A bit of thread necromancy:
With the end of the semester, I've finally had time to really get into Empire. And wow
do I prefer it over Rome and Medieval. The campaign map (what I play the game for) is significantly more sophisticated- I like the move to capitals and towns (although it bothers me that some regions are really limited in how much you can develop them- I'd like more than two towns in the Netherlands, thanks!), I very much like the ministers, and I love researching.
I've got a long list of complaints- but that's to be expected for any game. The most noteworthy ones:
- You can fight naval battles now! But they're... bizarre, and you'll end up autocalcing anyway, unless you've got a thing for naval combat. In which case you'll really like this addition.
- Land battles seem a lot less tactical, since a lot of the time your tactics are "stand in a line and shoot them." Cavalry charges in the rear are still effective- but cavalry are no longer the dominant force that they were in Rome and Medieval, which means that someone used to cavalry strategies in those games will have to relearn how to fight.
- The "new town" system can cause a few problems- like, for example, trying to get a port in the Carolinas (I think that's the region). There's no farm you can develop, and so your only way to encourage the growth of the port is to exempt the region from taxes, and wait... a long, long time.
- The short campaign always lasts 100 turns. What the hell. The short campaign was such a big improvement because it let you play a game for only 20 turns or so, and still get a pop up telling you that you won- I've been playing a game as the Maratha Confederacy, a Hindu nation that starts out in Southern India, and conquered all of India (my victory condition was 10 particular provinces, then five others) within 15ish turns. I then got a pop-up that said "good job! Now hold those provinces until 1750." The year was... 1708 (it's two turns per year). I'm currently on track to satisfy the requirements for World Domination (50 provinces) by the time the short campaign is over!
- Unit diversity, as pointed out, is lacking. It's pretty much line infantry, light infantry, artillery, and then a couple of cavalry units that are of questionable usefulness. And the units are pretty much the same for every nation- they sort of have to be, so one nation doesn't dominate or another one sucks. Somewhat odd is that the best line infantry (or so I believe) are the Sikhs- yeah, they were fantastic fighters, but are they really better than Prussians? You pretty much get to pick between slightly better line infantry, available early, or excellent riflemen, available late (the Maratha Confederacy, at least, doesn't have a unit of 60 riflemen like the British or Prussian ones).
- The different campaigns play really differently, which is nice- but a couple of them are annoying because I can't get them to be what I want them to be. If I have the British campaign on very hard, I constantly have to deal with stuff I don't want to- but if I have it on medium, I won't have anything approaching a decent rival by the mid-late game. It would be nice if you could set different factions at different difficulties- I want Prussia to be very hard, and then France and Spain to be hard, and then the rest of the European factions to be Medium, or something.
- I don't really know what to think of some factions being so much better at particular things than other factions. For example, the British make probably the best trade theater faction (haven't tried the Spanish yet to compare) because they have four commercial ports all next to each other in England, only two turns from a teleport point (and then three in the Americas), which means that for every two turns at the start of the game, you can take over four of the five spots of a trade theater. And, at the start of the game, each Indiamen will be returning roughly its cost per turn- which means that a British player who doesn't do that is missing out on a significant source of income.
But anyway, this game is fantastic. I'm playing a game as the Maratha right now (on very hard), which is going really well- I've conquered all of India except Ceylon, which is still held by my only trading partner, the United Provinces. I haven't built a navy worth mentioning besides around ten dhows, and those plus the plantations in India give me a trade income of around 10k a turn- plus tax income of around 7k and the base 3k. My expenses are only around 12k in army maintenance- it was around 6k when I was conquering India, but then I raised two full armies of Sikhs to conquer Persia (which I just finished) and then the Ottoman Empire (which is next). That gives me around 8k a turn that I'm pumping into developing India- none of my plantations are at the second level yet, a lot of farms can be developed, etc., but I'm sitting on a gold mine (both literally and figuratively) and so I'm not worried about having more things to do than money to do it with, at the moment.
The primary drawback of Maratha is that your income is heavily dependent on trade- but you're not in a position to get a nice navy unless you work at it, and even then you need to police all the way from the coast of India to whichever nation you have a trade agreement with. So far I've just been taking the 3-4k a turn hits of being raided rather than making a navy, but clearly that needs to change soon.
The interesting thing about the Maratha is, once you take out Goa and Mysore, you're pretty much only dealing with the Mughals, and they're a pushover. Portugal won't really care enough to invade (especially if Spain goes to war with them), but they may raid/blockade you (I got lucky with Spain actually taking Portugal out, getting rid of a raiding Portuguese fleet). You'll be able to take over all of India before any European powers even consider moving in- and then you're sitting on the entirety of an immensely wealthy continent, that's (almost) all your religion and not very resistant to you moving in. I'm not sure about whether Ceylon is worth a war with the Dutch- I was planning on just buying it from them, but it doesn't look like I can pay them enough, and so I don't know if I should just wait until someone kills them and then move in, or declare war and take it, or just say "eh, they're my ally and trading partner, they can keep it."
Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes. -- Ben Franklin
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