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Europa Universalis: Rome review

April 25th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 4 Comments · Ancients, Crispy Gamer, Paradox, Review

My Europa Universalis: Rome review is now up at Crispy Gamer. I did an interview with Johan Andersson that doesn’t seem to be up yet, but I’ll let you know when it goes live.

The review was based on a gold review build; the day one patch has fixed some of the issues. You can’t just buy two points of stability after declaring war. You now have to wait between stabilizing sacrifices. They’ve capped the success rate of invoking omens at 90 per cent, so there is always a small chance of failure.

I didn’t go into all the small historical errors. Where is the Social War in the historical setup for 90 BCE? Most of Italy should be either in revolt or a civil war faction pushing for a federal republic. Lucius Porcius Cato (Consul 89 BCE) was most likely the uncle of Cato the Younger, and certainly not the brother. And the father of Brutus the Liberator should be dead in 78 BCE (he revolted against the post-Sullan establishment and was executed by Pompey.)

There are bigger historical problems, after all. A monarch’s personal wealth should be more closely related to national wealth. Slaves and booty came from wars against civilized nations, not just barbarians. The effects of looting should be much greater and the quibbles over religion much lesser; the Maccabean War is the only thing in the period even remotely resembling religious unrest, though priests would always use omens and gods to influence the masses.

My review is respectful, and this is a great starter EU. Any of the larger powers (except maybe Egypt) is in a good position to expand and dominate. Trade is easy, research is linear, war is what it’s all about. But I have some major issues with the game largely born from how repetitive it gets.

Here are three things they could have done to make EU:Rome better.

1) Provinces As Duchies: Every single territory in the world has its own governor, which makes governing far from a scarce resource. Since almost every major power character can become a governor, there’s little reason to weigh the trade offs for appointing someone. If provinces were constructed like duchies are in Crusader Kings, then all of a sudden they matter. You need to create them and then make sure you had good people in place. They could take a few friends or family with them (as legates, I guess) and those characters who remained in Italy or the capital region could have events geared to Senatorial politics.

2) Victoria‘s Alliance System: The tribute system works fine in EU:R (though you can cancel tribute with no real cost) but the relations between great powers could be richer. Why not have Rome offer a defensive pact to Pergamum against Seleucid aggression but vow to stay out of other minor wars in Asia? For all the complicated stuff Victoria had, the diplomatic model was deep and rewarding.

3) More character info: My big complaint is that this deep character driven game doesn’t force you to confront your characters. There are no character shortcuts on pop-ups that take you to that person’s character sheet. So events happen to a rival and you have no clue what the outcome means. You can capture prisoners in war, and they can even form bonds with your citizens, but there’s no list of them anywhere.

The first two are impossible at this point. They would require an entire reworking of the game, so I’ll have to muddle along. And I’m sure that it will be a better and more challenging game after patch 2 or 3.


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