Here marks the beginning of my latest attempt to take over the world.
Empire: Total War has drawn much critical acclaim, but has had a rough ride of things this year. A few glaring AI bugs have tarnished an otherwise masterful strategy experience. Now though, Christmas eve 2009, things are pretty polished, and it’s time to make some strong coffee, take control of the British and turn the whole map red.
Empire is a daunting game. You are required to micromanage your civilisation across three theatres. Europe, America and India. From the MPs who make up government to the level of tax in each region I will have to decide how exactly to grow my Empire. Should I drive for economic stability or military might? Those decisions will come in time, for now it’s best to concentrate on more menial matters.
My first move is an unglamorous one. I research Land Enclosures for my farmers. Now they’ll be able to upgrade their farms to hold animals and produce more food, which means faster population growth, which means more money through taxes and more emerging townships. Best to get the agricultural ball rolling as soon as possible to encourage prosperity.
My second move is to build a couple of Indiamen, small ships that can establish trade routes in the special trade theatres located on the Ivory Coast and South America. Britain already has numerous trade routes stretching around the world. The trouble is that at this early stage most of the profits from trade routes go towards sustaining the navy required to stave off the ever-present threat of Piracy on the high seas. If there’s one thing that’s going to allow me to remain one of the most powerful forces on the map, it’s having a superior navy. They’ll intercept attempts to invade the British Isles, protect my trade interests and let me ferry armies of my own between Theatres. I set my dock building an Admiral flagship and a couple of 4th Rate Ships of the Line to fill out my already sizeable aquatic forces.
Over to the Americas. I hold the Caribbean, a few tiny slices of land with a few exotic resources. There’s not much room for expansion on these tiny islands. They’re only really good as a launching point for my armies. Up north though I have a nice sizeable chunk of territory called Rupert’s Land. It’s got a port, space for expansion and a hell of a lot of fur. The major city in this land is a tiny cluster of a few upturned boats made into houses called Moose Factory. It’s only defence is a couple of units of untrained colonists and a Protestant priest. I train some Hessian Line Infantry to bolster their forces and send the priest off to evangelise in the capital of the surrounding territory, which belongs almost exclusively to the indigenous peoples of America, the Huron-Wyandot. Hopefully they don’t mind that a boat full of foreign colonists has just set up shop on the coast and started stealing all of the local resources and selling them overseas for great profit.
It turns out they mind.
There is an awkward moment as my Protestant Priest totters nervously past a huge Huron army crossing over the border into Rupert’s Land. The Huron-Wyandot promptly declare war on me. Now it’s official. I weigh up the chances of me holding Moose factory with my two untrained units. My conclusions? No chance. No chance at all.
Rupert’s Land is by far my best foothold in the Americas and I really, really can’t afford to lose it. Over in England I have a large army stationed near London led by the spectacularly competent John Churchill. I don’t have time to wait for my new ships to build so I put him and his forces onto a single tiny sloop and fire it off to America. It’ll take a while for them to get to Rupert’s land, but if I can hold it for just a couple of turns there’s a chance that reinforcements might arrive before the Huron have a chance to properly dig in.
John Churchill’s Sloop sets sail.
Elsewhere, after a tumultuous bit of international diplomacy Poland-Lithuania declares war on Austria, as does Prussia. I’d quite happily go to war with Poland-Lithuania but I need Prussia on side. There will come a time when the local colonial dragons France and Spain will turn their attention to nearby European territories with an eye to conquering them all, partly for the good of the Pope, but mainly for the many, many riches to be had. When that time comes I’ll need a few Protestant nations on side. I leave Austria out to dry.
I spend some time upgrading metal works in Birmingham and building yet more ships and watching the Huron edge closer to Moose Factory. Their army is huge. If they take the territory and build defences I have strong doubts that even John Churchill’s army will be able to shift them. I set Jamaica training Colonial Line infantry. John Churchill’s sloop will make a stop there to pick up additional forces before heading to Rupert’s Land.
My Land Enclosures come good. I upgrade all of my farms and set Cambridge researching Empiricism. This will allow me to upgrade my schools to colleges, speeding up research and spawning the occasional Gentleman, who grant additional bonuses when based in centres of learning. Isaac Newton is currently settled in Cambridge, he had spent almost a year researching fences to hold cows, he deserves a crack at something a little more academic.
Good news and bad news. Good news: John Egerton, 1st Lord of the Admiralty, has gained a Mistress. This makes him and all of the ruling classes a little happier, as it presumably gives them all something to gossip about over their brandy. The bad news, the large Huron Force finally reaches Moose Factory.
BATTLE REPORT – Huron-Wyandot first assault on Moose Factory
On the outset I’m not quite as outnumbered as I thought I would be. In the couple of turns it’s taken for the Huron to make their advance I’ve managed to bolster my defences with a couple of hastily trained units. The bad news is that there are no defensive structures to speak of at Moose Factory. Not even walls.
It looks like I’ll have to make my own. My Hessian Line Infantry can lay down a makeshift barrier to fire over. I place a couple of these side by side and stretch the rest of my units into long narrow firing ranks behind. I stretch out a wall of Pikemen in front of the trench structures to absorb the initial charge. The Huron will be forced to come forwards as they don’t have any ranged ability to speak of which means they’ll be forced to charge my gun line. My general is inexplicably based in a unit of Rangers, who I hide in a forest on the Eastern side of the map. If he gets taken out my undisciplined forces won’t hesitate to run away in the face of superior forces.
An ominous ‘DONG’ signals the start of the battle.
I’ve fielded an army of about 400, the charging Huron have 750. Initially the bulk of he enemy force charges towards me at one, but after a few moments a couple of their units diverge and head for the nearby forest. With a flash of panic I realise they’ve spotted my Rangers. It’s too late to have them flee towards the rest of my army, they’re cut off. A vicious fight ensues in the forest and only moments later, to the crack of hundreds of rifles and the cries of charging Huron infantry the main battle is joined.
The Pikemen do a sterling job of soaking up the charge. The mounted element of the Huron force dare not throw themselves on the mercy of the pike line, so tangle instead with the Line Infantry at the Eastern edge of my force. Under heavy fire the Huron force engaging the Pikeman lose their resolve and turn to flee the fight. I order my victorious unit to reform into a sturdier formation a few ranks deep. I’m hoping I can charge them into the increasingly violent melee on my Eastern flank, perhaps breaking the core of the Huron forces with a thrust to the flank.
Then, with little fanfare, my general is cut down. The forces engaging the Rangers in the forest finish off the stragglers and charge my already heavily engaged Line Infantry. It’s all too much for them and they break and flee. Without my general to keep order a wave of fear spreads through my army, and every man vacates their post, running for the edges of the battlefield.
The battle is lost. Moose Factory has fallen and Rupert’s Land, my only real presence in the Americas, becomes property of the Huron-Wyandot.
It’s going to be tough, but I’m resolved. If it means bankrupting the treasury then I’ll do it.
I’m getting Rupert’s Land back.