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Battle tactics

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Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I've been wondering if anyone has some insight on how to fight battles. I've tried some of the different formations, but can't really tell if they make a difference, so mostly I've just been using the default line formation. I've also tried doing some flanking moves, but usually it just ends up in a giant clusterf***.

Also, I'm having trouble properly defending my territory. I use spearmen for garrisons in the cities I feel are exposed, but I can't garrison all of my cities, since that would leave me without enough population points to field a proper army. The army I have consists of the companions, 3 phalangite brigades and 2 special units. Unfortunately, I keep having to split the army to repel invaders, so I'm making little progress.

Any help would be appreciated.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I found it helpful to pull down walls on your central cities as you expand. It will help give more population points for mobile units. I only have walls on my border towns, the capital, and Pella. I've found that population is the limiting factor, more than gold. If you feel that your center is secure, it probably doesn't need a garrison so that will free up some troops as well.

I also noticed that some enemy kingdoms attack with mostly scout cavalry and peltasts. Usually one unit of phalangites is enough to see them off, so I can use the other heavy troops in an attack somewhere else.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm

That's not a bad idea, thanks. I have at least one or two towns that could probably do without walls. Most of them need walls, though. The annoying Athenian raids along the coast mean that I have to keep my walls in the starting cities.

Also, while initial enemy raids used to consist mostly of peltasts, scout cavalry and the occassional spearmen, they are now starting to mount full-scale invasions, usually with about 3 hoplite brigades and 3-4 peltasts. This happens quite often, and every time I have to divert most of my army. It seems like the ai powers have no interest in fighting anyone but me.

Level 14 Human Shadow
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Earth Orbit, Preparing to Attack
Posted on May 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

I rarely used formations, mostly positioned units manually into flanking formations as needed, and stacked them in. Note that if you do "cluster" units they receive the little soldier with a slash through them icon, which indicates that they are inhibited due to too many units in close proximity, thus reducing their damage.

Generally a nice cavalry charge to soften the enemy up (note: run the cavalry for more effect) followed by a wave of phalangites flanked by peltasts tends to beat most early units. Although...you need to go after Stobi, which is not accessible until after you beat the demo portion of the game, to get good cavalry.

I've been known to use pure cavalry assaults with maybe a couple peltasts supporting when I'm too far from my bases to bring in phalangites. The speed usually allows you to beat the enemy before they can build up their defenses. Plus they stack much better than most other units during sieges. A nice wave of about 40 Tribal Cavalry...yeah...see some of my pictures of war posts on the forum :D

But nothing beats the staying power of a strong phalangite assault. Though alone, without peltasts, the phalangites can be taken out by decent tactics (keeping range with enemy peltasts; cavalry hit and retreat; etc. - AI doesn't do this too well though, but you can loose them if you aren't paying attention, or just get overwhelmed).

Also, before you go island hopping too much, you really need to learn catapults. Trying to conquer islands without catapults is often an exercise in trying to cram more units onto an island than can ever hope to fit.

Enjoy!

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 12, 2010 at 7:33 am

Thanks a lot, I feel like I'm getting a better understanding of the game. I restarted my game and decided to take out some of the Illyrian cities and do the Paeonian campaign, before taking Olooson. Taking Olooson seems to trigger all kinds of raids, so this time I thought I'd be prepared. It really makes a difference, since I can now comfortably defend myself, while maintaining a decent offensive army.

Also, I conquered Stobi, while doing the Paeonian campaign, and got access to the tribal cavalry (also, the tribal archers, which I'm using a lot. Much better than peltasts, imo). I have a hard time getting them to retreat after a charge, though. Is there any kind of trick to that?

Lastly, I'd like to know what it is catapults are actually good for. As far as I can tell, they neutralize a city's defence, allowing your troops to siege it, without taking losses. Is that correct? Are they useful for field battles?

Level 14 Human Shadow
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Earth Orbit, Preparing to Attack
Posted on May 12, 2010 at 7:37 am

Units tend to get "locked in combat" - the best way to get a unit to retreat is flip them into Run mode - it gives them a better chance to escape combat. It might not happen instantly, but generally occurs fast enough that you don't get a morale rout. Tribal cavalry generally has fairly low morale (mainly since they are merc units).

Lastly, I'd like to know what it is catapults are actually good for. As far as I can tell, they neutralize a city's defence, allowing your troops to siege it, without taking losses. Is that correct? Are they useful for field battles?

Catapults are great for sieging cities. But don't assume they will make you not take losses. A city with 10000 strength city walls is going to take a while to wear down, even with catapults, and you will lose troops. However, you will probably win without having any troops rout. Catapults can also be used to hit enemy units directly - they are virtually identical to ground-based city walls/forts in that they take out an enemy unit on every hit. Catapults are also very slow, limiting the speed at which you can expand. You don't need them to siege a city, they just make it easier.

Mixing catapults for the major cities and keeping them with your phalangite attacks far from Macedonia seems to work especially well (especially because you do not want to have to wait a year for the phalangites to get back to your front line from your nearest Macedonian production city. Using them with a cavalry raiding/sieging force is rather useless though because of their limited speed. Using them for island hopping campaigns is required.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 12, 2010 at 7:44 am

I wish units would default to run mode, or at least that cavalry units would do so. I don't see the point in not using it, as often as possible. And I can't figure out what the hotkey for it is.

Level 14 Human Shadow
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Earth Orbit, Preparing to Attack
Posted on May 12, 2010 at 7:51 am

I wish units would default to run mode, or at least that cavalry units would do so. I don't see the point in not using it, as often as possible. And I can't figure out what the hotkey for it is.

Hover over the run button and it should show you the hotkey (my mind has gone blank on the key suddenly...I use it all the time!).

Not automatically running is important actually, since units can only run a limited length of time before running out of stamina, at which point they have to rebuild that stamina before running again. If it's use was automatic, you'd find that you would likely not have the stamina when you really do need it.

Also, running can be used to sync up the arrival time of attack units from several different sources so that one unit isn't attacking way out in front of all the other units.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 12, 2010 at 7:57 am

Yeah, I guess I can having run on by default could cause a problem once in a while. Still, it'd be nice to be able to toggle it permanently on/off on a unit basis.

I think the hotkey might be numpad 8, but I'm not sure, it's a bit hard to make out. It didn't work when I tried it, but I didn't bother to try to switch numlock off.

Level 14 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 12, 2010 at 1:00 pm

It is numpad 8 (all nine of those buttons are mapped to the numpad), but you can also use double right-click. That's the same as right-click, except they run to whatever you told them to do.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Posted on May 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm

To tack on some stuff I've learned:

The Phalangite units were strong enough that I avoided extensive use of Peltists/Archers, but that proved to be a downfall later on, eventually (especially if you work in tight corners) you run out of space to toss your guys. Also, a extremely heavily defended city (without large walls) can cause you all sorts of hell no matter how many Phalangites you have, but one solid unit and two or three archer types just make it trivial. As long as you ranged units can hit the front door as enemies stream out, they'll likely kill them faster than they pump out of the city.

In conjunction with that, I started attaching two Peltists or one Archer to my infantry, so when I move a unit I keep an infantry and ranged unit grouped up. It plays hell with your formation (and squishy ranged units) if you have to retreat or make any sudden turns, but it works well when you're approaching the enemy.

Don't forget that your units can draw the food supply from cities if they are close by (within the circle when you hover over a city). I've started leaving a Phalangite and Archer unit outside the cities on frontiers I'm not actively expanding and it goes a long ways to getting rid of the never-ending raids. The critical thing when doing this is to keep your units on the opposite side of the city from where the enemy is coming and have at least one garrison unit in the city. This is critical because Peltists/Javelin units will still utterly destroy you (if you don't actively order you troops to attack them, which kind of defeats the purpose of this method) unless you can get them close enough for the city to fire at them. In which case you'll probably still take some losses, without any routs, but you can almost always safely ignore that front for a while.

Never underestimate the power of food. I've taken down many a large city (including most of the island/coastal cities) simply by blocking their incoming food routes for a couple seasons. Anything more than 2-3 units and their farms probably won't supply enough by themselves, especially just before/after Winter. This works with units on the field, unfortunately the AI doesn't seem to think about it as I've got one front where every time they send troops at me the troops are out of food by the time they reach me, so I've set out a single archer next to a farm and because they're out of morale (from no food) they instantly route as soon as the Archer fires at them.

Finally, Catapults fire outside the range of a city garrison. You still have to worry about sorties, but you can get the sweet spot where you line up a Phalangite just ahead of the catapults which will take any assault, then stack a few archers behind your catapults, and bam, its all over but the waiting. Unless they break out too many ranged units to defend the city, but almost all the non-capital/event cities fall easily to this.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: Good
Posted on May 16, 2010 at 1:59 am

Thanks. Lots of good advice there.

Level 14 Extraplanar Programmer
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Toronto
Posted on May 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

You might also have better luck sieging with hoplites instead of phalangies. Phalangites are great in the field, but they get ripped to shreds by catapults.

Level 9 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on May 16, 2010 at 8:54 pm

In terms of tactics...

is there a way to 'delete' a control group?

I know you can overwrite a control group with another grouping. However, it would be very helpful to be able to delete groups that are no longer useful.

Also, i'm finding it frustrating that it's not easy to select an individual unit *within* a control group. If you click on a unit on the battlefield that happens to be in a control group, the whole control group gets selected. Often, i just want to issue an order to that particular unit.

With units routing back to their original cities, i'm finding it's not so easy to keep control groups together. The way groups are created and utilized could afford to be a little more flexible.

Tips?

Level 14 Human Shadow
Alignment: Chaotic good
Location: Earth Orbit, Preparing to Attack
Posted on May 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Double clicking on any unit in a control group will select it and allow you to manipulate it independently.