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Old 22-Dec-2005, 13:57   #1
Scrobbs
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Battle Tactics

Specific to R:TW, but some points apply specifically to Barbarian Invasion

General tips:

Cavalry charges into the rear of formations is brutally effective. Engage them and pin them down with infantry, and get those horses charging. Head on attacks are not recommended. Unless you are the Sassanids, and have Clibinarii Immortals (these are armoured troops and armoured horses. Rock solid, and strike fear into the heart of opposing generals. Especially me, as I haven't found an efficient way of dealing with them yet apart from two units (160) of heavy infantry per 40-odd horsemen!) The are also sometimes armed with short bows, making them really irritating.

Light infantry/spearmen:
Ace for defending against cavalry/ 1st line troops to soak up enemy arrows. Depending on faction, these lads will have special skills: saxon and other barbarian lads can form a shield wall, or a hedgehog (schiltrom). Both of these make them tightly packed, and ideal target for fire arrows! Dont attack with anything else, you WILL get butchered. Roman lads don't have special abilities, just upgrade their arms and armour to 'bloody good' and watch them soak up cavalry punishment.

Heavy Infantry:
Nothing better for toe-toe slugging it out on blood-slicked grass for the glory of your general!

Missile troops:
Long range death-dealing, rubbish at hand to hand.

Artillery:
Insanely long range heavy bolts (scorpions); Super long range firey death (onagers and heavy onagers); fairly mediocre long range bolts (ballistae and repeating ballistae. Poor in the wet)

Other:
Troop types such as catholic priests are generally pretty useless at fighting. Handy for exhorting your boys (if roman) to greater efforts apparently, haven't bothered with them yet.
Pigs and dogs are again fairly crap, dogs are useful to chase down routing troops, flaming pigs are good for elephants.

Elephants: In BI you have no incendiary pigs; Set your archers to flaming ammo and keep firing at them. Eventually, they will be driven mad with pain and run amok. If you can do this while they are still in the enemy line, brilliant. They will massacre his troops. The game says that the mahouts are equipped with steel spikes to kill their mounts once they lose control. I have seen no evidence of this.

One thing I have noticed, if elephant units that are part of castle defence, once running amok will eventually try make their way out of the castle if there is an exit near enough. If your troops are still near the castle gate, move them or they will be decimated!

Open terrain

On the campaign map, always try to finish moving your troops on a small hill at least if you suspect you are going to be attacked: then you can take the high ground on the actual battlefield. This is an obvious tactic to all but the most tactically challenged, but in RTW the practical considerations are:

1)The enemy troops will be more tired when they charge your battle line up a hill.

2)Your second line of battle, provided you have missile troops, will be able to chuck their javelins over the heads of your first line more easily.

3)Your archers on top of the hill will have greater range than similar units coming up the hill. They will also have a better angle of attack onto shielded troops.

4)Your men will have better momentum should you wish to charge the enemy battle line


If attacking uphill, always take the mildest sloping route, even if it means going out of your way. Never run up the hill, march normally and put the game on triple speed.


Structure of battle line

I usually have a standard design, which is handy for most situations:

Centre of the front line, your hardest troops, preferebly experienced heavy infantry. They can take and deal and enormous amout of punishment. 1st rank flanks: lighter infantry/spearmen. If you are lucky to have pikemen, put these in your centre, with heavy infantry units ready to swarm around the side. If you are fortunate enough to have a lot of infantry, spearmen to the front, and your rock hard heavy bastards in the second row - this means that if a cavalry charge breaks your 1st line, they will be tired and out of formation, ready to be swiftly cut down by your heavy infantry. Depending on personal preference, if you have javelin infantry, set them to fire at will. Any cavalry charge will be reduced before they hit. That's a bonus in anyone's books.

Depends on how many units or archers you have, but if you have roughly four or above, set half of them behind your infantry line and take the skirmish mode off. Put the other half of the units in front of your main battle line, but keep skirmish mode. This way they will duck behind the protection, and the guys behind the line won't run in silly directions, disrupting your form.

Cavalry: Keep your generals unit in roughly the centre of your army, so his sphere of influence will cover as many of your troops as possible. Have other units of lighter/heavy cavalry on your flanks to provide screening for your front line flanks. By screening, I mean that light cavalry are dead useful if your archers are charged by cavalry - the skirmish code is sometimes slow to activate and an opportune cavalry action will save the bulk of your archers from massacre by holding up the encroaching horses. Engage them only briefly, and retreat.

Light cavalry are also useful for threatening enemy flanks - if the enemy commander is on the ball, he will detach a unit of spearmen - dont charge them, just keep them near, and they will tie a unit up - if he does nothing, then bonza! send your lads into his flanks. Charge, withdraw and repeat

Keep a unit of heavy cavalry for urgent need, and/or your light lancers for chasing down routing troops. If a unit routs early on, hammer them quickly, otherwise they will reform for another attack. The more you scatter them the longer it will take to reform, and the less effective they will be when they entre the fray again. Units close to a routing unit will see them fleeing and become unhappy. If you have heavy cavalry spare, a swift charge may encourage them to break also.

Commanding unit:Keep back and fresh for critical moments. After a while, you will get to realise when that moment is, and a charge at the correct moment will make the difference between your battle line breaking and running away or turning back the offensive. Use him wisely - they are pretty tough, but if he gets surrounded and hacked down, your army will suffer a serious blow to morale. If a unit routs, click your general's unit and press the rally button. If he is near to them, his shouting and screaming will bring them to their senses. A quick victory nearby will boulster their morale, but further losses will make them even more scared. Other units routing near depleted units will make them fearful.

Siege equipment

I've never really found anything other than onagers and scorpions to be of any use. Ballistae are fairly wank.

Attacking:
Set your battle lines outside the range of your enemy missile fire. Set onagers to fire at will, and use fire missiles. Set them near the front of your troops, as they have a minimum range - if your troops are 'under' the minimum range, there is no danger. There is nothing more sorrowful than a lit fireball plunging into the centre of your line, killing about 30 of your hardest lads. Scorpions have a ridiculously long range, and are even (fairly) effective against troops on top of a castle wall. Let the onagers run out of ammo, and if they are any good, they will substantially reduce the enemies numbers.

Defending:
There's nothing you can do except cause maximum damage while the enemy approach. Again, set them to fire at will with fireballs.

For both, as soon as you engage the enemy, take them off fire at will, as if a fireball hits your lads, it will completely demoralise you - and them, which in game terms is more important.

Attacking castles:

Easiest with onagers, if not, sapping points and towers are favourite. Heaviest troops on siege tower. Onagers: Knockout the gatehouse first, followed by the front gate. Any ammo left over, can either be used up on troops on the battlements, or more favourably on a new section of wall to open up another access point. Once you have worn down the defenders and destroyed the gatehouse, waltz in with your flags flying. If the enemy has withdrawn to the centre, make sure your onagers have taken out any towers that cover the road to teh centre - you will take unecessary loss from the towers defenders. If you don't have onagers, and have siege towers, have a unit of fast infantry to run into every tower along the same route. Once you have captured them you will not get fired upon.

If the enemy decides to stand, and you hold the walls, get your long range troops and artillery to hammer the defenders clustered at the breach. DON'T rush them with your cavalry. Head on attack into heavy infantry or spearmen is asking for losses. Missile troops or dirty hand-hand fighting is the order of the day. Be prepared to dig in. If you have more than one breach, engage the enemy infantry at one, and send your heavy cavalry through another for a rear attack.

Defending castles:

The most frustrating thing is you can't put artillery on battlements - Why the fuck not. Anyways, set onagers etc as far behind walls as poss to give them an arc of attack to approaching infantry.

If facing siege towers, keep everyone off the walls until they are nearly there, as they are armed with heavy ballistae which make mincement of waiting defenders. If you are brave enough, have all your archers concentrate on shooting fire arrows into tower to destroy it. If you are really lucky it will catch fire after its reached the walls; when it collapses the enemy will instantly lose about 120 men. Bonza! If a wall is looking like collapsing, get your lads off the top of the walls and away from where they fall. In BI, collapsing walls kill any infantry underneath them, a feature that was absent on R:TW. If just turtles and onagers, line your battlements with archers, set to flaming ammo, and tempt the enemy lines closer with light cavalry. They will come into range of your missile troops, and be weakened.

If you see a sapping point, detach (at least) 2 units of archers to shoot fire arrows into it immediately and constantly. The tunnel will generally almost reach your wall before the entry point catches fire. 2 units of archers is the bare minimum. If you only have one unit, concentrate on other things, as they won't go up. When the entry point catches fire, the digging stops, as they try to escape, so don't worry about 'burn time'.

Once they have broken through your walls, you can either choose to defend the breach or withdraw to the square. Both tactics are valid, depends if you have enough heavy troops waiting to defend the hole. It's up to you, it will be a dirty fight whichever you choose. If you decide to stand, have the units stand in a 'C' around the breach, to create a killing ground. If charged by Clibinarii, get ready for a rout. Have lads (and fuckloads of them) ready to pile in. 1 Unit of Clibinarii along with a unit of light infantry is enough to take out at least three of your spearmen units and/or heavy infantry. If the enemy then pile in with their General's unit, they are Clibinarii Immortals, and you're generally goosed. If you are facing them, do your level best to prevent a wall/gate breach.

If you withdraw, take up standard defensive formations at the square, with archers at the back (if you have any left) to pepper the enemy.
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Last edited by Scrobbs; 23-Dec-2005 at 15:33.
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Old 22-Dec-2005, 14:51   #2
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Good advice there ,one point to note that when playing the Roman factions remember your heavy infantry is the real advantage you have. Cavalry look purdy but there only real role in the roman army is to threaten the flanks of the enemy and protect the flanks of your legions, the legions can make mincemeat of just about anyone and in the end will be the real killers. Thats not to underestimate the effect of a cavalry charge into the rear of the enemy , but its only feasible youve got them pinned down with your heavy infantry.

Id also consider light cavalry better for chasing down routing opponents than heavy , they wont get tired as quickly and will move faster. You shouldnt have any real combat threat from a routing opponent even if they do rally a single charge generally makes em run again.

Remember that light infantry is the king of woods , dont charge your heavy infantry or cavalry into them or theyll be taken apart by much cheaper infantry units.

Use the defensive formation option , especially for spearmen/phalanx , and always make sure theyre stationary when taking a cavalry charge , the increased organisation will make them even more effective. The defensive formation is obviously even more useful if your trying to pin down and hold the enemy , either to hold a bridge/gap in walls or simply to tie them up while your cavalry or missile troops make short work of them.

Choosing your time to counterattack is important , the more enemy units that rout in a short space of time the more likely the rest are to run. So when it looks as though you might be able to break a few units throw everything at the enemy.

Im not sure how well RTW models the tortoise formation of roman legions , but historically was only used for missile protecting rather than as a defensive formation so be careful of overusing it in the game.

On the subject of missile troops pick your targets , there a few unit types that dont have much armour or shields but can cause a hell of a lot of damage (specially amongst barbarian factions) , theyre the prime targets. When you are fighting the barbarians keep your battle line ordered , and liberally use the defensive formation. Thats your real advantage over them once everything gets disordered they start being able to compete
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Old 22-Dec-2005, 14:52   #3
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Great tactics, this is a must read for everyone getting this game from the bargin bin this christmas
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Old 22-Dec-2005, 15:26   #4
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Testudo seems to useful for chariot attacks too. It doesn't exist in BI tho.
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Old 22-Dec-2005, 18:00   #5
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My favorite tactic as Romans was to engage at the flanks with light infantry, then run around them with horses and charge from the back / side. Then repeat working inwards. (Left the heavy infantry as a second line in the centre just in sort out any struggles).
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