The Possum method - refined

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pgeerkens
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The Possum method - refined

Post by pgeerkens » Wed Jun 04, 2008 2:26 am

I have just completed my third run-through of the Roman campaign, and first of the Celtic, on Very Hard. I would never have made it entirely through on Very Hard the 1st time without the inspiration of numerous contributors, so first a thank-you to possum, kongming, and others who's posts/nicknames I cannot locate just now.

However, I believe I have discovered some refinements to Possum's methods which can help make your battles run ever more smoothly, and perhaps entice a few more of you into Very hard. In no particular order, here are my thoughts:

1) You CAN have too-much drill/quick-thinking: I rarely if ever get Master Drill for my Swordsmen, or Expert Quick-Thinking/Strategy for my Legate. With:
- missilers at Master Drill;
- Legate at Normal/Advanced Quick-Thinking and Normal/Advanced Strategic Thinking; and
- swordsmen/hoplites at Advanced/Expert Drill
I find that both my army response time and order point maximum is quite adequate. The extra combat bonuses really beefs up my troop capability

2) Playing the GBOR variant, where stronger troop types are unavailable until later battles, I found myself repeatedly disbanding high-level, but inexpensive, troops in mid-campaign, then not having enough troops at Arretium, Vadimo Lake and the like. Then while prepping for the umpteenth try at Vadimo Lake on Very hard, in frustration and desperation more than anything else, I tried spending my last 300d on 1 milita, 2 peasants and 2 skirms instead of armament, which raced onto the ridge to pepper fanatics and absorb javelin volleys. It worked! My second only win in uncountable attempts at that battle, and with several (2 or 3 anyways, it felt like more at the time) units left standing. If raw recruit 'skirmishers' can do that, just think what battle-hardened veterans could do. Now I always retain my 2 each Milita and Skirmishers when I start acquiring Hastati/Princeps and Velites. And against elephants having an extra missiler or two tossing heavy missiles makes a big difference.

3) On Very Hard, I cannot make possum's 'frenzied militia' work. They simply don't have the staying power without any armour, even in rough terrain, to tackle heavy infantry. I keep two high-level militia as described above, but never buy them any upgrades; and use them strictly in rough terrain, as a reserve, in the 2nd half of the campaign: to hit a unit from behind for the 'surrounded' bonus, or knock-over a unit already beat up.

4) Possum's disdain for Armor Penetration at the lower levels is generally valid, but not always:
- Your legate may make good use of it, as an alternative or complement to buying Weapons, as it helps take full advantage of his high hit rate. Remember that the Concuss damage is added to the excess regular damage to determine total damage on each hit.
- Another time I use it is when my plan for the next battle does not require a promotable unit to move around much - I will buy Armor Penetration instead of a drill upgrade, on the premise that the extra oomph will ensure a promotion, and the drill upgrade, next time.

I would be interested in hearing other members' thoughts on these observations.

pgeerkens
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On spearmen & triari

Post by pgeerkens » Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:24 am

Possum dislikes these two unit types, probably because of their low Melee Attack, but I always include one or two in my core army as a 'Cavalry Breaker'. It will be necessary to run them in Offensive (later Offensive & Disciplined) mode, but this only enhances their anti-cavalry effect. With a couple or three upgrades between Block and Missile Protect, the Trample Avoid of Offensive & Disciplined formation (+10, as per formations.csv) and weapon choice (50 for spears instead of 30 for swords) combined with the enhanced morale of the Triari makes this unit appealing to me. I enjoy knowing that any cavalry coming my way can be routinely dispatched by these hoplites, and they are not too shabby against opposing Hvy Inf either.

Redpossum
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Post by Redpossum » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:10 am

pgeerkens, you make excellent points here, and I'm sorry it took me 6 weeks to get around to replying, LOL.

It is true that Master Drill isn't necessary, and also true that Armor Penetration has its place, so all in all, yes. I agree with your refinements. Thanks for giving me the credit you did :)

I also agree that Militia don't work at all well on Very Hard in the later stages of the campaign. In defense of the Militia, they were more attractive before the balancing adjustments of the v1.1 patch.

pgeerkens
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Post by pgeerkens » Sun Aug 31, 2008 2:54 am

Hi Possum,

You can call me Pieter (Yes, that is the correct spelling - it's Dutch, one of those wierd languages with spelling rules, so it must be spelt differently to be pronounced the same ;-)

I have been experimenting with the use of Protection From Infantry and Anti-Infantry with my milita in Very Hard. I am just past Magnesia (Syrian War, 2 scenarios past Zama), and am seeing increased value to my Milita. Nothing miraculous, of course, but a noticeable increase in staying power and promotions. I am about 3,000 Fame ahead of my previous best, which I attribute mostly to fewer casualties by my Milita.

Part of my reasoning was to find a way to increase the staying power of my Milita after I opted for Frenzy - since 2 1/2 levels of Block are permanently eliminated by this option,.

It is not clear frm the notes I have whether this ability adds to dodge when the attack os from the named unit types, or provides a second die roll, but at each level the diffference is only a few tenths of a percent (through the interesing part of the table).

Cheers

P.S. How did you ever get to Aux. Cav. as your atavar?
"Even on the attack, the spade is the equal of the rifle." Erwin Rommel
Caesar & "Marius' Mules" would agree.

pgeerkens
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Post by pgeerkens » Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:00 am

P.P.S.

I also bought 2 levels of boots for my milita in the currnen campaign, so how the increased staying power breaks out betwen this and the Protection From Infantry is unclear. I have noticed, however, that in both Magnesia and Zama I could have used the 300d for 3rd level armour for a couple of heavy infantry. It's been a while since these two battles posed quite such a challenge. ;-)
"Even on the attack, the spade is the equal of the rifle." Erwin Rommel
Caesar & "Marius' Mules" would agree.

Redpossum
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Post by Redpossum » Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:38 pm

Hey, Pieter!

Good to see you posting here again :) And Pieter isn't that odd. Really, the rule in English is "When two vowels go a-walking, the first one does the talking." So, the Germanic family of languages just reverses that rule.

English is so damned odd in some ways. My Portuguese ex-boss said that what drove her crazy was the "ough" construction, and that words like through, thorough, and though all confused the hell out of her. And that "ough" is an artifact of Old Anglo-Saxon, which I gather was considered a damned odd tongue even within the Germanic language family.

Ah, well, to quote H. Beam Piper, "English is the product of 11th century Norman men-at-arms trying to make dates with Saxon barmaids, and is no more legitimate than the other result of such encounters." A bastard language, to be sure, but it's ours, and we're stuck with it. What's ironic as hell is the way it has become so dominant around the world, when it's such a wickedly illogical and self-contradictory tongue.

Anyhow, Possum is rambling again...

Protection from Infantry
There's no way to audit the success or failure of this one, except by comparing relative results. The problem with this idea is that prior testing has revealed the LA combat system to be highly influenced by random factors. Now, this is not a criticism. I am not saying the random factor is excessive; nobody who reads military history like I do is going to discount the random factor in warfare, not unless he's an arrogant fool.

But that random factor is there, so literally hundreds or even thousands of tests would have to be run, carefully documented, and the results compared carefully in order to determine fairly accurately whether this skill has adequate value to justify buying it.

Anti-Infantry Specialist
This one is easy to audit, at least on the surface of things. This skill is supposed to produce critical hits, (i.e. instant kills), in melee.

A critical hit in Trample Combat makes a horseshoe icon float up in the air.

A critical hit in Missile Combat makes an arrow icon float up in the air.

A critical hit in Melee Combat is supposed to make a sword icon float up in the air.

How many times have you seen a sword icon come floating up over a melee action? Have you ever seen one? I never have. And when I posted a thread here about a year and a half ago, asking if anybody had ever seen a sword icon indicating a melee crit, I received not one single positive response.

Now, the reason I used the qualifying phrase "at least on the surface of things" at the beginning of this section is because it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, the melee crits are occurring, but the mechanism to make the sword icons float up is broken. This doesn't seem likely, since the Trample and Missile crit icons work beautifully...

And Occam's Razor would tell us that the simplest explanation is the most likely, that the Anti-Infantry Specialist skill is broken. In which case Anti-Cavalry Specialist seems to be in the same situation.

Conclusions
Now, it should be understood that the following is entirely based on my experience with Legion Arena and its Cult of Mithras expansion. Perhaps GBoR is different?

Better armor, on the other hand, yields quite noticeable results. Better weapons yield noticeable results. As you said, with limited equipment I can buy, and limited skills I can purchase, I lean strongly toward the tried and true.

And, for the most part, my attempts to experiment with the "other stuff", that I usually ignore, have not been at all rewarding.

Agility is an odd one. It seems to be implied that there is a sort of "saving throw" invoked by the "Protection From" skills, but I have never been clear on whether Agility influences this saving throw, or whether it acts to reduce the attacker's initial chances of getting a hit.

Shadow Warriors have a starting Agility of 50, which may be why they are so hard to hit, or there may be some other mechanism at work. I'm still undecided on this whole business.

pgeerkens
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Post by pgeerkens » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:15 am

Hi Possum,

Piper must be referring to English pre-Shakespeare, because the Bard of Avon's influence on English cannot be over-estimated. whenever I mis-speak, I just pretned to be following in his giant foot-prints, and calim to have invented a new word ;-) (I will remember the quote, though;

I once read an etymology of the ough usage - the original pronounciation (pre-Shakespeare, of course) was something like what we would spell "uh" these days. (Though one would have to be born in the English Midlands, I'm sure, to distinguish between 'the' and 'though' under those pronounciations!) Isn't it interesting that the spelling rules for English, such as it is, is the opposite as all other western European languages?

With a physice degree and math minor, I know where you are coming from. However, I have now played up to Alesia, with significantly variant skill selections on a handful of units and a several runs at a few battles, and am seeing no significant difference in experience progression; every unit is within one level +/- of my previous best run-through. That is tens-of thousands of man-on-mans in the game. If you are right, and I have selected deficient skills for a couple of units, that is an extra-ordinary run of good luck.

As for the famous barber of Seville (Occam, of course), I dispute that there is a significant simplification in assuming the entire mechanism is broken, rather than just the screen representaion. I postulate the the simplification is essentially equal between the two. I diid watch one encounter closely afte reading your post though, and saw some numbers that seemed too high: 68, for one, which seems far higher than any possible damage calculation on VH. I concede that the evidence remains anecdotal, but I am a skilled observer knowledgeable in statistics; For GBOR at least, I believe that both the Anti- and Protection From skills work.

A question for Slitherine:

Do the 'Protection From' skills add to Agility when the attack is from the prescirbed unit-type, or is there a second save with the new Skill?

Also, I have surmised the the engine sequences as follows (since I am a programmer with 20 years experience, and this is how I would have programmed the engine) - please correct if I am mistaken:

1 - A: rolls to hit
2 - D: rolls to avoid with Agility
3 - D: rolls to avoid with Protection From <unit>
4 - ( if cavalry attack
A; rolls for Trample
D: rolls for Trample Avoid
)
5 - A: rolls for Critical Shot
6 - A: rolls for instant kill with Anti-<unit>

Of course what I am really asking is: Do the odds for steps 2 and 3 add, or sequence?

That's all for now folks - gotta run.
"Even on the attack, the spade is the equal of the rifle." Erwin Rommel
Caesar & "Marius' Mules" would agree.

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