Rome Total War: YEAAAAA

I’ve been reading Livy, and I wanted to get my Rome on after I finished. Livy is all about the very tiny details of Rome, so you get to read about the city freaking out every year for like a hundred years because a wolf ran through the city. This was apparently a prodigy, and needed sacrifices of the larger kind (???).

Anyway, WOLVES ARE SCARY TO ROMANS OR SOMETHING.

This applies to the game because wardogs. We will get to them later.

I started as the Julii because the options are Red Romans, Green Romans and Blue Romans. Romans are Red, nuff said.

The Julii are supposed to go north. Your mission is to conquer Gaul, parts of Germany and all of Spain.

I also installed the mod in this link, Vanilla Essentials.

It contains three handy things:

A bug fix patch that kills bugs and gives no fucks
A formation pack that fixes the dumb formations AI use in the battle map
A mercenary pack
And some small changes to the way the game plays

The most important of these is a big nerf to exterminate in the form of massively reduced population growth. Exterminate allows you to fund your empire by burning cities everywhere, and also allows for speed teching. The AI is mad dumb so it tends to develop poorly and overbuild units, mutilating cities and preventing teching. Because growth rates are mad reduced and the AI is well bonused this handicaps the player.

I also had a house rule for the game: IRON MAN MODE. Normally I treat these games as tactical puzzles, so I tend to load on defeat and try a different strategy. This lets me win way more than I should! Not anymore, bitches.

Next up, what I did!

We are romans!

Seriously the last tw game that I could get into, even though I’ve stupidly bought Empire and Shogun

I did the usual Julii opening moves and pwnzoned Northern Italy. I then started building up a small navy and getting my dudes moving toward Southern Gaul, while also getting some watch towers set up in the Alps in case of invasion.

Because of lower pop growth only two of my cities could build hastati, meaning that my army sucked and was lacking in things like non-general cavalry, archers, siege gear, etc.

But so what, Gauls are total bitches and I ownzoned them up to Alesia. Here’s a crude paint map of my conquests pre-ZOMGGERMANZ.

As you can see, the Gauls were down to two cities almost instantly, while my army was easily mowing through their weak units. Gauls are stuck with crap infantry, not much in the way of cavalry, and crap skirmishers. So basically they are weak Romans. Easy prey.

Alesia is the extended red X above the brown X that represents a German town. Being as I am not extremely dumb, I feared the Teutonic menace. I did not fear them enough.

The Germans had been going back and forth over a continental British town. That meant they weren’t a big threat for me initially, and I was just fighting the Gauls. But once I took Alesia, that all changed and the Germans came for me. Whatever, they’re smelly savages etc etc.

NOPE.

See the Germans have a unit called the Spear Warband. This unit is a lightly armored phalanx. I didn’t remember it. Oh gawd. In RTW, phalanx style units have long fucking spears that murderrape their way through non-long fucking spear wielding units. They cannot be beaten head on. Period, end of story. Normally if you are planning to fight them you will bring siege gear or slingers or archers or any sort of long ranged unit that can slay them from far away before they can hurt the fuck out of your infantry.

I didn’t have any of that because my towns were still working their way up the tech tree.

My first battle with the Germans happened outside of Alesia. We were about even numbers, and here’s another crude paint picture of what happened.

Basically, I lost some units right away not realizing how dangerous the fuckers were up front, and then focused on skirmishing them with velites while cavalry and merc spears engaged their cavalry or hit the enemy from behind with whatever infantry I could find.

I won, but losses were heavy and I wasn’t really in a position to replace them. Plus the Germans had retreated with about half their army intact. The other problem with Spear Warbands is that there really isn’t any way to chase the fuckers down if they withdraw rather than rout. Your infantry can’t really catch em (they run at about the same speed) and your cavalry can’t pin them because they will murder rape an unsupported cavalry unit. It takes about eight turns to get a unit up from my recruit facilities to my army, and I was gonna need way more troops way faster to survive.

So I burned everything in Alesia and started pulling back. Except that the Germans kept pushing. They had that halfway intact army and a really nearby base of operations, so units kept pouring out after me in small groups that banded together to make big scary motherfucking groups.

I had managed to form up a second Legion (Legio II) and drop it in Massilia (the closest occupied Gaullic town to Italy), and they raced up to try and provide support while Legio I pulled back and attempted to siege Lugdunum (the German town in Gaul). No dice. Why?

Enter the Spaniards. See, normally Spain is busy fighting Carthage at this time, but Carthage was busy pushing back the Brutii hordes and couldn’t simultaneously expand. So instead they went for my lightly defended cities in Provence while my main armies were in Eastern Gaul. That basically forced me to withdraw entirely while a third Legion (Legio III) was formed to deal with the Spanish threat.

At this point I’m freaking out. Alesia has fallen, my city in Western Gaul is under siege by the remainder of the Gaullic forces, and Legio I & II are under threat from a massive German force sprinting down as they attempt to knock down the only German town in Gaul (and a critical point for their operations because it threatens my cities in Italy via a route through the Alps).

So that collapsed my front in Gaul. Legio I and II were stationed in my two remaining coastal Gaullic cities, while Legio III dropped at a coastal town in Spain. I’m entirely reliant on sea transport to evade the roaming hordes of barbarians and cut down the travel time of land (OH MY GOD SO SLOW). Also to support my isolated cities. If I didn’t have a force of eight ships out raping the pirates and anything else coming near my shipping routes I’d be doomed.

One of the neat things about RTW is how different the unit roster is for every faction. The games after it and Med2 tend to see factions that fight in basically the same way: Shogun 2, everyone has the same (awesome) roster, and muskets are basically muskets everywhere. In RTW, the Gauls fight with a roster similar to the Romans, but an emphasis on forest combat. The Germans fight with a strange mix of Roman and Greek rosters, but have weak cavalry and skirmishers. They have huge bonuses to winter combat, and can sneak around like pros in the snow. The Spaniards have great cavalry and infantry. They also have war dogs.

The other neat thing about RTW is that this is the only game in the TW series where the AI is completely willing to pull out of a battle without sacrificing a single soldier if things look bad for them. They do it in good order and can generally get out with most of their units unhurt, living to fight another day. This means that wars can drag on as the AI pulls in reinforcements for armies that are beaten but not destroyed. Decisive battles are comparatively rare as a result, especially against factions with lots of fast moving troops or lots of phalanx based units. It’s a frustrating but intriguing example of intelligent behavior that really adds to the game.

Fighting the Spaniards is a bitch as the Romans because you lack spears entirely until your cities get really big. Dudes with tiny swords cannot stop a horse (we’ll leave out the giant pilums that were historically used as spears against cavalry because it isn’t relevant). So fighting them requires velites because velites can end a cavalry unit with javs so long as cavalry is there to back them up in a fight.

The other thing is that Spain has shitloads of soldiers for some reason. Guess they’re cheap! Fighting them is a pain in the butt because I cannot afford to leave my new conquest for fear of them.

And then there are the war dogs. War dogs are fucking brutal death machines that give no fucks and attack without fear. They also only lose soldiers if you kill the handlers, and can chew the ever loving shit out of a unit that doesn’t see them coming or isn’t heavy infantry/phalanx. I’ve got no idea how to kill them. I hate them so much. So very, very much. When they engage a unit you basically know that it is going to lose a ton of men and there is nothing you can do about it. As a result, my fights in Spain don’t see too many casualties from the actual Spanish infantry, but the combination of cavalry, skirmishers and wardogs hits my units real fucking hard.

The campaign for Osca was exciting, but only one of several battles was really noteworthy. Two enemy groups were involved. One was a field army I had engaged, and the other was the town army that was hitting me from behind.

The field army did terrible things to my Spanish mercenaries and a unit of velites that got hit by war dogs. But they fell apart and fled after their center collapsed, leaving my hastati untouched. Army flipped around to deal with the incoming city army with moments to spare. These guys were attacking out of the woods behind me, and feinted viciously at my flanks. I did the usual charge of infantry (this time with my fresh Roman troops), and the enemy fled in good order before the lines engaged. Another unit of Spanish mercenaries gave their lives in a valiant attempt to fend off more mother fucking barking machines of death.

Had the enemy field army held on slightly longer I’d have gotten torn to shit in that battle. I didn’t actually want to engage the enemy there, but my choice was attack in an unfavorable position or wait for them to bring even more units forward.

A couple battles later and the town itself fell. Here’s a map of the situation post that, with Spain split between me, the Spaniards, the Gauls and the Carthaginas.

If you guessed that hordes of Spaniards meant a Legio IV was formed because of the losses, you’d be right! This is the first Legion I built that didn’t have basically all hastati and whatever mercs I could scrounge up. Principes were the only heavy infantry (hastati with two more points of armor and the same upkeed), as well as ballistae (giant fucking siege things that are awesome for fighting on the field) and ROMAN ARCHERS OMG FINALLY.

My first objective for them was snagging the only remaining Spanish city on the Med coastline. Based on what I could see from my ships blockading the port it was entirely open to conquest. Thing is, Wild Spanish Ships had appeared from nowhere and surrounded my transport group, and my anti-ship fleet was far away. I ended up winning the naval fight, but just in case I had disembarked IV on Spanish ground. The AI spotted it and immediately rushed huge numbers to the defense of their city, meaning my operation was a failure before it even started. IV was about a 3/4ths stack, and the enemy had a good stack and a half in the city and wandering around. No dice.

BUT! Because I disembarked, I noticed that Baleric slinger mercenaries were available. These are some epic fucking duders who can mow through practically everything at obscene range. So I grabbed them and, after the sea fights ended, shipped back up to Gaul and placed them where they could watch both cities.

I then formed the remnants of I and II into a single group and went for the German city of Lugdunum. I had had a spy unit watching it, and had bribed the Dacians to fight the Germans, figuring this would buy me some time. The German uuberstack had pulled off, and a further half stack in the area that had been sitting in a fort off the Alps was the only defensive force in range.

So I pushed up and took Lugdunum. The Germans reinforced with an additional half stack, but I managed to win the battle with acceptable casualties.

That’s about how things are right now. Tonight before I am distracted by pleasures of the flesh I will see about pushing further.

My future objectives are:

Rape the Gauls out of Spain.
Rape the Spanish out of Spain.
Rape the Germans across the Rhine and then cower in fear.

Once those objectives are complete I’m going to look into alternate expansion locations like Dacia. Greece and North Africa aren’t really options due to the expansion of Green and Blue Romans, so that means the Inevitable Civil War will be quite brutal.

Here’s a paint map of the current situation. Legions in boxes are legions in cities.

That’s like a crude drawing of a penis with some sort of massive VD infection.

I can’t help that my art reminds you of your dad.

I must say, the paint drawings make this far more entertaining than screenshots would have been.

Screen shots piss me off because there’s the clicking and the clicking and fuck it I want to play. Also I tend to post from work and play from home, so there’s not much overlap.

But man I can certainly do shitty paint art.

I love those maps! :-D

blah blah blah “AI retreats” blah blah /screech /crash

What? Really? Is this default behavior from the base game or part of that mod?

I’m glad you lot are ironically enjoying my mad mad mad art skillz.

I can’t wait to do horrible, horrible things to the Germans. I’ve mostly been enslaving people, but I think I’m going to do some razzias in their turf just because. Capture, exterminate, destroy all buildings, leave, repeat with new city.

Good money in it, and as a bonus feature it’ll also cripple their economy and military on the border, meaning lots of weakly protected cities I can always hit and abandon if I need to reduce the pressure they’re putting on my defensive line.

I can’t decide if I should wipe out Spain or expand to the Rhine first. Spain has the advantage of having nothing beyond it, but the disadvantage that anything can hit it by sea and that it is extra rebellious (seriously, this is hard coded, those Spaniards will rebel at the drop of a hat). Gaul is much safer but still leaves me having to defend against potential Spanish incursions while fighting the Germans until I finish them both off.

I had hoped that Osca would reduce the pressure on my Gaullic territory, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Fewer raids into Massilia, more raids into Provence. And the AI likes to sit in that territory devastating it, which is bad because that place is motherfucking profitable thanks to the silver mines. So I am all sorts of pissed about that.

Again that ties into Livy really well, and was a very common trick. It’s fun seeing that in this game I’ve been getting lots of “oh hey that moment felt right” bits. The big disappointment is the lack of sneaky interaction with the Senate. There’s no reason to bribe them to help me, or to assassinate people to move up the ranks. You’d think I’d get some kind of persistent bonus for being Consul for the year, and would want to assassinate the other color Romans with high influence or bribe the senate to pick my dudes.

Oh well, here’s hoping they revisit the split Rome mechanic for R2TW whenever that comes out.

I don’t know for certain either way, but I can confirm that they’ve pulled out on multiple occasions before we even engaged. I was pretty impressed by that, because generally they retreated in situations where I’d have done the same.

I want to reiterate that those units weren’t routing either, they were full morale and walking out in formation. If my dudes engaged one it would turn and fight while the rest kept on.

This is a major reason for why I haven’t completely dominated all sides. The ai pulls out of battles with intact armies, I’m out of moves and can’t chase, they reinforce and hit me with better odds. Very ping pong and contributes to the static front.

They’ve also been crafty with probing attacks. They run a quarter stack near a town and sit it outside without sieging. If I give chase it fleespams out and then does the same. Fucks my income, forces me to maintain significant garrisons.

Pompey Magnus couldn’t have done it better himself!

I wish there was a way I could add these to ReadItLater.

Reading this makes me want an Aeon221 election night newscast, with updates as the polls come in.

Now you are tempting me to buy a microphone and do this shit live just for the entertainment.

On the other hand, I fucking loathe listening to things on the internet, so that would totally kill it for me.

RIL works pretty well with forum posts I find. I use a Chrome plugin for it.

Man you gotta love those map scribbles. I only look at this thread for them.

— Alan

You people are problematical.

Certainly liking the way you are doing this Aeon.

Also, the Romans have spears don’t they (Triarii)? If I remember though they come after a city is much more developed. So, I am guessing they won’t see the light of day at all in your current campaign, especially with growth turned down.

Also, the Britons are fucking rough as anything. I hated having to engage them in battle with their chariots. So many losses in my Roman army.

Very amusing, but…dude. You say “rape” a lot.