Grand strategy games are just that - grand in scale and depth. Imperator Rome allows you to micromanage the financial fluctuations of an entire empire, and that empire’s economy is linked to that of many others on the world map. This is just one aspect of its fascinating simulation of the classical era, and one that has a huge bearing on how well your nation will fare. But that’s tied to another simulation - that of politics. The two have gone hand-in-hand since time immemorial, and there’s no exception in ancient Rome. Finally, the knock-on effects of economic and political strategy make their way down to your pops - aka your general population. A keen understanding of these three interacting systems is crucial to success in Imperator Rome.
Your three biggest sources of income in Imperator Rome are taxes, commerce, and tributes. The higher your population, the more individuals there are contributing towards productivity and thus the more individuals who are able to pay you taxes. You can alter tax levels between low, medium, and high across your entire nation on the economy overview screen.
Commerce comes from trade, which is slightly more complex. Each city in Imperator Rome produces a resource, and each resource provides a unique benefit to the province it’s being produced in. If you have no access to iron, as Egypt lacks at the start of the game by default, you’ll be restricted to certain military units, for example.
However, you can navigate these shortages in your own resource production through trade. Simply select the resource you want to import on the trade routes overview menu and you’ll see highlighted in green all the provinces who can supply it to you.
However, you can only trade something away if you have a surplus of it. For example, if two cities in the same province are producing wine, they’ll have one surplus - the province only needs one for itself.
Finally, you generate income from tributes paid by your subjects. These, like taxes, can be lowered or raised via the economy overview menu. Here you can also convert currency into religious, oratory, military, or manpower.
There are three government types in Imperator Rome, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The right choice for your nation really depends on how you want to play, whether you intend to change a lot of laws in a short space of time, and how much value you place on stability.
In a Monarchy, the ruler holds that position for life. Kings ascend to the throne according to succession laws, and by default the eldest son of the family is next in line for the throne. As monarch, you do have the power to try to change these laws, however.
You’ll face opposition from pretenders to the throne, who’ll try to drum up public support for their claim on the title. There are ways to crush their efforts though, using oratory and religious power - a philosopher can do a lot to swing the public round to your way of seeing things.
Republics are headed by elected officials who stay in office for five-year terms. They head a senate of 100 officials, who represent five factions proportionally, according to the oratory power of those faction leaders. Factions hold unique bonuses, so it’s in your interests to sway their proportions in your senate.
Finally, in Tribal government the tribal chief rules for life. When he dies, the clan chiefs vote for a successor based on their stats. It may sound like a happy medium between the other two, but tribes are highly resistant to policy change and will lose loyalty when you force laws through.
People come in different forms in Imperator Rome - the classical era wasn’t always tremendously progressive when it came to social standing, after all. Slaves lie at the bottom of the hierarchy, but they’re very useful to you because they generate tax - the more slaves you have, the more tax you generate.
Freemen produce manpower instead of money. Essentially it’s the maximum potential size of your armies. Replenishments to armies come out of manpower too, so if you’re waging a war and taking heavy losses, watch that manpower number - it’ll be depleting quickly.
Tribesmen sit between freemen and slaves, producing some money and manpower - but not as much as either. They also prefer to live in sparsely populated areas. At the top of society’s hierarchy, Citizens produce gold through commerce value and research points which speed up the development of new technologies. Very desirable, then - they prefer to live in built-up, densely populated areas with a high civilization value.