Table of Contents
- CONFIGURING A MULTIPLAYER GAME
- ESTABLISHING A BASE
- GATHERING RESOURCES
- ON THE HUNT
- MORE MANPOWER
- FIRST CONSTRUCTION
- MORE HOUSING
- DEFENSIVE STRATEGY
- ADVANCING TO TOWN PHASE
- CHOOSING A TECH PAIR
- TRIBUTING UNITS
- GARRISONING TOWERS
- DEFENDING THE WALLS
- HAVE A PROMOTION
- REAL LIFE BECKONS
- MOVING OUT
- HAVE YOU GOT THE MINERALS?
- BUILDING A BARRACKS
- USING A MILL
- ACQUIRING RELICS
- BUILDING A TEMPLE
- RIVER ME TIMBERS
- ECONOMY ON THE WAVES
- AVAST YE PIRATES
- YOU HAVE SUNK MY BATTLE SHIP
- ADVANCING TO CITY
- CONSTRUCT A FORTRESS
- NAVAL TRADE
- SO IT BEGINS
- BUILDING AN ARMY
- A QUIET BEFORE THE STORM
- THEY ARE COMING
- THE SIEGE
This document's intended purpose was to put all the pieces of gameplay together by detailing and describing what game of 0 A.D. would be like. The document is incomplete in summary, however it still provides some insight to the original game designers intent on what the game of 0 A.D. would be like.
CONFIGURING A MULTIPLAYER GAME
I start 0 A.D., choose the profile “Acumen” (thus loading my custom configuration, specifying where saved games and recordings will be saved, etc), then choose to play a Multiplayer Skirmish game from the main menu.
This brings me to the Session Creation Screen. I host a new game called (originally enough) “Acumen’s Multiplayer Skirmish Game” and Jason connects as a client to my IP, appearing in the player list. We’re using the same game version with matching installed mods, so his connection is accepted without complaint.
Note: The above situation assumes the easy-case scenario where we support only LAN and Internet IP multiplayer connection. If we included a dedicated matchmaking service, lobby, friend/banned list, ladder ranks, etc, then the process of finding players and joining the game would be less private.
Jason chooses his civilisation (Celts) and colour (Blue). Conversing via the chat system, we decide we’d rather start as allies (at least for the moment), , so we choose the same team number.
I add one AI opponents to the player list. I configure computer player as Moderate difficulty with a Boomer personality, playing the Romans under colour Red. He is assigned a random player name that depends on the civilisation (Julius on this occasion).
I choose to leave my civilisation at Random and set my player colour to a sickly Yellow. We don’t want any more human players to connect (Observers), so leave the remaining player slots as Closed, and ensure that all players start at Village phase.
Moving onto the game settings, I recently played a Deathmatch game, but we want to play something a little more typical. So I first choose a Standard game mode from the combobox list to set the configuration to the default settings, then will go through and make a few adjustments to suit our preferences. If I particularly like this configuration, I might save it as a new custom game mode when I’m finished for quick reuse at a later date.
Under Starting Conditions, I set Starting Buildings to Nomad (we want all players to start with no established Village Centre; we’ll each have to find a Settlement before we can establish a primary base).
I set Starting Units to 5, so each player will begin with five random citizens. Since we won’t have a starting Village Centre, 0 Starting Units is not available as an option (or the game would be over before it even begins).
Jason likes the idea of Reinforcements and sends a message suggesting we add them to the game. So I enable Reinforcements and set for a few random reinforcements to arrive every forty minutes. I choose not to enable Starting Hero (which would cause us to each begin the game with a random Hero unit).
I leave most other Starting Conditions as standard, so that units build and gather as normal, Starting Resources are typical, the map begins with Shroud of Darkness and Fog of War is enabled.
Moving onto the diplomatic settings, I know Jason isn’t keen on grunt rushes, so I give us a 5-minute Ceasefire (for the first five minutes, players will not be able to attack each other or enter enemy-controlled territories).
I keep Locked Teams unchecked (so I can break my alliance later and stab Jason in the back), but keep Team Placement enabled (so we’re placed adjacent to each other for easier trading). I also uncheck Uniform Resources (resources are now no longer distributed evenly among the provinces, making advancement more unpredictable).
I set the victory and defeat conditions so that the game ends when all enemy buildings are destroyed, with Allied Victory enabled so that we win if we retain our alliance and kill off the computer players. Herocide is unavailable (since Starting Hero is disabled).
I set a one-hour time limit, since I know Jason needs to leave for work in an hour. I also set it so that if a player prematurely leaves the game, a computer player will take control until he returns.
I move onto the Map Settings, choosing to configure a Random Map instead of using an existing scenario. I select a Medium-sized Mediterranean map, with Temperate climate, fairly flat, thick forests, a few rivers, and enable randomly spawned Relics.
I ensure Territories are enabled, and set the number of Settlements so that each there are enough for each player to acquire two Settlements (including tracking down an initial base position).
From the Environment tab, [ I choose for the game to start at Dawn in the Spring, with each day taking 5 minutes and a new season every 3 days. I also keep weather effects enabled, since you can never have enough particles.
Jason ticks his player box to confirm that he’s ready to start with these settings, and I choose to start the game. We watch a brief loading screen (which summarises the game settings, the unique properties of our civilisation, an interesting historical tidbit, and some random hotkeys to memorize – it seems I’ve been randomly allocated the Persians) and shortly afterwards we are in the game proper.
ESTABLISHING A BASE
From this point, the engine automatically records random seeds and player input so that the game could be played back from a replay file later if it is saved at the end of the game.
My camera is focused on my starting team of Persian units … a spearman, two archers, javelin cavalry, and a Female Citizen.
Since the Shroud is enabled, I can’t see much beyond the line of sight of my units, so I scout ahead with the cavalry, keeping an eye out for wild animals.
I soon spot a gaia (neutral) Settlement. There’s a decent supply of local resources and it’s in the corner of the map, so I send all four foot units over to it to build a Village Centre on top and quickly establish my base camp, while setting my cavalry to automatically Explore the surrounding area.
When the Village Centre is erected, the Shroud of Darkness is cleared within the bounds of the Settlement’s territorial borders, and my units can now gather resources from this area without the need for a nearby Mill, and construct buildings in the area. In addition, because of the pregame settings, no enemy units can attack until the end of the Ceasefire. However, once the Ceasefire has ended - it is all out war, but my units within the territory will still benefit from an armour bonus.
I assign the woman to a [ clutch] of berry bushes (since Food gathering is her specialty), with one archer to assist her, and assign the spearman to lumber duty and the other archer to gathering from a nearby deposit of rock. There’s no mineral seams in my immediate vicinity, but the current priority is Food.
Although the units do not have to shuttle their resources back to the Village Centre, I picked the closest available resources (since they gather faster in range of the Female Citizen’s aura). [ The men change from military regalia into worker’s garb and start gathering] .
ON THE HUNT
Meanwhile, my javelin cavalry has found a few wandering goats, and with no other players around to compete for their allegiance, they have fallen under my control. I send them back to base, where they can fatten for a while and later provide a quick source of meat or be sent to a corral once one is built.
He has also encountered an aggressive wolf among the trees. I command my cavalry scout to charge the wolf, and he makes short work of the creature with his hooves. Wolves do not leave behind gatherable meat or loot, but the scout does gain some experience from the kill, putting him closer to his next promotion. Later he encounters a deer, which leads him on a merry chase, but eventually the deer is put down with his javelins. The deer’s meat value is automatically added to my Resource Pool as “loot” after he is hunted down and killed.
Now that I have some resources in the coffers, I select the Village Centre and train a couple more units to aid in gathering and further protect the base. The Village Centre can train the same types of units that can randomly occur among my Starting Units … My civilisation’s primary melee infantry (spear), ranged infantry (bow), cavalry (javelin), and Female Citizen. I add one of each to the training queue, and set the Village Centre’s rally point to a location just to the west of my base.
All of these living units require Food. The cavalry requires more Food (as well as an extra population slot) to feed his horse. The Female Citizen requires only Food.
Fortunately Persian core military are unarmoured grunts, requiring mostly only Wood to outfit them with weapons. (Civilisations that rely on metal weapons, like swords, or heavy armour, would be cutting into their Ore reserves at this point.)
The bowman requires only Food and Wood, the spear also requires a tiny amount of Ore for his broad iron spearhead, and the cavalry also costs a little of my starting Ore (coin) since he’s of a higher social class than the average vassal.
I decide to build a Corral to protect my new herd from any potential rustlers and gather resources from their milk. First I will need a Farmstead (which suits me fine, since it’s a potential prerequisite building for advancing to Town phase).
This costs mostly stone with a little wood, due to the nature of Persian architecture (Jason’s Celts have to rely a lot more on wood for their building construction). I briefly assign my two Food gatherers to build a Farmstead a decent distance from the Village Centre (rotating the building footprint to my liking, making sure that all four surrounding plots will be useable to construct a farm, corral, or orchard on later), then return them to their fruit.
I select one of the Farmstead’s four surrounding plots and upgrade it to a Corral, then select all but one of my goats and garrison them in this fenced enclosure (where they remain visible via garrison sockets). As long as they are Corralled, they will generate a small trickle of Food. Only my uncorralled goat will fatten, however, though he is vulnerable to being stolen by another player if he is not within line of sight of one of my units/buildings. Getting a steady stream of milk from my goats now will mean I’ll receive less of a payload from killing them later, but will potentially reward me in the long run with an endless trickle of food in the form of milk.
I’m soon going to hit my population cap, so I select my gathering archer and task him to build a House. Once he’s finished, my housing limit is increased, and I return him to his berry bushes.
I now decide to setup a perimeter around my base, selecting a Wall and placing its corners. The foundations for the intermediate wall pieces are automatically placed between them, and my construction units set about building each foundation in turn. Building walls is a slow process, but I hope to have them completed by the time the enemy makes their first attack.
The corner pieces become Wall Towers (which could be garrisoned with ranged units to attack the enemy, like a freestanding Scout Tower), and as the length of the wall grows, additional Towers as well as Gates appear at equidistant points along the wall.
My supply of berry bushes has been exhausted, so the Female Citizen and archer are now standing idle. Allying with the Celts grants me a Team Bonus that increases my yield from agriculture, so it sounds like a good idea to move them over to tilling a field.
I select two of the plots surrounding my Farmstead, upgrading each to a Field, and transfer one unit to each. They begin hoeing their respective patch of veggies.
ADVANCING TO TOWN PHASE
By this point, I have accumulated enough resources and prerequisite buildings to advance to the next phase. I select my Village Centre, choose the Advance to Town Phase technology, and some time later, it becomes a Town Centre. I now have access to Town-tier buildings, which in turn allows for Town phase units and technologies.
CHOOSING A TECH PAIR
While I have the Town Centre selected, I decide to perform some more research. Most technologies come in the form of a choice between two paths of research. For example, I can choose to either increase the Town Centre’s garrison capacity, or its housing capacity. I choose to spend my resources on increasing housing capacity, allowing me to train more units.
I receive a chat message from Jason:
Wijitmaker: “I’m feeling generous. J”
… followed by “Wijitmaker has contributed surplus forces to your war effort”
The minimap indicates a Celtic unit, an infantry javelinist in the adjacent province, that is now under my control.
By this time, the Ceasefire period is over, and enemies could potentially enter my territory. I decide to fortify my defenses, taking the Celtic javelinist tributed by Jason, and the archer that I recently trained, and moving them over to the towers built into my walls.
I set the two infantry to an Aggressive stance. They will now automatically advance to engage any unit they see and pursue them until either the enemy is dead or they themselves are.
I garrison each unit in a tower, and he appears on the battlement at the top of the tower. They will be seen attacking enemies, and benefit from the tower’s elevation and defense.
DEFENDING THE WALLS
Ah, and not a moment too soon. A couple of enemy scouts are spotted on the edge of my now enhanced Line of Sight. A steady stream of arrows rain down upon my enemy. The arrows are fairly inaccurate over great distance, but as the target draws near the unit’s accuracy improves. Soon the enemy draws near enough for the Javelinist to join in. He doesn’t fire as frequently or as far as the archer, but he can pack a bigger punch and can hold his own ground in a hand to hand fight.
There is no melee action in this short lived combat. Since my foes aren’t siege units, they are not equipped to attack my buildings and because they are melee units themselves, they cannot touch the units on the battlements. The only possible outcome for the enemy is to flee or attempt to press on past the missiles. Due to my unit’s ranged capabilities and enhanced armour from the tower and elevation benefits the duo emerge from the fracas unscathed, while the enemy scouts fall beneath their assault.
Their bodies slump and decay at the foot of the towers, and I receive a small resource bonus that is a fraction of the units’ training cost (to reflect looting their corpses).
HAVE A PROMOTION
In addition, the archer accumulated enough kills during the attack to advance to the next rank. He is automatically promoted from Basic to Advanced rank, gaining better equipment and military training at no cost.
Such a career soldier is less effective in an economic capacity, however, and if I were to assign him to gathering or construction, I would find him to be less effective than a Citizen Soldier of Basic rank (the difference is even more noticeable at Elite rank).
Suddenly I receive a message:
Wijitmaker: “Wood, please”
I guess I’d better go help those Celts. But first I’ll see if I can get any info out of my ally in his vulnerable state. I open the quick-chat input box and send him the messages “Sure, how much?” and “Found any ore?”
Shortly afterwards, a signal flare flashes on my minimap, illuminating a glittery area in the province between us, which Jason has partially scouted. I also receive another message suggesting “500?”
That seems reasonable. I open the Diplomacy window, which allows me to tribute, send messages (including pregenerated taunts, like the earlier “Wood, please”) and propose/break alliances, and click 5 times on the Food icon next to Wijitmaker’s name, then send the tribute.
Wijitmaker: “Thanks. You should build a Market so we can trade, btw.”
While I’m here, just for fun, I propose an alliance with the computer player.
Julius’ retort is less diplomatic. “Never! I shall crush your armies beneath my heel!”
A fight to the death it shall be, then. As to be expected, but fun nonetheless.
REAL LIFE BECKONS
Suddenly the phone rings. Fortunately I’m hosting the game, so I retain the ability to pause the game. I click the pause button and race out of the room.
I return later to find that Jason has sent me a few disparaging remarks casting dispute at my parentage, but that’s only to be expected. I unpause the game and we continue.
Ore is more important in the advanced phases, so I really need to establish a supply. I plan to advance into the nearby province, claim the land, and beginning harvesting that valuable supply of ore.
I remove an archer from his Field, and task my idle second female citizen to work on it.
I bandbox my hunting party (consisting of two javelin cavalry, and a spearman) and map the selection to group 1.
I assign them to a Closed Line formation for optimum speed during the journey. This means the cavalry will be forced to match the speed of the slower spearman and archer, but since they cannot build a Village Centre without them, there’s little point in them rushing ahead.
HAVE YOU GOT THE MINERALS?
I cross my territorial borders into the next province, and move my formation towards the glittering layer of mineral deposits. Since I do not control the province, however, I cannot gather resources from this area unless I either seize the Settlement or build a Mill near the resource.
So, I set out in search of the Settlement (which tends to be roughly in the centre). Unfortunately a blue blip on my minimap confirms my worst suspicions. Jason has beaten me to it, and a Celtic Village Centre has been built on top of the province’s Settlement.
Wijitmaker: “Too slow, buddy. :)”
“Wijitmaker has seized control of a new province”
Grrr. Ah, well, at least he’s an ally. Although I do not gain the benefits of taking the territory for myself (such as increased limits on constructing certain buildings, and an armour bonus), I am at least allowed to build and gather within an ally’s province. (Though with some restrictions. For example, I cannot build a Market in an ally’s province.)
I task my archer and spearman to mining the ore in this area, and command the two cavalry to Explore the area.
BUILDING A BARRACKS
Now that I have all the types of resources coming in, I’ll turn my attention to expanding my base, in particular setting up a trade route.
First, I’m going to need some more manpower, since most of my troops are tied up in resource gathering. The Town Centre can only create a few troop types. To unlock the full extent of my Citizen Soldier military (including the Persian’s wide range of exotic cavalry), I need a Barracks.
So, I assign my lumbering spearman (remember him?) to constructing this new building, then return him to his post.
No civilisation receives all unit classes in the game. The Persians, for example, lack both sword and sling infantry.
However, the Barracks grants me a decent array of Persian units … In addition to the spearman, archer, and javelin cavalry available from the Village Centre, I now have access to javelin infantry, sword cavalry, spear cavalry, and cavalry archers (something no other civilisation of this era has available).
The Barracks also produces siege weapons. Unfortunately, Persian siege warfare was almost unheard of, so they only receive the standard Ram, with no ranged-attack siege equipment.
I train two javelinists.
Now I build a Market. The Market is one of the building types that is limited by the number of provinces I control. I can only build one Market per province, so for the moment I am limited to trading with provinces controlled by my allies.
At this stage, I have quite a surplus of Wood, but very little Stone, so I decide to balance my books via the Market’s Barter interface. I exchange some Wood for Stone. The excess wood I bring to the global market decreases the value with each quantity I trade. The stone, in turn, increases in cost and value due to the new demand with each increment I traded. That’s better.
I decide not to buy extra Ore at this time, as due to its value it costs more to exchange than any other resource (particularly Food). It is the most highly sought after resource.
Now to get started on that trade route. This is particularly worthwhile as the Persians gain a Team Bonus to their land trade profit.
I train a Trader from the Market. For the moment, I want to accumulate Ore through trade, so I select the Trader and out of the available options, instruct him to generate Ore on his trade route.
Then I seek out one of Jason’s Markets. Fortunately, he has built it a fair distance from my location. (The further the Trader has to travel, the more resources he accumulates; building two Markets adjacent to each other would generate a pitiful supply of resources, because the travel time would be much shorter.)
I task my Trader to the allied Market, and he begins his trade route. On each return journey, he will deposit the Ore at my Market. (If the Trader was intercepted en route, however, the enemy would loot the value of any goods the Trader was carrying.)
USING A MILL
My scouting cavalry has spotted a juicy ore deposit in the next unoccupied province. I don’t yet feel ready to simultaneously defend two provinces, but I certainly wouldn’t mind a piece of that action, particularly as my ore supplies are running low.
So I take my ore-gathering archer and spearman, and move them into the unoccupied province. I cannot build or gather here except with one exception, the Mill, which can be built in any province regardless of its jurisdiction.
I have them construct a Mill in close proximity of the fresh supply of ore. The Mill broadcasts a Gather Aura that lets my units gather resources within its radius. I then assign the two units to this new supply of valuable metals.
My cavalry have also spotted a relic in the adjacent province. They found it in a shrouded area, so presumably Jason doesn’t know about it, since I researched a technology at the Market and we now share vision. But, he sees it now just as I do. I camp my cavalry unit right next to it for the moment just to let him know that I have staked my claim on it.
To pick up a relic, I need either a Hero or Healer. I need a Fortress and City Centre to acquire a Hero, so that’s some way off. Let’s build a Temple.
BUILDING A TEMPLE
So I lay down the footprint for a Temple, and once it’s up, train my first Healer unit. In addition to collecting relics, the key function of Healers is, naturally, to heal player and allied units within range of their Heal Aura. They have no combat ability. The Temple itself has a similar function, broadcasting an aura over a wider area and stronger effect that heals nearby organic units.
I take the Healer over to the relic and instruct him to pick up the object (in effect “garrisoning” the relic inside the Healer). I tell the Healer to lug the relic back to the Temple, and drop it there, which garrisons the relic in the Temple.
I now gain the benefits (similar to those of a researched technology) of the relic for as long as I retain the relic in one of my Temples.
0 A.D. infantry have the unique ability to be able to move through forests, and some even gain concealment while standing within tree cover. However, they are visible when they are not idle.
Fortunately, my scouts spotted a band of enemy infantry moving in a forest, preparing to strike anyone that passed. If this had been the Iberians or Celts, they would have been invisible while idle under tree cover. But, they are just Roman infantry in their bright coloured tunics and boldly coloured shields. I flush them out with javelins, then charge them by ordering them to a waypoint that causes my cavalry to run right over the top of them as they flee the trees, crushing them beneath my horses’ hooves.
Unfortunately, one of the enemy was armed with a spear who abruptly stopped, turned to face me, and held a defence against my charge, impaling one of the cavalry before the other managed to take him down.
The surviving javelin cavalry, though seriously injured, promoted to Advanced rank during the battle, which almost makes it worthwhile.
RIVER ME TIMBERS
[ During their scouting, one of my cavalry encountered a river on the edge of my province.]
This seems like a good time to start controlling the waterways, so I build a Dock on the bank of the river, and construct my first ship, a Merchantman.
Ships, functionally speaking, are not unlike floating, mobile buildings. Like towers, they have positions on their decks where ranged units and catapults can stand and autonomously attack the enemy. Although this leaves the units vulnerable to harm, they are capable of attacking from the deck with their ranged attack. Units below deck however average any direct attacks between the available units below deck and the hull, making a ship survive an assault for much longer.
Finally, like buildings, ships are vulnerable to being captured by the enemy. If ungarrisoned and with no player units nearby, a ship can come under the control of an enemy within LOS, much like taking control of a herd animal.
ECONOMY ON THE WAVES
The Merchantman is a cargo ship that provides economic services on the water to supplement the military ships.
Merchantmen can transport the most units, [ but have the least positions on deck to defend against attackers.] Unlike military ships, they also do not have the ability to ram their opponents.
Merchantmen can trade with other Docks, much like Traders can trade between Markets.
Finally, they are the only unit that can gather Food from fish shoals. I spot a school of fish swimming nearby, and assign my Merchantman to deplete this resource.
Suddenly, the game clock ticks over to ten minutes elapsed, and the Reinforcements button appears. Our first batch of reinforcements have arrived. I click the button and 3 random (military and medic) units appear at my base.
I have been given the following Persian units: a spearman, a healer, and an Immortal (the Persian Super Infantry Unit). I’m not yet able to produce that unit, so that’s kinda cool.
AVAST YE PIRATES
Blast! While my attention was distracted, an enemy vessel sailed down the river and took control of my Merchantman that was just sitting idle near my dock after it was constructed. Curse those Romans and their naval superiority. I knew I should have garrisoned some units in that ship.]
I’ll just have to get him back by force. I gather up my idle military units (two javelinists, one javelin cavalry, one spearman, one Immortal), throw in my two Healers for luck, and send them all down to the riverbank.
I wish I could call in the big guns, but unfortunately even Jason couldn’t loan me a ballista, since the Celts are equally siege-deprived. I’ll just have to make do with squishy organic types.
I train the biggest ship the Persian navy can muster, a Trireme (unfortunately, only the Romans and Carthaginians can muster the mighty Quinquereme), and load it up with troops.
The medium warship has 8 population slots on its deck. Hence, the cavalry take up 2 slots (below deck), and infantry 1. So there’s enough room for everyone: the javelin cavalry, Immortal and two javelinists, plus the Healer. (It would be safer to keep the Healer below deck, but their aura does not function unless they’re out of storage, so they’re included in the unit classes that are given preference for deck duty.)
I consider sending the spearman and second Healer back to the base, since the melee unit wouldn’t add to my firepower, and Heal Auras do not stack. But, I keep the spearman because he can add to the hitpoints of the hull of the ship in case the battle goes south. I stow the healer below deck as well, just in case the one above deck takes an arrow and falls I have a backup. I don’t want to take any chances with these Romans. If I lose the naval edge in the early portions of the game, I will likely never get it back.
With my warship loaded up with troops, I set sail to perform a rescue operation.
YOU HAVE SUNK MY BATTLE SHIP
I catch sight of the sickly crimson player colour that Julius has splashed over his commandeered vessel, which he has left assigned to harvesting fish at the shoal. I ram the ship once and it seems there was only one weak unit controlling the ship. That unit perishes, the ship is slightly damaged now, but I gain control of it because the ship has no units garrisoned in it and it is in the aura of my Trireme. I lock both ships in a column formation because I don’t want the merchant ship to move too fast for the larger Trireme and move out of its aura. Once I do that, I order both ships back to the nearby Dock to benefit from the repairing aura of the Dock (for the Merchant ship) and to garrison a troop of my own into the Merchant so that history will not repeat itself.
With my Trireme I scout the waters, I spot the enemy vessel that stole my Merchantman. It’s only a light warship (Bireme), and un-upgraded Roman ships are weak compared to my larger Trireme, so this shouldn’t be too challenging.
I command my warship to charge the ship. This functions similarly to charging with cavalry. My units on deck hunker down and prepare for impact, I ram the enemy vessel, inflicting significant damage to his hull. As the ship is no longer ramming and I am now within range, my units on deck also begin to throw their missiles at the enemy, mostly striking his own deck forces. A couple of troops fall beneath my javelins.
Unfortunately, my eyes alight on something I’d missed in my first excitement … The ship had been fitted with superior Roman siege weapons. A onager has been fixed to the bow of the vessel, and it’s preparing to fire! I attempt to steer my vessel away from the enemy ship.
Too late! A spinning boulder of death smashes into the side of my medium warship in a shower of splinters. The screen shakes with the impact. Most of the crew are dead, and the vessel is practically crippled. I order it to limp back to the Dock, where it can recover under the effect of its Repair Aura, retreating like a beaten dog.
At least I can keep the warship in Dock to defend my Merchantman for the moment. There shall be a reckoning.
ADVANCING TO CITY
Nursing my injured pride, I turn my attention to other aspects of my civilisation. In particular, I’ve constructed a couple of requisite buildings, and have accumulated sufficient resources to advance to the final phase. I select my Town Centre and upgrade it to a City Centre.
For branching civs, this is also the time when the player must choose between the alternate branches. Jason, for example, must decide whether to upgrade to a Briton City Centre, or Gaul City Centre. By observing the Fortress he built, he seems to have chosen the Gauls.
CONSTRUCT A FORTRESS
Most significantly, this upgrade unlocks the Fortress, granting access to my most powerful and unique units and technologies, and my civilisation’s Special Buildings.
I spend the resources and construct a Fortress. I can now train Persian Amrtaka (Immortals) and Pil Jangi (war elephants), as well as research a couple of advanced technologies that are unique to my civilisation.
Finally, the Fortress provides access to my civilisation’s Heroes. I have a choice of three, but only can remain on the battlefield at any time.
I choose to train Cyrus the Great, the benevolent conquerer. He is mounted on a horse, well-armoured, equipped with javelins, and broadcasts an Aura that increases the attack damage of nearby cavalry.
I also queue up a Pil Jangi, since you can never have too many elephants. I first need to build a couple more Houses, though, as I have reached my population capacity.
I return my attention to the Dock. By this time, the warship and Merchant has been repaired, though only my cavalry unit and medic below deck survived the attack.
I also notice that Jason has built his own Dock, so I command the Merchantman to trade with his Dock, generating Stone (which I’m running short on) for the moment.
I then command the warship to Escort the Merchantman. It will now follow behind him and provide protection.
SO IT BEGINS
“I’m going for it!” is the message I see in the chat box.
It seems that Jason has been busy while I have been building up my economy and advancing to the city stage. He seems to still be in the town stage, but then again, so is our enemy. I hear a notification and look down to my minimap to see a flare.
“See what you can do to occupy and distract him here, I”ll go around back and hit him from behind.” Sounds like a reasonable plan. Problem is, I don’t have many citizen soldiers and the ones I do have are ranked no higher than advanced with the bulk of them just at the basic stage. They won’t last long in a battle.
BUILDING AN ARMY
I have the funds secured now due to my nearly booming economy. I’m going to go straight to my Fortress and start training units that are already prepared for war, my super units. I queue up 26 immortals and 5 elephants for training. These super units aren’t capable of any economic tasks, but that is okay because I’m using them for war and war alone. I set the Fortress’ rally point in an open forward location.
I don’t believe these units would be able to stand a full assault of the Romans alone. I think I’ll get some backup for them. I’m going to train up fresh recruit of archers (They will be nice to provide cover for my super units, and hopefully remain protected and rank up quickly as the enemy rushes to meet my wall of super units.). Only problem is, production is going to be a little slow trying to do a large quantity of them. I think I’ll go ahead and build another Barracks to share the burden of training. I task my trusty builder spearman to do just that.
Once the second Barracks was built I now have three structures that can train citizen soldiers: two Barracks, and the City Centre. I quie them all up to 8 each and set their rally point near the location of the Fortress’ rally point. I see there are already five immortals ready to go. Now, I just need to wait as my army rises.
A QUIET BEFORE THE STORM
“Almost ready” Jason says. I look at my minimap and see that he has stealthily sneaked up the border edge of the map, apparently without notice. I wonder what he is waiting for?
“That’s ok, I’m not quite ready either.”
“Still training an army, should be done in a minute or two I hope.” I reply.
With that, I double check my economy. Still going strong. I check my resource pool and it seems I have some supplies left. Looks like I could research some technologies. That is good as it should help in the impending conflict.
I select my Barracks. There looks to be six technology pairs and I haven’t researched one of them. Scanning them over, a few of them interest me. Units Speed vs. Unit Armour. Oh, and it is one of those self balancing techs too. That means that if I choose Unit Armour my units will slow under the weight of their new armour. If I choose speed, it means they lighten their armour.
Hmm, for this particular game and circumstance I think I’d actually like to have a lot of armour. My units need to hold a line and keep a distraction. So, I research it once to account for the technology that was offered me in the town phase (that I neglected to research then), and then I research it one more time to a greater effect for the city stage. That is going to take a bit of time to research. I’ll move to the other barracks.
I select this barracks (I notice the tech being researched in the other barracks is now grayed out). The Ranged Attack vs. Melee Attack tech interests me. I’d like to do both (Village and City) of these as well, but I’d like to have more Ranged attack than Melee. So, I choose the ranged attack and then choose the melee attack. No wait, that’s wrong. That will make the melee attack stronger because it is the City phase tech. I cancel both choices by right clicking their icons. I then do it over, this time selecting melee first, then ranged.
Uh oh, what is that?
THEY ARE COMING
I tap my space bar and it automatically takes me to last place on the map that received a notification. It is the area where my army is being rallied. It seems as if a lone slinger had hurled a missile at one of my immortals. Bah, nothing to worry about. Seconds later… a line of about 20 Principe appear from the fog of war.
“Prepare to meet your end. Surely you will see death but never Elysium.”
Nice fellow, but he couldn’t be more wrong.
“Ok, I’m ready.” Jason types. I quickly glance over at his forces. Ah, a few battering rams, that makes sense.
No time for a proper reply, I simply type “k”
The enemy javelinists appear to be in the skirmish formation as they are advancing; hurling a javelin then retreating and doing this several cycles now. Not terribly dangerously effective, but it is starting to soften up my immortals. There are twenty trained now (five left to go, and then five elephants). This is annoying. I select ten of the immortals, put them into a closed line formation and order them to face their attackers. I do the same with the other ten. This gives them a bonus against pierce attack. That helps a little.
I scroll around the map, find my medic and order him to head to where the action is. I’ll need him later. Now, to dispatch these pesky Principe. I select all 32 archers (what a difference it makes distributing training time), and put them into an open line formation and assign them to group 2. I advance them closer to the flanks of my two formations of immortals and they come within firing range of the enemy. They release a hail of arrows (though not very accurately as they are at a great distance). They hit about 35% of them with one or two arrows. The enemy retreats again in their skirmish mode.
They come again, this time closer. Trying to target my archers! The archers fire again. This time they hit more because they are closer. I order my 2 groups of immortals to advance. They clash. Principe are falling. One of my immortals dies, and I see one of his Principe ranks to advanced. Another volley of arrows strikes them. More Principe die. It is obvious that they can’t hold this line of attack. So they retreat, fleeing at a run. One last attack from the archers sends several more to their death with arrows in their backs.
Phew, not too bad. I lost two immortals (almost four) and a lot of health. The units would start to slowly recharge themselves with hitpoints, but I don’t have the time to wait for that. Luckily my healer has just arrived to the scene and is aiding in the healing of my units. I also notice the first of my elephants coming to the area too. Looks like it’s about time to head toward the enemy.
“I’m ready to go now.” I type in the team chat.
“About time, I’ve already started”. Sure enough he had. It seems that sneaking in forces through the back had paid off. It looked as if he had already flooded the enemy city with Celts. Ah, that would explain why I hadn’t seen more Romans than the batch I already dealt with.
Jason was busy slaughtering all the male citizen soldiers that were previously busily gathering resources. Looks like he sicced the dogs on them. The female citizens where nowhere to be seen. They probably retreated to the nearest garrisonable building I’d assume.