+ Focus on trade expansion
+ Republican leadership system
- Big reliance on plots
- Limited opportunities for war
Final score: 8 / 10
Controller support: No
Minimum system requirements
Windows XP or Windows Vista or Windows 7
Intel Pentium IV 2.4 GHz or AMD 3500+ processor
2 GB of RAM
2 GB free hard drive space
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon X1900 graphics card
Direct X compatible sound card
Internet connection for multiplayer
The Republic is a new expansion for the grand strategy title Crusader Kings II, which is created by Paradox Interactive and introduces new gameplay mechanics designed to make republics an interesting choice for the player.
Gamers can now select Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Gotland and the Hansa and then spend their time trying to build personal empires based on money, mercenaries and generous bribes rather than on more traditional feudal means.
Republics are ruled by families, all of them led by Patricians, and that means players get to manage a new personal domain that’s not present on the map and a new system for elections, which takes both prestige and campaign funds into account when selecting a new leader for the country.
Trade is the lifeblood of the merchant republics and that means that they get access to a unique trade post structure that can be created in order to represent their interests in various provinces.
Each family can create these and new event chains and choices allow gamers to take them over from both other Patricians and from competing republics, with wars mostly linked to money rather than pride or territory.
The trade post is a small new territory that’s only accessible to merchants and has just 3 buildings that can be upgraded, but they are very important and their placement is key to success for players who like trading and the advantages that money can bring.
The Republic for Crusader Kings II also introduces more events for the five mentioned countries and there are also new concepts for families and for marriage, with merchants actually having to offer money in order to get noble wives.
The new additions might not sound like much at first, but I had a lot of fun playing The Republic for Crusader Kings II, mainly because the strategies for merchant nations are so different from the ones that work for other factions.
The Doge feels more powerful than other characters in the game at first, mainly because he tends to quickly earn significant amounts of money as long as he chooses his trade post placement very well.
Unfortunately, the focus on trade and plots that take control of new areas means that there are limited resources left to develop a solid army and that can quickly lead to disaster.
In many games like Genoa and Venice, I saw other Italian resources declare war and, although I quickly hired mercenaries, I lost the war because I could not defeat them before I had spent all my money.
Respecting the long tradition of Crusader Kings II, The Republic rewards those who can be patient and gather resources, influence and backers before making a big move at maximum odds.
The biggest problem I have found so far is that factions in The Republic tend to rely a little too much on plots to gain new trade posts, rather than build them on their own.
As Gotland, I initially tried to break away from Sweden early on and the king stamped on my pitiful effort easily. But once I waited for about 50 years and took advantage of his own conquests to increase my wealth, I did much better, although a larger alliance eventually defeated me.
I like the way The Republic changes the core ideas of Crusader Kings II very much and I can easily see myself spending upwards of a few weeks exploring everything that the new game has to offer and trying out all the five political entities, with a little extra time given to Genoa or Venice.
But even fans of the current incarnation of the series might see the content included in The Republic as too limited compared to the additions delivered in the previous two hefty expansions and might withhold their money.
This is definitely not a piece of content for newcomers to the series, who are better served by simply picking up the base game in order to see how they like the core mechanics and then deciding whether they also want to see how the republicans fare during the same period.