Looking at Imperator Rome’s world map is a humbling experience in many ways. It charts a forgotten landscape characterised by borders long forgotten and names of nations consigned to the history books. Where modern developed nations now reside, once there was a patchwork of tiny provinces locked in perpetual conflict. And that’s the area of the world map that was even discovered in the classical era - much of it still lies in the great unknown at the time the game begins. Upon that ancient world map, many stories play out - stories between nations, of factions within nations, and of the individuals whose actions have rippling effects on the macro scale.
Although you’ll spend most of your time looking at a zoomed-out view of the world, Imperator Rome also involves you in individual characters. The most important of these is your leader, and like all individuals they have four important stats: martial, finesse, charisma and zeal.
These stats are particularly crucial to the leader because they determine in large part how much of each type of power you generate over time. For example, a leader with high charisma and zeal stats will generate loads of oratory and religious power for your nation, and that in turn will inform how you run the entire operation. You can use oratory power to sway the public towards you, manipulate governments, and bully people on the international diplomacy stage. Meanwhile religious power is great for a nation’s stability.
However if your leader’s strengths lie instead with martial and finesse, they’ll generate tons of military power and research points for developing new technologies. A nation that wields those powers over time will look very different to one that depends on religious and oratory power to thrive.
All individuals have these same stats, and although they don’t have quite the same profound effect on your overall nation when examining generals, governors, admirals, aristocrats and elected officials, they do all still contribute to production of those powers. There are eight major roles in each government for example, and the composition of those individuals’ stats will provide a noticeable boost to certain powers generated.
There are five faction in Imperator Rome, and in a republic system of government they’re of vital importance. The civic, military, merchant, religious and populist factions each hold sway over a certain number of senators, and they all have their own agendas as their names suggest. A government dominated by military faction influence will favour military activity and army spend, while also providing bonuses to military activity. Conversely, the populist faction provides no bonus, and actually makes performing almost all actions more expensive.
These factions vy for power by influencing senators with their oratory skill. Generally, whichever faction leader has the highest oratory skill will win most influence. You can get involved as leader though and spend some oratory power of your own to affect the proportional representation and crush those pesky populists.
Rome takes centre stage in this game, but in fact there are hundreds of playable nations comprising over 7,000 individual cities on Imperator Rome’s world map. Among these are tiny minnows the history books forgot, and also great empires akin to Rome itself, like Macedon, Athens, Egypt, Phrygia, and Maurya. Although most nations work in broadly the same ways mechanically, they do differ in terms of their governments, unit types, and nomenclatures.