to make sure you aren't forced to accept a lesser peace.

Make note that wargoals are now easier to attain for monarchies as a war council can be summoned to make claims at the cost of loyalty. Be very careful about this mechanic as loyalty is now a premium, but this can be an excellent way of leveraging highly loyal officers to save power costs.

What are your top Imperator Tips? Let us know in the comments!



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