Part 4: Turn 4: Infantry Pancakes
Quiet turn today.
Here's what I'm up against.
Here's what my units decide to do.
In retrospect, the problem is obvious, as it always is. I set my ground troops to Hold, Then Attack. I set my Peltasts to Fire, in the hopes that this would mean "hold your ground until they arrive while filling them with javelins." It turns out it means "get in range, then fill it full of javelins". Since their javelins have approximately the same range as my elephant does, that means they run right the fuck up to the enemies and do their best to get massacred.
THANKS GUYS. APPRECIATED.
Three of them go down before my elephant catches up and flattens the enemy. The disadvantage is that now I have three fewer Peltasts. The advantage is that now I have three fewer Peltasts.
Turns out this province had some Crossbowmen also, and that reminds me to check my provinces for any juicy new recruits. I can get Archers from the last province and Crossbowmen from this province, but looking at them in detail, neither one of them is really all that good. They've got range - the range is pretty nice, honestly - but unless I'm going up against someone with a whole pile of unarmored troops, neither one is going to do all that much damage, thanks to low attack skill and low damage on the Archers.
The Crossbowmen do have a nice feature in that their attack is armor-piercing. They have a less-nice ability in that they only fire once every two rounds.
The real problem, though, is resources. There's no fort on either of these locations, and it's right next to my capital. By now, you should know why that's a problem. I can recruit approximately four from each location, and that's nowhere near enough to block out the sun with arrows. The added sheer logistical difficulty of getting the units to my capital makes it likely not worthwhile.
I'll have to keep these spots in mind, but I don't think it's worth burning money on quite yet.
Let's take a look at the main map.
What the hell is that north of my army?
That's enemy Dominion, folks. One black candle, contrasted with the white candles of my own dominion. Somebody's up there, and they're moving closer. I strongly consider trying to grab that location, as my army doesn't have anything else feasible in range, besides the Barbarians to the south and a small battalion of Heavy Infantry off to the east. Eventually I decide not to risk it - I'm not really starved for land in my current location and it's hard to spin "I saw your dominion and decided to attack" into something that looks politically good.
I wish strongly for an extra scout, but building a scout right now would cut into my Sibyl production. I pray for an independent province with scout construction.
I do, however, decide to hit up the Barbarians to the south of me. This is risky, and I know it's risky, but I suspect my elephant will live and I don't care so much about the rest of my troops. Next turn I'll have a squad of four elephants ready, with a little melee backup, and that should be enough to flatten most of the enemies around me. Including what's left of the Barbarians, if they manage to survive.
Let's Learn About The Game: Late Age Arcoscephale Units
So let's talk about units. I'll do the non-commanders this turn and the commanders turn after next, unless something else intercedes.
(Future Me: So, take this entire thing with a hefty salt lick. This is my evaluation of my units before I've actually used any of them, and some of my theorycrafting this early on turns out to not work quite as I'd expected. If someone reminds me, I'll do a Post-Game Unit Evaluation at the end with my new opinions of various units.)
Here's your basic Slinger unit. These guys? Crap. I will not build any ever. They actually have significantly longer range than my Peltasts, but they have worse everything else. For comparison's sake, 10 is considered "average" in most stats. Slingers are strongly below average in everything. They have less morale than my goddamn elephant does, and elephants are known for routing at unfortunate moments.
Admittedly, Slingers won't trample my army in the process either, but I rarely buy units based on their inability to do damage.
Here's my faithful Peltast. Now these guys are a bit better, and if it wasn't for their abysmal range, I'd quite like them. In order to see "range", you have to look at their weapon stats:
and for comparison, my Slingers have range 20 and the Crossbowmen/Archers are range 30. There's little else notable for Peltasts, aside from being a somewhat durable technically-ranged unit that can slog it out in hand-to-hand if absolutely necessary.
Moving up the ranks, we've got the relatively sturdy Phalangite. Notice the huge increase in Protection. Protection is a strict subtraction from all incoming damage, and these guys are armored enough that many attacks will simply fail to hurt them. Couple that with a reasonable Defence and they end up rather sturdy. But I'm not going to be using them either. You'll see why in a minute.
Arco's Hoplites are nearly walking tanks. They just don't take damage. Later on in the game we'll be dealing with forces that can easily paste these guys, but this early in the game, Hoplites are extremely heavy infantry. Coupled with this is a painful resource cost - 30 resources each, and at this point in the game I'm up to 148. But I'm going to be making limited use of them, at least early on, thanks to that extreme resource cost, relatively low damage output, and unfortunately slow speed. See that "Move 1 / 6"? That's Map Move/Battle Move. These guys only move one map square per turn, and when the majority of my other units are 2 map squares or better, keeping Hoplites around will slow my army down a lot. Right now, when I don't know where my enemies are, I need to stay mobile.
Now these are interesting units, and these guys you will see. Still reasonably heavy, and a much better (though not particularly notable) Defence skill. The real strength of these guys is their high Morale. 14 is fantastic for cheap recruitable units. Morale is what keeps forces from routing in battle, and it's squad-wide - mix a few of these units in with a lower-morale unit, and they'll effectively bolster the entire squad's spirits.
What low-morale unit might I have around?
Hey, yeah! Elephants! One big weakness of elephants is their low morale, but with Hypaspists backing them up, the elephants will stay in the fight far longer. You already know about the Elephant trample attack - with a few elephants and hypaspists hanging around, I'll be able to take on most independent provinces without any issue.
Backing up a notch, the Agema Companion is a unit that I'm not quite sure I know how to use properly. It's an expensive unit with a huge, huge movement and a lance. Lances are a bit special - you get a large damage bonus on the first attack, but not after that. If I have a situation where I need to soften up a front line I might get these guys, but they'll probably die shortly after and I'm just not excited by that. I'm probably underestimating them, however.
And then there's these guys, the giant apes of Bandar who are helping me out. Moderately heavy units who hit really fucking hard - their base damage is 19, which will punch through even a Hoplite's armor. They're not as durable as Hoplites or even Hypaspists, but they make for reasonable damage-dealing troops, and they're one of the few troops I have that takes more gold than resources. I've been recruiting these guys as I can fit them into my elephant/hypaspist queue, and you'll see them in action soon.
(Future Me: One downside to the Cerulean Warriors that I hadn't noticed is that they're Size 3, which means only 2 of them can fit into a square. (Maximum of six "size" in a square at a time.) This is a downside for melee units, since you want as many attacks as you can get. On the other hand: 19 base damage. It's a reasonable tradeoff.)
And finally, there's Heart.
If you look at their stats, they're nigh-identical to Hoplites. Slightly better defence, a little faster, and a whole hell of a lot more expensive. Their sole saving grace is that they're Sacred units, which means they can be Blessed to gain a bunch of large bonuses. This is fantastic if you've picked a pretender with ultra-high magic paths to gain huge Bless bonuses. However, Arco doesn't really have the sacred unit diversity to pull this off - I'd be stuck with a single kind of unit, those high magic paths are expensive, and it's just not worth spending the points on it. I will never recruit these units.
Here's how I'm ending the turn. My scout is continuing his path over to Fort Location Beta, I'm praying that I kill off the Barbarians, and next turn I'm going to be assembling a second army with my new independent commander and heading west.
Next: What the hell I'm doing with all those Sibyls.