Total War: ATTILA is just around the corner. In just one short month, the grand age of the Roman Empire’s grip over the known world will crumble around you in a whirlwind of fire and chaos. Attila and his deadly Hunic hordes have arrived with one goal in their mind’s, the destruction of the civilized world.

One of the biggest changes coming to the upcoming real-time strategy game from Creative Assembly lays in the game’s diplomatic and political systems. In the past, the two systems have never really worked the way the developer wanted them to. Entering into political negotiations with other nations usually amounted to nothing as everyone ultimately became either your trade partner or enemy.

Allies were hard to come by and would likely stab you in the back later on if you were lucky enough to even usher them to your side in the first place. Even utilizing the game’s trading system was tough at times. Nations would repeatedly deny you as a trading partner even if you had decent relations with the people in question, or had the most lucrative substances to export outside your empire’s borders.

One useful change coming to the political side of the game in ATTILA is the interpretation of how powerful a faction really is. A faction’s strength is now defined by a ranking system. For instance, the Western Roman Empire begins at rank one as it encompasses a large number of armies and regions from the start of the game. A faction’s strength rating can be a really useful tool when you’re trying to figure out who to wage war against and who to make peace with.

Creative Assembly has also reworked the UI on the diplomacy screen to make things far clearer and concise. The selection of various detailed filters at the top of the screen allow you to pinpoint armies, agents, settlements, sieges, and resources. Other useful features can be toggled on and off as well such as the wealth of a region, the amount of food it has, the dominant religion in the area, and fertility.

All these factors can play a key role in determining where you want to extend your empire’s reach to next. Maybe it wouldn’t be worth it, at least at the time, to deploy your armies and conquer a region or province that is economically poor when it comes to supplying your empire with food or its people worship a completely different religion.The amount of resources and time you would have to devote to bend the people there to your will may not be worth it in the long run, especially if you’re warring with other nations on different fronts. Or if the region doesn’t bolster your nation’s food supply, is it worth defending?

The family tree also makes a welcome return to ATTILA, which was absent from Rome II, and brings with it a host of new functionality and ways to shape your empire around you. Your faction’s power in ATTILA is defined by two things, dominion and control.

Dominion can be defined by the sum of your ruling family’s influence vs non-family members. The control of your nation will not just be won or lost on the battlefield. Players will have to deal with in-game events and political machinations. Family members will gain and lose influence based upon their performance in the game as generals, admirals, or provincial governors.

The proportion of power your family wields over the non-family members defines faction-wide bonuses and penalties such as the collapse of public order or the stamping out of corruption. Creative Assembly recommends maintaining a balance of power around 50%-60% to reap the best benefits.

Players can also issue provincial governors now, selecting from a pool of either their own family members or those outside the family tree. This is the same pool of people you will select from to raise your armies and fleets. And having a governor assigned is now a prerequisite for issuing an edict in a province. You won’t need to control the entire province either to issue a governor and he won’t always reside in the provincial capital.

The perks that coincide with having a governor in place even if you’re out of edicts to issue are plentiful. While the exact benefits bestowed will reflect each individual’s own strengths and weaknesses, a governor could bring about more tax revenue from the province, increased public order, or a boost in food production. Furthermore, a governor will lead the local garrison’s forces into battle when his settlement comes under attack.

Creative Assembly is also re-introducing a marriage system in ATTILA, which adds yet another layer of complexity to diplomacy, allowing you to use your own family members as bargaining chips to meet whatever deal you’re hoping to get. Marriage can be a potent tool in achieving peace after years of long, bitter war or improving relations with a neighboring faction.

Keep an eye out on Gamespresso for more info on ATTILA as we approach the game’s February 17 release date.

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