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The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Stories & Tales' started by Zeiter, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. Zeiter

    Zeiter Prince

    Nov 20, 2008
    I am always thrilled when my Civ4 games are able to demonstrate real world dynamics. In this vein, I bring you:

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    This account comes from an AI autoplay of a personally-modified version of WolfRevolution. I was playtesting my modifications, and for this game I just happened to get the civs that I did. I did not plan this at all, believe it or not. I let the AI autoplay my civ for about 30-turn intervals. Whenever diplomatic choices would come up that I had to decide on, I always just kept the status quo. Whenever revolution choices popped up, I just did what the advisers recommended, or if the advisers were neutral, I flipped a coin. Once I noticed the AI Rome really going crazy with conquest and overstretching itself, I started taking screenshots, because I knew that I was about to see a grand spectacle. Empires: the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and this was just as true in this case, as you will see.

    This cautionary tale begins in 910 A.D. Even with a slightly-nerfed UU, the Romans have pretty much cleaned the board of rivals. (It turns out that there can be too much of a good thing.) The only serious threat remaining on the continent is a group of Germanic barbarians under a certain "Ragnar Lodbrok." In fact, the greater threat to Rome now comes from its own citizens and its own internal problems: horrible over-expansion, crippling budget deficits, and a standstill with research. To make things worse, Rome lacks the currency technology needed to build wealth. For a while, Rome had kept itself afloat on the typical conquest-slavery economy of empires in antiquity. As it has been said, empires need continual conquests like fire needs oxygen...but the bigger the fire grows, the more oxygen it needs...

    ...So, in 920 A.D., Rome continues pushing on into Arabia, taking Medina, about which the native inhabitants are already none too happy (see the 71-point distance penalty in the revolution index!) The conquest gold was now scarcely enough to make up for the budget deficit for more than a turn or two. Mussolini's advisers had been urging him to simply raze the city, but Mussolini was adamant about enhancing the glory of Rome and expanding the reaches of the empire at all costs.

    The economic turmoil worsens, and Roman citizens in the heartland begin to call for new leadership. They rally around ambitious generals...Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Caligula...but Mussolini's advisers do not yet take these demonstrations seriously, so Mussolini rejects the demands to cede power to his rivals. The economic problems, the emperor's intransigence, and the everyday oppression of slavery cause the Roman cities of the heartland become plagued with unhappiness. Neapolis starves as angry proletarii, driven off their traditional wheat fields by the big latifundi, roam the city as an angry, propertyless mob.

    Emperor Septimus Severus: "Pay the soldiers. Nothing else matters."

    Mussolini had these words ringing in his ears as he received reports from the provinces that soldiers were going on strike. In response, Mussolini orders his provincial governors to recruit more troops to defend Rome against the Germanic barbarians to the southeast, which only exacerbates the situation!

    It is 1000 A.D. The decaying Roman Empire has displayed a surprising amount of imperial inertia. Somehow it has maintained its grip on all of its provinces for almost a hundred years, and looking at a map, nobody would be able to tell that the great Roman Empire was living on borrowed time. When one investigates the mutinies among the military due to lack of funds, the decay becomes apparent, though.

    It is 1185 A.D. The Roman Empire has, for another 200 years, maintained a surprising imperial inertia. Looking at the map is, once again, deceiving as to the true internal rot of the empire. The Roman Empire has lost the province of Arabia to Arabian rebels, and the Roman Empire is currently in the process of being driven out of its Netherland provinces by rebel leader Willem van Oranje and his Germanic barbarians. The military defeats abroad, along with a crumbling slave economy and repeated rejections of calls for reform and changes in leadership, have sent the Roman economy into a tailspin. 7/8's of the Roman population consists of angry mobs of proletarii. Citizens in the empire's very capital are starving for the first time in history. Ambitious generals vie for power almost every few years, promising bread, circuses, and a reversal of Rome's recent ill fortunes to desperate (and easily persuaded) mobs. So it comes to be that Rome is researching construction, hoping to begin the construction of some beautiful coliseums, rather than researching currency in order to do the only sensible thing at this point: build wealth. Instead, demagogic Roman generals promise victories and amusement that most don't yet realize have become foolish pipe dreams.

    It is 1195 A.D. The Romans have lost their last imperial outpost in the Netherland provinces. The citizens of the Roman heartlands are infuriated. They rally around one of the few successful generals remaining, the ambitious Julius Caesar. Mussolini's advisers are neutral on whether to cede power to this rival. Mussolini flips a coin of now devalued Roman mint. Mussolini decides to reject the popular calls for change in leadership. The Roman heartlands erupt in revolt as a new dynasty jumps into the power vacuum to vie for power, Hannibal of Carthage (whaddayaknow...Rome's old enemy, lol!) The Roman cities, now staffed by only one unit of imperial guards per city due to lack of funds, ready for the uprisings...

    Within ten years, half of the Roman heartlands have been taken over by the Carthaginian upstarts. Neapolis burns as peasant rebel reinforcements in the surrounding countryside rally behind the new dynamic Carthaginians and their war against the decadent Roman Empire.

    Finally, Rome falls to the Carthaginians. Rome lies in non-Roman hands as Antium, one of the last Roman strongholds, burns.

    The former Arabian provinces of the once-magnificent Roman Empire:

    The former Netherland provinces, with Ragnar's lands to the East:

    Neapolis falls. The Roman Empire lies territorially fragmented. Hannibal's armies swell as Carthage establishes itself as an empire in its own right, in turn.

    As the new Carthaginian Empire's armies march on the last Roman strongholds, city militia spearmen are the only forces that remain to defend the glory of the SPQR.

    Soon, all that remains of the Roman Empire is the outpost of Ravenna, and even now the citizens of the Roman Empire are still not satisfied. Ambitious generals paint fanciful visions of regaining the lost glory of the Roman Empire. Meanwhile, Carthage has swelled to encompass most of the old Roman heartlands.

    Hannibal's power surpasses even Ragnar's to re-assume Rome's place as the pre-eminent power on the continent. Meanwhile, Willem van Oranje has the gall to send a small SoD to try to take the last Roman city from Willem's former Roman masters.

    (Also note that Hannibal does not yet have alphabet yet. Usually rebelling civs get all of the technology that their masters had, so that, combined with the fact that I don't remember Rome having alphabet yet, means that even a human player would probably have had a difficult time digging out of the hole of imperial expansion (no building research, and currency a long way off). The only intelligent option would have been to grant independence to the provinces, which might have had the added benefit of acting as buffer states against the principal rival, Ragnar. Hey, at least Rome had gotten the conquest money, so it wouldn't have been a total loss).

    All of the conquest and rebellion has left Rome's continent incredibly backward. Even so, with aggressive AI on, don't expect a spectacular global tech rate. The leading civs on the other continent, it turns out, are just entering the Medieval era.

    Finally, in 1504 A.D., over 500 years after the zenith of Roman power, the last Roman city is captured by Carthage. The lone remaining Roman archer dies soon after that.

    (Also note how the Dutch, who had been completely wiped out at one point, are now at a competitive position again(?...they might not even have been one of the starting civs, I can't remember...))

    Such has been the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
  2. BobTheTerrible

    BobTheTerrible Just Another Bob

    Jan 5, 2003
    Middle of Nowhere
    That's pretty cool. Good story.

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