In part one of our epic campaign map analysis, we covered what the map itself actually looks like, how the factions are set up, and some words about the new political meta-game and Agents. In Part Two, we look more at the management aspects of the game – from Army Management, to Province and Region management, and the dynamics included there. We also say a little bit about how Battles work on the campaign map, and we’ve got some miscellaneous information to wrap things up.
So, without further ado, please continue reading everything you’ve ever wanted to know (ever) about Total War: Rome II:
Pax Romana – Army management & progression
While Creative Assembly have tried to include a lot of tools in Rome 2 to offer players more peaceful ways of playing the game, eventually you’re going to have to fight – whether it’s to control a crucial resource or to simply defend yourself, armies play a crucial role in the eb and flow of the game. For Rome 2, the team have tried to something special with them.
Hybrid battles open up another dimension to a typical land engagement. Not only do you have to take care of a small fleet, but if they’re carrying troops you have to make sure they land safely
This has been reported before, but army recruitment has changed – instead of building units in cities and then collecting them to form armies, you form the army first and then recruit units directly to it. As far as we know, you have to have a general (which you can also recruit) to form an army. Armies can be customisable in terms of name, and the standard they have.
They Army’s location will determine what units you can recruit – in home provinces, you can recruit core units which depends on the buildings and technology your faction has (not sure if you have to move army from province to province should you want a particular unit that your empire has access to). Even after the army is formed, you can still recruit units to it – either to replenish losses or if you’re changing the focus of the army.
Wherever you are though, even if you’re unable to recruit core units, there will always be a selection of mercenary units you can recruit. These will depend on the local culture. As you’d expect, they’re more expensive to recruit and expense to upkeep – short-term solution.
Armies have several different stances, including a defensive stance which means they can fortify in the field, providing defensive buffs and a handful of deployables to use in battle. In the specific case of the Romans, their fortified position also involves the Fortified Camp, making them quite tough to attack. Other stances are reported to be Forced March (move further but tires out the troops), Ambush and raiding.
Armies can have up to 40 individual units within them, and there is a cap on the number of armies a faction can field at any one time, which is determined by the faction’s ‘Imperium’ power (more on this in the Province section).
Generals, individual units AND armies can all rank up and get experience and upgrades.
Generals, and characters in general, are similar but different from preivous games. The have ten levels with which to progress through, along with three attributes. They can also learn skills, be assigned ancillaries (similar to retinue) and acquire traits as they go along.
Armies also have Ten Levels. Every time they rank up, you can choose a ‘Tradition’ for them. A Tradition is essentially a bonus or a buff that applies to every unit within that Army, which is permanent. There is vast pool of traditions with which to choose from, You can give Armies ten different traditions, or a smaller handful of traditions and upgrade each tradition to make them more powerful. Engineering-based traditions, as well as making them excellent ‘city-crackers’, also gives buffs to province construction if the legion is near.
Should the worst happen, and the army gets destroyed, the ‘Traditions’ remain – should you choose to reform that specific army elsewhere, it’ll automatically get the traditions that it had previously. “This is that idea that famous military units would teach their guys certain things. For example the 101st Airborne, when they stormed a fixed German position on D-Day, that manoeuvre is still being taught today, that’s their tradition. This is a reflection on that, this idea that the Legions, the way they teach their recruits, their methodology etc… outlives the men that make up that Legion.”
Individual Units also level up, in the same way as they pretty much always have, although at some point you can give them special equipment or customised ‘load-outs’, possibly at a cohort/unit level, but there’s not a lot of information here. In general though, instead of having pre-set trees, generals, armies and units have a ‘pool’ of traits or skills that can be assigned when they level up, for increased versatility.
The Eagle’s Conquest – Battles & The Strategic Map
What’s the point in having an army if you’re not going to use it? Whilst we’ve played through the Battle of the Nile historical campaign, we’ll reserve writing about the tactical battle mode until we’ve had a more extensive hands-on session with it. For the moment, we’ll talk about battles from a strategic perspective.
Whilst this may not be the full list, we’ve managed to get a rundown of the different types of battles that a player could experience whilst playing Rome 2.
On the Land, these are: Walled City battles, Settlement Outskirts battles, field battles, combined land/sea coastal battles, River battles (as in, attacking/defending across a river), Encampment battles (when you attack a fortified army), Ambush battles (which we’re told will be very different to previous games) and Supply Train battles, which is what happens when you’re attacking an army that’s force-marching.
On the Navy side, there are: Port siege battles, open sea battles and of course the land/sea coastal battles.
Units are transported on a one unit to one ship scale, so in the hybrid battles units can be used for amphibious assaults quite easily, but they can also be ambushed and destroyed at sea. From our play through the Battle of the Nile historical battle, only certain points along the coast line will be suitable for an amphibious landing. At the moment, those points aren’t clearly represented (we had to be shown on a printed out version of the mini-map).
As far as the ‘hybrid’ land/sea battles go, these can be triggered naturally by simply making sure there is a fleet in range of the battle area – much like how reinforcing armies have been set up in previous games.
A lot of work has been done on making the battle locations more unique, especially with regards to attacking cities and sieges – famous places like Alexandria, Rome, Athens etc… have been designed and rendered as they would have looked like in the 1st Century BC. On the more general side, there are reported to be 30 different city variants.
What have the Romans ever done for us? - Provinces, Construction & Management
Individual regions are now group into ‘Provinces’ – every region as a town or settlement in it, while provincial capitals are large cities (a more uniformed version of how things were in Napoleon: Total War). Each region can be developed individually, with ‘Settlements’ and ‘Cities’ having differing build options.
In general, the management and construction system for Rome 2 (whether a regional or provincial level) is similar to that of Shogun 2. A key difference though relates to how cities/settlements grow – population is important, and to build new buildings you have to grow your population to a certain size so that it can support additional buildings.
Provincial population can be freely re-assigned for this purpose, so you can send the people out to any settlement in order to boost it.
There are cultural differences in how this system works, but generally speaking there are important synergies between the individual regions of a province – especially the outlying ‘settlement’s and the provincial capital.
Minor settlements provide the ‘raw’ wealth of a province – similar to how regions in past TW games had resource ‘nodes’ scattered about the place, these nodes have now been reformed into smaller regions within a province, and every region will have a local specialty or a bias. The wealth of a settlement can be influenced through player choice – for example, farms can be built everywhere, but farms built in areas with a local grain speciality will have higher yields.
Province capital cities work more like processing or trading points, providing bonuses to the raw wealth: For example, grain market city building is the best to build if you have lot of farms in the minor settlements of the province, while meat market is a better choice if you have pastures.
There are many ‘resource chains’ in the game, currently divided into agricultural, industrial, culture, trade.
Economy is calculated at the province level, this system has a strategic effect as well. When you chip away regions from the capital, the economic system for the owner of the city can be seriously hampered.
The military bonuses are calculated at the province level as well, so there’s a certain degree of military synergy as well. You can use minor settlements to construct some booster building to save up slots in major settlements and buff recruitment throughout the province.
Culture conversion is similar again. Culture buildings are not limited to local effects but govern the culture of the population throughout the province, making it important to share provinces with the right people, balance your cultural output or simply ensure that you own provinces entirely to assert control. Cultural ‘osmosis’ makes a return though, so the player has to keep an eye on neighbouring provinces which may be bleeding culture across the borders.
Edicts – once a player controls an entire province, they are able to issue ‘edicts’ to that province. Edicts are essentially ‘sweeteners’ that can directly modify existing systems within a province, like growth, tax, cultural conversion etc…
The effects of this edicts scale as certain buildings are constructed, so the more you develop a province, the more potent and Edict becomes, for example: by investing in providing festivities for a province, you will initially make them a little happy. By investing in a war god’s temple, holding festivals will grant additional recruitment slots. Constructing arenas will provide additional happiness while also increasing local wealth from entertainment.
Some Edicts are universal – as in every culture has access to them, but many others are culture specific. The Romans can choose to actively ‘Romanise’ a province, which increase the rate of culture conversion, and makes recruiting auxiliary units in that province cheaper.
Edicts are “ongoing”, and the number which can be concurrently enacted at any one time is determined by an ‘Imperium’ rating, which is similar to Shogun 2’s fame system. You faction gets more power to control provinces as their empire expands, but there’s still a tactical choice you have to make, given you have a limited amount of Edicts. A province can also only have one Edict active on it at a time.
Victory Conditions - Every Playable faction has their own set of Economic, Cultural and Military victory conditions that you can change between on the fly, depending on what’s going on, or simply what you feel like. Military is more similar to the old ‘Domination’ mode of past games – having a certain number of territories, but also a certain amount of armies and navies. Economic conditions would have a smaller region requirement, but you have to be making a certain amount of money, have a certain amount of trade partners, and have certain buildings built. We weren’t given any information about what a culture victory might entail.
Diplomatic Relations View – Hover over a faction and you’ll be presented with a little window that breaks-down the factors that are influencing their opinion of you. Think of every Paradox game you’ve ever played (apart from maybe HoI), and it’s basically that, just less detailed. Not everything will be shown in this view, there will be hidden modifiers to prevent exploitation, but also every AI faction has their own agenda that they are working towards, which is derived from factors like starting position, culture etc…
Tutorial – there is a narrative driven prologue, which is an evolution of the Chosokabe tutorial. Introduces everything you need to know about Rome 2. Outside of that, Players begin with a very limited number of options, which then expand as your empire does, so you’re methodically introduced to the various aspects of the game.
Online Campaign - Co-op campaign is still only two players, despite the larger size of the campaign map but drop-in/drop-out campaign and battles is also still present. Resources were an issue, but also they feel that they more players they add, the longer each player has to wait for their turn, especially when you consider battles played out etc…
Phew! There you have it – every scrap of information we could find on the campaign/strategic mode of Rome II. Like we said, some of it you may know already, and some of the ‘known’ information hasn’t been mentioned because it wasn’t necessary, but this is most of it. If you have any further questions, let us know and we’ll try and get them answered for you.
Total War: Rome 2 will inevitably conquer our PC screens on September 3rd, 2013.