Aggressors: Ancient Rome

There’s nothing like a responsive dev to convince me to set aside my concerns and part with some cash. That’s a very encouraging response, and speaks well for the future trajectory of the game.

Even after playing the tutorials and reading the manual and watching some Youtubers, I’m still a little baffled by how certain things actually work here. I’m not sure why I end up with loads of wood in some starts and a no-wood-death-spiral in others even though the terrain around my cities looks the same. No idea why my food and growth progress in one start and stall out in another even though I’m doing pretty much the same things (cultivation, etc.) I can’t figure out city loyalty for the life of me – why it’s such a problem early game when you’re first expanding and then suddenly isn’t. I think I finally have a handle on the diplomacy and trade interface, though – as others are saying here – it’s such a PITA to use that I end up avoiding it. Finally, I like the idea of the semi-randomized tech tree, but in practice it’s still so linear and limited that it never ends up feeling that important. I’m going to keep trying. I really want to like this – a 4x / strategy / historical sim hybrid. But the game’s not doing much to meet me half way.

I definitely do not have all the answers yet, but the place I start to look is to click on the resource at the top of the screen. The map that pops up may or may not help, but the accounting off to the right can be very helpful. Just now I was surprised to see that my wood was dwindling, and when I checked, I realized that Birth Support is eating up more than I gather in a turn.

I only want it as a comestic thing so My Immersion isn’t ruined by it taking a year to move an army from Rome to Naples.

For anyone on the fence, here is a thorough review that gives a good picture of the game:
Aggressors: Ancient Rome Review

But if I read it I might buy it !!!
I’m off to read it…

:) Sorry about that.

Also Post-release DasTactic Let’s Play which starts with a detailed discussion of game mechanics

I’m having a good time with the game as well. The main developer, Pavel, was in my Twitch chat yesterday answering questions and confirmed a bug i encountered during play (i sent him the save file and he hopes to have a fix for it today).

There should be more games that allow you to pay people to screw.

I think the developer might possibly have had in mind building houses to support families, but gold and wood, hey, maybe. :)

I spent hours playing a random game yesterday. The Romans on a giant map, starting low development, and the third difficulty level up, whatever that is called.

Holy crap! I have a lot to learn about the game, apparently. The AI opponents are ferocious. Military strategy is good, although at least at this level I can taunt them into attacking me as I sit in secure positions. But that is the only way I was surviving, as they certainly know how to run their economy and raise their population a lot better than I can. And although they throw away some units attacking unwisely, they at least coordinate attacks wisely, and they are excellent at figuring out the one weak spot in my setup. Very effective use of cavalry to threaten supply lines, very good at finding the spot in my nation where their troops are better suited for the terrain.

Sadly, in this particular game I had limited access to water and therefore did not get much of a chance to meet potential trading partners or allies. That looks to be a powerful part of the game, and not being able to do that has held me back.

Now that I’ve put some time into it, I’m still not grokking why some battles resolve the way they do. Why an army with att/def of 6.7 and 3.4 after modifiers, plus good morale, would go up against one with numbers half that and still end up with a draw or a loss baffles me.

Is there a random element I don’t know about?

I am quite sure that there is.

Ahead of battle, it is easy to be misled as to unit ratings, but the after battle report shows them accurately and completely. I have had an 8 point something attacker lose to a 1 point something defender.

But in my experience, not often. (Excepting cavalry which often withdraws.) If I set up in a great defensive situation with multiple units so that attackers cannot wear down any one unit with multiple attacks per turn… They get a lot of unit deaths and near deaths and I get a lot of nearly no casualties. But out of 50 encounters there seems to be an outlier or two. Not sure if this is good or bad.

I did have one enemy cavalry unit land on a shore tile, and I attacked it with 4 or 5 superior units before getting a victory (which wiped it out), and I was suspicious about the workings of that. Maybe cavalry’s ability to withdraw isn’t done quite right? Or maybe the game mishandles things when a cavalry unit does not have a tile to retreat to? Not sure, but if I see anything like that again, I will post on the Slitherine forum and see what the developer has to say about it. However, that was the only time that “against the odds” results seemed to clump up and feel unrealistic to me.

There is a bug regarding some combat results. The developer was watching my Twitch stream and confirmed it when it happened. There is a random seed used for combats to allow variance and sometimes a glitch appears to be happening causing what should be a guaranteed victory turning into instant death for the attacking unit. The times i noticed it the odds were extremely in my favor (14.5 ATT vs .8 DEF) and my max health highly upgraded legion flopped over dead. BTW, if you hold the CTRL key when selecting/loading the auto-saved turn it will generate a new random number seed for the turn which can then usually get you past this bug (or when you re-do the turn just pick a different order of unit/movement/combat so a different random number is used in that particular attack). The developer has my save to recreate the error and is hoping to get a fix for it very soon.

Anybody know how to get the Battle Reports for the defensive battles your units fight? I think I remember it being mentioned in the tutorial, but I don’t want to restart the tutorial to find just that one bit of information if I don’t have to.

@Sonoftgb, I believe the defensive rating only applies when the unit is defending. That is why it can be very useful to train different units with Assault, Defense, etc. That way your Assault can lead the offensive, but you are able to protect it with Defense units. City Invader is really good too, so you aren’t forever chipping away at an enemy city. Or at least, there is less chance of it being forever.

I like the randomness in battle, but will definitely like to see @Vormithrax’s bug get fixed.

I believe you can use the ‘message/report list’ ( i forget what this is called) on the left side of the screen to see you battle report. Just click on the report line that mentions the battle to open the full battle report window. If your report list has faded just click on your Empire banner on the Mini-map window (or press F5) to get it to re-appear.

This game has the same ridiculously stupid diplomatic AI that Civilization does.

I’m playing as the Gaelic tribes and run into big boy Carthage, which I start with treaties with apparently. Carthage quickly cancels all treaties, but we remain at peace. The in-game description says I’m a valuable ally to them potentially, but whatever. Two turns later, the AI then asks for some treaties… presumably some of which he just cancelled two turns before. Okay, sure! The very next turn, the AI declares war on me. Well, crap, maybe he asked for City vision so he could scout and attack me? But oh no. After being at war for one whole turn, the AI then asks me for peace. Ugh, not this again.

I simply cannot stand this level of stupid in AI. It’s scatterbrained and completely all over the place. I don’t care if the AI is aggressive or passive or something in between, but what I want is for there to be some reasoning and calculations behind its actions. If it wants to declare war on me, it should be because I have something it needs. If it wants peace with me, it should be because it needs its forces elsewhere. Changing it’s mind literally from turn to turn to turn with nothing really changing tells me the AI really isn’t doing much “thinking” behind any of it’s actions. Just like Civ.

What a disappointment.

Yeah, I saw some of that in a DasTactic video. Didn’t seem to bother him, and so he passed it by quickly, but I had to wonder.

Of course, we are talking ancient times and some of our more modern expectations about consistency might not apply. And I suspect that any time you are a tiny minor dealing with a behemoth, they would realistically not worry over much about consistency in dealing with you. But yeah, it gave me some cause for concern.

On the other hand, I have seen none of that in my own games. Neighbors switch between peace and war, but it is generally for their own benefit. Grab some land and offer peace. Solidfy position and declare war to try to take more. Or lose too many units, feel vulnerable so ask for peace. Then build a few replacements and return to war. That I find not only acceptable, but excellent AI.

I have done enough experimenting with the game, though, to figure out that random maps create vastly different setups, one to the next. Even with exactly the same settings. And I think that this results in extremely different AI behavior. Just a guess, but I suspect that what you and DasTactic experienced results from a confused AI which has not decided what conditions pertain. Some internal setting says “Act this way if X, act that way if Y” but the determining variable is so close to the dividing line that it goes back and forth. But that is just a wild guess, maybe it’s just that some percentage of AIs are supposed to behave erratically?

All I can say for sure is that, overall, this AI feels nothing like the Civ AI to me.

So I just got this after all the chatter in some other threads, and even still in the tutorial, I am very impressed so far!

That’s great! I’ll be interested in hearing more of your reactions as you go along.

So far I’ve done the basic tutorial and started playing as the Roman Republic on the Mediterranean map. This appears to be a game that is reasonably easy to learn but is deep enough to require quite a bit of play to master. I got it as it sits in the intersection of the Venn Diagram where both DasTactic and the Historical Gamer both recommend it, and @FinnegansFather’s enthusiasm helped.

So far my first impressions are good. I’m glad that combat is abstracted and resolved quickly and does not require tactical play. Also liking that there is some variability in outcome, such as the effect temples have on population growth is not an exact multiplier but something to be revealed.

The UI could be improved, having the main menu button next to the next turn button has resulted in my clicking on one when I meant to choose the other. And the auto next unit selection thing is a pain. Is there a way to turn that off?

Carthage is owning my navy so when I’m not playing I am thinking about how to exact revenge.

And the manual is 238 pages long!