Although not quite a ‘must have’ for fans of Europa Universalis: Rome, the Vae Victus expansion does bring to light some interesting new features, which – to the delight of hardcore Rome Veterans – open up all kinds of new and problematic possibilities to the old format. However, for those novices who are just getting to grips with the first Rome addition and, restart after restart, are at last seeing their tyrannical red blob steamroll its way across Europe, Vae Victus can be a big shock to system - almost like a dagger in the back on the senate house floor just as things seemed to be going so well.
Not only do players have to deal with the external threats from barbarians and foreign powers, but also contend with the machinations of a fractured and interfering senate right on their doorstop. The game becomes a more difficult balancing act than ever before. While borders are threatened from overseas, the constant tussle between ambitious politicians as they vie for power back home – with their differing agendas, loyalties, factions etc - and the destabilizing effect it has on the empire as it swings dangerously between a republic and dictatorship, is almost enough to give new players a complete nervous breakdown. No wonder the emperor Tiberius got the hell out of Rome and went to live on the remote Island of Capri.
However apart from the senate sub- game, Vae Victus lifts a few small features from the previous In Nomine expansion, such as national decisions, which can be instigated by the player whenever they choose, and mission objectives, which seem slightly pointless as it was better when these were left to the player; however it still fails to address minor issues like being able to detach units from a besieging army. Despite this the game still has huge playability and although the changes are not drastic, EU Rome is nicely enhanced by the new features. Although mere mortals content with EU Rome could be forgiven for not stepping things up a level and embracing Vae Victus, it will undoubtedly satisfy that hardcore minority, who time after time, seem able to take on anything the Europa Universalis series throws at them.