Builders Take a Back Seat to Conquerors in 'Imperator: Rome'

Much later, Alexander finally had to explain why. He had brought his army into India, the last stop on this bloody journey, and if the story is true that he wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, it is no less true that his army finally understood how much larger the world is than a single man's ambition or understanding. They knew little about the country and people they were attempting to conquer, but they had an inkling how vast and dangerous the undertaking would be, and so they started organizing in protest of Alexander's plans.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I love this review. It does confirm that this game, to an extent, drives home the tension I have with Paradox’s games in general. It’s less clear in a Crusader Kings II (which I’ll admit to never quite settling with), but Europa Universalis IV, Hearts of Iron IV, and, seemingly, Imperator: Rome all feel like games in which the military is prized above all other respects.

The military is the engine on which replayability runs on. While I think the other games may do more to meaningfully differentiate the government types (and this may be where Imperator falls short), I’ve never quite find my peace (or a long-lasting love of their military combat style) with a game where warfare is the bread and butter above internal social issues.


I know this isn’t really important to the point Rob’s making here, but I read once that the “Alexander wept for there were no more worlds to conquer” line may be a misquote of something like:

Alexander wept when he heard Anaxarchus discourse about an infinite number of worlds, and when his friends inquired what ailed him, “Is it not worthy of tears,” he said, “that, when the number of worlds is infinite, we have not yet become lords of a single one?”

That always struck a chord with me that the other version doesn’t. Instead of playing on how Alexander is disappointed that his fun conquering days are over, it throws him in this sort of existential dread light, and he feels like some sort of melodramatic anime villain who has all this power but can’t help but indulge in melancholy over his own cosmic insignificance.


I think this is definitely true of pretty much every Paradox game except maybe Crusader Kings II (and even then…)

You can try to play as a peaceful state in Europa Universalis IV or Stellaris but… there really just isn’t that much there for you to interact with in any other particularly satisfying way. I think even the world map UI sort of promotes this. The most visually immediate and interesting thing you can do is try to spread your color as far and wide as possible, and the main way to do that is war.

This is a really good review, I really appreciate Rob’s takes on Paradox games in general, they are my favorite genre. I do agree Imperator is lacking compared to CKII with it’s internal systems, but it is good to keep in mind this is Imperator v1.0 and CKII is on v3.0 after 7 years of twice-yearly major updates. Granted this should be a review of the release version and I think it is very fair in the criticisms. I would suggest anyone who is interested in this game to wait for the v1.1 patch that is coming in June/July that takes a lot of fan/critical feedback from the early showing that they couldn’t change in time for release.

I hope in a year or two with a couple of patches, even the without expansions the game with have better and more internal systems. I’d love to have more interaction and agency in the POP system. That is what really made Stellaris a great game for me.


I really enjoyed reading this review. Imperator likely wont be my game but it has renewed my interest in Paradox Grand Strategy.

I own several paradox games, purchased during steam sales, but haven’t been able to break in. The interface and interlocking systems make my brain freeze up. I feel like they are right up my alley but I can’t figure out how to get over the blank page syndrome I feel when I boot one of these up. Can anyone help me find a way in?

For reference, I have the following:

  • Stellaris, no DLC
  • Hearts of Iron 4, no DLC
  • EU4 and a big whack of DLC purchased during a winter sale
  • CKII no DLC

This review largely reflects my own experiences wit Imperator. All paradox games have a strong “hurry up and wait” quality to them but this one feels particularly thin. It takes a lot of the best and most interesting features from other Paradox games (pop management, trade resources, internal actors and factions, etc.) but reduces down a lot of the interaction with these systems to the point where they feel fairly flat. Making a full army of elephants in Europe is as simple as spending a little diplomatic power to make the right African nation like you and then clicking a button to import elephants.

I’m a settled tribe in Iberia with a good enough Queen to keep all the clan chiefs in line, and I’ve reached the point where I’m significantly larger than my neighbours. It kinda feels like I don’t have that much to do beyond “wait to get enough points to buy a Casus Belli, eat a neighbour, rinse and repeat.” Maybe things will get a little bit more dicey once I have a larger, more multicultural realm and am butting up against Rome, but right now there’s a lack of meaningful small decisions that would fill the space between the bigger strategic moves in other Paradox games.

I’m still enjoying my time with the game, but there’s a cynical part of my brain that looks at Paradox’s business model of releasing a million DLCs, and thinks that that Imperator having a lot of shallow systems with room to grow is a feature, not a bug.

ive found everyone seems to have diffrent answers to this but i think the easiest might be stellaris, thought i have a few hundred hours in that now and im still not amazing at it. but i find stellaris is much easier to understand how the game works and becomes about learning how to be efficient when you should be building what ect

that said crusader kings seems pretty simplistic when it comes to like military, i dont entirely understand it yet as i played as a tiny irish earl my first playthough and couldnt really do much but i was able to win a few wars but since its so tangled up in bloodlines and land titles i was having a hard time understanding what i would be winning despite my ability to win. some of this is what makes the game good though

eu4 i see alot of people say is the easiest on ramp but ive played alot of it and just started to barley pierce it

ck2 is def the most fun to play as you learn from scratch though, i ended up finding alot of enjoyment just checking up on say a distant cousin (my fav were my 2 lesbian nieces lighting spain on fire for example, just absolutly fucking shit up down there). hell someone from my family became queen of poland for a while all while i kinda just sat in a little place in Ireland. like straight up just watch my family do more intresting things then me for 50 hours and loved it

1 Like

EU4 is tricky to get your head around, but I think what may help @Pearlmania might be watching some streams or pre-recorded videos if they are so inclined. That formed the basis of my on-ramp, as I was able to get both inspiration (to overcome the blank page syndrome) about what to try & practical tips for making it over the short-term hurdles of not knowing how to operate the game.

The changes to patches, balancing, and DLC availability can make this a difficult offering (as some DLC is really feature-rich in terms of basic game operations) can make this a bit frustrating, though!

With that said, I’ve had no luck getting into Hearts of Iron IV after playing EU4, so maybe it’s not such a great starting point.


yeah lol ive watched alot of hearts of iron and played like 50 hours on top of that n am still just like “uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i guess ill make some tanks now?” then get beat up by germany.

1 Like

Succeed in HOI4 with my extremely simple ABC system:



For what it’s worth HoI4 is my main game of theirs. The big thing is that, because you know World War 2 is coming, you can just kind of prep for whatever you want to do in that.

So I’d just suggest grabbing whatever guide is recent, spamming out some factories and seeing what bizarre contribution you can make to that conflict.

It’s actually pretty relaxing because you can finish a game in an evening or two. Much shorter than most paradox games.

1 Like