Paradox Interactive has made its name in the gaming industry with the Europa Universalis series by promoting a gameplay that is not accessible to everyone, but offers a high level of realism and complexity. Adressed to those who like taking the ruling of an empire seriously, with all the aspects of economy, politics and military control thatcome with it. In EU: Rome there is no actual storyline , aside from the historical truth, as the player can choose any tribe or empire of the timeframe and shape its destiny as he sees fit, even if doing so will deviate from the course of history.
The game is turn-based, but the play / pause function gives the impression of real-time. Thus, a turn can mean one or more days, depending on how quickly you want to run events. And since the game ends after almost 300 years, would may want to accelerate things every now and then.
The world of 264 BC brings a heap of nations, of which we notice the Roman Empire, Persian Empire and Carthage, the rest of the world being divided between the warrior tribes. Picts, Sarmatians, Iberians or Gauls are all present, we have several nations around the Black Sea, Macedonians and their friends the Spartans in the Greek peninsula and in the center of the world I proudly noticed our national car.
Any nation can be controlled and taken to new heights of civilization and progress, conquest all the way or conversely, be a model of peace and culture. The difficulty is not artificially increased when playing isolated nations, as it’s normal for it to be harder to develop when we’re still talking about a tribal system and an economy in early stages. As such, the military and economic aspects are closely linked to the relations with neighbors and the existing political system. It matters not whether or not we have a strong army if the country is on the verge of civil war.
Each state or tribe controls a number of provinces grouped into regions, and to respect the historical truth, many of the provinces are found to be under barbarian domination . They can be populated with three types of people: citizens, who are not working very hard but instead help with the research, free people who provide the cannon fodder for the armies, and the slaves who, ironically, are the only ones who can work and be taxed.
Player intervention on population dynamics is only indirect, as people usually grow and develop as they see fit, progressing from a slave to the status of free man or population growth in general being pretty slow. Also, each province has a number of indicators such as the risk of revolt, the ability to sustain a certain number of troops stationed there as well as the production of one commercial trade good.
This commercial product gives the province a specific bonus and can be exported at the same time in return for a product of another province, the two thus benefitting from both advantages. If a province has wheat, for example, it will receive a bonus to population growth, and if has stone will own stronger defenses structures. Noteworthy is that some units can not be recruited without access to a specific product, such as ships which need wood, or cavalry which needs horses.
This is actually the heart and soul of commerce, a simple concept, but hard to master because commercial routes are quite difficult to establish. If shipping routes are much more easily accessible, land routes involve roads and transit through territories which allow it , and trade is impossible if there are barbarians in the way. Also, trade is more lucrative if involves two provinces in different countries, especially since that provides access to interesting assets, such as spices or papirus.
As such gold can be obtained from trade, taxes and tributes (if someone pays them to you) but it is not necessarily the most important resource. Although it is essential for the recruitment of units ,construction of buildings or bribing certain characters, an empire can still live on a negative balance. That’s a relative state, because a negative budget increases the chance of a negative event, but in my opinion, the consequences of a broken economy are not as large as they should be.
Stability is a much more important indicator, a barometer of confidence of the general population in the leader. A positive stability will bring bonuses to tax collection, low risk of popular revolt and civil war, and increase in the potential benefits of special events, while a negative stability (limits are -3 +3) will hurt you. Stability can be improved by sacrifices of animals (lots of gold) or the completion of tasks set by the "government", while declarations of war without reason or adoption of an unpopular law could influence it negatively.
Tyranny is also an indicator that can affect income and the risk of riots, it increases in the case of arbitrary actions, such as throwing in jail or executing uncomfortable rivals and hostile actions against officials of other states. It’s true that rivals will have to keep a low profile in a state of high tyranny, but instead will plot to start a civil war when you’re more relaxed.
Infamy is the way you are viewed by your neighbors , declarations of war without reason, unorthodox invasions or beheading of the messengers will increase this indicator to a level which will prevent you from trading with anyone and you will be attacked from all sides . Both Infamy and Tirany will only lower in time, so although they are vital to at a time of trouble, should be handled with gloves. Otherwise it may turn against you.