I recently completed the Empire campaign and there are lots of bone to pick in terms of game pace, economy, and unit diversity. I am however very pleased about the game diplomacy. Also in an unrelated news; Creative Assembly and Relic are joined with Amplitude (Developer of Endless Legend) under the same publisher, SEGA. I mentioned this because since Relic and CA collaborated in creating TW:Warhammer, it would be very interesting to see what CA can come up with collaborating with Amplitude. Would we see customizable units like in Endless Legend? We’ll explore more about this below.
As a faction, The Empire is very weak in terms of individual unit. They, however, have a very diverse selection of units. The units rely heavily on the player to tactically maneuver them to get and advantage on a losing situation. Often time, I’ve overcome some outnumbered situation by simply taking advantage of The Empire’s access to fast moving cavalries. This is not a faction who can survive a blow-for-blow exchange. This is a faction who’s main advantage is in hit-and-run tactic.
My battle formation
The default unit formation is horrible. I always have to rearrange them every battle because it just won’t work. So my battle formation is this. Basically, I’ll have shielded spearmen at the front row followed by shielded swordsmen. At the flank are 2 rows halbrediers and crossbowmen at the 3rd row. These units are positioned at the center of the battlefield. My cavalries are positioned to either far left or far right depending on the terrain. Their job is to be the hammer and the spearmen to be the anvil, but their first priority is to eliminate any siege unit.
The tactical maneuver
With my battle formation, it is easy to move troops around. Fighting with the Vampire Counts, who like to rush with wolves and attack from behind. I can easily move my swordsmen to cover the rear. When fighting with the dwarves or other humans, the second row (swordsmen) will split and contain the enemy right down the center. The halberdier on the second row will reinforce the middle. At this point, my line now shapes like a bowl and all I have to do is run my cavalries right down the center behind the enemies. This maneuver, however, does not work against Chaos units — they’re just too strong and my spearmen just melt.
Anti-Chaos formation and tactic
Fighting Chaos is a whole different ball game. They are simply too strong for my spear- and swordsmen. The only course of action is to create an all cavalry army and win using divide and conquer approach. With this army, the idea is to split the enemy forces by luring their fast unit away from their main army, obliterate them since their cavalries are obviously outnumbered, then attack the main forces from all sides. This tactic will take advantage of the charge ability to deal a lot of damage then withdraw while the unit is staggered. Without their cavalry support, the main forces start to panic due to their exposed flank and unit losses. After a few more minutes, their units start to route and this is when I continue the assault until they break. This tactic also minimizes my losses, albeit it’s a very expensive army, while my main army stays behind just in case their’s a retaliation.
For the reasons that Chaos is too strong, I have no choice but to ally with other humans and the dwarves. In addition to Chaos, there are the Skaelings and the Vargs who just kept on coming. With allies, they can buy me time to replenish my forces. Unlike in Rome II, when I issue a target, I can see right away that my allies are moving troops to the target I’ve suggested. In Rome II, and even in Shogun II, my allies are simply not doing anything and often time I have to fend for myself, thus I don’t even bother with diplomacy in those games. In other words, the AI is more reasonable since they don’t have any pre-existing bias toward any faction — it makes the game less monotonous. There is one thing I still cannot figure out is how can I convince a human faction to join my empire by forming a federation. I guess another play through.
Bones to pick
The Empire is not a very good faction. The only real good unit is the tank because this thing can soak a lot of damage while dishing out a lot of damage in return. The magic in this game is fine, the only problem is the fact that the magic resources is simply horrible. It would have been better to simply add a recharge on the spells rather than requiring a mana. Even a high-level bright mage is useless when the mana pool goes empty, so there’s no point hiring them at all. Also the fact that heroes do not die (at least in this play through), it’s difficult to manage them and they are taxing my economy by a lot. Not only that some spells are not cost-effective, the effect of the spells and abilities does very little in combat. A fireball should obliterate an entire skeleton unit, unfortunately, the spell damage is simply pathetic. Hopefully they will rebalance the unit in their first patch.
Total War: Endless Legend?
SEGA’s acquisition of Amplitude has a mixed reaction from fans. A lot of them support the decision and a lot of them condemns it. My take on this issue is simple; they at least didn’t partner with evil EA and money grabbing Activision. I can never forgive EA for what’s happening to BioWare. In my opinion, SWTOR:KotFE, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Mass Effect 3 are all EA’s fault why these games are so horrible. I love the original SWTOR design until they funnel every class into a one-size-fits-all class called Outlander — it’s very stupid. I hypothesize that EA insisted this rather than allowing BioWare design the game they way it should be. DA:I is the same thing. The game is designed to be this open world, probably trying to be Skyrim in scale, but falls flat. The game feels rushed and the story is incomplete. Then there’s Mass Effect 3, another game that’s been rushed because EA wants the cash. Activision is behind the price increase of the World of Warcraft expansion. While FFXIV sells their expansion at $40, Blizzard sells theirs at $50. I played both expansions and Warlords is not worth $50 even with the character boost (I bought the xpac at discounted price). The money grab is too fucking obvious. SEGA, on the other hand, have not pissed me off yet and do far I’m loving the games coming from them (Rome 2 + DLC, Shogun 2 + DLC, Dawn of War I and II, Total War: Warhammer, etc.). I own Endless Legend and I’m really glad they choose to join CA and Relic under SEGA. I can’t wait for a collaboration game like TW:Warhammer. Probably I’ll see a Total War game where the units can be equipped and customized. Or an Endless Legend style (or Civ style) campaign map but with Total War battle. The possibilities are “endless”.