Aggressors: Ancient Rome

As soon as I get home I’m buying this.

I’ve been running and seeing, and been following the discussion over at explorminate.

This is the final straw…although…that expression is inherently negative.

Hmmm…

I wonder if there’s a positive version.

Either way, I’ll be buying it.

Yeah f#ck it I’m in too. I like the setting and the genre and have been looking at it for ages…just backlog of shame prevented me.

Bought!

Likewise!

Wishlisted if nothing else for now. Might break down and buy it before the end of the sales events or I might keep to my budget, haha.

Much as I love this game, I am no expert. However, I thought I’d share some of the things I have picked up to this point, hoping it helps others to overcome the learning curve and enjoy the game. In somewhat random order:

To select units from a stack, or a unit sitting on a city tile, you hold down the right mouse button and then click with your left mouse button.

The appearance of the map can be adjusted in several ways in the lower left. I like topview, but unfortunately zooming can mess that up.

The manual is very good. And even if you are not a manual reader, you will want to note the pages that list the units and their attributes. Different nations have quite different units – important to your own strategy, but also important when dealing with rivals. In general, barbarian tribes are much stronger in rough terrain but at a sharp disadvantage on plains and grass. Roman troops are the reverse. The others fall somewhere on the spectrum in between. But particular units are exceptions. The devil is definitely in these details, though. Unless you are playing at a low difficulty level, matching terrain to your troops’ abilities is really important.

Also regarding military: No more than three units per tile… you cannot even pass a unit through a tile that already contains three units! Also, a very important tactical consideration: multiple attacks on the same unit in the same turn seriously lower the ability of that unit to defend. This makes cavalry especially important because they are often used to attack first and then withdraw to safety even if they lose. Then another unit with a more powerful attack has a much better chance.

Supply is essential. Very few units can survive on tiles where you do not have 100% supply. (Settlers and sometimes your starting Nomads are the exceptions.) You extend supply by building roads and cities into areas. The other way to provide supply to a tile is to have a ship adjacent to it – a fact that makes naval supremacy increasingly important as the game goes along.

You can settle new cities with either Nomads or Settler units, but Nomads have a second use in that they are viable military unit early in the game, particularly in that they are decent in rough terrain. Settlers have a crucial second use in that they can build roads and fields and chop forests. It’s usually wiser to settle new cities with Nomads because they are cheaper to build, and it is a rare moment when you do not need Settlers to do some jobs.

The tutorial takes place on the historical map, but unless you are totally focused on the history, I’d advise getting some experience on random maps after doing the tutorial. Personally, I think that’s where the game really shines anyway… As you start out, you want to move that birth rate policy slider all the way to the right. And as soon as practical, you want to build a temple. Because in this game, population is king. You need population to do just about anything. I am not exaggerating much when I say that the overriding strategic concern throughout the game is always to do whatever is necessary to keep that birth rate slider as far to the right as possible, and to keep temples within range of as many cities as possible.

However, these two goals eat up a lot of resources. Birth rate support requires gold, stone, and wood. Temples not only have to be built with resources, but require gold upkeep. So from the start, you need to pay as much attention to the resources page as to the map – not just the stockpile number, but the accounting of yields and consumption of each, with an eye to which resources are going to be your next choke point.

Gold, stone, coal, and iron produce for you just by being within your borders, but they produce much better if connected by roads. (Building roads soaks up resources.) They then produce much better if within range of a blacksmith. (Building a blacksmith requires resources, but more importantly, the upkeep can be a serious challenge, particularly the coal.)

Thus the focus of the game is always on ways to obtain new sources of resources, while protecting and developing the ones you already have.

Military is important, but requires a lot more planning than in, say, a game of Civ. To build beyong the basic Nomad, you need a) the invention, b) the “specialization” constructed in a particular city (which better be large enough to support the loss of population), c) the production of those units, d) the training of those units, and e) the resource upkeep which can be disastrous if you are not careful. Also, two very important categories of units – ships and cavalry – are normally built in buildings outside cities, and these require their own substantial upkeep.

If you have a lot of unused military units sitting around, this is a serious drain on resources. But if you are facing a military crisis, it can be painfully slow to get sufficient units built and out to the problem area, and you may end up needing twice as many (and thus incur twice the upkeep) if you do not have time to train them. (In this sense training troops is a bargain. The costs are fairly small, one-time occurrences, while upkeep goes on forever.) Naval matters involve a more difficult calculation; naval supremacy is very expensive to obtain and maintain, but if an enemy holds naval supremacy the cost of having enough land troops to defend a broad area is also very expensive.

Diplomacy tends to be a bit of a crap shoot early on, and it is not something to get too worked up about. You start at war with everyone, and although you can make peace, the other nation will often go back to war quite soon. This reflects the fact that your rivals are in the same position you are, they do not really know yet which resources they will most lack, and which directions they will need to expand. As time goes along though, it can benefit you if you manage to establish longlasting peace with some nations. The security of such arrangements is always tentative and not the main point. Rather, once you get trade routes established, you can fill in some crucial gaps in your resources. And, even more importantly, a lengthy period of peace can lead to more extensive alliances, which can lead to your eventually absorbing another nation into your own – quite a bargain when you compare it to the cost in terms of resources and time required to add to your nation militarily. Games are often won or lost this way.

Happiness: This is listed on the resource screen, and you want to beware cities whose happiness drops, they may rebel! First line of defense is to station a military unit in or near that city. Cities added by military means are more prone to unhappiness for a while, and this is especially true if acquired by seige (starving them out). But cities can also become unhappy because you remove too much population to build units, or because they feel insecure on the border, or because some some other nation is messing with them using influence.

Influence: A sneaky way to undermine and then grab someone else’s city, especially one that is fairly small and near crucial resources. At low difficulty levels, this is your ace in the hole, you can do this, while the AI will be sparing in its use. But increase the difficulty level, and this becomes an important part of the game, and thus influence becomes a really important resource.

Oh, and one more quality of life tip… As you get later into the game, the moves of your opponents can seem interminable, but you likely need to see certain opponents’ moves. Using the spacebar skips the rest of the moves of just the current nation.

Thanks for sharing! These tips make me feel even better about buying this today.

Hello FinnegansFather,
I really don’t want to interfere in this discussion too much and you are apperantly already an experienced Aggressor:) I would just slightly correct few things you said:

To select units from a stack, or a unit sitting on a city tile, you hold down the right mouse button and then click with your left mouse button.

This was initially the best way how to select a unit in stack, but since v1.0.6. you can also open a stack by doubleclicking the banner above units.

I like topview, but unfortunately zooming can mess that up.

This is something we already have in TODO list. If you use TAB to change the view (3D <-> Top view), this issue should not happen at all.

Also regarding military: No more than three units per tile

That is absolutely correct but it is configurable per scenario and also if you decide to play customized world map (you can decide how many units will be allowed per tile).

Supply is essential. Very few units can survive on tiles where you do not have 100% supply. (Settlers and sometimes your starting Nomads are the exceptions.) You extend supply by building roads and cities into areas. The other way to provide supply to a tile is to have a ship adjacent to it – a fact that makes naval supremacy increasingly important as the game goes along.

Another supplier is wagon (ground transport unit).

You can settle new cities with either Nomads or Settler units, but Nomads have a second use in that they are viable military unit early in the game, particularly in that they are decent in rough terrain. Settlers have a crucial second use in that they can build roads and fields and chop forests. It’s usually wiser to settle new cities with Nomads because they are cheaper to build, and it is a rare moment when you do not need Settlers to do some jobs.

You can build a city with basically any ground unit (except for wagon). You are right that Settlers and Nomads are the best options because they build a city faster and cheaper (e.g. Settler builds a city 2 turns and it costs 10 gold, … milites builds a city 4 turns and it costs 20 gold) but any military unit can also build a city.

You start at war with everyone

This doesn’t have to be so. Especially in campaign scenario, most of the well known world starts in peace. If you decide to start custom world, you can decide how the initial relations will be in the “New customized world” window by changing the “diplomatic relations” slider.

I hope it was ok to correct you in these details:)
Pavel

Hello @kubatsoftware/Pavel and welcome to the forum and thanks for creating this game.

I have one question. In the Slitherine forum you write “Cities perform best when they are left to manage their own affairs, however, if you want to go through all your cities that are currently not working on or building anything, you can use the Switch to next idle city button.

Can you elaborate on this a bit more? Is the intention that players not fiddle with city management to reduce micromanagement or will cities do better on their own? If the latter is true, are there any game settings we should know about to maximize city’s autonomous management?

Hello orald,
the answer is related to resource production. When a city is left idle, the production of knowledge, influence and other resources is higher than in case when the city recruits new unit/builds new improvement etc.
Moreover cities will eventually build its own improvements for free but it takes time.

To answer the second question - it is an intention to reduce micromanagement and also to have cities doing better on their own (which seemed to us more historically accurate).

To maximize the production of knowledge and influence -support birth rate as much as possible. To have highest possible production - connect mines to cities and blacksmiths, build Trading, economic blacksmith and economic city improvements and choose wisely your government.

Understood, thanks. I haven’t experienced cities building things like Trade or Civil Service on their own. Trade seems like an improvement that every city should have and the other improvements are situational.

Here is a write up over at A Wargamer’s Needful Things that I think does a good job of explaining what the game is and what it is not.

I very much appreciate the corrections! Wagons, I simply forgot. But a lot of other things were news to me, and helpful in future playthroughs.

Also, I should remind anyone using my post that almost all my experience has been with the random map, usually starting with a low level of civilization. In fact, I have never played the historical setup with “objectives” turned on. I figure to try that one of the days, and expect that in many ways it will be a whole different game for me.

To orald:
I actually saw that review couple of months ago and it was a very nice reading:)

To FinnegansFather:
Wow. I am very surprised that you haven’t even tried the campaign scenario yet:) I hope it will be a very positive surprise for you. I play the custom worlds pretty seldom because I enjoy playtesting the campaign scenario everytime:)

Actually, I have played the campaign scenario a couple times, but without objectives.

However, I have a weird reaction to historical scenarios, and more so the more the game tells you to follow history. Just to give an example from another game. I recently played some Victoria 2 as the United States. As the United States, you are “supposed” to enact Manifest Destiny and then gain a core on all the southwest provinces that historically became part of the United States in real life.

But in real life, leaders of the United States did not make this decision knowing that they would gain “cores” on these particular provinces, no more and no less. The whole thing is really kind of a silly gaming conceit.

This problem permeates historical scenarios of pretty much all games. By knowing how the history turned out, and by getting rewards for aiming to follow in history’s footsteps, the experience of the game becomes quite unlike the experience of leading that nation back at that point in history.

I feel like your random maps avoid this problem as much as a game can. As a player, you are thinking like a leader of that time, trying to get what your people need, with no sense that it is supposed to fall out a certain way, no prior knowledge who will attack you, no carrot for taking the path that real life leaders took.

I suppose the random map games could go further, if your military strengths and weaknesses evolved naturally from their home location, rather than being determined by what Romans or Greeks or barbarians had to adapt to in their histories. And Aggressors 2 could add some sort of nationalities or cultural affinities, which could act as realistic sorts of rewards and penalties.

But the bottom line is that, in your game on a random map, I feel like I am facing more realistic historical situations than I feel on the historical map (or in the vast majority of other historical games), odd as that might sound. :)

I totally understand it but the objectives really do not force you to follow them. We actually had in mind the same as you do and therefore if you don’t follow the objectives, you are not penalized. It should be taken as “side quests”:)

Yes, the random maps will be improved so the factions will have the army types which are closer to their initial natural setup.

Not sure if they have been mentioned up-thread but wanted to point out the ‘Blitz’ and ‘Stalwart’ upgrades for military units. Blitz adds an additional attack per round and Stalwart adds an additional defense per round. These are very powerful upgrades as each attack a unit receives that is beyond the units ‘defenses per turn’ stat number results in much lower defense strength effectiveness (70% for 2nd, 40% for 3rd, 10% for 4th). Given the relatively low unit count in the game, having a force/defense multiplier like this is very upkeep cost and power effective.

Yes, thank you for pointing it out Vormithrax. Those are very important unit improvements from the tactical point of view.

Can someone help me understand “Happiness?” This is the one ‘resource’ that I’m struggling to manage.

In my game as the Roman Republic I was steadily gaining ground and winning battles but the Happiness was dropping and army size was the major factor. At some points I was seeing nearly a 50% malus due to army size with Happiness in the mid 60s.

A few turns later, after capturing a couple of town from the Celts (which is now one of my objectives) happiness is over 150 and army size is not even a factor even though I’ve added some milites legions and another principes legion.

What am I missing and how can I manage this resource more effectively?

I’m just going to make a couple guesses here.

Maybe the malus was due to heavy recent recruitment of population into military regions, concentrated in certain cities. And they had time to recover.

Or maybe you just had too many total troops for the population, but your addition of Celt cities pushed you back into acceptable territory?

I’d be interested in what Pavel has to say.

If I ever experienced this, I never noticed, because that is one “resource” where the impact is all local, so I look at the map, not the accounting. If I see areas on the map where happiness is dipping, I mouse over that. And I have had times where they were unhappy I had too few military units. (I’m cheap.) But I cannot remember a time when they were unhappy due to too many units.

btw, a big thank you for listing Star Traders in the Best of '18 thread. I had not even heard of the game, but I got it and am having a blast.

Hello,
happiness is probably the most tricky resource. I always recommend to watch the dev streams we recorded few months ago. Happiness is in this one (it is already pointing to the part about happiness).

Army size impact is measured per ratio between number of citizens and number of soldiers. There is a “sweet spot” when the happiness impact is very high (I think around 30%) and everything on the right or left side from that sweetspot has impact either less positive impact or even negative. Aka having too many soldiers makes your people not happy as well as having not enough soldiers. The negative impact is not equally negative on those two side of that “curve” - people are more unhappy when they don’t feel secure.

In your case I bet that the problem was high number of soldiers which was “diluted” by newly conquered population.
Also please remember that part of citizens happiness is also so called “national pride” which increases with successful military actions (conquering cities, etc) and decreases when things go wrong on battlefronts.