Welcome to Imperator: Rome, the newest grand strategy game from Paradox Development Studios. Imperator: Rome drops you into the classical Mediterranean and South/Central Asia a decade after the death of Alexander the Great. You can play any nation or tribe on the map as you pursue empire and glory in a time of conquerors and tyrants.
This starter’s guide is a companion to the in-game tutorial and will presume that you are familiar with the basics taught there. You should know how to choose your nation, recruit troops, move them around the map, build trade routes, construct buildings in a province, and other fundamental tasks.
This guide will take you through the game by:
- Explaining the meaning and relevance of the individual numbers along the top row of the game screen
- Going through each major game menu laid out near the top of the game screen and explaining the major actions you can take.
- Describing province and population interactions, including trade
- Explaining how to use map modes to get information about your empire
- Laying out the early steps for a new game
Like most Paradox grand strategy games, Imperator: Rome has a lot of numbers and interactions between those numbers. Tool-tips are plentiful and can help you decide a course of action/clear up possible confusion in-game.
- 1 What is "Imperator: Rome"?
- 2 Important Information on Your Empire
- 3 Interacting with Your Empire
- 3.1 National overview
- 3.2 Government
- 3.3 Military
- 3.4 Technology
- 3.5 Religion
- 3.6 Economy
- 3.7 Diplomacy
- 3.8 Decisions
- 3.9 Trade
- 3.10 Characters
- 3.11 Mercenaries
- 4 Map Modes and the Outliner
- 5 References
What is "Imperator: Rome"?
If you are familiar with Paradox Development Studio games, then you will find little in Imperator: Rome that is surprising. It builds on our development experiences from the many other historical grand strategy games we have made, so you will see elements of Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, Victoria, and, obviously, Europa Universalis: Rome. Imperator can be considered a sequel to our first Roman themed game, but not a remake or reboot.
If you are unfamiliar with our grand strategy games, then welcome to a world of historical adventure.
Though everyone should play the tutorial, it is especially important for newcomers to our games. Almost every action and button has an explanatory tooltip, many of which break down the math and variables at play in certain interactions.
A longer starter’s guide can be found below, so if you want a quick rundown of the game’s major systems, feel free to read that. It is not a substitute for the tutorial or the tooltips, but is a guided tour of the interface and how certain things are related.
Key points to remember while playing
Here are some key things to remember as you go forward.
- Though there are characters in Imperator and they can have a dramatic influence on the course of your game, this is not a Crusader Kings character-centered role-playing experience. Your government will change, kings will be overthrown, and so on, but you are the nation; its stability is what is most important.
- To some extent, Imperator is a classic “paint the map” game, where the goal is to build an empire as great as Rome’s or Alexander’s. It is relatively easy to start a war, and army management will be one of your most common tasks. There is a great deal of complexity in the game, still, but your goals are generally very simple.
- Keep an eye on disloyal characters (you can see them in the outliner). If they are not popular or prominent, you won’t have many worries unless they are commanding an army. Rich and prominent characters who become disloyal may raise a personal army, however. Manage loyalty with gifts and promotions, or you ruin their reputation or imprison them.
- Many of you will have to come to our games after the Victoria series, so you may be unfamiliar with POPs. These are population units, representing a group of residents in a province. POPs have a rank, a culture and a religion. Each of these will affect what they produce and how content they are in your realm.
- Many major actions will have notifications in the upper border of the screen. These Alerts will tell you when you can purchase a new bonus (tech, omens, traditions), when you have an empty office in government, when a military unit needs a leader and so on. Not all alerts require immediate action.
- The macro-builder button at the upper left of the screen under your portrait is a convenient way to build many things quickly. Use the TAB key on your keyboard to open the Outliner.
- Tribal nations play very differently from Republics or Monarchies. Much of their military power, for example, is based on the personal retinues of clan chieftains. They have smaller territory, in general, and wars can quickly spiral out of control. Be sure you know the game before jumping into the Lusitani or Helvetii.
Recommended locations for new players
For the best starting playing experience, the following starting positions can be recommended:
- Rome Rome (central Italy) starts of as a local power encompassing 23 cities being inhabited by about 400 pops. It should quickly go to war with its large neigbors Etruria and Samnium. Uniting the peninsula before the other regional powers can make alliances there is crucial. Rome has the ability to train Heavy Infantry in its capital province Latium, which has even two cities producing iron, thereby receiving the "Capital Province surplus"-bonus of iron. Opting for the Military traditions Pricipes, March of the Eagles and Triarii (see Italic traditions) will further strengthen this unit type. Also, because the "Capital Province surplus"-bonus is stacking, 15 Slaves should be moved to one of the cities producing the Iron, to further buff that unit type. Most victims have to rely on Light Infantry, the weakest unit type which receives the most penalties, especially −25% against Heavy Infantry!
- Macedon Macedonia (northern Greece) is a kingdom whose expansion into the Greek city states to its south is complicated by their diplomatic relations with the one great rival to its east - the Antigonid kingdom of Phrygia. Build a navy and use skilled statecraft to maintain independence.
- Maurya Maurya (India) should be able to unify the subcontinent easily. If you want a sandbox where you can try different expansion strategies, this is a good place.
- 20px Egypt Egypt (Egypt) is large and has no timber for ships. Phrygia is the only real threat, but it is surrounded by enemies. Egypt’s population does not match its ruling elite, so it will be vital to maintain stability and slowly assimilate the population.
First Steps When Starting a New Game
If you already know the basics of the game layout, here are some basic steps you should take when you are starting a new game. Once you have chosen your nation, be sure to go through these steps before you unpause the game.
- Appoint leaders for your military units. You will see a crested helmet alert at the top of the screen. Click on this successively until every army and navy is led by a character. Choose the leader by selecting the army or navy, clicking on the marble bust by the silhouette and choose which character you want. Characters will be sorted by their military skill, the primary consideration for leading an armed force.
- Take a look at your nation’s leader and likely successor. If you are a Republic or Tribe and the likely successor does not look very skilled, consider a plan to subvert their popularity by promoting other characters or smearing ill-suited leaders. If you are a Monarchy, weigh any threats that may come from pretenders. They will all be weak to start, but think about pacifying any potential danger.
- Check your diplomatic situation. Locate your allies/tributaries/overlords and any nearby lands you might have a casus belli on. Consider building another army half the size of your starting force, so you don’t exhaust your treasury but have some support.
- Go to the Religious menu and, if you can, increase your national stability (Sacrifice to the Gods) and choose an appropriate omen. If money is tight, choose an omen that will increase your taxes. If you plan on going to war immediately, choose the omen that reduces your aggressive expansion.
- Select your Capital Province and complete all trade routes that you can afford to complete. If you can, make sure your country has access to Iron (heavy infantry) and horses (cavalry).
- Go to the Technology menu and choose a couple of inventions that will help you immediately. Anything that boosts income, army morale or the duration of omens would be a good choice.
- If you are playing a military focused opening, consider where you will move your troops. Once you unpause the game, your intended target may start to form new alliances, so keep an eye on the balance of power before declaring war.
- Rome gets an early event that gives it claims on all of the Italian Peninsula, so it should not waste early Oratory power on Fabricating a Claim on a neighboring province or city. Other war focused nations might want to think about claiming a target province.
Important Information on Your Empire
Grand strategy games require you to be familiar with your current situation at a moment’s notice. Like other Paradox games, Imperator; Rome uses the very top of the screen to display the crucial data that will guide your most common decisions. There are nine key numbers.
Points generated by population
- Main article: Population
It is the population which generates manpower, money and research! You have to chose the social class each individual pop living in your realm belongs to, and also the distribution of pops among your cities. You then can use money to build buildings to further increase your population's output.
Indicates the total accumulated wealth available for spending. If you hover your mouse over the figure, you will see your current monthly income and how this number is calculated. Most of the time, your income will be
Some states will receive or spend gold because of tributary or other subject relationships. From time to time you may receive windfalls of gold from characters or events.
Gold is used to recruit military and naval units, which are then grouped into armies and fleets, construct buildings in your cities, reward characters or smooth diplomatic relations. You cannot spend money you do not have, though you can run a country with a negative income or a treasury deficit. So if you are in debt, you can continue for a while with some penalties - it’s not game over or anything - but you can build no new armies, fleets, or forts.
Your manpower is generated by all Freemen-type or Tribesmen-type Pop who live in your realm. You will gain manpower every month until you hit your national maximum – the total number of people your nation can enlist at this time. If you hover your mouse over the figure, you will see your manpower’s rate of increase and how many reinforcements are being drawn from the pool.
Your manpower is reduced by 1000 for every new unit you recruit into your armies. As your armies suffer attrition and take casualties in battles, they will be replenished from the manpower pool.
Certain laws will affect both the rate at which you gain manpower and your maximum manpower capacity. (Laws are covered in the Government menu.)
From time to time, decision will pop up, these can cost manpower.
Points generated by states
- Main article: Power points
- Military Power – You use Military Power to adopt Military Traditions or take other military related actions throughout the game. You gain a small amount of Military Power every month, plus half the Military Skill of your ruler character.
- Civic Power – You use Civic Power to claim Inventions that will improve your nation as well as other civic related actions throughout the game. You gain a small amount of Civic Power every month, plus half the Civic Skill of your ruler character.
- Oratory Power – You use Oratory Power in a number of Diplomatic and Political Activities, including improving relations with your neighbors and changing laws. You use oratory power whenever you interact with another character, and is used at the province level for changing governors’ policies, promoting population units or assimilating them. You gain a small amount of Oratory Power every month, plus half the Oratory Skill of your ruler character.
- Religious Power – You use Religious Power to call upon the gods for favorable omens or raise your national stability and to convert populations units in your provinces that do not follow the state religion. You gain a small amount of Religious Power every month, plus half the Religious Skill of your ruler character..
Points generated by player actions
Stability indicates the internal health of your nation and its institutions. It runs on a scale from 0 to 100. Stability affects a number of important calculations for your nation and the higher it is, the better for you. Stability determines your tax income, your ruler’s legitimacy in Monarchies, a ruler’s popularity, your research points, and the loyalty of your subject states.
Your stability will be decreased by certain diplomatic or political actions, such as declaring war on a neighbor without a casus belli or changing your form of government. It can be increased by spending Religious Points to sacrifice a pig on the Religion Menu. (Yes, the ancient world is a little odd.)
Try to keep your stability in the positive numbers as often as possible. Prolonged instability will eventually break your nation if you can’t pay the bills or prop up a failing king.
Aggressive Expansion is a numerical reflection of the threat you present to your immediate neighbors. You increase your Aggressive Expansion by conquering other peoples’ territory. The more you annex in a war, the larger your AE will be, making it harder to maintain good relations with nearby nations. You also add a little bit of Aggressive Expansion when you recruit a foreign character to take up employment and residence in your kingdom; nobody wants you harboring a pretender to the throne who might pose a threat later.
High Aggressive Expansion will reduce the happiness of foreign culture population in your provinces, increasing their unrest. AE will reduce over time, and, the more you have the quicker the rate of reduction. The absolute rate of decay will depend on the skill of the government official responsible for this (Praetors in republics, Arbitrators in tribes, etc.)
The Tyranny rating reflects the popular opinion of your government - are you seen as a benevolent force acting in the interests of the nation, or are you a capricious and arbitrary person who centres their own concerns?
Your tyranny is normally increased by acts of brutality like assassination, executions, banishment of other characters, and brutal subjugation of conquered neighbors. In a Republic, Tyranny can also be increased by the ruler defying the will of the Senate to take actions.
High Tyranny decreases the happiness of population units of your own culture, thereby increasing the chance of revolts in your cities. It also inspires disloyalty in some of your leaders. On the plus side, a tyrannical regime will have productive slaves and lower power costs for imprisoning or executing characters. Tyranny decreases naturally over time, but will decrease faster if the ruler is popular.
Interacting with Your Empire
There are eleven circles at the top of the screen, each with a divine representation of the content within. These circles open menus that will give you detailed information on your empire and allow you to take actions that will have long or short term effects on your nation. This section will deal each menu in turn and dig into the submenus and other major concepts associated with each category.
The first circle (Jupiter) takes you to a menu that gives you a thorough rundown of your national situation. You will see a portrait of your national leader and some basic statistics about the condition of your country. Roll your mouse over the numbers for detailed information on their effects.
Clicking on the portrait will take you to a menu of character interactions. We will explore these in more detail later.
You can use the overview screen to choose National Ideas. You can choose up to three National Ideas. The types of ideas available to you will depend on your form of government. Military Ideas will give bonuses to your army. Civic Ideas will help in the governing of your nation. Oratory Ideas will affect the power of diplomatic or political actions. Religious Ideas focus on the spiritual and cultural health of your empire. If you match national ideas to the relevant power icon for each slot, you unlock special perks.
The main focus of the national overview menu is a sortable list of the provinces in your empire. You can sort this list based on population, trade or loyalty data. You can also change the governor’s administrative focus – a particular bonus that describes the job you want the governor to be doing while running a province (though governor are appointed to regions).
If you click on a province’s name, you will be immediately taken to that province’s location and open up its detailed panel. On this panel you can see more information about that specific province, including trade goods, governor and the governor’s policy. Under the governor you can see a list of cities displayed and their local trade good. To the right you have more specific information regarding the city, encompassing religious, cultural, economic and demographic information.
This is also where you can order the construction of four types of buildings. Marketplaces increase commercial income and citizen happiness. Training Camps increase manpower and Freemen happiness. Fortresses increase the fortress level of a province, forcing invading armies to lay siege to the city and limiting enemy movement. Granaries increase population growth and slave happiness. You cannot build structures in cities that have greater than 10% unrest.
You can also create trade routes and replace governors from this menu.
The second circle (Juno) gives you detailed information on your government. There are three main types of governments in Imperator: Rome and each plays differently from the other. All governments will give you another portrait of your current leader as well as a display of the eight characters that are currently performing important roles in your nation. You can replace any of these advisors by clicking on the marble bust. Each advisor role is associated with a major character attribute.
At the top right of the Government display, you will see a button that takes you to the Laws submenu, where you can customize eight different categories of your rule. Your options here vary depending on your government type. Check the rollover tooltips for requirements and effects of changing laws..
Monarchies are the most common form of government in the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and India in Imperator. The Hellenistic monarchies that divided the empire of Alexander after the great conqueror’s were often riven by treachery and popular unrest, but they continued as the template for rule in the East. At the closing of the Roman Republic, Mark Antony, the governor of the Eastern provinces, modeled his putative monarchy on the semi-divine Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms.
The primary consideration for a monarchy will be management of the succession. There will be a primary heir, usually the eldest child of the reigning monarch, and Pretenders, who are usually other children of the reigning monarch or the heads of powerful families in the kingdom.
Provincial governors and other major characters will give support to one of the candidates for the throne. If a Pretender has considerable support, they may challenge the Primary Heir on the death of the monarch, leading to a Civil War. Pretenders will become more disloyal over time, and can be removed or imprisoned before they become a threat, though this will greatly increase the Tyranny of the monarchy.
Ancient Republics were government forms where the citizens of the nation had some say in the direction of the country. This was usually done through the election of leaders at all levels of government. This was a more democratic type of government than monarchies, but should not be confused with Athenian democracies or even modern representative democratic nations. Rome, the most famous of the ancient republics, was dominated by a few dozen families and their close allies; they used their wealth and family history to often exclude newcomers to the elite power circles unless they were individuals of incredible talent, like Cato the Elder or Gaius Marius.
Republics in Imperator have two major characteristics that distinguish them from other governments.
First, leaders serve a fixed term, at the end of which, an election is held. The length of the term is dependent on the specific type of Republic. The Republic government menu will show the identity of the leading candidate to succeed the current consul/suffete/archon, and mousing over this small portrait will show you the names of other possibilities. You can use this information to decide if you want to damage the popularity of an unfit but likely winning candidate.
Second, Republics will need to contend with their Senate. Senates represent the rough prominence of five factions in your nation - civic, military, mercantile, religious, and Populist. Your national leader will belong to one of these factions, bringing bonuses or, in the case of the Populists, penalties, that will affect your nation. Populists are seen as a negative factor for a Republic since they are less invested in the traditional distribution of power.
A character’s membership in a faction may change depending on events throughout the game. Character abilities will be the primary determinant of their faction choice, but, for example, a suddenly rich character may slowly drift towards the Mercantile to protect their commercial interests.
Many diplomatic decisions in a Republic will require approval by the Senate, and relative power of the factions will impact the Senate’s overall opinion. For example, militaristic senators will smile on declarations of war, while the Mercantile faction can be expected to approve better relations with neighbors. If Senate opinion is closely divided, a leader can force through approval of a diplomatic proposal but will increase Tyranny.
Much of Europe in the classical era was still governed by tribal organization, whether in the form of loosely organized kingdoms or more traditional nomadic tribes that were common in the north. Tribal governments had to balance the interests and ambitions of the clans that made up the society. It would take a strong chief or king to centralize and “civilize” tribal institutions.
In Imperator, the two most common tribal governments are Settled Tribes and Migratory Tribes. They can be upgraded to other forms of government if they increase their Centralization.
Both Tribal Kingdoms and Tribal Chiefdoms can be seen as partly a Monarchy and partly a Republic. The leader will rule for life, but the successor to the king will be elected by the clans. The successor may consistently come from one clan, but popular and successful chiefs may be elected the king of the tribe once the older ruler has died. As in a Republic, you will have foreshadowing of who the successor is likely to be so you can decide whether to work against the political will of your society and resist an unfit heir.
Tribal Clan leaders also maintain a Clan retinue. This is a personal army that each Clan Leader is responsible for paying and reinforcing. Disloyal Clan Leaders may choose to sit out a war or act on their own without direction from you.
Tribal Chiefdoms can migrate their population centers. Any city with at least 3 population figures can pack up and move to another territory to settle. To move your city, click on the Migration button to the immediate left of the National Flag on the city detail menu. The residents will be transformed into an army of mostly light infantry and can be moved to any location on the map to resettle.
The Military (Mars) menu is where you can find important information about your armies and choose Military Traditions. A large percentage of your time in Imperator: Rome will be spent moving your armies around.
Each culture in Imperator has its own set of unique Military Traditions. The Roman way of war was quite different from that of the Hellenistic kingdoms, for example. Once you have earned enough Military Power, you can spend it on a new Military Tradition that will improve certain aspects of your army.
Your armies and navies are not accessible from this menu, but can be seen in list form on the outliner guide on the upper right of your screen, as well as on the map itself. To select an army, click on it on the map or on the outliner. (You can press TAB to open or close the outliner).
Armies and navies fight more effectively when under the command of a character, whose military skill acts as a multiplier on the combat power of your fighting force. Because leadership was so important in the classical era, you will be prompted with an alert whenever you have an army or navy without a leader.
Any leader who successfully leads an army will, over time, attract the personal loyalty of some of the units under their command. If this leader provokes a civil war, these units will follow the leader in fighting against the government.
You can reduce troop loyalty to their leader by rewarding them after a successful campaign. To do this, click on the portrait of the army leader and choose Reward Veterans in the interaction menu. This will detach the loyalty of some cohorts from the leader if you pay a substantial sum from your treasury.
A disloyal leader in charge of an army will not follow your commands, but may still act in a war on its own initiative..
You can recruit new units in three ways:
- Choose a city and click on the Build Units button at the bottom of the display. Note that some kinds of troops require specific trade goods (Iron, Wood, Horses, Elephants, etc).
- Use the Macrobuilder button at upper left of your screen (beneath your national flag) to choose which provinces should recruit new units.
- Select an army and click on the Recruit To Army button to the right of the leader portrait. This will tell the game that you want specific types of units to be recruited and to then join this army.
Armies may be given a number of commands and battle tactics. These may be chosen any time you select an army that is not in battle. Forced march and building roads can only be chosen if the army is not moving. The effectiveness of available commands and tactics will depend on the composition of forces and military traditions will determine some options.
- Main article: Technology
The fourth major menu is Technology (Vulcan/Hēphaistos). This sub-menu shows the currently total generated Research points, the current progress of researching the respective technology level in each of the four fields (martial, civic, oratorical, and religious) and the currently appointed head researcher.
The speed of the progress depends on Research Points generated by your citizen-type pops and the relevant skill of the appointed character to lead the research. As a rule of thumb, you should choose the character with the highest martial skill to lead the military research, the one with the highest civic skill the civic research, etc. But also take into account politics, i.e. keep the various families happy and also the might of the various factions in the senate!
Hovering the cursor over the progress bar shows what is going to be unlocked when reaching 100%.
From this menu you can also buy/activate/unlock Inventions for 100 each. Each level makes available three inventions.
Religion was central to classical life, though not in the form we are necessarily familiar with today. The Religion menu (Vesta) outlines the Religious actions you can take, as well as big picture information on your national religion.
Most of the menu is taken up with Omens. You may spend Religious points to invoke the support of a god to bless your nation. An omen’s cost, duration and power are affected by events and religious technology.
You also use the Religious menu to increase the Stability of your country. This is done by sacrificing an animal. Click on the stabbed pig button at the top left to increase your stability.
If your war exhaustion is too high, you can choose a Devotio from the Religion menu A Devotio was a solemn oath by a Roman warrior to see a war through to its conclusion, even if that meant death. By spending 100 Military points, you can reassure the Roman people through a Devotio.
This menu also has information on your National Unrest (how many people are upset with how the nation is being managed) and Religious Unity (the percentage of people who share in the state religion.) You may increase your Religious Unity by spending religious power to convert individual population units in your cities. In a large polyglot empire, converting your entire population could be expensive, so find other ways to keep unrest down.
The Economy (Minerva) button outlines your income and expenses. You can adjust the rates of taxation/tribute and how much you want to spend on the various major costs in your empire. The default rate for each is Medium, though sometimes you will want to raise or lower taxes or expenses.
There are significant tradeoffs for choosing an extreme on either side. Lower wages for your officials will save you money, but also reduce the loyalty of characters. Higher tributes from your subjects will damage your reputation from your tributary states.
On this menu you can also convert National Power into gold and vice versa. The exchange rate is not equal, since Power points are a more precious resource. Still, if you are running a heavy surplus and need just another 25 or 50 Military Points for an important new Tradition, this is a good way to avoid waiting another year.
The highlight of the Diplomacy (Concordia) menu is the list of every nation in the game with a numerical representation of their opinion of you. This rating can range from −200 at the bottom to +200 at the top.
For much of the game, foreign relations will be the focus of your attention. You need to know whether a quick war you want to start will spiral into a multiple front disaster or if you can persuade smaller nations to submit peacefully. Foreign relations will be the center of much of the game, since you first need to know who you are attacking and if anyone will help you. Likewise, if anyone will be joining forces with your enemy once war begins.
If you click on a nation’s name in this menu, the right side of the menu will become a detailed breakdown of that nation’s diplomatic posture - its alliances, its enemies, its tributary relationships - and a folding menu of diplomatic actions you can take. You can also get to this menu by clicking on a foreign province and selecting Open Diplomacy at the bottom of the province detail screen.
Nations are given one of five ranks depending on their size, the higher your rank, the more diplomatic options are open to you:
In republics, you may need Senate approval to take certain actions. If you declare war on another nation without a casus belli (legal reason for the war), then your stability will go down. The easiest way to generate a casus belli is to Fabricate Claim on one of the target’s provinces. This is done by selecting Covert Actions and then Fabricate Claim.
Types of Diplomatic Relationships
- Alliance: Agreements between nations of the same power level who agree to protect each other if one comes under attack and can be called into offensive wars (though the ally may say no). Great powers cannot have alliances, but may subjugate lesser nations.
- Defensive League: Special alliance of smaller nations who agree to defend each other, unless the war is between two members of the Defensive League.
- Feudatory/Satrapy: A smaller nation pays a sum of money to its overlord and agrees to participate in all their overlord’s wars. The smaller nation may be integrated into the larger one, and has very little freedom of action in diplomacy.
- Tributary: Smaller nation regularly pays some of its income to a larger nation in exchange for the overlord’s protection. The tribute paying nation is not obligated to defend the larger.
The two-faced god Janus is represented on the menu button for Decisions. This small menu is where you can implement major changes to your national bonuses or change the form of government. If you hover your mouse over the selection box for the Decision, you will see the requirements for implementing the desired change. Hovering over the Decision name itself will tell you its effects.
There are 34 different trade goods in the game, each of which confers a bonus to any territory where it is found. Specific military units require certain goods for construction. A province with Wood will be able to make triremes, for example, and a province with amber will have more productive freedmen.
If a province has a surplus of a good, it will have even more bonuses. Surplus wood increases a province’s tax yield. Surplus camels will increase a province’s supply level. If the capital province has a surplus of a good, there are further bonuses attached.
You may only trade surplus goods, so, besides the obvious merit increasing your trade routes to add to your commerce income, you need to be mindful about where you are sending your surpluses. For example, you might not want to send your Carthaginian elephants to Rome, no matter how much money you get out of it. Supplying the barren deserts of Egypt with wood risks making them a sea power (as they were historically).
At the start of the game, most of your trade will be run through your capital. Provinces will gain trade routes of their own as their population grows, technology improves, and through random events.
The character menu (Venus) lists every character present in your realm. Characters in other realms are not shown. You can sort and filter this list along a number of criteria. Click on a character portrait for further information about a character and actions you can take. You may also right-click on a character portrait to take actions.
The mercenary menu (Fortuna) lists the composition, price and location of the mercenary companies on the map. For much of the classical world, mercenaries formed the elite corps of the army. Citizen armies like those of Rome or professional armies like those of Macedon were generally the exception, and most national forces would be backstopped by a freelance professional force. The armies of Carthage were primarily mercenary in nature (failure to pay them led to a huge rebellion after the First Punic War), and even great kings like Pyrrhus or Agesilaus would often behave as mercenary captains for another nation.
You can only recruit a mercenary if you have enough money in the bank to disband them when the time comes; they will expect a “cashing out” fee in respect of their service to you. If you fall behind in your mercenary payments, they will abandon your cause, or potentially switch sides in a war.
You may also hire mercenaries from the map by clicking on a mercenary unit (an army with a gray number plate). If you cannot afford their costs, clicking will do nothing, but if you can afford them, you will be prompted to hire the band.
You may hire any mercenaries in the world, but they will need to march to where you are while you pay them for the privilege. So if you are playing Rome, those Indian mercenaries are probably not money well spent.
Map Modes and the Outliner
In the lower right hand corner of the screen you will find a mini-map with 18 red icons above it. The minimap is used to quickly move your viewpoint from one part of the world to another. Click to a location on the minimap and your main screen will instantly move to that spot.
The red icons are Map Modes for the main screen. You will use these throughout the game to track important information that is more easily understood visually. The key map modes are the Political (each nation), Diplomatic (who your enemies are), Revolt Risk (which provinces are experiencing unrest) and Barbarian Power (which frontier provinces are likely to spawn barbarian invaders.)
The upper right corner shows the game date (in years AUC - counting years from the founding of Rome - and not conventional BC/AD) and the speed toggles. To the right of the speed toggles you will find the Outliner. This information panel will show you the important information you may refer to regularly. You can find your armies, navies, disloyal characters, active diplomatic actions, siege progress and other crucial bits of knowledge in the outliner.
You can configure the Outliner to show only the specific things you are interested in by clicking on the gear icon in the left hand corner of the Outliner. You can open and close the Outliner by using the TAB button.