This short guide supplements the manual with a brief discussion of how decadence works in FoG: Empires.
The Role of Decadence
Decadence is probably the key mechanic in Empires. It is designed to create a limit to possible expansion and to undermine even the most powerful state. In effect, unlike most 4x style games, your early game choices can set up long term problems that may well bring down your powerful Empire in the end.
While this fate may be hard to avoid, the game provides a number of tools to allow you to manage the situation, and to make choices that will influence the final outcome.
But, decadence is unavoidable, not least in that the actions that lead to you acquiring decadence also tend to be the same actions that lead you to acquiring Legacy ... and in the end its legacy that wins the game.
The other thing to bear in mind is that the main way that decadence affects your state is related to how much culture you produce. This in terms gives the key ratio that is used to determine if your state is gaining or losing progress tokens.
So here's an image from the ledger of a mid-game state, it has decadence 4* its nearest rival but is #9 in the CDR as it also produces a lot of culture:
What Causes Decadence?
Its worth breaking this down into sub-questions:
1) At a national level
Here's the decadence chart for the same game (its on very hard, T263 and the Epirote Empire stretches from eastern edges of Asia Minor to Southern Italy, up into the Balkans and includes most of lower Egypt and Cyrene.
So as we can see, decadence comes from 5 sources:
- Government Age
- National attributes
Of these, size is actually more important than it appears. Not only is it a direct impact depending on how many regions or provinces you hold, it also multiplies the impact of Government Age (in other words that is age*size).
National attributes includes both permanent factors, the impact of the current ruler (can be good or bad) and your government type (Epirus is currently having a Golden Age which adds extra decadence per turn). Difficulty level is also factored in using this line.
But note that my decadence is reducing - we'll come back to this.
2) At the regional level
Most of this national total decadence is broken down to the regional level -so the nation size decadence is in turn stored at the regional level while specific buildings can cause decadence.
That is the most decadent region in my Empire. Handily there are things I can do to improve the situation.
Decadence and Loyalty
Before going on to discuss how to control decadence (if you can), its worth noting that some tier III culture buildings give a lot of loyalty and create decadence.
These include the gladiators, circus, racing and the noble gardens. The example below is of a noble garden built in a region that was giving me serious unrest problems.
Don't be afraid of this trade off as the actual decadence per turn from buildings in that region is -0.2, as:
You will need to use this type of building in some of your most heavily populated regions.
So there are things you can, first to avoid and then to control decadence.
This is tricky but as above, nation size is probably the single most dominant factor. So you will have to expand over the game but be careful. Both the speed of expansion and its extent matter here - there is a short term gain in decadence in a region you have just conquered and then there is the permanent gain for size.
Best advice is to set your own borders and stick to them. Fight some wars defensively if you can, if you wish to expand try to form provinces as fast as you can (regions on their own count for 1 in the size calculation, regions in a province count for 0.5).
There are 4 tools here:
This is important - as in the images above, each turn 10% of the regional decadence is removed. That makes the early game monument a very useful way to boost your culture-decadence ratio.
Especially in the education and justice sub-set of the culture buildings you will find a number of buildings that remove decadence.
These are things like the courthouse/prison or the Praeceptor House/School. Greek states get the Thalassan Temple which is rather nice:
The education ones come with a problem. You need Papyrus or they are very expensive. So early game it can be a tricky trade off between the decadence removal and a high cost.
There is a solution. Irrigation Canals (a tier III agriculture buidling that follows from wells and irrigation systems), produces Papyrus:
Adding a few of these to your Empire (say 1 per 2 provinces - depends a bit on your trade ranges etc) will remove the high cost of the education buildings.
Going back to the national decadence table above may give you some idea how effective it can be to use these buildings.
Disband decadence producing buildings
This can be useful, especially as there are a few early game buildings where the decadence is worth it (monument, usurer) but by mid-game the gains are swamped by far better buildings.
Reduce Government Age
Every time you change government (either by moving a level or from say young to stable) you remove 50% of your accumulated age. In addition there is a decision that comes up that allows you to remove 1/3 (other options are around converting other ethnic groups to your own). These are very useful but once you are Glorious and in Civ Level III, your age will build (the event being your only tool).
Note that moving from Civ Level III/Glorious into a Golden Age does not reduce Govt age as its not treated as a change of government type.
In addition, check out the manual for special rules for Macedonia and the Antigonids and how they age.
At some stage it might be worth planning a transition from Glorious to Old and back to Stable. That can remove a lot of accumulated decadence.
This cannot be stressed too often.
In the end decadence on its own is not that important. Its the ratio culture-decadence. So as long as you can generate the culture you need you can cope with the decadence.