Monday, March 23, 2009

Ten Commandments of Empire Total War

  1. Fight Concentrated: In the game of chess, one of the most important factors is local force. The more pieces you have that can affect the immediate area, the more control you have over an area, and the more likely you are to gain an advantage in that area. So what does that have to do with ETW? Well, the same concept can be applied to the battlefield. A smaller force, attacking in a concentrated manner, can overwhelm a larger, more dispersed force. Striking with local superiority is good for morale and allows you to swiftly defeat and break enemy units, which will help win the overall battle (or at least turn a loss into a costly victory for the opponent).
  1. Plan for the Worst: It is easy to have visions of grandeur, where your armies march over every opponent in the world and you can invade city after city without loosing any units. However, even great generals have bad days, and the best laid plans rarely survive contact with the enemy. Because of this, it is usually best to prepare for the worst, and make sure you have contingencies. Ensure that you aren’t attacking with one large army. Station more than a skeleton force in your cities. If you spend the money to build forts, station troops in them. Just because you are winning a war, doesn’t mean the enemy can’t turn back your forces or mount sneak attacks on your home front. Be prepared to respond to this.
  1. Use Combined Arms: In other TW games, a popular tactic is to mass cavalry. It often seems easier to compose your army of primarily one type of unit to simplify production and command. However, this is a very bad idea. Yes, it is easier and simpler, and that is why it is bad. If you have a lot of infantry, then cavalry charges and artillery are dangerous. If you rely on a lot of artillery, then cavalry can outflank and overtake your guns. Cavalry are also vulnerable to artillery and formed-up infantry. In short, by using a combined force of different units, you can both create tactics to defend against any force, and create local forces to overwhelm enemy units of a specific type.
  1. Utilize the Terrain to your Advantage: Terrain is vitally important in ETW. Terrain impedes movements, grants bonuses and penalties, and in general cannot be ignored without detrimental effects to your forces. Canons on hills have longer effective ranges. Being at a higher elevation gives you advantages, however, it also limits your mobility. Cliffs are effective dead-ends, but good for firing positions that are unapproachable from the front. Typically, any terrain position has pros and cons, you need to maximize the pros and minimize the cons of your position.
  1. Armies Win Battles, Economies Win Wars: Your mighty armies and armadas might win many battles, but an army marches on its stomach (in this case, its coin-purse). In order to maintain your troops and improve your technology, you need money. In ETW this means not taxing your provinces to death, and maximizing their growth. A nation with a mighty economy can raise a mighty army and buy the allegiance of enemy nations.
  1. Seek targets of Opportunity: A battle isn’t very straight forward. Armies don’t line up and shoot each other until one side is dead. As such, any advantage you can get is useful. Enemy canons undefended? Take them out with cavalry. Enemy General standing out in the open? Drop some canon fire on his head. Enemy infantry have undefended flanks? Rip them open with a flanking unit. Regardless of the situation, try to take advantage to reduce the enemy numbers.
  1. Shatter the Enemy: Thanks to new mechanics in ETW, unit flags will start to flash once the unit is wavering. This can leave you disengaging from units who are not fully broken. Additionally, units now have a new status: Shattered. It is exactly as it sounds, a unit whose morale is so thoroughly destroyed it is very unlikely to recover. In combat it seems that broken units have a chance of recovering and returning to battle, while shattered units only very rarely (or never) recover from the shattered status. Because of this, it is best to, if it is possible, chase after broken units for a short while, and continue to lay into them until they shatter. Once shattered, they can be left alone, as they are effectively dead.
  1. Cheat on your Taxes: Not literally, of course. Territories with bad economies should be given a tax holiday to ensure they grow (most undeveloped economies don’t provide a large amount of revenue anyway. Additionally, newly captured territories can be made tax free until the revolt dies down (usually 4-5 turns, depending on size). This frees up some of your units to continue the fight elsewhere and prevents city watch from being called up (which can be more expensive than the taxes you would be loosing by declaring a holiday). Careful manipulation of these factors can ensure economies build up quickly.
  1. Mobility Leads to Victory: An immobile force is effectively a large, easy to hit target. It is also less able to react to changes in the battlefield. A mobile force, however, can be fluid, harder to hit, and able to act to changes to the environments.
  1. Fight Your Own Battles: True to every TW game, the auto-calculated battles almost always lead to massive bloodshed on both parties. Because of this, it is almost always better to fight every battle yourself. Not only can you decide what enemy forces to do damage to, your tactics might turn defeat into victory. Also, you can determine when to retreat, what to risk, and maybe exploit an enemy mistake.

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