If you like historical strategy games, Imperiums: Greek Wars is a challenging turn-based game from Czech creators Kube Games. As a lover of the Civilisation series, I was excited to get the chance to review this game on Steam and equally intrigued by its focus on a specific era. Imperiums: Greek Wars is set exclusively in the Greek era, rather than spanning the entirety of human history, which gives the game a niche appeal. They certainly nailed the historical accuracy, giving useful context throughout, depending on campaign choice.
I played against the intelligent AI to maintain my economy, military, technology, and culture levels, and it was more stressful than I’d anticipated for a straight-up strategy game. The different challenges of each map area gave me a steep learning curve, as I quickly adapted to my allies and unexpected enemies.
The components that make this game unique from other turn-based games are pitted against some less than intuitive factors, though.
Macedonia in Turmoil
The Greeks are in a state of unrest when Imperiums: Greek Wars sets the scene for the main campaign. The game begins in 359BC when Philip II of Macedon has taken the throne, the edge of the Hellenic world is in sight. Decade after decade, factions strategise battles and treaties to claim and maintain power and land. You have the choice of 30 playable factions, including recognisable big city names like Athens, Sparta, and Macedonia. I, in fact, went for a smaller Greek city-state on the outskirts of the map, hoping to challenge myself and the game’s mechanics. Whichever city you choose to represent, it will set you in a different place on the map and with varying initial strengths and weaknesses.
I’m no history buff, but the historical aspects were explained unobtrusively through a story pop-up at the beginning of the campaign (skippable, if you already know your Greek lore) and with smaller contextual hints throughout. The creators chose the perfect time to set this, with unrest, subterfuge, and scheming aplenty in the Macedon region. The main campaign is played primarily from the Macedonian perspective, so you also get a good insight into their peoples’ real-life skills and advantages.
The story I created with the 4X functions was the best part of the Greek narrative for me, taking advantage of the customised map and scenario option. Tile by tile, I expanded, fought, retreated, maintained, and at last, began to grow. As I picked an underdeveloped city-state, I initially relied on trade and amassing natural resources and farming for grain. I made it my mission to make my mark with a strong offensive military and used my coastal position to develop a strong navy. Fantastic! Until the AI paired me back down in a one-turn declaration of war from a neighbouring ally. In a nutshell, this is the game story—unexpected moves and a truly Greek sense of honour and pride from fellow leaders.
Impressive World Simulation
Imperiums: Greek Wars is a complex 4X strategy. This means, as a player, you have the ability to expand, exploit, exterminate, and explore. This is the heart of the gameplay that I experienced, and it ultimately gave me complete control over the direction I took my little custom city-state.
The game has so much to offer, even just in its main Greek scenario. The Peninsula is crowded, lively, and each nation has its own unique objective. The East seems to be the gentlest of starts, allowing you space to grow, while island states offer a more nautical-based beginning. The North is the epicentre for wild squabbling and clamorous raiding. You’ll need to plan out your tactics and strategies specific to each location, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all set of choices.
My favourite addition to the gameplay of Imperiums is the mythological layer. Crucially, you can turn this off if realism is more your vibe. But what’s Greek history without a bit of Perseus and various vengeful Gods? I actively pursued the opportunities for mythological fun, and it kept me playing for longer.
The level of simulation that Kube Games have gone to is possibly the most impressive part of this game. Imperiums: Greek Wars simulates a vast range of factors. The most important to start with maybe resources, basics like stone, wood, and iron as raw materials can help you create peace treaties and trades for other valuables you might be lacking. Aside from resources, there’s the military who protect your trade routes. All units have experience and loyalty indicators, crucial to keep track of when you’re planning a battle and have a dissatisfied army. Loyalty bars are also important to avoid the worst outcome—civil war.
Unlike some strategy games, battles are automatically evaluated and played out. You won’t be micromanaging your troops’ every move during a combative sequence. Terrain, unit type, and quantity of men will be the main deciding factors for the outcome of each battle.
Of course, with war comes peace. It’s your job to form alliances, peace treaties, trade routes, and the absorption of weaker states. You have the use of your accumulated influence points to persuade leaders into any of the above. If you don’t have the influence, you will hopefully have the military power or the tradeable resources.
For me, although all those things created a beautifully orchestrated gameplay, it often felt a bit reactive. My decisions at times seemed obvious, even to me, because I was mostly reacting to what other players were doing instead of carving out my own path. I’m not sure how this could be improved upon in terms of the gameplay, but I got the impression that the main campaign was just a little too pre-planned.
Complex Strategy – with Bonus Mythology
When it comes to talking mechanics, the first thing to mention is that the overall game mechanics’ complexity depends entirely on the difficulty level you pick to play. Some levels of complexity are turned off if you choose a lower difficulty, making the game more accessible to players new to 4X and strategy. Alternatively, you can pick a lower difficulty and still go into the game settings and turn on the different aspects to increase the challenge as you go. In itself, that’s a great way to make the game match any player’s ability as it develops.
Imperiums: Greek Wars is the successor to Aggressors: Ancient Rome, the creator’s first foray into strategy games. The general mechanics of this game are much the same as found in AAR. The goal is to create cityscapes, build up armies, create treaties, trade deals, and discover resource filled areas, as well as build upon policies to improve your overall culture. The detail that this simulation goes into all of those categories is impressive. From creating mining areas that are located in specific regions and tiles all the way to anticipating decisions from fellow leaders, there’s so much to consider at every moment.
From the start, I recognised the more difficult aspects that were going to cause me trouble. The best example is the constant peril of your army. Having a selection of military units cut off from your own territory will seriously hurt you, with attrition penalties aplenty. On top of this, your army’s strength is dependent on morale, your technology level, and your supply routes. Everything is interconnected in a way that warrants bringing out the old pen and paper to note down what to focus on and what your gameplan is—that helped me keep track of all my units and where they were headed.
There’s the capability for online PvP and online Co-op too. These are
Your citizens stand behind this warmongering, and they can’t be forgotten either. Using slaves as a workforce and recruiting villagers for your army will take up some time, but it’s vital work. I also had to focus on utilising my gold and influence to ensure my citizens were kept happy and weren’t swayed by neighbouring leaders to up stakes or revolt.
There are also some pretty special additional mechanics that the creators have clearly spent the time to perfect. These include Myth-hunting and competing in the Olympiads, which add a more theatrical layer to the constant state of battle (at least in my case!). The variables and modifying aspects that have been built into the mechanics of the game are what make the gameplay feel alive.
A Visual Let Down?
Visually, this game can’t stack up to the likes of Sid Meier’s CIV series simply on resolution and level of graphic fidelity, but did that affect my immersion and focus? Not particularly. Let’s not forget Kube Games is an indie publisher. If they decided to put more man-power into fleshing out the mechanics rather than pouring money at incredible graphics, then I’m glad. Going into an indie game, you sometimes have to expect a certain payoff. On the same theme, my other concern for this game is the user interface. I completed the 60-minute tutorial at the top of the gameplay, but I was still a little stumped figuring out what symbols and buttons meant. In the beginning, I found this particularly in windows where you agree on trade and peace deals; it wasn’t always obvious that something was actually a clickable button.
Imperiums: Greek Wars can still impress, though. Kube Games built upon the chaotic tapestry of the Macedonian turmoil and took all the elements of top-tier 4X strategy to create a game that has obvious replay value and intrigue. The graphics and UI may not have been the most engaging aspect for me, but any fan of war strategy could easily lose their weekend getting knee-deep in tactical planning with this game.
*This title has DLCs coming so keep an eye out for updates