It should be no secret to regular readers that I am an ancient history nerd. I watch sword and sandal movies, I read scholarly monographs for fun and collect games with ancient themes. I have suggested naming my first born son Germanicus.
And it is even less of a secret that I enjoy what Paradox does. They are far from perfect – Victoria never really fulfilled its potential and Diplomacy was terrible – but I am looking forward to next month. One my favorite developers married to my favorite topic?
So, in anticipation of the release of Paradox’s Europa Universalis: Rome, I will be writing a series of articles about ten significant ancient themed strategy games. This will not be a “best” list; about fifty ancient strategy games have been made – most of them sequels – and once you get past the top six or seven, you’re really pushing it in any case. I may wrap up with some thoughts on the worst of the worst, though.
Sticking with the Roman theme of the upcoming title, the games I have chosen to write about are:
Annals of Rome (more here) (1986)
Encyclopedia of War: Ancient Battles (1988)
Centurion: Defender of Rome (1990)
The Great Battles series (1997-98)
Age of Empires (1997)
Rome: Total War (2004)
I admit that Roman legions are my own personal fetish, but I hope you all will forgive the indulgence. I hope to trace the genealogy and evolution of Roman games, how they reflect history, entertainment and the expectations of gamers. Like all evolutionary trees, there are some dead ends.
With about five weeks between now and then, I’ll try to do two retro reviews each week, with as much research as my schedule will allow.