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My initial enthusiasm for Hegemony soured a bit, but I'm giving it time.

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Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 3, 2011 at 1:23 am

After completing the demo, I thought OMG! This is the best RTS I've played in years! To me it was like a breath of fresh air. Indeed, game critics for years have been decrying the moribund state of the RTS, and how the whole paradigm has gotten kind of sterile. After playing the Hegemony demo though, I thought pleasingly that the RTS is far from dead and that Longbow with their many nice touches and innovations had given the whole RTS concept a new lease on life. I loved the nice interface that allows you to seamlessly go from an ultra-strategic down to a tactical view. Also, I thought the graphics and artwork were beautiful, especially for an Indy game. I really liked all the nice smaller touches as well, like being able to capture enemy troops and use them for slave labor. Above all, I've been waiting a long time for a good simulation of the Peloponnesian War, so when I found this game I thought it had my name written all over it. Also, I would add that I felt after playing the demo that the Hegemony system was a big improvement on the often plodding, clunky, and generally overrated 'Total War' series.

Alas, it seems after the demo ends the game gets many orders of magnitude more difficult. You are suddenly faced with having to handle multiple threats from multiple directions, and with limited forces to do so (sort of like Stonewall Jackson in the Valley ;o). In fact one raid on my mine carried off all my slaves and put my economy into instant severe deficit. Also, bad things seemed to happen and I was often left scratching my head as to why, like Philip being detached from the Companions after returning to Pella and my inability to get him to rejoin the companions. Of course this was happening at a time when I really needed them to counter a raid. Also, it could be a pain sometimes trying to figure out which units in a group had my leaders (without separating the individual units from the group). The bottom line seems to be that things can quite easily get out of hand in this game. Something I found very frustrating was as I recall at one point I was trying to micromanage a big battle in the West, and while this was happening I get a notification of a raid in the East. On a related note, it seems like static defenses don't work. When there is an attack on your territory you can't sit things out behind your walls, you have to sally forth and actively engage the invaders lest they devastate your farms and mines. Of course this can be problematic when you are already trying to manage a campaign in another area of the map. Gosh, if it is this tough when trying to regain control of Macedonia, I'm getting nightmares thinking of what it must be like trying to manage a really big empire in this game. I'm very sorry to say that had the demo gone on longer(into when things started getting tough), I probably would not have purchased it.

If the designers aren't careful, an RTS, especially, can be very susceptible to information overload. That is, too much going on at once, taxing the average gamers ability to adequately process all the information and act appropriately on it (even with the pause command). When that happens it ceases to be fun and becomes more like work. I hope this is not the case with Hegemony, though I fear it might be.

Anyway, I did order the boxed version with the manual when I purchased the game, and when it arrives in the mail I'll read it very thoroughly and then try to play the Philip scenario again. Also, I did note some of the suggestions in earlier posts like diplomacy. I sincerely hope though that this is not one of those games going in to the dust bin. I had high hopes for it. Hopefully things will start to click after reading the manual.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 3, 2011 at 8:31 am

Don´t give up in the beginning. When I start to play, I thought in many situations it´s "Mission Impossible" to handle this game. But you can believe me it´s worth to roll up one's your sleeves and accept the challenge, because Hegemony is really brilliant. I think you will get back your enthusiasm by finding more and more solutions for your problems. The best way to do is, use the space button as often as possible. Look into the manual if you can find something about your concrete trouble, or take a look into this forum. And last but not least use, your mind and you will obtain a lot of fun with this game.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Thanks man for the encouragement. Yes, I could see right away that Longbow has potentially created something really unique and special here, the only question is if it's playable. Again, I'm giving it the benefit of a doubt and will try it again after reading the manual. Heck, if I can win a super complex game like Gary Grigsby's 'Uncommon Valor' (WW2 South Pacific), I should be able to manage Hegemony. I suppose I just have to recognize that it has a much steeper learning curve than other real-time strategy games.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 4, 2011 at 11:59 am

Coming to the game with any kind of RTS mindset is going to cause neural burnout. It's more like a turn-based game with you having micro-control over when the turn happens with the space bar. Very different style of play from both RT and Turn-based but after you get used to it the rewards come. I have a few beefs - I don't like objective-based play too much - but I am having fun with the sandbox play especially. It's probably one of the best thought-out games I have ever played, a jewel of design. Looking forward to seeing what these obviously talented people have coming next.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thanks man for the encouragement. Yes, I could see right away that Longbow has potentially created something really unique and special here, the only question is if it's playable. Again, I'm giving it the benefit of a doubt and will try it again after reading the manual. Heck, if I can win a super complex game like Gary Grigsby's 'Uncommon Valor' (WW2 South Pacific), I should be able to manage Hegemony. I suppose I just have to recognize that it has a much steeper learning curve than other real-time strategy games.

Just a couple of advices:

- Your phalangite units are better than walls. One phalangite brigade backed by a couple peltasts will fend off most of the enemy attacks without much trouble. Have them along your borders. You don't need one in every city, but try keeping one in strategic points where they can cover a good area (i.e. one in emathia can cover the whole "homeland" area and will probably keep away the athenians from disembarking near your core cities).

- Fight under your walls whenever possibile. Spearmen are weak in the field, but they are cheap and can man the city's (deadly) turrets. Always have enough in your border cities ("enough" means "your maximum garrison capacity" so to maximize rate of fire). When you're caught off guard, use peltasts or scout cav. to lure the enemy near the cities and prevent damage to mines or farms.

- Also, there is often no need for prolonged fights under enemy walls, stay away and let your catapults take care of fortifications whenever possible.

- Consolidate your conquests before moving on. If food is an issue, consider waiting till autumn or using slaves or labourers to haul food from richer areas (that's a bit harder to do in GOLD than in PoM though). There is nothing worse than conquering a whole new area and being forced to abandon it because you are out of food and cities are revolting.

- Cities without farms are often useless unless of some strategic relevance. I.E the 7 cities in the three "arms" of the chalcidian peninsula have only _one_ farm and they aren't part of quests. Consider making a truce.

- Always keep your units inside cities or forts unless you are attacking or defending, they consume less food.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Good points all. Yes, I can see that Hegemony is quite a bit different than anything that's come before, and you can be hamstrung if you go in with a Starcraft, Total War, or Civilization mindset. Come to think of it Xenophon ;o), you are absolutely right about playing it by using the pause to sort of delineate turns. By a strange coincidence, the Uncommon Valor game worked the same way. That is, the action was real-time continuous, and you would stop the action whenever you wanted to issue new orders or take stock of the situation. I think playing Hegemony with that mindset will probably help me a lot.

Glad you mentioned food Ryuga. I must confess that this is one of the game concepts that is still a bit hazy in mind, and may have been the cause of some of the bad things happening that I didn't understand. Yes, and I did sort of intuitively ken that for supply purposes you want to keep your troops in cities as much as possible.

OK, got it. Use cheapo spearmen to garrison towns. The trouble with that though seems to me that it puts a strain on your manpower pool, thus detracting from the troops available for your main thrusts. Oh well, everything's a trade off I guess.

Anyway, I expect to get the boxed edition in the mail before the week is out, and when this happens I will go through the manual with a fine-tooth comb. I know I could read the online version, but reading a great deal of text online puts a lot of stress on my eyes. In the meantime I'm trying my hand as Admiral Togo in the Russo-Japanese War. ;o)

PS.......I really need to read the Anabasis one of these days. Come to think of it, the Xenophon campaign would be a good one for Longbow to do.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Food logistics and the harvest is a core game mechanic and you have to plan your offensives around it. It's the reason why you campaign in summer and autumn, as you can feed your armies from the enemy fields, and hopefully build up stockpiles in your newly conquered cities to prevent hunger rebellions. Food emergencies are best handled by workers (or ships, if it's a coastal town) but if you need to build up stockpiles for a future offensive don't forget that you can upgrade your road network.

Just click on a road between two cities and you can see how much food it transports every week. Shorter routes, or routes between large towns and cities, have a higher normal transport capacity but if you are willing to pay gold for the upkeep then you can upgrade any road to double the amount of food it can transport per week. If you're really desperate and the road is really poor you can upgrade a road several times, doubling your transport capacity each time, but that quickly becomes very expensive. And, naturally, you have to have a surplus of food in one city before it is available to transport to another city.

You can set city stockpile levels with the arrows in the city screen. Lowering the stockpile is useful if you need to free up supplies in City A so they can be transported to City B where there is an urgent need, but you need to be somewhat careful as it makes it easier to run out of food in City A.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 7, 2011 at 12:55 am

OK, so in addition to having to deal with enemies on several different fronts concurrently in real-time, you have to micromanage supply (food) as well? Yikes! I begin to think I'm safer dealing with the Russian Navy off Port Arthur and Vladivostok. lol ;o)

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 7, 2011 at 4:02 am

OK, so in addition to having to deal with enemies on several different fronts concurrently in real-time, you have to micromanage supply (food) as well? Yikes! I begin to think I'm safer dealing with the Russian Navy off Port Arthur and Vladivostok. lol ;o)

There's not really much to micromanage, as you build roads/routes cities will try to distribute food as needed, it's just a matter of planning the road network. As you push your borders farther and leave only a few garrison units in your central cities they'll make a lot more food than they can consume, extra food that you can load on slave/worker/ship units and stock it for major campaigns.

Also keep an eye for sheep. They will seldom respawn in Gold, but they can feed a whole army for several weeks, or quickly refill a city running low on food, so whenever you see one, capture it (consider launching a scout cav. raid to steal sheep in enemy territory if needed).

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 7, 2011 at 6:55 am

Really, there's no need for micromanagement as such. When you need to intervene personally is when a city has run out of food and is in rebellion (or on the way there) and in those cases knowing how to ship more supplies for an emergency will save you from having to recapture the city after it rebels. Early on every area you conquer will have adequate farms and it should all work in the background while you fend off raiders. Food management becomes more important later in the game as your empire grows as some cities have few or no farms of their own but need comparatively large garrisons. Then you need to make sure your transport network can give them enough food to last them through the year.

Level 8 Human gamer
Alignment: True neutral
Posted on July 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for the additional info on food guys. Yeah, I suppose from what you're saying it's not that big a deal. Anyway, the boxed version took a while to get here, but it arrived today. I will read the manual then give the Philip Campaign another try. Again though, it does seem that this game has the most innovative and different RTS system I've seen in many years. Having said that, it is too special and unique to give up on too soon. :o) On a related note, I'm really disappointed how the big gaming studios (EA, Blizzard, others) have seemed unwilling or unable to take chances and push the envelope of the RTS paradigm.