You may think it’s a bit late for me to only just start talking about Empire: Total War. The reason for said lateness is that I didn’t want to talk about it properly until I had started the Grand Campaign and getting there took a while.When Empire arrived I had a plan for playing it – I was going to do the Road to Independence (the introductory campaign) to get my head around any new mechanics and changes since Medieval II, then quickly move onto the Grand Campaign playing as the British and conquer the world. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as I expected. To start with The Road to Independence took ages. In fact, steam told me it took 24 hours of play and I never even did the fourth and final chapter of it which is the biggest by far. I decided to skip the final chapter partly because the first three taught me everything I needed to know and partly because I wanted to get stuck into some grand stratagem. Because TRtI was so long it put me about a week behind schedule (I don’t actually have a schedule but you know what I mean) but now the Grand Campaign has started properly don’t expect much more than E:TW talk on here for a while – it’s all I’m going to be playing.
The Grand Campaign starts and I’m given a bit of a briefing. I have around 6 territories already under my control, am allied with a couple of countries (notably the United Provinces and Prussia) and am a bit unfriendly with a couple of countries (notably France and Spain). I obviously have full control of the UK (I took care of that in Medieval II) but other than that I don’t control anything else in Europe. What I do have though is a few regions in and around the Caribbean, Florida, and a single region in Canada. What is quite interesting is that I’m a protectorate of the ‘Thirteen Colonies’ who hold a large portion of the east coast of America. Being a protectorate means they are like a sub-division of Great Britain but I have no control of them. If all this seems a bit of an overload, well yeah, it is. I was bombarded with all this information and just left to get on with building an Empire. Look at the campaign map it just shoved in my face:
Due to me being quite intimidated I decide I better take some baby steps and try to think about what to do logically. To start with I’ve got 7500 currency in my treasury so I blow most of this upgrading the farms/schools/buildings that are already built – I need to reinforce my economy and general infrastructure before I can even think about getting into a proper fight. Next I have a look through my diplomatic relations. I’m only actually at war with one country – the Barbary States. Digging deeper it seems that these are actually at war with literally everyone and hold a few regions on the northern tip of Africa. France and Spain are hostile towards me but we aren’t actually at war and there are a few countries which I’m on good terms with. I strike up trade routes with whoever is willing and ally up with anyone that is Protestant (Great Britains religion) and not allied with France or Spain. Next I look over at the America situation. There are plenty of little Indian tribes here that I can pick off but I don’t want to start a war yet as my Canadian region is isolated and vulnerable. I end my first turn without moving around any units and just concentrating on getting some stuff together.
The next turn is pretty much a repeat of the first. I know I need to do something but, to be honest, I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I consider picking a fight with France as they are closest but realise this would be stupid. To start a fight with someone so big now would be too expensive at such an early stage. Instead I gather an army together in order to go fight the Barbary States. Someone’s going to start taking them out soon, so I might as well take their regions for myself.
At the beginning of the third turn I’m given a mission by the Thirteen Colonies. They say if I take over 3 regions – (Quebec, Georgia, and Cherokee territory – all close together near the regions the Thirteen Colonies hold) that they will, in fact, coagulate with me. Now thats a mission. If they join me it will mean a massive economy boost, extra places to train troops, and probably a ready made army to use. Now that I have some focus I can actually get a move on. I start cobbling together an Army in the Caribbean to take Georgia and Cherokee territory and an Army in Canada to move onto take Quebec. Since I have a few troops doing nothing in the UK, I shove them onto a boat and transport them over to the Caribbean, though they will take some time to get over the big drink.
Georgia is owned by the Cherokee so taking that will mean starting a war with them. It is barely defended though and because I’ve got to start somewhere I move my Caribbean army over towards Georgia, declare war on the Cherokee, then forcefully take the Region. I basically just shelled the crap out of them with one fixed artillery gun until they ran into range of my muskets which I blew them away with. Silly Indians brought swords to a gun fight. Before taking another region off the Cherokee though I need a breather. If I spread myself too thin to start with I’ll be in trouble. I strike up negotiations with the Cherokee and they agree to a peace treaty for 500 currency. I don’t have much cash but I agree for the sake of keeping things calm for now.
As I wait for my re-enforcements to arrive at Georgia (the ones I sent on their way to the Caribbean) I look at my troops. I have a little army ready in the UK now so shove them into a boat and start point them towards the northern tip of Africa. Thats where I’m going to take on the Barbary States. This could go horribly wrong – I don’t know how much of an army they have but I guess there is only one way to find out so I just go for it. On landing in Africa it seems ok. The Barbary State region closest to me is barely defended, so naturally, I take it. This is a good start. The next turn though, I change my mind. I’m told the populace is already starting to rebel against me and I see there is a small Barbary State army on my doorstep – probably about to ask for their city back. Hmm…
So, it’s now 1703. I have expanded my Empire by two regions – one of whose citizens aren’t very happy about it. I started and ended a war with some Indians who I’m soon going to have to fight again for their homes, and I pissed off a nation who don’t seem to mind falling out with every other region in the world. I don’t know how good of a start I have made, but it is undeniably a start.Go me?