A screenshot of Imperator Rome showing the province of Latium in Italia

Imperator: Rome Beginner’s Guide: The Top Bar

In this Imperator: Rome Beginner’s Guide, we take a slow, methodical approach to learning the game. I’ll provide step-by-step instructions for understanding the game interface, mechanics, and strategy.

There is a lot to cover. This particular article covers the crucial data displayed at the top of the screen: The Top Bar. Those numbers aren’t just resources and their not just scores. The top bar has important information to let you know your nation’s current situation.


The Civ-meets-CK2 game, Old World by Mohawk Games came out on Early Access this last week. I pre-ordered it a couple of days before release. Originally, I thought I might write an impressions article on Old World. I had fun playing and I think it has some great ideas and features. However, for me, the game crashed, periodically. It’s still in Early Access so I’m sure Soren Johnson et al. will have it patched soon.

Playing in the historical, ancient world setting made me want to play Imperator: Rome again. I hadn’t played in a while so I needed to re-learn the game and note the changes from patches and DLC. I figured I would share my re-learning activity with you. Doing so helps both of us get to (or get back to) playing this grand strategy title.

Game Setup

  1. Click Play.
  2. Click Single Player.
  3. Then, click New Game.

Let’s start by setting the game difficulty to Easy. Doing so will give you more time to get used to the game interface and mechanics. Take it easy on yourself!

Imperator Rome Game Configuration Pane

In the lower right corner is a Game Configuration pane. Select Easy for the difficulty.

Next, click Ironman Mode to get Steam Achievements. You might be new to Imperator: Rome, but there’s a chance you might get an achievement. Like, for instance, “Render Unto Caesar.” You just need to conquer a city. You can do that.

Imperator Rome Render Unto Caesar Achievement

Select a nation to play. Rome and Egypt are considered the easiest of the Recommended Nations.

When the new game loads, it starts paused, so don’t worry about missing anything.

Game Settings

1. Press Esc to Show Menu.
2. Click Settings.
3. Click the Interface tab on the left.
4. Uncheck Fill in impassable terrain.
5. Click OK.

Imperator Rome Impassable Terrain Setting

This will make the mountains on the map more explicit so that you know if your soldiers can maneuver.

6. Click the Game tab on left.
7. Uncheck Screen Edge Scrolling.

Imperator Rome Screen Edge Scrolling Setting

TIP: Multiple Desktops

To easily look at this web page and play Imperator: Rome at the same time, try using a second desktop.

On Windows, do the following:

  1. Press Windows key + Tab. The Task View window displays.
  2. Click the plus sign in the New desktop rectangle at the top.
  3. Click anywhere to close the Task View.
  4. Press Ctrl + Windows key + Right Arrow. You get a second, empty desktop.
    Clicking these buttons again, but with the Left Arrow key takes you back.

Now, you can have one desktop open to Imperator: Rome and the other open to Emergent Mage. Neat, right? I might be in the minority but, personally, I think it beats alt-tabbing all the time.

Mac and Linux have multiple desktops (or workspaces) too. For example, on Ubuntu Linux press Ctrl + Alt + Up or Down Arrow keys.

Treasury, Manpower, and Pops

Put your mouse over the first two resources at the top and read the tooltips.

Imperator Rome Treasury and Manpower Scores


Imperator Rome Treasury Icon

The Treasury designates your wealth; how much gold you have. Primarily, you receive gold from Tax and Commerce.

  • Tax comes from your Slave population. If playing a Tribe, Tribesmen produce Tax too.
  • Commerce comes from your Citizen population.

You spend money to recruit military and naval units, recruit advisers, and to construct buildings.

Monthly Income

As you can see in the tooltip, the costs of running your Province adjusts your monthly income. Things like Army Maintenance, Navy Maintenance, Fort Maintenance, and Wages will subtract from your monthly income.

The plus (+) and minus () on the icon lets you know if your making or losing wealth every month. The tooltip lets you know the cause of the increase or loss.

To see more about the nation’s income and expenses, click on the Treasury icon. The Economy window appears. The Economy window displays your income, expenses, and current balance.


For each one of these scores across the top, clicking on the icon opens a related window. The window displayed presents to you a way to do something about the score. For example, having the Religion window open when clicking on the War Exhaustion icon doesn’t make sense at first. (Well, maybe it does in Crusader Kings.) However, the Religion window does provide the means to Invoke Devotio (Devotion), which reduces War Exhaustion.


Imperator Rome Manpower Icon

You need Manpower to stand up or replenish army units. At the start of the game it can be hard to get more Manpower.

  • Manpower comes from your Freemen population. If playing a Tribe, you’ll get Manpower from Tribesmen.

Now, click on your province. In my case, I am playing as Rome. The Province window displays in the bottom left corner.

Imperator Rome Pops


The term, “Pops” stands for the population.

In the Pops pane, mouse over the different kinds of pops and read the tooltips.

You’ll see the following:

  • Citizens produce Commerce and Research.
  • Freemen produce Manpower.
  • Tribesmen produce Tax and Manpower.
  • Slaves produce Tax and Trade Goods.

As you mouse-over each Pop you’ll see what the Pop produces highlighted in green above.

Mouse-over the Treasury and Manpower icons above to see what constitutes the numeric value shown.

Now, don’t get overwhelmed by all the numbers. The idea is to understand how your population generates Tax and Commerce (Treasury), Manpower, and Trade Goods. That’s all.

It’s the people, man. Da Pops. Treasury and Manpower scores vary depending on the ratio of population classes and their overall happiness. To influence the ratio, you can construct buildings to encourage/promote certain classes of Pops.

Political Influence

Imperator Rome Political Influence Icon

Mouse-over the Political Influence icon in the top bar. You’ll see that your Political Influence comes from the specific government officials listed.

Who are these officials? Let’s take a quick look.

Imperator Rome Political Influence Score

Click on the Political Influence icon in the top bar.

Eight characters are displayed. See how the titles of the officials match the list in the Political Influence tool-tip?

Imperator Rome Show Offices Window

As you play, you’ll want to get to know these officials. You may need to replace an official if he or she has a negative impact on your Political Influence score.

Political Influence is used for provincial upgrades. To get a sense of what these upgrades are, do the following:

  1. Click on your province again.
  2. In the Province window, find the four buttons in the middle.
Imperator Rome Political Influence Improvements

Each button can be used to spend Influence on certain powerful upgrades.

As you mouse-over each button and read each tool-tip, you’ll see the following:

  • Install Provincial Procurators
  • Promote Infrastructure Spending
  • Entice Business Investments
  • Make Religious Endowments

We don’t need to know what all these are right now, necessarily. We just need to know what Political Influence can be used for.

Military Experience

Imperator Rome Military Experience Icon

The next value across the top is the Military Experience value. The icon is grayed-out at first because the value is zero. Military Experience is an average of your military unit experience accrued over time. Your military units are not experienced in the art of war quite yet.

To conceptualize this better, click on an army in your Province.

You see a list of units. As you mouse-over the bubble meter next to the unit icon you’ll see the Experience tooltip. In this case, the meter is empty. As units fight in wars the meter fills as they gain experience, the average of which is your Military Experience.

Imperator Rome Unit Experience

In the Experience tooltip you read that experience reduces damage taken in combat. The more the soldiers fight, the more war-hardened and robust they become.

Mercenary Reliance and War Exhaustion scores raise your Military Experience value too.

You use Military Experience to buy Military Traditions, which are cool ways to customize your armies.

To see the Military Traditions, click on the Military Experience icon at the top. The Military window displays.

Imperator Rome Military Window

Mouse-over the grayed-out pictures to read the various upgrades.


Imperator Rome Stability Icon

Scroll over the Stability icon and read the tool-tip.

Stability is a measure of your nation’s internal health. The Stability score is a number between 0 and 100. A score of 50.00 is a perfect equilibrium.

Positive Stability increases population growth, commerce income, research points, and legitimacy.

Negative Stability increases unrest and lowers culture happiness.

Certain events help improve Stability. A Sacrifice to the Gods helps too. In fact, clicking on the Stability icon opens the Religion window so you can do just that.

Passing laws or breaking a truce lowers Stability.

Try not to go below 30 Stability. At this point, your nation is considered disorganized, which increases the likelihood of a civil war.

Aggressive Expansion

Imperator Rome Aggressive Expansion Icon

The Aggressive Expansion score designates how other nations perceive yours.

To help keep the value low, be sure to declare a casus belli against enemies to justify war. You can also give land to vassals.

If you conquer Provinces outside your culture group, your Aggressive Expansion score will increase.

To see your current culture group, click the Aggressive Expansion icon.

Your nation overview window displays. The Culture Distribution pane shows a pie chart of your culture group. Mouse-over the pie chart to see a percentile breakdown of your nation’s cultures.

Imperator Rome Culture Groups


Imperator Rome Tyranny Icon

Tyranny represents the level of oppression in the nation.

Try not to let the number go over 20.

On the plus side, a higher Tyranny score encourages cultural assimilation. This can be important if you are expanding because assimilating cultures lowers the Aggressive Expansion score.

Related Article: Crusader Kings 3 Dev Diary Index
This Crusader Kings 3 Dev Diary index will help you quickly find key topics from every Dev Diary and monthly recap video from Paradox.

War Exhaustion

The War Exhaustion score designates the degree to which your nation is distressed or tired from constant war. Raising the value has adverse effects on armies and the people of your nation. An unrest modifier increases.

The War Exhaustion value increases when you don’t declare a casus belli before going to war or from army attrition from constant travel and combat.

On the plus side, raising the War Exhaustion score some increases Military Experience gain.

As mentioned earlier, clicking on the War Exhaustion icon opens the Religion window. On the Religion window you can Invoke Devotio (Devotion) to reduce War Exhaustion (but gain Tyranny).

Imperator Rome Invoke Devotio Icon

Thanks for reading this Imperator: Rome Beginner’s Guide on the Top Bar.

Imperator: Rome is developed by Paradox Studios. If you don’t already own Imperator: Rome, you can purchase it at Paradox Plaza, on Steam, or Humble Bundle store.

Was this guide helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improving this guide? Are there other aspects of Imperator: Rome you think would make for a good subject for the next guide? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

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Ernest Scribner
Ernest Scribner

Practitioner of games. Caster of words. Shares game wisdom, stories, and shenanigans with fellow adventurers.

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