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.