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Vae Victis First Impressions

November 23rd, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Paradox, Review

I will have more to say about the EU: Rome expansion and how the game expands the roles of characters, not always to good effect, but here are some initial thoughts about Vae Victis‘s strengths and weaknesses.

– Big warning. It’s very unstable. I’ve had the game crash at least a dozen times, usually through a runtime error. EU: Rome was very stable, so this is clearly a Vae Victis problem.

– I don’t remember research being this slow. Every new territory can add dozens of tech points to the cost of a research level. I played a game as Rome, devastated Carthage and was stuck 6 or 7 levels behind the more modestly sized Pontines and even the Egyptians. When Rome is just getting to level 7 and the Seleucids are level 12, something in the algorithm is off.

– The big positive is that there are now major differences between monarchies, chiefdoms and republics. Because of the real risk of your royal council backing a pretender to the throne, a monarch will use imprisonment and banishment more often than a republic where there is institutionalized competition for offices. The problem of consuls being elected for ten consecutive terms has been fixed.

– Republics have fixed terms for many positions, so there will be rotation in and out as people demand offices. This means that you may sometimes have a poor researcher in the job of aedile because refusing him would strengthen the Populist faction – a group that represents the power of the mob.

– Because there is so much going on now to affect a character’s loyalty – new posts, new honors, new Senate and council mechanics – civil wars are much more common. Too common probably. Most are on a very small scale, akin to the insurrections of Lepidus (78 BCE) or Catiline (63 BCE) but have a couple of serious game consequences that actually work in the player’s favor. Fighting a civil war leads to free troops, on a smaller scale than in the original game, but enough to sidestep a manpower shortage. Winning a civil war means an instant stability boost and a quick influx of hundreds of gold (confiscated property?). If the civil war is the result of a Populist revolt, your Senate will be remade into a balanced government.

– It is too easy for a Senate to become dominated by the Populists or Mercantile factions. Turning down a Senate request will boost the Populists, and every year with an inactive trade route adds to Mercantile influence. You will almost have one or two open trade routes – sometimes as many as ten unless you stop and remake every single route. The relationship between the Senate and the characters could be stronger.

– Illyria is now the big colonial power, pushing deep into the Danube basin and even posing a threat to everyone in the area. On the other side, the Seleucids seem to have been tamed.

– The mission system isn’t as deep as that in In Nomine, but it does give structure to a player’s aspirations.

– The world is much more fractious. In one game, I saw Cilicia, Parthia, Mauretania, Commagene and Judaea split off. Plus more barbarian kingdoms setting up in the borderlands. This makes the map much more dynamic than the giant blob states of the original.

– Armies and fleets are generally smaller, which is a relief. There are also fewer assassination attempts. So the scale of diplomacy and war seems to be right.

– Regional provinces are a marked improvement, since it means that these few offices are worth fighting for. I pay less attention to the attribute numbers here and more to who would be happy and who would be upset by an appointment.

– There are still too many characters for me to make sense of who likes whom, especially since the number of foreign characters in your world seems to explode with every conquest. Conquering Gaul may have led Caesar to put some chiefs in the Senate, but they weren’t elected consul and leading field armies the next day.

– A lot of stuff needs better explanation in manual form. Especially once you consider character aspirations and the effects of granting titles. What does the plebeian aedile do? How many augurs can I make? What is a “holding”? Some stuff is explained well by tooltips, but the relationship between all these things isn’t laid out in a single place. Vae Victis makes major changes to game mechanics.

I have a lot more playing to do. Generally, my impressions are positive and would be for any serious Paradox fan. However, a price was paid for the expansion. EU: Rome was shallow and uninteresting most of the time, but it was approachable and intuitive. VV has added depth, but sacrificed a lot of the elegance. And the constant crashes are really annoying. It still needs a couple of patches and some proper documentation, but for ten dollars you can get a look at what Rome could have been.


6 Comments so far ↓

  • JonathanStrange

    Those are mainly positive impressions? Game’s become unstable and complicated, one’s occupied with civil wars and treachery and provinces are prone to rebellion? Yikes! I wouldn’t want to cross the Rubicon and buy this one.

  • Troy

    Not all impressions are created equal. The distinction between monarchies and republics is very good, the world is more variable from one game to the next and governors make more sense.

    VV is by no means a slam dunk like In Nomine was. But it does make a lot of improvements. If I were to review it again, it would still be a “Try It” at Crispy Gamer because the old problems were replaced with new ones – lesser ones, though.

  • James Allen

    Those are some pretty comprehensive impressions…more in-depth than my full review that’s going up eventually ;)

  • Troy

    Hey, this is my job. I can’t be half-assed and just pass out 8s like candy. ;)

  • James Allen

    I hear you. I can’t believe there were some sites that gave EU: Rome a perfect score.

  • Kalle

    I’m almost intrigued enough to give EU:Rome another go, though it’ll probably have to wait a couple of months until I clear out my backlog. And by that time Vae Victis might be patched up decently too.