• Rome II Guide to Politics and the Family Tree: How to Avoid Secessions and Civil Wars?

    Rome II Guide to Politics and the Family Tree:
    How to Avoid Secessions and Civil Wars?

    By Alwyn and Welsh Dragon

    Rome II players sometimes ask what they can do to prevent secessions or civil wars. Some players have found one or two methods which help, but they aren't enough as your campaign progresses or they become too expensive. Are there more than one or two ways to reduce the risk of rival parties breaking away, and what can we do when a method becomes more expensive over time?

    Some players might wonder why we need to do anything to avoid secessions and civil wars. After all, there's the option of ignoring politics and doing nothing with the family tree, so why wouldn't you? While this can work, and while it has benefits, for example the player saves money because you're not doing political actions, it also has downsides.

    In an Egypt campaign where the player took no political actions, few candidates from the ruling family were available when a new general was needed

    In an Egypt campaign to test what happens when the player takes no political actions, when a new general or admiral was needed there was often a choice of only two or three characters. Candidates for command rarely belonged to the ruling family, the Ptolemaic Dynasty - several generals belong to the rival party, the Greek Families (shown on the left). Most generals who belong to the ruling party are in the right-hand column (Other Nobles) which means that they aren't members of the ruling family. The ruling family are in the central panel - Kallisto, who had died, and Cleopatra, the only living member of the ruling family at this point in the campaign. This situation meant that the rival party, the Greek Families, acquired greater influence as their generals won battles.

    In this Egypt campaign, the player expanded the ruling family, so there are plenty of loyal candidates when a new general is needed

    Normally, when the player expands your family tree by acquiring spouses and adopting other nobles into your ruling family,you can choose from about 10 to 20 candidates when appointing a new commander. You might choose to appoint some rival party members as generals to improve the loyalty of rival parties, but you have more options.

    Also, if you don't take any political actions, you won't educate your ruling family's children so your candidates to lead armies and fleets will be relatively unskilled, compared to candidates with a long list of bonuses which you can have by taking political actions (such as educating children and doing favours for other characters). If you do nothing with politics and the family tree, you will miss out on other opportunities, for example to boost your influence during the first 20 turns when you're protected from rival parties breaking away. By expanding your family tree and taking more political actions, more intrigues become available (most of the intrigues are dark in the screenshots above, which means that they're not available for the currently selected character - but might become available in future.

    Because of the downsides of the previous strategy, players might try ignoring the rival parties while expanding your family tree, appointing only members of your ruling party to command armies and navies, and only promoting members of your ruling party - a nepotism strategy. This has advantages - your ruling party gains influence and you will have a larger pool of potential commanders. However, other parties will resent you for not promoting their characters and not allowing their generals to earn glory in battle. Also, if you use a nepotism startegy, you will miss out on many of the tools used to increase their loyalty, such as promotions, marriages and winning battles with generals from other parties. This leads to more secessions and civil wars.

    This doesn't mean that the player should always try to avoid secessions. Sometimes a rival party has traits which make it hard to keep them loyal, so as a leader you may find it's better to just get rid of them now, rather than keep paying for their loyalty in the future. In this situations it can be better to fight them at a time of your choosing, rather than risk them breaking away at the worst possible time, for example when you are already engaged in a war with another faction. Fighting external wars and a civil war at the same time can be very difficult, where as fighting a civil war when you're at peace allows you to focus on the traitors instead of splitting your forces.

    But what if you don't want to take such a drastic step? Well there are simple actions which can reduce the chance of internal conflicts and may enable you to avoid them.

    How to improve the loyalty of rival parties

    Sometimes players get frustrated because secessions and civil wars keep happening and they feel that there is no way to prevent them. As we showed in the our article on what causes parties to be disloyal, there is a risk of secession or civil war when the loyalty of a rival party drops to -10 or below. You can see the reasons for this by hovering over the rival party's loyalty score.

    You can also hover your mouse over the rival party's traits, to see some ways to earn loyalty. If a trait is green, you get a loyalty bonus when the conditions are met. Red traits have the opposite effect, giving you a penalty. Yellow/brown traits, such as Diplomat, can offer a bonus and/or a penalty depending on the conditions.

    If a party's loyalty falls, there are various ways to improve rival party loyalty. They include loyalty edicts, political marriages, appointing and promoting commanders from rival factions, dignitaries advising generals, diplomatic missions, paying to secure loyalty, managing pop-up events and changing your government type to Empire.

    Strategies for keeping rival parties loyal

    Regional autonomy
    When you control a province governed by a rival party, enacting a loyalty edict there gives you +10 loyalty for as long as the province is controlled by the rival party. The provinces controlled by rival parties change over time, so it's a good idea to check this occasionally. Our article on the causes of disloyalty shows where to find the map filter, to see which parties control which provinces. The downside of this way to improve rival party loyalty is that you won't get the bonuses provided by the other types of edict, but usually I find that I don't need them.

    Family Ties
    Expand and promote the rival party's family. You can hire additional characters for rival parties and use Seek Spouse action to expand their family. These actions by themselves won't improve the rival party's loyalty, they simply provide characters who will be available to be married to members of your ruling party (they can also be sent on diplomatic missions, appointed as commanders and promoted, as explained below). The downside of this method is that it will cost you influence.

    Diplomatic missions
    Sending rival party members (who aren't leading an army or fleet) on a diplomatic mission gives you a temporary loyalty bonus. You can also send them to increase the food supply or public order, but this will increase their gravitas which will give their party greater influence. A diplomatic mission gives you loyalty, can give you other rewards such as money or a short term buff, and doesn't earn the character gravitas. However, a diplomatic mission can also give you a short-term debuff or can even can get your character killed. Also, diplomatic missions can be expensive when you reach higher Imperium levels (in one campaign, diplomatic missions cost almost 10,000 coins).

    The Commander
    Appoint a general from the rival party, win battles with this general and reward success with promotions. A downside of this strategy is that, if the general dies in battle, their party's loyalty will suffer badly, especially of they are the leader of a rival party. Also, unless you keep winning battles regularly with the commander, their additional loyalty from winning battles degrades over time, so it's not as stable a loyalty “income” as some of the others.

    The Mentor

    When you have appointed a rival party member to command an army, attach a dignitary to the army and give the dignitary the Advisor skill. Eventually, the general and the dignitary will die (of old age, if nothing else.) But while the dignitary is alive this can be a fairly stable source of loyalty income. Even if the general changes, as long as you appoint another of the same party the loyalty income will continue (until the dignitary dies.) If you'd like to continue using this strategy, we suggest re-naming the army, adding the name of the rival party to its name (or using the rival party's name as the name of the army). When the name of the army shows you which rival party it 'belongs' to, it's easier to replace the general with another from the same rival party when the general dies, and to remember to add another dignitary.

    Divide and Conquer

    Managing rival party loyalty tends to be more difficult when you play a faction which has several rival parties from the start of the campaign, such as Rome, compared to a faction such as Egypt which begins with just one. This can be particularly difficult when one (or more) rival parties have traits which mean that they're always likely to be disloyal, or likely to be disloyal because of your preferred strategy. For example, you might be engaged in several wars, and a rival party has the Pacifist trait (-5 loyalty for each war) or you might be making trade agreements with many factions but a rival party has the Xenophobe trait (-2 loyalty for each diplomatic agreement).

    One way to deal with this is to keep the other rival parties loyal, while taking no steps to maintain the loyalty of the party which is always likely to be disloyal. When the rival party breaks away, you will be temporarily protected from any other secessions, and when you have defeated the break-away party, the other parties will have a substantial boost to their loyalty. If you defeat the rival party in a war of secession, another party will appear sooner or later, but it might have better traits (the Wiki page on Politics and the Family Tree has more examples of traits). If they don't have better traits, you can simply repeat this strategy.

    A combination of these strategies can be very effective, leading to very loyal rival parties. High loyalty in rival parties isn't necessary, but it can be useful. Provinces governed by a loyal party receive some bonuses. Also, a rival party's loyalty can suddenty drop, for example if a general belonging to that party is killed in battle, so high loyalty is useful for protecting you from secessions because of unexpected events.

    The use of different political strategies together can make rival parties very loyal

    Maintaining loyalty can get harder as your nation expands. Factions which start the main campaign with one rival party will acquire more parties as you expand. It seems that a second party appears when you reach Imperium V; you may get a third party while you are at Imperium V, or when you reach Imperium VI. When you have extra parties, it can be more difficult to maintain the influence of your ruling party, so reaching Imperium V can be a good time to transfer your government type to Empire to get the +15 loyalty bonus which it offers.

    Become an Empire
    If your government type is Republic or League, you have a penalty for loyalty. Changing your government type to Empire would replace the penalty with a bonus.

    Rival parties have a +15 Government Type bonus to loyalty when your government type is Empire

    To change to an Empire, you will need to satisfy minimum requirements - including Imperium V, and at least 65% influence for your ruling party. This means that, in your early campaigns, as well as keeping rival parties loyal, you might want to maintain at least 65% influence when Imperium V is reached. Below are the government types available for a Hellenic faction (Cimmeria). While factions with the same culture usually have the same selection of government types to choose from, there may be some outliers - and factions belonging to other cultures have a different selection of government types.

    Government types available for a Hellenic state, showing the requirements for changing your government type to an Empire

    Turn pop-up events to your advantage
    Some in-game events can give you a loyalty bonus. If, for example, you get the Assassination Plot event and choose to hire bodyguards, or if there's a Riot at the Capital and you crush the revolt, you'll get a loyalty bonus. If a rival faction invites you to a banquet, accepting the invitation increases their loyalty in exchange for giving them some influence. If bandits offer to intimidate the rival parties for you, and if you decline their offer, this will give you more loyalty.

    (Spamming) Secure Loyalty.
    This option is often used, especially by new players, but can be really expensive and tedious. In our experience, the best use of Secure Loyalty is as an emergency panic button, letting you get a boost of loyalty for a few turns, but at a high price in coins.

    A political strategy - putting these methods together

    The best way to manage rival parties is probably not to choose just one of the methods above and rely only on that. One method alone may not be enough, for example there can be a sudden spike in disloyalty if a rival party leader is killed on the battlefield. Also, political actions which cost coins (such as sending a rival party member on a diplomatic mission) can become more expensive over time. For these reasons, using a combination of methods and changing your strategy from time to time can work well.

    You do not need to use these methods continously - and you may not always be able to use them. There may be times in your campaign when your faction has plenty of money, and maintaining rival party loyalty is easy - and other times when money is short, and new rival parties are appearing (possibly with traits which make it difficult to keep them loyal). You might be unable to spend coins on political actions because all available money needs to be used to recruit units, or unwilling to keep spending coins on a rival party which never seems to be satisfied.

    Sometimes, when you don't have the coins to spend on keeping rivals loyal, they will have enough residual loyalty to prevent a secession until your treasury has been restored. This may depend on their party traits, for example an Expansionist and Militarist rival party is likely to become more loyal when you're winning a war, while a party led by a Pacifist would resent your ruling famly for getting into wars (more examples of party traits are on the Wiki page on Politics and the Family Tree).

    If you're not likely to be able to maintain their loyalty, the best move may be to deliberately provoke a rival party into breaking away. It's tempting at this point to remove all rival party members from positions as generals or admirals. It's worth knowing that, if a rival party breaks away and if it doesn't have military forces which are proportionate to its influence, the game will spawn armies for the break-away rival faction. Any spawned armies may contain elite units, even if your faction doesn't have buildings to recruit them yet. You can avoid this by allowing rival party members to keep command of some of your armies and fleets; if you do this, it's worth knowing that if an army (or fleet) with traditons breaks away, those traditions will be lost - the player won't be able to reform the lost army or fleet even after destroying it in battle, because it isn't part of your faction any more.

    In conclusion

    Politics and the family tree can be baffling and complicated, especially for new players. Our previous article showed how to predict a secession before it happens by understanding what causes rival parties to become disloyal. This article shows how to prevent secessions, suggesting a set of tools for keeping rival parties loyal. While we can't guarantee that you'll be able to avoid a secession or civil war, using a selection of these tools can dramatically reduce the risk of rival parties breaking away - or at least help you to arrange for this to happen at a time when you're ready for it.

    Which tools do you rely on? Have you found ways to improve the loyalty of rival parties which we haven't included here? It would be great to see your experiences in the comments below.
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