The game features randomized maps populated by factions with different religions, cultures, and ideals. A significant portion of the strategy involves the initial faction customization options, ensuring to choose complementary attributes. Taking place in either real-time or turn-based modes, most of After the Empire is automated (namely ship and building construction), so a lot of the interaction involves choosing the next territory to invade and where to focus defenses. Construction can be focused on specific buildings in each territory, while tax rates and government policies can be altered. The AI plays the game using the same rules you do, and does a good job maximizing bonuses to increase production and income. After the Empire plays more like a simulation than a traditional strategy game, since most of the important decisions are made before a game has begun and a lot of the mechanics are automated. That said, it can be engaging once you comes to grips with the interface and simulation rules.