Imperiums: Greek Wars (sucessor of Agressors: Ancient Rome )


May 10, 2003

Anyone here playing it, too?

It is successor of Agressors: Ancient Rome (*), which I sadly overlooked when it was released 2018. It was probably the graphics (ok for me, but nothing to get exicted about or which immediately "coughts" one) and the impression that it was focussed too much on war that let me pass it back then.
But after watching a LP from youtuber Steinwallen, I decided to give I:GW a try and I'm really impressed. I would describe it as close to Civ4 (though the battles are closer to Civ5/6) in many aspects, but going deeper instead of wide - it has e.g. less different techs, buildings or units, but what is in the game is worked out in each detail and the features work nicely together.

Five highlights are IMO:

1. Combat: The squares and unit perks inevitably remind one of Civ4, but since combat isn't (instantly) lethal to units in most cases and their is a 3(!)UpT limitation, it is a kind of hybrid of Civ4/5/6. Cities can defend themselves, but they don't range-strike and they heavily suffer from getting drawn into combat. Siege is achieved similarly like in Civ6 (cutting city of from supply), but the consequences are more severe: It can make a city defect without really attacking, but the population shrinks, get unhappy and you pay diplomatic consequences. The factors determining the outcome of battles go beyond what we all know (unit types, health, terrain, abilities) - you have to worry about supply, experience, loyalty, morale (overall and vs. the opponent you are currentl fighting based on passed battleresults) and what the current "stance" of the army is. Full movements gives you an "awareness" bonus when getting attacked, but having to defend multiple times in a round gives a progressively worse penalty. You can fortify - but not only you need full movement to do so, but unlike it is in Civ it also prevents you from more then a very tiny automatic heal - every large scale recovery puts you largely out of service. There are 3 different methods to get units back to full strength, but all leave you vulnerable during the process (so best retreat in secure lands or in a city away from the front) and they differ regarding speed, ressource use and loss of manpower/loyalty/experience. Sounds quite complex? It is, but not in a negative way, as the game both gives you usually (exception: first attack on a city) a rough battle prediction and has nice past-battle reports, which quickly tell you why you have won or lost:



2. Trade: So is vereything about war? No. The economy is based on managing 8 "currencies" (Gold, Food, Wood, Stone, Iron, Influence, Knowledge and Slaves) you administrate in a central treasury and while cities together with Mines and Farms cover you with biggest share, there is always need to trade around. And the system used for these trades is one of the most comfortable, customizable und fun-bringing ones I have seen so far. While Gold has a certain function as currency, you barter in fact on the principle of demand and supply. You have several tools to negotiate these deals: Suggesting a specific deals, making free offers and requests, askings counter-proposals, up to gifting or demanding tribute... It reminds a bit of Settlers of Catan, when exchange Ore for Wood, but I:GW goes beyond one-time-deals. You can do them, but most of the time you will sign longer contracts, where you change X for Y over Z turns:


You have to take in account the risk of robberies (even in peacetime, but with increased risk when war opponents disturb your trade routes) and the transaction costs the exchange brings itself. You can define a limit to get the trade dissolved, when the losses get too high and you are even free to cancel ongoing treaties. However, as much as initiating trade brings the people closer, such actions will destroy the trust - which brings me to the next point...

3. Diplomacy: It is not only more granular than in Civ (beside having differing degrees of visibilty and information about being subject to treaties, e.g. "Open border" is split up into letting traders, civil units or armies pass - and whether the latter can heal. The game also distinguishes between defensive pacts and full alliences), it also sucessfully tries to make your AI opponents behave both intelligent and human. Hard factors like your military strength might determine if you are attacked, but getting feared isn't equal to getting liked. According to the developer the AI takes more than 40 factors in account for determining the relationship. The game neither leaves you complete in the dark about them nor does it tell you everything; instead you get an impression what (currently) impacts relations most:


There are as many ways to build up relation as to tear them down - e.g. allies don't like it if you spark unrest
in border cities:


AIs follows their own gaols, so naturally if you are somehow "useful" for them, they will like you. It is not uncommon in I:GW that you will just declare war on someone (or stay in a war without really fighting), just because your partners expect it (instead of you supplying their opponents with ressources behind their back!) or that you keep an old trade deal around until it runs out, instead of breaking it.

4. AI: Usually the Achilles heel of strategy games in SP. Often you have tons of nice features, but the AI already struggles with the basics. I:GW is a nice exception here - even without extra boni it can put up a decent fight (I'm progressing fairly well in my first game vs. AI on "normal", but my gut feeling is rather that this is more related to me having picked Sparta, which is one of the powerhouses suited for beginners). I mentioned initially that some features (like a sophisticated religion system) are just not there, but the positive trade-off is that the AI is capable of using everything what is in the game (e.g. State Decisions). They act quite intelligent on the battlefield (I have seen sucessful naval invasions and they are good to use your mistakes, like ambushing a unit ut of the FoW you dared to heal being careless) and engange alot in trading and diplomacy. The game also uses a two-fold difficulty system: Beside the well known overall difficulty setting, each AI opponent has an individual setting - which is used by deafult for playing on this historic map (to make "realitic developents" more likely):

I can see though that this might even spice up games on randomly generated maps, as AIs with varying individual diffulties might create an interesing endgame.

5. Developer: It's a small team and I:GW is (unlike A:AR) an indie game. But here it clearly helps the game: It already has received a free scenario DLC (Troy) and there are constant patches. The developer is very active and engaged with the community; reported bugs are often fixed within the next update, he listen to suggestions and even explains the game, if questions come up. Just have a look at its Steam Forums.

(*) For those who have played the precessor Agressors: Ancient Rome - it has probably everything which made A:AR a good game, but one top there are new features (e.g. Heroes and Generals, Quests, slightly reworked Diplomacy and Research, new Slave mechanic, Corruption, a territory concept giving ressource production boni for occupying certain "provinces", new players can spawn in game because of civil wars, independent cities as a factor), a reworked UI, extended MP, improved terrain graphics, more languages and is set in ancient Greek. So if you liked A:AR, buying this is probably no mistake (unless you consider the new stuff as "not enough")

Finally, the game is currently on sale (til January the 5th 2021)
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