Aggressors: Ancient Rome

The UI issue isn’t just “How do I do this?” and navigating a poorly designed interface that way. Though that’s certainly part of it.

It’s also “Here’s a decision the game wants me to make,” and the info you need to make that decision simply isn’t available to you.

That’s where I rage uninstalled. Any developer who makes that rookie mistake has a lot to learn. I don’t doubt there’s some cool stuff in Aggressors: Ancient Rome, and I’m glad to hear about @FinnegansFather’s experience with it*. But I have too many games to play made by people who aren’t stumbling on basic design concepts.


* Okay, I know this is going to sound supersnarky, but I can’t resist:

You mean like Civilization IV? :)

I don’t take that as snarky, it is a basic problem with Civ (and I am a person who loves the series and have been playing VI very happily for thousands of hours). But Civ went from stacks of doom in IV to one military unit per hex. Each solution caused problems in terms of gameplay. (Not serious enough to prevent me from enjoying the games, but very significant.)

Aggressors allows three military units per tile. This strikes me as an interesting attempt at a solution. I can approach that tough enemy unit with three units and attack with each in succession. Each has an increased advantage as the enemy’s unit in effect uses up its defense. But I will take serious losses, possibly watching my first and second unit die. However, units like cavalry have an excellent chance of withdrawing, so attacking first with cavalry allows me to use up his defense without suffering such losses.

But if the enemy has another unit or two on the tile, then this blunts my strategy. Except that I can bring three more units to other adjacent tiles. Tiles are four sided, which serves as somewhat of a limiting factor, especially since it can be costly to circle around from behind for further attacks – you may find your units out of supply. But if done right, you can also cut that enemy’s supply lines, possibly in addition to attacks, possibly as a substitute for attacking. However, if I manage to attack the same unit a fifth time, my target actually loses 90% of his defense for that 5th attack.

Also… unlike Civ, those military units are not magical beings requiring only production. DasTactic complains repeatedly about how he always falls behind in terms of economy and population, so I asked the developer about this. He responded that that was because DasTactic builds way too many units. You lose population when men are sent off to fight, and you lose more population when the units take casualties. So if you have more units than your enemy, chances are you have made significant sacrifices to make it so. Add to this that your population is unhappy if you go too far in either direction, too many men sent off to fight, or too little sense of safety.

We will see over time how this stands up to the test of time, But it is not striking me as particularly similar to Civ IV.

Hey, I think this would run on my Intel HD 4000 laptop I’m stuck with. That makes this game much more tempting!

Anyone bit yet? Not really something I’d pick up unless it was like super cheap, but I"m curious about impressions after hearing all of the issues raised here.

I was posting over at Octopus Overlords when you asked this, so I will just crosspost that post here.

I picked it up yesterday. Grandparent duties kept my time with the game down, but I played the basic tutorial and found it excellent. Thorough and clear. Also great tooltips and manual.

Started a game on a random map and promptly made a horrible UI error. An accidental left click on a unit can cause it to do its default action, which, in this case, was a terrible error. But I started anew and have been enjoying the game. I started using mostly default settings including “barbarian” which means just a very few units, start your first city from scratch. At first, it is all about setting up roads to keep early units supplied in the field, and to up production from mines. And fields, to increase food so population can expand. But even fields have to be “invented.”

Just met my first neighbor, the Germans, who want no part of peace. Map is interesting – some very important mines in the area we met, so I assume abouthalf way between our starting positions. I suspect early conflict is inevitable.

First impression very positive, but it is very early.

I’m still in the basic tutorial but starting to like what I see. The graphics and unit movement animation put me off at first but I’m getting used to them.

Thanks for the info!

Tim Stone quite likes it

I have gone through the tutorial and witnessed the Carthaginian AI doing a way better job than me kicking Epyrean butt.

Graphics are a bit all over the place in terms of style, and the UI sometimes scales up windows and dialogs weirdly. Music was of uneven quality (who knows how Ancient Greek music actually sounded like?).

I found it very user friendly yet with some issues regarding clarity when it comes to select one unit out of a stack. Movement was awkward until I went into Civ 6 (?) mode. On screen text is abundant and informative, with the occasional weird choice of words or turn of sentence. Since I am ESL myself I have no issue with that.

Will play more when I get the time to see if the mechanics do stack up.

Actually, there’s been quite a bit of research into ancient music and we’ve got a fairly good idea of what it sounded like, especially since we have remains of instruments, depictions of instruments, actual lyrics, musical notation, and so forth. I can give you references if you want.

As an example, here’s a video with a good interpretation of what ancient Greek music may have been like:

I’ll probably have a look at this game at some point, if only out of professional interest (I’m an archaeologist after all), but some of the mistakes noted above with regards to Athens’ placement on the map (etc.) don’t bode very well.

Tempted. Not really looking to pay full price on a game right now since I just bought a Switch and 3 games for it, but these positive comments may sway me. I like the more detailed handling of resources, supply, etc.

Fascinating, I didn’t know there was evidence of the melody and bars… wow. Reconstructing the instruments themselves must have been difficult.

I am afraid that you shouldn’t expect the game to fit a exceedingly high standard of historicity. Let’s say that it takes historical facts and tries to make a fun game out of them.

Huh this looks very much like my cup of tea. Thanks for the write ups folks.

Thanks for the link, it's very interesting!

This looks like pretty much exactly what I want in a turn based strategy game - I feel my resolve crumbling…

Played quite a bit yesterday evening, and still having a very good first impression. The only thing that really annoyed me was having to figure out how to select a unit from a stack (hold right click then left click to bring up choices).

But I have already seen more military AI than I ever saw from Civ. They definitely have a plan – and this is on the medium difficulty, nothing overly challenging. Hope this hold up, I had not seen this so much in the DasTactic videos.

Okay, I just have to add this. After posting I ran into a weird problem: I got a peace proposal in a tense war with the Germans, but I could not see what land they had taken during their turn due to the peace proposal on the screen, and when I tried to click out of the proposal to look, the game recorded this as my rejecting the peace proposal. Frustrating. (I wonder whether this is what Tom was frustrated with.)

Anyway, I posted on the their forum… and got a response from the developer in… 7 minutes. A workaround, and a plan for improving this in the next patch. (He posted before I was done editing my original post to include everything I intended to include.)

I am impressed. Doesn’t necessarily mean the game will hold up over time, but I am convinced that this developer is going to work out any rough edges we run into.

It is

I went and bought this silly thing. The tutorial is quite good - I really appreciate the button that takes you back to the thing you were meant to be doing, because I always get sidetracked and can never remember what step I was up to. The tooltips like the pre-battle tooltip are excellent as well although I am getting fed up with the dilpo screen lack of information that Tom rage quit over. The one other thing that bothered me was 1 year = 1 turn - but there is already a mod in the workshop for that.

It is not a total solution, but here is what the developer said about it

As to a turn equaling a year, it will be easy to mod, but only as a surface thing. I will be surprised if they can create seasons with changing conditions.

This is one area where the game does remind me of Civ. The way turns match up to years is just a surface thing with no real meaning.

However, independent of the turn/year interval, you can set up your game so that things like research go faster or slower. At least on the random map, but I think also on the historical one. That’s not a mod, that is just in setting up the game.