Not only do you have to keep expanding your interests, wiping out barbarian tribes and overcoming well organised enemies, but you have to keep the home front ticking over too.
You start with a modest walled city with very little in it, but as you upgrade your City Hall and the buildings around it you unlock more building types. Upgrading these lets you upgrade your City Hall in turn, making more building types available, and so on.
Eventually you’ll have a farm, an archery range, a workshop, a barracks, a lumber mill, an academy, and many more buildings besides. Between them they keep your people sheltered, fed, trained, educated, armed, healthy, safe, and prosperous.
Upgrading buildings takes time, but you can speed up the process with consumable cards. You have to exercise a little bit of restraint with these, since you don’t have an unlimited supply, but you have enough that you can expedite a few building, training, and research periods per session, allowing you to get some good progress out of a quick game.
Of course, this just covers the very basics of attending to your own city. Zoom out and you’ll discover a staggeringly huge game world. Your city is just a tiny dot in a vast region, which itself just one of nine regions, separated by mountain ranges and accessible through pathways that you need to find with your scouts.
What’s more, the vast majority of this map is shrouded in fog, so there’s a huge amount to discover. We dread to think how long it would take you to clear every wisp of fog, but every time you send out a scout you uncover new stuff to befriend, explore, conquer, plunder, or kill.
Naturally, killing stuff is a big part of being an emperor. To this end, you have troops, which you recruit and train in your city, but you also have commanders. These are based on real historical figures like Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan, and you can level them up with their own individual skill trees, RPG-style.
You can have multiple commanders, too, giving you even more to think about when assigning skill points, as well as allowing you to fight on multiple fronts.