Bangalore Galore – An Empire: Total War AAR

By Tim Stone on March 2nd, 2009 at 2:21 am.

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My thoughts on Empire: Total War are still a bit jumbled. While I unjumble them (in readiness for a Wot I Think) I thought I’d share a short battle narrative with you. The following heavily illustrated After Action Report is a True and Accurate Account of the Bloody Battle of Bangalore,1714, the latest scrap from my current grand campaign. The glorious Maratha Confederacy (that’s me) has been distracted from its subjugation of the northern Mughals by an unprovoked attack by the cowardly Mysorians. A couple of territories were lost before I was able to assemble a scratch expeditionary force in Hyderabad and march out to meet the new foe. Just outside Bangalore my general-less rabble faced their first test…

On paper things don’t look too promising. Not only does the Mysorian force outnumber mine by around 500, it’s led by a man whose name would score 3784 in Scrabble. The only faintly encouraging thing about the line-up is Bandyopadhyay’s lack of cavalry. Apart from a few mounted archers, his army is completely devoid of hoofed components

The venue turns out to be short on woodland and hillocks and long on farmland and gentle slopes. Good cannon and cavalry country. I’m defending a hamlet located on rising  ground on the western edge of the map. At its centre is a garrisonable pavilion. Using tactics honed in the foothills of the Himalayas, I deploy my musketmen in jagged lines, hoping the hovels in the village will help fragment any assault and funnel attackers into discrete killzones. My one cannon battery  is positioned on the right flank atop a useful knoll. My one specialist melee unit – a squad of Hindu swordsmen – watches over them. Tucked away behind trees and buildings on the left flank is my secret weapon, three precious clusters of lancers.

Holy Brahmin Bull! There’s fouzands of ‘em! As the Mysorian hordes materialise in the hazy distance and begin advancing on our position, I can almost hear the gasps of disbelief and muttered prayers of my men. For the moment there is nothing they can do but watch, wait, and fill the gaps gouged in formations by the enemy’s cannonballs.

With the enemy line perhaps 500 metres from mine, my lancers move out. Trotting then galloping they charge down the left flank, and swing round behind the Mysorian line and run parallel to it. Concerned formations swivel to engage them. A few give chase. Chaos reigns. The attack is losing its shape. Splendid.

As the lancers continue to harry, never quite engaging, some undistracted sections of the Mysorian army reach the outskirts of the village and start exchanging musket volleys with the defenders. The battle proper has begun. Bodies crumple into the dry grass, smoke swirls and drifts. Thinned by vicious swarms of canister shot, the first enemy formation breaks and runs. Keep it up lads!

At the other end of the battlefield my weary cavalry, almost by accident, find themselves, a short distance from the Mysorian artillery positions. Lance tips are dipped and spurs are applied. The hapless gunners stand little chance.

Recovering somewhat from its earlier disarray, Bandyopadhyay’s forces have arrived in strength on my left. In an effort to reduce the growing pressure on the pavilion defences I rush three reserve units into a flanking position. The manoeuvre pays off. Several enemy formations are caught in vicious crossfire and fall back.

After silencing the guns, the lancers have trotted back up the left side looking for a chance to charge the knot of mounted archers that includes Bandyopadhyay himself. No opportunity presents itself so they make another spoiling ride across the front. Lines forming up for a second attack are once again thrown into confusion. An isolated band of bowmen on the right flank are swept into oblivion.

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Two of my hastily committed reserve units are peasant militia – horny-handed farmhands with home-made matchlocks. The ferocity of the fighting around the pavilion is too much for one of them. My first rout of the battle. Hopefully the panic won’t spread.

Over on the right, for the first time, my canister-spitting cannons are seriously threatened. Two lines of enemy musketmen are a short dash away. I spot the danger in the nick of time and unleash my  hitherto unused Hindu swordsmen. The turbaned maniacs charge down the slope, raised blades glinting in the sun. After a minute or two of stabbing and slashing they crumble the first line, and, as they seem to be enjoying themselves so much, I order them to charge the second.

Wherever you look now there are white Mysorian flags fluttering. Bandyopadhyay seems to be mustering what’s left of his force for a final assault on the pavilion. His own archers arc arrows onto the flat roof of the building. Bargirs fire back at them from behind sawtooth crenelations. Musketmen edge forward and are driven back by a hailstorm of lead. Perhaps sensing the last chance of victory has slipped away, the Mysorian leader charges his own horsey formation into the corpse-strewn pavilion yard. A musketball knocks him permanently from the saddle.

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106 Comments »

  1. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Wow, you trashed them.

    What difficulty settings were you on?

  2. Pags says:

    That image of the Hindu swordsmen charging into the first line is nothing short of epic. I’m looking forward to reading Wot You Think.

  3. Mr. Hobo says:

    Awesome Read! Can’t wait for this game. I ROFL at “Not only does the Mysorian force outnumber mine by around 500, it’s led by a man whose name would score 3784 in Scrabble”

  4. Pags says:

    Also, you must have a beefy rig, because those screenshots look damned purdy. Unless Empire’s just really well optimized…

  5. Muzman says:

    That lead screenie looks like a conga line.
    Just sayin’. I’ll go read the article now.

  6. noexes says:

    Also, you must have a beefy rig, because those screenshots look damned purdy. Unless Empire’s just really well optimized…

    From my time with the demo I think it’s both. Thumbs up to Creative Assembly.

  7. thefanciestofpants says:

    I goddamn love total war. Cannot wait cannot wait cannot wait.

  8. Poindexter says:

    I cannot wait for this game. Too bad I have several papers and a presentation to keep me away from playing it when it comes out…

  9. Ben Abraham says:

    This was great!

  10. DigitalSignalX says:

    You didn’t stand in front of your ranks, moon the enemy commander and give a speech ending in FREEDOMMMM!!!!™ ?

    Ahh nothing says war like hundreds of men standing in orderly lines waiting to shoot/stab other orderly lines of men. Though I imagine having your groups dissolve into chaos once the shooting/stabbing starts would be a bit *too* realistic.

  11. Radiant says:

    What kind of fool fights with no cavalry in a total war game?!?
    A crushed and crying fool!

    I love total war most when it’s epic-ness bumps up against my own plans.

    Enemy General: “What are those Elephants doing on that hill to our left?”
    Elephants: “Nuffing”
    General: “You sure?”
    Elephants “Yep just getting a drink… you got any mice?”
    General: “No…why?”
    Elephants: “No reason”

  12. CannedLizard says:

    God those graphics are amazing. Looks like another killer Total War.

  13. Alex says:

    Look what you’ve done, you’ve only made me go and pre-order it now. Great article.

  14. Rich_P says:

    More AARs by Tim Stone, please.

  15. Krupo says:

    If they had an interesting pre-order deal I would be pre-ordering it right now.

    As such, come Tuesday it’ll be a case of figuring out which retailer is breaking ranks and offering a deal… then instant sale!

  16. Calistas says:

    Welcome to your cross posting ping thing to afteractionreporter.com :)

  17. DMcCool says:

    Fantastic Article, this game looks like a whole new type of Total War bliss. The most tantalizing bit seems to be just how much the mechanics of land battles have ACTUALLY changed, and if all reports so far are anything to go by, they’ll be at least as epic or even more so than the battles we’ve seen before.

    The only other, childish thing I have to do is point out the real-world significance this line “he hapless gunners stand little chance.” holds for many Englanders.
    Sorry.

  18. Fumarole says:

    Yes, more AARs from this gent please.

  19. DMJ says:

    The fact that this was posted after 2am (and on a school night too) says a lot for its “just one more turn – is that dawn I see?” draw.

  20. Lord Forkington says:

    Quick question – How did your enemy manage to kill 100 of his own men?

  21. Fumarole says:

    Quick question – How did your enemy manage to kill 100 of his own men?If I recall correctly, starting with Medieval 2 casualties were not always killed.

  22. Mike says:

    A similarly epic AAR for Rome: Total War begins here:
    http://houseofjimius.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/i-270-266bc/
    And is rather good.

  23. Ginger Yellow says:

    WANT

  24. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Pre ordered and sort of twiddling my thumbs (well – not really I’m still only half way through DOWII) while I wait for it to come out.

  25. Feet says:

    Awesome AAR Tim, I love reading this kind of thing.

  26. Reid says:

    Another RPS article makes me want to buy a game I was convinced I wouldn’t pick up

  27. Heliocentric says:

    I never end up playing these games with that much passion. Its always generic infantry blocks 1 through 10, generic archers 1 through 5. The idea of reserves always seems meaningless as it involves holding forces back making them useless in the melee. Eh. I should play on harder difficulties but that just feels like setting my morale low. These thoughts are from rome total war mind you.

  28. Uglycat says:

    The Hindu swordsmen *crumble* the line? Is this some vicious breading culinary tactic forged in Hindu Kush?

  29. Mark-P says:

    I’d have to second the initial request for more info on the difficulty setting you’re using Tim. I’m still feeling burned by Medieval 2, where even a mediocre RTS clutz like myself can consistently humiliate the flailing AI on even the highest difficulty settings.

    It does look oh so pretty though. :O

  30. Tim Stone says:

    There are four notches on the battle difficulty slider and I’ve been playing on the third, so that would be ‘hard’ assuming the notches stand for easy/normal/hard/veryhard.

    If the Mysoriams had fielded some cavalry (which AI forces usually do) things could have gone very differently.

  31. Don says:

    >the Mysorian leader charges his own horsey formation into the corpse-strewn pavilion yard. A musketball knocks him permanently from the saddle.

    Hmm, didn’t I read something about ‘no more suicidal generals’ in E:TW? Perhaps what the meant was that AI generals commit suicide at the end of the battle, as distinct from the start in the previous TW games.

  32. dartt says:

    A great read Tim, it’s great to hear the facts and figures about new features and mechanics but you can’t beat a rousing war story to get me excited about a game.

    Roll on Friday!

  33. UncleLou says:

    Awesome.

    I’ve bought a new graphics card just to do this justice. In the past, Total War games have always been released when I was just so getting by, but could never whack them to the max, and once I had upgraded, I had already lost interest and the next, shiner TW game had been announced. Can play the demo in 1680*1050 with AA and everything turned to 11 now. \o/

    Sorry for the unashamed upgrade-geek-bragging, but I am just so happy. ;-)

  34. MeestaNob says:

    Questshun for Tim!

    Does Empire run better (ie loading times) in the full version that the demo? I only ask because no matter how good the game is, the disgraceful 4+ minute load times are a Total Dealbreaker.

    Great article too.

  35. reiver says:

    >Hmm, didn’t I read something about ‘no more suicidal generals’ in E:TW? Perhaps what the meant was that AI generals commit suicide at the end of the battle, as distinct from the start in the previous TW games.

    I think it was more meant as the Ai wouldn’t treat his general as just another piece of heavy cav and sacrifice it at the start of the battle in a head-on charge into pikes. In the situation Tim describes it seems an appropriate point to throw the General into battle.

    Thanks for the AAR Tim. If posssible could you describe how reinforcements work as there’s some ambiguity over it. Is it possible to have more than 20 of your units on a battlefield at once (ala RTW and M2) or will it be limited to 20 with a 1 in 1 out system (like the original Medieval). Cheers.

  36. UncleLou says:

    I only ask because no matter how good the game is, the disgraceful 4+ minute load times are a Total Dealbreaker.

    I’ve read this so often now that I don’t believe it is hyperbole anymore – while loading times are noticably longer than in Medieval 2, I’d say they were under 1 minute. Bog-standard hard-drive in my PC.

    Do you maybe have 2GB or less of Ram? I guess this can make a huge difference.

  37. BooleanBob says:

    I could easily read a whole campaign history of this stuff. Key battles, wider context, vying factions, all that. This would save me a) having to buy the game, b) having to admit that my computer cannot possibly run the game, c) having to actually play the game myself, which usually takes just a little too long, with a little too much micro-managing macro-sized forces, and a little too much geisha/shinobi/soft, stabbable general’s neck endgame for me to ever find the series as fun to play as it is to imagine playing. Or read about someone else playing for me.

    Which was meant to be a compliment to Tim, but got tangled up in the usual griping. Keep up the good work Tim.

  38. Andrew says:

    Oh, man, I cannot wait for Empire. The feverish daydreaming will start soon so it’s just as well I pre-ordered it.

  39. Andrew says:

    Oh, and as to the demo’s load times, they’re because the whole demo is packed and compressed to reduce the demo’s download size and it needs to be uncompressed every time you load a battle.

  40. lanster says:

    This sounds like an awesome game. I always thought that in Rome Total War it was hard to outmanuever the AI because they seem to counter everything. But your battle has shown that in Empires, AI play much more realistic and fun.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    That is bad demo design, uncompress on install. Any word on the multiplayer campaign?

  42. mbp says:

    Hats off to your Generalship sir. Truly a stunning victory.

    You have well whetted my appetite for this game.

  43. Don says:

    @Reiver – In the situation Tim describes it seems an appropriate point to throw the General into battle.

    No it doesn’t. A General’s job is to manage the battle, not fight it. And if the battle is being lost he should try to withdraw his troops in the best order possible and save his own skin. By the 18th century army commanders had pretty much given up leading the charge. Plenty of them still got killed of course because they still had to stay near the front and got clobbered by artillery and so forth but few of them voluntarily engaged in combat.

  44. reiver says:

    That may be true but CA have once again made the General unit a combat unit (personally i’d have prefered them to be a 4 man unit seperate from the 20 with no combat skills). Not that all Generals stayed out of the battle. Wellesley got stuck in at Assaye.
    Not that that’s the issue. You’re talking about the suicide General problem from RTW and M2 where the enemy would cheaply throw away his general. That’s not the case here and this combined with personal experience from the demo says that they have sorted this issue.

  45. Kieron Gillen says:

    Yeah, I’ll vote for a lack of suicidal general. Generals get involved and die, but they’re guarded. The Enemy AI also really know how important your general is – there was one horrific battle where the Cherokee piled en masse towards mine, which I’d left in a relatively weak position.

    KG

  46. Aubrey says:

    Wait, are after action reports generated into a narrative?

    I’d love to be able to do things like that. Get some generative text into games a bit more. Like the Hitman news reports, but… more detail.

  47. Quine says:

    Good read- I salute your indefatigability in the face of Mysorian peril!

    So this Total War has multiplaye campaign mode yes? An RPS grudge-match campaign with spiffy AAR write-ups would be an entirely good idea, or at least a few selected battles with hand-picked sides.

  48. Kieron Gillen says:

    It won’t have it on release, but apparently eventually.

    And, yes, it’s an idea we’ve considered, shall we say.

    KG

  49. Ginger Yellow says:

    ” An RPS grudge-match campaign with spiffy AAR write-ups would be an entirely good idea, or at least a few selected battles with hand-picked sides.”

    Yes please. 1Up has a similar, very enjoyable, running feature, Tom vs Bruce, but with different games each time. A grudge match format could make it even better.

  50. Wacky says:

    Excuse my ignorance,what is an AAR?