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Topic Subject: The nomadic tribes: opening moves guide
posted 12-06-13 11:47 AM EDT (US)   
since all 3 nomadic cultures start in roughly the same location and with roughly the same units it stands to reason to unite them under one article. this article also contains battle tips to those unaccustomed to the whole "Mongol" battle style.

Geo-political situation:
The steppes are home to about 6 factions which share the nomadic horse archer lifestyle. of those 3 are playable: the skirmish focused Scythia, the lancer focused Roxalanii and the heavy armor focused Masagatei. You can choose to either conquer them or merge with them for a hefty sum of money. Various other cultures await on the edge of the steppes, waiting for sings of weakness. Persians to the east, pontics to the south and Dacians to the west. your settlements are few and far between so it will take some diplomacy to give you a fighting chance. Get caught fighting on 2 fronts and the reinforcements will never make it.

Military situation: the nomads can raise large armies very fast (5 per turn) as long as they have the money. their horsemen and especially horse archers are unmatched and will obliterate stack after stack of "eastern spearmen" with no casualties. the big problem is as with any barbarian faction-money. unlike that cheating AI you will need about 50 turns to field two full stacks for purely financial reasons. a good idea to consider is to leave armies on raiding stance to reduce their high upkeep costs.

Strategic situation: with the AI having access to virtually unlimited cash the first 15 turns go down like a c&c game: who can raise a full stack first. with your "kings purse" or whatever Rome 2 calls it you can recruit and maintain almost a full stack of horse archers before the other guys and rush them. speed is key here because if you give them breathing room they will win the arms race and leave you with no cash to resist the waves of invaders they will throw at you.

turns 1-8: the blitz-
buy any armored mercenary on the very first turn.if you don't buy them the enemy sure will. don't bother with trade agreements- the AI demands a payment of 10 turns up frost and they will be dead by the time you will make a profit from that investment.disband any infantry!5-6 shots from horse archers will kill them all. force your enemy to come to you by placing a raiding army on their side of the border while another one inside your border is recruiting horse archers. work the first military tech-tree to unlock those sweet armored horse archers ASAP. send the spy to see the enemy on the way and hopefully catch them force-marching. during your first battle have your horse archers melee-charge the enemy's- as they try to retreat because of skirmish mode your horse archers will knife them in the back. firendly fire means a lot of micromanagement is needed. never charge 2 horse archers at the same unit! build the green horse building to unlock advanced cavalry units. set taxes to minimum- population growth is your number one priority.

turn 8-15:the charge-
this early on you should focus on taking the top-right edge of the map until you run into some larger Persian faction who will be too busy on the south to fight you. complete your "side-quests" missions for some sweet money and try to unite a province under your flag. work on unlocking some melee cavalry because your enemies have nothing that can realistically stop them. The cost of having a faction join your confederacy starts at a whopping 5000- conquering them will cost half of that and also not slow down your economic development. !important!: if you do get a faction to confederate with you, you get their armies as well. a big, expensive and useless pile of light horse archers that will drain your economy. as soon as you can recruit armored horse arches disband the light ones-they are now obsolete. the heavy variant is just as fast but can also take some arrow fire and even make the good old flanking charge that kills the infantry. stay on the army unlocks tech tree until you get to the before-last one that gives you the 60+ charge bonus cavalry. you now have access to the most powerful shock cavalry in the game. if they catch ANYTHING that is not in a formation they will rout them with a charge. get 6-8 of these guys and another 6-8 heavy horse archers and you can take on any army the AI will throw at you. another important tip for using lancer cavalry is that they need to be fully formed (stop moving and get into alignment with the yellow arrows) to charge a unit with the full bonus. make sure that when flanking you give them the 20-25 seconds to fully form up before they press home. this is literally a life and death difference.

turn 15-30: keep pushing to the east until you meet a non-hostile neighbor (usually Parthia) and turn all your forces west towards the black sea and the Caucasus. one of those factions will declare war on you by themselves and send a stack of spearmen mixed with slingers and mounted javelinmen to give you a scare. their cloth armor will make for a lot of spitted corpses. deploy an agent or two to watch the borders for any incoming attacks and launch your main army for some conquest. keep a sharp eye on your income- if it drops below 1000 you should consider disbanding units. also a good idea will be to maintain a sizable garrison army to defend against invading armies. your garrisons are normally quite big and can take out half a stack by themselves but a your weak melee infantry mean you will be overwhelmed by a larger force. if somebody offers you a non-aggression pact it is usually wise to take it- it means that faction is getting murdered on another front and will soon die on their own.bring an army to their border to grab a settlement right after it gets conquered by another faction. keep disbanding units as you unlock more and more powerful cavalry. Once you get the powerful shock/melee/armored cavalry you wanted start researching those settlement upgrades. Try to pace yourself, DO NOT move conquering armies out of a settlement before you converted the village to have a proper garrison. with the death-match going on in the region a full stack of potential enemies is never more than 2 turns away from your unprotected settlement. that is what the garrison army is for! always have it 1 forced march turn away from the newly-acquired lands.

turn 30 and beyond: slow and steady-
money is increasingly becoming an issue for your expansion. with trade being completely not cost-effective you must rely on yourself to maintain those big,strong armies without slowing down development. try to cut a deal with a large faction in the Caucasus or black sea shore to stop worrying about that border altogether. try to live within your means and with any luck 4 filed armies and 2 garrison armies are all you will need. remember that an army garrisoned in one settlement improves public order for the whole province. try to acquire mercenary heavy infantry and elephants. despite their high cost your tech tree gives them huge charge and melee attack bonuses which means most enemies are swept away by a single well-coordinated charge.
As you come within reach of central Europe more and more heavy spearmen/phalanx will stand in your way. since you are completely unequipped as a faction to deal with that the wise choice is to expand south to Mesopotamia, turkey and Egypt where there are almost no heavy infantry that can survive the deadly arrow barrage and charging lancers. focus on economy and culture technologies because, if you choose your enemies wisely, the world has no match for your hordes.
posted 12-06-13 04:53 PM EDT (US)     1 / 3  
I'm curious to try this out. My experience with horse factions is minimal so the tactics tips seeded throughout was nice. Good article.

Life was much easier before I developed a sense of ethics.
posted 12-07-13 04:20 AM EDT (US)     2 / 3  
It's interesting how much playing in Co Op changes things, currently playing with a friend with both of us as nomads, I'm taking the east and he's taking the west.

It is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another - Lucretius
posted 12-07-13 01:57 PM EDT (US)     3 / 3  
The real issue comes around turn 30-money.
Unlike the civilized factions your settlements don't generate enough income to support more than 3 units each. growth is very slow and you have no buildings to balance out the public order damage caused by every level 3 building. That forces you to keep taxes on minimum because you don't have enough money to both fight foreign enemies and resist revolts.forget about getting trade agreements without paying x20 of the income as a bribe. after a few runs i figured out that the cheapest way is having a lot of non-aggression pacts and downsize your army to a bare minimum. once someone attacks you they die fast and bloody but until then you can channel money towards economic development.
Total War: Rome 2 Heaven » Forums » Guides & Articles » The nomadic tribes: opening moves guide
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