Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

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Ezekiel
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Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Ezekiel » Tue Jul 23, 2019 7:26 pm

I haven't finished this game, but I wanted to post this because I think the Pictes are a nice faction to learn the game with. I have loved this game so far. But, my empire has become a bit unwieldy and basically what is left in the game is a huge war with Rome which I'm not terribly excited about. I will break this into a few posts and none of them will be very detailed. I played a few early battles in Field of Glory 2, but because the Pictes basically start with hordes of medium infantry that aren't very effective in Field of Glory 2 and I was playing battles that I was going to lose, I found this frustrating. So after about turn 10, I just played all the battles in Empires. In this first post, I will describe my starting objectives etc.

The setup: The Pictes and Caledonians are a "Remarkable Faction" located in present-day Scotland. This is about as remote of a location as possible. They start the game in Civilization level one (complete with civil wars when a leader dies). Most of their units have bonuses in hills and mountains and the early ones are better on offense than defense, but by the middle of the game when you reach civilization level 3 their units are rather unremarkable (and you are looking jealously at those Roman legions).


A screenshot of the opening position:
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Pictes starting position
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The plan: Being isolated, I planned to pursue a strategy of sitting out of the way and building up resources until there was a good opportunity to strike into Europe. (This is akin to the Australia strategy in Risk.) Maybe spend a couple hundred turns conquering the British Isles and building up a nice economy. However, things didn't go that way...

The early turns (1-100): I formed the province CALEDONIA around my starting position by scooping up neutral territories. And I felt pretty good about myself and ready to settle in an build up toward an eventual invasion of England etc. Now the current occupants of England were two tribes the Brigantes and Brittannae who were at war almost from the start. The Brittannae won the war by around turn 15 and I considered what would happen next. The Brittannae had twice as large a population as me and more territories and room to expand. But we currently had similar armies and resources, though I noticed he was out of manpower. I realized my position was likely to get worse in the coming turns, so I went ahead and went to war with him. We fought a tough war for about 10 turns and somewhere in there one of us had a rebellion and the Brigantes re-emerged basically between our territories. All three of us were at war with each other, so I retreated north and sued for peace while they fought with each other for the next 20 turns.

I had 5 objectives in HIBERNIA (Ireland), so I conquered that. There was a bit of tough fighting but eventually I broke the bank buying reinforcements and overwhelmed the native Hibernii. Once HIBERNIA was pacified, I brought my armies back to the main island. And I was just in time to find the Brigantes on the ropes a second time. So, I declared war on him and took his capital. I allied with the Venitii and Belgae who were the closest tribes in the European mainland (more on this much later) in hopes they would help me in some way (which they didn't). And I fought another long difficult war with the Brittannae. But, by turn 70 or so, I had won. Just in time to fight a civil war for 5 turns. And then spent 30 turns conquering neutrals in the British Isles, pacifying rebels, and trying to root out Druid Hideouts. Those druid hideouts must have caused 5 rebellions before I wiped them out. I had almost all of my objectives which eventually propelled me to civilization level 2.


A screenshot of my position at Turn 103 (I am in the top left, but notice Macedonia in the bottom right):
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Pictes Turn 103
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So, by turn 100 I have conquered the British Isles and gotten past the civil war stage and I feel like I'm right on track to follow my strategy. The nations in France and Germany are all at war with each other and just constantly fighting, getting eliminated, and re-emerging from rebellions. So, maybe I'll have a good chance to relax and build up my economy. Up next, I check the legacy scoreboard.

Ezekiel
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Ezekiel » Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:18 am

So, I check the legacy board to see how I'm doing. I'm fourth, which feels about right. But in first place is Macedonia accruing around 150 Legacy income per turn. And then Rome is second with around 80 Legacy income and the rest of us are pretty far behind. Okay, so the Macedonians have a pretty good lead but at least the Romans will keep them from getting a sudden death 3x legacy win. And then Rome has another civil war (this was pre-1.02 patch). And Macedonia goes to war with him. Macedonia has twice his Land Power (1500 to 700 according to the ledger) and a number of other advantages. I don't think the Romans are going to be able to hold him off, and then he will get all of those Legacy producing regions the Romans have, and then it will be game over in 30 to 40 turns.
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The Legacy board does not look good!
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So, I'm feeling a bit bummed. I was contemplating writing a Steam review (I still haven't) and mentioning that I really enjoy the game, but a con might be that you can lose "through no fault of your own". But then I ponder if could prevent this loss. I mean I could try to fight the Macedonians and help out a little I guess. I could try to sail past Denmark and land in northern Germany and eventually try to push him back. Seems difficult and pretty futile. (When I finally move into Germany 100 years later I learn I was right.) The manual says something about the Diadochi (i.e. Macedonia) fragmenting or losing territory if they lose their capital. Their capital is on the coast. I wonder if I could sail there and take it. So, I gather all the troops I can find (about a 220 stack) and enough ships to supply them. (Luckily I have pirate ships that don't need to be supplied themselves.) And as fate would have it, I have a 2-2 general Carnix who I put in command.

It takes three turns and I arrive in the Mediterranean and declare war on Macedonia and take his (moved) capital at Lycia. And I get 2,000 gold for my trouble and I excitedly wait to see all of his oppressed subjects rebel against him and his reign come to an end. So, as I am waiting I try to take a bit of ASIA MINOR. And I am trying to keep my troops in a single doomstack so that they don't get defeated piecemeal by a Macedonian doomstack. And he just engages me with 50 power stacks and brings other stacks in behind me and this goes no where. I re-read the manual part about the Diadochi and it seems that there needs to be another Diadochi around to take provinces from the Macedonians. But Macedonia seems to have knocked out the other Diadochi, which is probably why he is so big. If I can't send Macedonia to a civil war, then my invasion has no chance of succeeding once he takes me seriously.

But anyone gets a civil war if they drop from Decadent due to Aging tokens. And he gets an Aging token if I can take and hold his objectives. He is Glorious but in the bottom third of CDR, so I expect to need about 10 of his objectives. I bring them up using the Map overlay. Between Greece and THRACIA there are 10 Macedonian objectives. And its almost all hills and mountains. Did I mention that Pictish troops have bonuses in hills and mountains?
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The Macedonian objectives are quite convenient
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So I reload my game at the turn when I take his capital (I mean I think it is fair given that I misinterpreted the manual). And instead of invading ASIA MINOR I load my army back onto its ships and land my 220 stack at the foot of Greece and start moving North. I beat his navy in a close battle and then finish it off. And he tries to flank me like he did in ASIA MINOR except he does so by trying to land armies behind me by water. Well, my pirates (plus reinforcements from Greek shipyards) are swarming the area (now with naval superiority) and picking those off. And Carnix and his doomstack are set to Assault cities when he gets there and he just takes a region every turn. After five turns of this, I can build garrisons in the conquered regions and the Macedonians never stop Carnix. I take Greece and THRACIA and he loses 10 objectives, and sure enough, this time his empire fragments. And triumphs were held in the general Carnix honor and for years every monument built in Scotland will bear his likeness (and there are about to be a lot).
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Carnix in the midst of his conquests
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I recognize that I had three huge advantages that allowed me to do this:
1) A 2-2 general (I only get like 5 generals, so this is extra rare)
2) Pictes infantry in hills are really good
3) Naval superiority messed up his flanking maneuvers

And I don't expect others to have similar luck. But, it wasn't even close. I estimate that by the end of the campaign against the Macedonians, I killed 60 land units in transports, 100 land units in armies, and 120 garrison units (mostly urban militia and palace guards). And I lost around 5 land units and 10 ships. So, things could have gone much worse and I still would have been somewhat successful.

Feeling a bit extravagant and overstretched with 5 provinces in the Greek region I go to peace with the Macedonians. Everyone else picks him apart until he is down to about 15 regions that aren't even developed. And I now have the British Isles and Greece which is not part of my plan at all. I would leave Greece but what if Rome or Macedonia take Greece and run away with the game. So, I settle in and develop my two kingdoms.

I have 4 Progress tokens and I go ahead and take my second to last objective which is in France and convenient. My empire becomes Glorious. And I notice that I have a big problem. My decadence doubles immediately dropping me into the bottom tier of CDR and my decadence is increasing fast. I suspect I will have to get Old and then hopefully Stable and then try this again. But, maybe there is a chance I can get enough culture to get my ratio above 1 and into the top tier. So, by the end of the third turn after reaching Glorious 98% of my citizens and 10% of my slaves are producing culture and I switch most of my build queues to culture buildings. For 30 turns I stare at the CDR and bite my nails. But, I eventually make in to Civilization Level 3.

Next, I try to unite the kingdoms.

loki100
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by loki100 » Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:56 am

well done for your Mediterranean adventures, a lot more innovative in your Pictish play than I have been. Using the pirates as mobile supply ships is a neat idea.

Ezekiel
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Ezekiel » Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:35 pm

Thanks loki100! Necessity is the mother of invention.

Ezekiel
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Ezekiel » Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:38 pm

So I am now civilization level 3 and ready to start expanding again. While I was distracted, my allies the Belgae hoovered up most of France and western Germany. I don't know how it happened; I didn't help him at all. There are around a dozen regions left to minors and neutrals, but I estimate that the Belgae pretty much have it under control. The Romans are very slowly expanding on their frontiers and passing me in Legacy income.
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The current (turn 205) state of play
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So, I look around for something to conquer. There are 3 logical choices: 1) eastern Germany, 2) Spain, or 3) DACIA. They all seemed comparable in my cost-benefit analysis, but I chose eastern Germany because it was the most likely to result in my kingdoms uniting. This analysis was wrong. Pacifying the Germans has been a nightmare.
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The loyalty overlay suggests that I'm "winning hearts and minds in Germany"
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But, there is a bigger problem. The Romans are coming up on 11,000 Legacy, so if I want a shot at a 3x Legacy victory rather than going to turn 500, my window is closing. I could try to grab a bunch of Legacy producing regions, but A) I probably can't grab enough for it to make a difference, and B) it would probably weaken my position when war with Rome finally comes. Only one thing left to do: boss battle the Romans.

It would be nice to bring some allies to help me out. But bringing up the Faction ledger and sorting by Land power, we see that (aside from the Belgae) there is no one who can help me at all. Maurya, Aetheoipia, and Elymais are way too far away. Ptolemies, Carthage, and Nasamones are already losing wars. Macedonia still hates me. We also see that Rome has similar military power to the combination of the Belgae and myself. But, Rome has way more stockpiled resources. And Rome has 13 generals to my 5 and the Belgae's 9.
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The ledger holds disappointing news
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I could hope for a Roman civil war, but Rome hasn't had one since the 1.02 patch and he is Glorious and in the middle of the CDR with no tokens. Rome's objectives are scattered across the map and he only controls half of them anyway, so I probably can't trigger a civil war by blitzing his objectives (like I did with Macedonia). Rome's important advantages are his compact strategic position, resources, and generals. My advantages are I'm not an AI (and that's it). Most other places we are similar. So, I guess I should try to leverage my advantage. And make a harebrained scheme for winning this war. I've been thinking about it for the last day, and here's what I came up with.

The harebrained scheme: Position at least two-thirds of my armies in transports in the Mediterranean. Declare war. The next turn land 4 armies in ITALIA SUPERIOR breaking the province and seizing Latium. Then at least he will have a tough time replacing his troops. Form a defensive perimeter around the edges of the province and hope for the best.

I don't think it will work, but at least it sounds fun. And I was going to give up on the game anyway. I'll report back once I have a result.

kvnrthr
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by kvnrthr » Thu Jul 25, 2019 6:43 am

Really creative use of ships, good work knocking out the Macedonians! Haven't tried a faction with pirate ships yet and now I'm really interested.

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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by loki100 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 7:23 am

this is wonderfully creative. :)

fully agree that conquering in Germany is a pain, all those 6 unrest pops give you a real headache. Only real solution is to go slow, large army for the inevitable revolts and build as many ethnicity changing buildings as you can, once you get them to minority status it gets a lot easier

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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by PDiFolco » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:58 pm

Nice, pretty innovative and fun play, reminds me of Ironborn !😁
Why not attacking Egypt? Much better than crappy Germany (it's a game opinion only :P )

Ezekiel
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Ezekiel » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:07 pm

Thank you for the complements and suggestions!

I learned a couple of new things:
1) Once I reached civilization level 3 I lost the ability to build new pirate ships. I still have the fleets I already built, but I'd like to save them for a special occasion.
2) The Romans can supposedly build legions out of a building called something like Legionary Fort. (Luckily, I was able to knock both of them out.)

I spent about ten turns preparing the invasion, because I decided to relocate my main armies from Germany to the Mediterranean using the long route around Spain. And then my invasion went okay. I'm up about 10 territories and control ITALIA SUPERIOR, but I have dramatically failed to win any decisive land battles. I'm not sure what to make of the AI's strategy here. I'll discuss that in a minute.

Three things outside of my control went very right:

1) He had a civil war 2 turns before my invasion. (It was a modest uprising relative to his current troop strength, but he has been considerably distracted by it.)
2) I have a new ruler who is much more effective. He even gave me three more generals.
3) I have a 2-2 general and a 1-2 general. (I contemplated sending some of my 0-0 generals to their doom, but ultimately decided that is cheating.)

Some minor things went wrong:
1) Byzantion and a random German tribe declared war on me. Byzantion is a bit annoying because that border was totally unguarded.
2) After running into some 300 power stacks of neutrals and fighting with half a dozen tribes at the same time, the Belgae aren't doing so great any more.
3) The Elymais and Aetheopians have topped 100 Legacy income. I might have to go the distance regardless of how the war goes with Rome.

So, I have held ITALIA SUPERIOR for 7 turns and can now build 600 equipment worth of troops there every turn. I have taken 1 of his capitals and I'm (hopefully) about to take the second. And I now have 3,000 power worth of troops to his 2,000 power. I think (but don't know) that he still has half of his troops north of the Alps. I would consider this to be a mistake. The Roman armies are faster than mine and by carefully maneuvering and not attacking my strong positions in ITALIA SUPERIOR he has mostly managed to preserve his troop strength. If he manages to bring the armies north of the Alps down and attack with his armies in CISALIPINIA at the same time, then that will have been a good move. But, otherwise I'm not really sure if his strategy has been good or bad.

Hopefully, I will have this war winding down by my next post.

Below is the current situation. The salient at Clanis was due to him attacking a weak point in my line. I didn't think he could see the weak point because he had no troops in Padus the turn before, but I could be wrong.
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Pocus
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Pocus » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:43 am

Very interesting thread, congrats! I look forward reading the follow up, if there is one.

I have taken a few notes... You might see things that relate to your strategy in 1.04.

As you are probably the one with the most 'massive long range invasion' experience now, you confirm that having ships resupplying troops at sea works rather well (and pirates ships are best for that...)

If you feel too, don't hesitate to post a review on Steam. Each vote count to promote the game.
AGEOD Team - Makers of Empires, ACW2, WON, EAW, PON, AJE, RUS, ROP, WIA.

Ezekiel
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Re: Pictes and Caledonians (probably stopping) turn 200 (SP, balanced)

Post by Ezekiel » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:47 pm

Thanks Pocus!

Yes, supply at sea works well with Pirate ships and okay otherwise. It takes about two to three turns (depending on weather etc.) to sail from Britain and take a region in the Mediterranean. So, Light Warships can just make it if you take a decent city on the first turn of your invasion and they get resupplied. Of course, it also takes a lot of organization on the player's part to launch an invasion like my invasion of Rome. E.g. timetables about where assets need to be and what needs to happen when. (There is nothing worse than spending a turn at sea because you forgot to declare war the turn before you get there.)

I thought about it and I guess I am okay with nerfing this type of strategy. I am willing to be agnostic about the potential realism of such a maneuver. But, I think that if you program the AI to do this, then most (but not all) players will be furious if this happens to them. And if you don't program the AI to do this, then it does represent a sizable advantage for the player. It really wouldn't take much to nerf the strategy. I am anxious to see what you do. My suggestion is to start with increasing the move cost of seas and oceans (or make them impassable under most circumstances). Another good choice might be to increase the out of supply (at sea) penalty. And then make pirate ships a bit more expensive, such that using them for supply is plausible but prohibitively expensive. My preference would be to make the AI a bit better at naval action, but game AI's are always bad at naval action. If you do work on the naval AI, you might consider upping his focus on ships a bit and teaching him to swarm (rather than going from A to B) so as to maximize his chance of intercepting transports. (Maybe he does this, but I've never seen it.)

I had to take a break from this Pictes game. Trying to run an empire and fight absurdly powerful stacks of Roman Legions at the same time turned into a lot. So, now I'm 90 turns into a Carthage game where I am, again, trying to run an empire and fight absurdly powerful stacks of Roman Legions. C'est la guerre.

Thanks for a great game!

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