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This week, I have mostly been playing... - Ed's journal
This week, I have mostly been playing...

OK, Have been playing much Rome Total war.
Starting to get the hang of it, almost annoyingly so - about 230BC the 'Marius Reforms' come in, and you suddenly get a new selection of troops. Prior to this, you get volunteer soldiers, who buy their own kit, who, whilst not entirely rubbish, aren't really up up to the job. Afterwards, you get 'legionaries'. Which, are basically nails. Well armed armoured and trained, it becomes quite obvious how the Roman Empire came to be.

I've realised that unlike most strategy games, where units have a fairly simple armour vs. attack calculation and that's all (although maybe there's 'range of attack' in there too, and speed of movement) Rome Total war has the concept of morale.

And it's a critical factor. Troops that are wetting themselves and running like hell, aren't really defending or attacking well.

Now one of the best bits is the 'Heroic victory'. If you win substantially, a 'famous battle' icon gets plonked onto the map. It's something to strive for, and I've found how. The solution is actually pretty simple.
The romans get a unit called 'war dogs'. They're a little more expensive than most units, and they take 2 turns to construct. On the face of them, they're not very effective.
Thing is though, that the 'unit' is the 12 dog handlers. But with each, you get 4 free war dogs, which as far as I can tell, respawn after each battle, (maybe each turn).

Better still, whilst war dogs are individually not all that stunning, (well, they've got no armour, and a bite is never going to be as horrible as a pilum through the sternum) they _do_ cause fear. Once they've been set loose, you have no direct control over the doggies, but they will do a basic 'kill next nearest enemy' target selection (which is great when trying to hunt down that last single unit hidden somewhere in the city)

And so I've been tromping around Gaul, Germania and Brittania with an army made up of 1x general. 4x cavalry, 2x ranged cavalry (cavalry auxilia or numidian mercenaries), 8x wardogs. Oh and 1 infantry unit. After all, someone has got to push the battering ram.

The attack strategy involves rush towards the enemy, then in the words of Mr. Burns, "Unleash the hounds" and then retreat your dog handlers to the edge of the map, so they can make a quick exit if necessary (it hasn't been).

Now in quite a lot of situations, the dogs will just overwhelm the enemy, because there will be enough of them to circle each unit in turn, eat all the troops, and then move onto the next. In case this _isn't_ enough, cavalry is used to keep the enemy formations on the run, and to charge them in the back occasionally to break their morale. Cavalry really does work best in hit and run - you do more maiming on the charge, and if you 'push through' the formation you've just smashed apart you're ready to wheel and hit them again in a minute.

This also works pretty well when storming a fortification, although with 'proper' city walls you do need to scale the walls, and open the gate to let the dogs and horses in first. (or get some sappers to destroy the walls, either works) So for this reason, it's sometimes necessary to hire mercenaries before the assault. If you do have to do this, and your army gets too large, make sure that you split it so the 're-inforcement' units are cavalry - infantry is usually too slow to make a decisive difference to the battle.

And so I now have quite a few 'heroic' victories, because of course, the dogs don't count for their kills. And so unless I do end up cavalry charging, and thus maybe using one or two horsemen, it's 'several hundred-none'.

Sadly, I've still only manage one 'epic' victory. Defensive position, nice tall hill, 2 Urban cohorts, 2 Praetorian cavalry, 4 Archer auxilia and 4 heavy onagers, and 2 repeating ballistae. It was my 'siege' army with escort. Again, it was 'morale' that won this - sitting on top of the hill, with archers and siege engines raining fire upon my enemy. I was caught between two large armies, and whilst I didn't anhiliate them, they certainly lost around 900 troops without any casualties on my side, because all their units kept breaking under fire, runnning away again, and then rallying and coming back for more.
None made it to the top of the hill, and into melee.

The only real weakness I've encountered is vs mounted archers, who do tend to do some injury to my units. Then again, they're quite welcome to run around chasing my cavalry with javelins, as I try and box them in for a charge, whilst my dogs are tearing their infantry formations to pieces.

Of course, now I have the joy of trying to adapt these tactics to the 'new' units, that the Marius reforms have made available. I suspect I'll manage :)

This game is really rather good. I just wish I'd maintained will power enough to not install it...

5 comments or Leave a comment
jorune From: jorune Date: February 3rd, 2005 11:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Vis a vis will power what would you be doing instead?
xarrion From: xarrion Date: February 3rd, 2005 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
SINergy return sheets ;)
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 3rd, 2005 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Going to the Gym
revdj From: revdj Date: February 3rd, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Catching up on your TPS reports!
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 3rd, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Anything is better than downtime returns :). Especially from those who think that 3 days before session is a good time to put in a 26 page long diatribe, including multiple ref calls, and complicated backplot queries.
5 comments or Leave a comment