Before you unpause the game
The game starts, rather conveniently, already paused. This allows the player to arrange everything as he or she prefers, from trade routes to window layouts and so on. To view the political and domestic situation more easily, set the view to "Political Map Mode" by pressing "W" on the keyboard and open up the event logs (the triangular button on the bottom, just to the left of the minimap) and make sure the lists window is open (top right).
First, you'll want to choose your National Ideas. Click the "Nation Overview" button, the little wreath at the top left of the screen.
As you'll see, Republics mostly have three National Ideas slots (Republic Confederacies, however, only have two). You can choose any of the Ideas from the subsequent lists, but you only get the bonus for your type of Republic if you choose from the right categories. In the case of the Roman ("Military" type) Republic, you'd need to choose two Military ideas and one Civic idea to get the bonus, which is a reduction on war exhaustion. Doing so would mean your country suffers less from waging war than other countries, and is quicker at recovering from them.
To set up trade routes, click the "Trade Map Mode" button next to the minimap or press "T" on your keyboard to show the trade routes available.
As you'll see, Rome has just about everything she needs at first, but most notably lacks access to horses. Cavalry play an important part in damaging the morale of your enemy in battles; if they can access the enemy flank, the enemy morale will drop more quickly. Look around the map for provinces with cavalry and try to trade with them. Vae Victis has introduced a more efficient interface for opening up foreign trade routes (see screenshot below).
Once you've tried foreign trade for important trade goods (you will have to unpause the game for a few days before you can see how the requests went), you can pause the game again and look for internal trade routes. If you fill up all internal routes but still have trade slots available, you can look again for foreign trade.
Tip: try to make trade routes that complement a province's strengths as best as possible. Provinces with lots of Slaves will have a higher tax income, so try to obtain Amber to maximise this bonus; likewise, a province with a lot of Citizens will produce more Research Points, so obtaining Papyrus will provide you with the best bonus.
Before you unpause the game again, open up the Character browser. You'll notice that some characters don't have jobs but have the ambition to gain one: if you leave them like that, they'll slowly gain Populist conviction and will lose loyalty. These characters can be easily seen by the brown box where their titles should be.
Click the "Unemployed" filter button at the top of the window: you'll want to give every man who is older than 18 a minor title so they don't become a part of the Populist menace. (Note: a character with the ambition for a title will not gain Populist conviction if they have ANY title, not just the one they want. If you have a character who wants a title that's already taken, you can keep them happy with something temporary like Military Tribune or Augur.) You only have a limited number of titles to give, but you should have enough for one per character with a few left over. Start with giving them the title of Military Tribune, since you have more of them to give away. If characters have the objective of gaining a specific title, giving them that title will increase their conviction for that particular job, pulling them even further away from the Populists.
You'll also notice that some male characters can't be given a title. Only characters over the age of 18 can be given a title, so from the age of 16 characters will start gaining Populist conviction that you can't stop. Take note of the characters you can't give a job to, and give them one as soon as you can.
Remember to revisit this screen every couple of years to give titles to any characters that might have matured in that time.
Characters have ambitions during the game, some of which the player can influence directly (by giving out titles or sending rivals into exile, for example) and others that can't be influenced (such as a character wanting a son). If a character wants a title, granting him that title will usually give several benefits depending on the title. For example, characters who have the ambition to become a general (legate) will gain +1 Martial skill and a bonus to their Military conviction (ie, they will be more likely to join the Military Faction in the senate).
Preparing for War
It is usually best to pause the game before declaring war, or after an enemy has declared war on you. Check the Military window to make sure your army and naval upkeep are at maximum, as otherwise your troops will suffer from poor morale. If you do need to adjust your upkeep sliders, give your armies a couple of months to regain their morale.
At the start of a war, you need to choose generals for your armies (in Europa Universalis III, you can often get away with having no general for an army: in EU Rome, a general is an absolute must!). Click on the army and hover your cursor over the words "No Current Leader" and a tooltip will tell you what the requirements for being a Legate (general) your characters will need.
In other words, in a Republic a character must:
- Not currently have a major title, other than ruler. Minor titles are ok.
- Be a current or former Consul (ruler) or be a former Praetor (civic technology researcher) or a former Censor.
- Be given a special appointment as a Legate by the senate.
Tip #1: the normal method of gaining more characters available as legates is to make characters with a high Martial skill into Praetors as soon as you can.
Tip #2: it is also possible to get very characters as young as 20 to be legates by simply making him a Pontifex Maximus after he turns 18 and retiring him from the position a year later (he will lose a small amount of loyalty when you do this, though). He can then immediately be given the position of Censor for another year before being retired (again losing a small amount of loyalty) and can subsequently be made a legate. Some players consider this a "gamey" strategy, while others view it as being a suitably Roman method of working around the system.
Note: you cannot change legates or naval prefects (admirals) for at least a year after you've appointed them, so if you have a a few valid characters you'll have to choose carefully.
The Senate Commands
Having armies or navies larger than 4 units will prompt the Senate into giving special commands to certain characters.
Your choices are: give them the command (they'll have it for at least a year, but will expect to have it for at least two) or risk them turning Populist. This character was already a Populist, but his conviction was low enough that he has a chance to convert later on. I don't intend on using my fleet in this war, so I may as well accept the Senate's demands.
Waging the War
You can now unpause the game and begin your war.
From the senate window you can see a breakdown of the senate.
Political attraction (also referred to as senate influence) is influenced by the Charisma of the faction leader (note: the Populist leader has a larger bonus for this) and of characters with government offices (in particular, the position of Censor). There are also a number of faction-specific modifiers: the Military faction gains attraction when provinces that you don't own are considered "core" provinces; the Mercantile faction gains power when there are lots of filled trade routes, etc).
If you want a specific faction in power, the best way to do this would be to fill as many government positions with characters from that faction, especially the position of Censor who gives a very large bonus.
Senate Blocking Actions
The Senate has the power to block certain player actions, such as declaring a triumph for your generals:
To find the cause of this, click on any province and hover the cursor over the little red X next to the "Hold Triumph" button.
Every political faction has a certain predisposition towards certain actions ("Faction Opinion"). This is then further modified by your ruler being:
- The leader of a faction. This will greatly increase the chance of that faction allowing your actions.
- Part of the same family as the faction leader. This will give you a moderate bonus.
- A friend of the faction leader. This will give you a small bonus.
- Popular. This will give you a moderate bonus.
Having a Consul from a certain faction will give you bonuses associated with that faction. In addition, you'll also be able to change National Ideas in the same category as your Consul's faction. For example, a militarist consul may change any National Ideas to a Military one without penalty:
You can still change to other National Ideas, but they will incur a -3 Stability penalty each. Note that Populist Consuls will automatically change one of your NI's when they come to power, so try to avoid getting them in power whenever possible!
Elections for a new ruler will occur every few years in a republic, the exact frequency of which being defined by your country's type of republic.
In the Senate window, you can see who is going to be the next Consul. Things may well change, though.
You can see with those two tooltips a similar layout to the Triumph tooltip before. A lot of it is out of the player's direct control, but there are a few things you can do to influence the next elections:
- Popularity: increase their popularity through their actions, particularly as a general. Giving a character a triumph will give him a huge bonus to his popularity, so it's not unusual for players to have their favoured character lead a small army to destroy rebels, barbarians or pirates for a quick and easy triumph.
- Family Prestige: family prestige is normally only increased by event or by achieving personal ambitions.
Appointing Characters to Offices
After more than a year has passed since the start of the game, you can start appointing new characters to public office. However, unless their term of 2 years has been reached, they will suffer some penalties:
As such, it's usually best to keep most of them in power until their terms have expired. However, if you're running low on potential legates, you may need to appoint a new Praetor with a higher Martial skill. When his one year minimum term is up you can replace him and have him ready in the legate pool.
Characters will provide a number of bonuses to your country when they are in office, depending on their skills and the office they are in:
- Their Finesse value will provide a bonus to that technology's rate of improvement. The formula for this is [Finesse]*10%. For example, a character with Finesse 8 will provide 8*10% = 80% faster research for that position, so if you want faster research you'll need characters with the highest Finesse value possible.
- Their other skills will provide other bonuses, depending on their office. To see these bonuses, see the tooltip for the title icon to the right of the progress bar.
The Populist Menace
Characters have a certain level of "conviction" towards each of the political factions, as a numerical value. The highest of these values is the faction that the character has joined, and you can see this number by checking the tooltip for the character's portrait. This is a picture from earlier in this guide:
You can see the conviction for this character's faction in parentheses just after the words "Military Faction". His other convictions are deliberately hidden to keep the player guessing, but if a character has less than 15-20 conviction for a specific faction then he is still pretty easily converted to another faction.
The easiest way to convert a Populist character to another faction is to give him the jobs that he desires. If a character has an objective, achieving that objective usually gives him conviction towards a specific faction. For example, a character wanting to be a general will gain Military conviction if he gets that job.
If a character has an objective to gain a title and doesn't have any titles at all, he'll automatically gain populist conviction at a rate of +0.1 per month (ie +1.2 per year). This means that after a couple of years, he'll likely join the populist faction, which you'll usually want to avoid. There are also some events that may increase a character's populist conviction. If he's an important character, chances are you'll want to avoid these.
In the senate, there are factors that contribute to each faction's "attraction". Attraction is a percentage value that shows how much that faction will grow in the following months. The faction with the highest attraction will gain senators in the following months, while the other factions will lose senators.
Note that the 2.3 beta patch has changed a number of these attraction factors (and has thankfully opened them up for modding!), but the main factors are already explained in the main guide. The first thing you'll need to do is simply remove any populists from public office.
The populist faction leader's Charisma value has a higher impact on his faction's attraction value than any other. Other factions gain a bonus equal to (charisma -1)*1, populists instead get a bonus equal to (charisma -1)*4. So, a Military leader with 5 Charisma would only give a bonus of 4%, while a Populist leader with 5 Charisma would give a bonus of 16%. As a general rule of thumb, it's best to avoid having populist leaders with a Charisma level greater than 4. Just imprison any populist leader who is too influential, it's far safer than trying to assassinate them (less of a Tyranny penalty).
Populist Civil Wars
Populist civil wars have a chance of triggering if they have a majority control in the senate (ie their senate influence is >49%) and your ruler is not a populist. The chance of this happens increases proportionally when the faction has a higher influence.
There may come a time when you simply cannot control your populist senate. You may have neglected to check the screen for a few years during an intense war, or you may not have known how to do it. Either way, there are two ways to get rid of the populists. The slow, but safe, method involves removing populist characters from office and imprisoning charismatic populist leaders. The quick, but potentially dangerous, method involves allowing a Populist Civil War, which may weaken your state considerably but will re-balance your senate immediately. It's up to you which way you want to go.
Once you've won the civil war, you can then follow the normal anti-populist measures mentioned above and you shouldn't have a problem with them again.