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.
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.