View Poll Results: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

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  • Golden Horde / Mongol invasion (Medieval, Medieval II)

    3 23.08%
  • Rome's Civil War (Rome Total War / Rome Remastered)

    2 15.38%
  • Realm Divide (Shogun 2)

    0 0%
  • Penalties for expansion, for example to diplomacy (Empire, Napoleon, Rome II)

    1 7.69%
  • Chaos Invasion (Warhammer II)

    0 0%
  • AI factions form coalitions (Three Kingdoms)

    4 30.77%
  • Adversary faction gets buffs (Troy)

    0 0%
  • None

    0 0%
  • Something else (please specify on the poll thread)

    3 23.08%
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Thread: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

  1. #1
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?


    • Golden Horde / Mongol invasion (Medieval, Medieval II)
    • Rome's Civil War (Rome Total War / Rome Remastered)
    • Realm Divide (Shogun 2)
    • Penalties for expansion, for example to diplomacy (Empire, Napoleon, Rome II)
    • Chaos Invasion (Warhammer II)
    • AI factions form coalitions (Three Kingdoms)
    • Adversary faction gets buffs (Troy)
    • None
    • Something else (please specify on the poll thread)
    Last edited by Alwyn; September 12, 2021 at 08:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Derc's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    That mega invasion in Thrones of Britannia came as a brutal surprise to an otherwise easy game and was a really great experience to make.

  3. #3
    alhoon's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    That is a very interesting thread ... which I cannot give an answer as I have played just a few minutes of 3K and I haven't seen many of the rest.

    Examples of what worked and didn't from the ones I saw:

    - Mongol invasion M2TW: It is interesting but it doesn't work if you're on the West. Gives you something good to fight. Now, if you're on the East and you haven't been prepared, it may well lead to Ragequitting. So... mediocre solution.

    - RTW civil war:
    Do you mean when we invade the senate and take out the other two Roman factions? By the time this happens, I can take them out in 3-4 turns at most. A yawnfest. Didn't work.

    - Realm Divide:
    NO!!!! I had to type that like 4 times because I was so agitated I was making misclicks and typos. No, not the original Realm divide. Never that. It comes quite early and even if you had read some things about it, you never really expect it. Even vassals you make AFTER Realm divide attack you. No, no, no, no.
    There's a reason every mod in S2TW changes the way Realm Divide works.

    - Penalties on Expansion: I liked the Attila (I think) version best: Some leaders like large empires (bonus) and some dislike them (penalty). Otherwise, the Expansion penalties in Rome 2 simply ensured that by late game everyone hates you, which is not a problem cause you have 20 provinces and make a ton of cash while they have perhaps a province-and-a-half and their armies suck. If they have MORE than a province? That's payday for you, cause they don't defend it. They declare war on you and it's like 3 turns of you taking undefended settlements before you see their armies.

    - Chaos Invasion: Not seen it, can't judge it.

    - AI factions form coalitions: That sounds the most realistic approach, but I haven't seen it and I haven't seen how it works.

    - Adversary faction gets buffs: That's not just Troy. Some mods (including mine for M2TW ) do it. And it works well-ish. Not perfectly, but well.

    - Attila's doomclock / M2TW pandemic that are not mentioned: Hitting your economy. Hurts. Hurts a lot. I stop my M2TW games before the plague. But I managed to work through Attila's climate change because it was less strong, incremental and I had alternatives. Attila's was challenging (the first time), M2TW plague is frustrating. Attila's was a nothing-burger once I knew what to expect and simply avoided buildings that would downgrade with climate change.

    In the end, what I think
    Tinkering difficulty towards the end has to be made right. I.e. not everyone will be ready for the sudden jump in difficulty when the Mongols arrive.


    So, here are my thoughts on When to raise difficulty and whether to do it incrementally

    R2TW incremental difficulty increase with how powerful you are is a good idea, but the hits you get are:
    - not that bad
    - Annoying and not fun.
    The incremental penalties to taxation (corruption, factions siphoning your influence, etc) is a good approach but it needs to be finetuned. But we're talking about the "when" here, so the "incremental" is best approach.

    S2TW approach to it, which is a switch from "everything's normal" to "Who are those guys and how the $#$# they found me on the other side of the map?" within a single turn is bad, but it is tied to your progress at least.

    M2TW approach of a sudden invasion, ready or not, close or not + an economy ruining plague, ready or not is the worse approach IMO. It doesn't ruin my game because these are not too bad.
    The "Somewhere between turn 100 and turn 120 an invasion starts, whatever your situation" is the worse approach.

    now that I ranked the "When", let's move to "How difficulty increases".

    Coalitions, that I haven't seen, seem a very realistic approach.

    Slow, incremental hits to your economy and not scalar raise to other things (i.e. say you get 100 technology per turn but only 3% increase from specialized buildings = someone with 20 settlements is not far outpacing someone with 3 settlements) are also a nice, realistic approach, when done in moderation.

    The "some guys like large empires, some dislike them and those guys change with time so the son of your loyal vassal may be strongly envious of your empire and your diplomacy should change" is also a very good approach.


    Civil wars: I like the Attila / latest R2TW parts where it happens when it happens and size plays a role.

    Invasions: As long as they happen when you get powerful and not a specific date, they are fun.

    Adversary factions getting buffs, is unrealistic. And fun. So... again in moderation.

    One morning everyone, and I mean everyone, hates you: No. Simply no. No, no, no, no. I can't say it enough times. No. No. Don't do that. No. Even if you survive the random clans you've never met attacking you and your vassals attacking you, it is war of obliteration. It is you against the entire world. Diplomacy may as well not exist. When you see you're close, you better make your clan self-sufficient financially, as you will not be trading.

    My preferred method:
    A mix of the above.
    Coalitions start to form against powerful empires.
    Modest penalties in diplomacy (that may turn minor bonuses).
    Minor penalties in economy combined with slow scaling food production and tech (having 30 settlements is better than 3 settlements, but not x10 better).
    Less faction stability with size.
    Modest (not game-ending) calamities that are tied to your power either in timing or in effect.
    And last, slightly shoe-horned, slightly explained small bonuses to AI factions as you become stronger, like they get an awesome general which you get a note of, or a couple of high-power agents, or their society comes together because of reasons, or silently and subtly get a small increase in economy or tech that is not explained and done for balance and challenge.

    And these done mostly incrementally and tied to your progress, like the R2TW imperium.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    Hated the civil war in rome so much. ed all my planning goals and had to fall back and save my arse.
    Golden Horde was also a nuisance but it was manageable by auto resolving battles by throwing cannon fodder peasant stacks to weaken them at first.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    I don't like gimmicky 'lets throw your work overboard out of nowhere' mechanics. But I do (for me anyways) like the idea of something that can be measured with the growth of your faction, as it becomes more unwieldy and thus has the possibility to split if not carefully handled. Perhaps a combination approach including coalitions by perceived threat level (extreme expansionism = your faction being a clear apparent threat to organize against), reasonable penalties that build with the faction and circumstances, and reasonable invasion and rebellion possibilities. Multiple factors that are not simply overwhelming or (totally) out of nowhere on their own, but build in difficulty as time goes on so as to limit the traditional Total War result of 'too big to fail'.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    Quote Originally Posted by Derc View Post
    That mega invasion in Thrones of Britannia came as a brutal surprise to an otherwise easy game and was a really great experience to make.
    I have yet to play that game, but it is interesting how the history of Britain from the Roman invasion to the Norman invasion is actually one mega invasion after another. I do not intend to derail this discussion into history or boardgames, but please let me recommend the boardgame Britannia if you are interested. Easy to learn, hard to master, and good fun for a group of 3-5 people (4 being optimum). I am ready to discuss these topics somewhere else if someone is interested.

    But the point relevant to this vote is that I suppose that a historically justifiable invasion that is just an invasion is much easier to accept than the kind of making the game unbearably hard on every level that many have experienced Realm Divide in Shogun 2 to be. I have not been there yet, but I read Alwyn's great review today and then some other opinions on the matter.

  7. #7
    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    What I personally value the most in the late-game challenges is their plausibility and not how hard they are to be overcome. Attila's solution is a good example. The Huns are really a pain, with their full armies getting instantly resurrected, unless their faction leader is killed five times, but it's a very annoying experience. Besides defying natural law, it is boring, unrewarding and encourages the player to take strategically unsound decisions: You must maul the enemy forces, but not wipe them out or otherwise they will get instantly replaced by a fresh and intact army.

    Overall, I am not completely satisfied with any approach, but I think Rome I had taken the correct path, but I don't mean the civil war, which was after all available only for the Roman factions. In my opinion, instead of resorting to the cheap and easy solution of throwing uncountable armies to the player (whose defeat is not even that difficult, since the implementation of the automatic and free replenishment), Creative Assembly should have tried to simulate the conditions that actually prevented huge empires from conquering the entire world. Did the Romans fail to conquer Germany, because the tribes had an infinite pool of manpower? No, ancient Germany was a poor province that couldn't generate large revenues and the lines of communication with the imperial center were too long and fragile to maintain a constant military presence.

    And here comes the "Distance from Capital" mechanic: The more distance there was between your capital and your province, the larger and the lower were corruption and public order respectively. This could lead to expansion actually negatively affecting your treasury. I always prioritise the economy, but I have often witnessed my income declining, while I launch large expeditions in isolated territories, like Texas as the Mayans, but also even the Balkans as the Persians. I didn't go bankrupt, because I had already deposited way too much money, but the problem lies with the economy (wealth is basically infinite and since Empire it increases exponentially) and not with the feature itself. I wish CA would invest more in that feature, instead of scrapping it completely. Having to deal with rebellions and budget cuts to secure your vast empire's frontier sounds to me more interesting and historically authentic than exterminating horde after horde.

  8. #8
    Iskar's Avatar Insanity with Dignity
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    Default Re: Which mechanic to increase the late-game difficulty do you prefer in Total War games?

    I never liked the Mongol/Timurid Invasions in Med II and usually countered them with "Secret Service Spam", using all my agents to murder all of their generals before they could take a settlement. Still, I had one of my most epic TW battles in Thrones of Britannia fighting off the entire Norman invasion force in a huge beach assault defense. So invasion forces are a mixed bag, really. It worked relatively well in ToB because it was announced long beforehand. Suddenly spawning revenge stacks as used in some mods are usually more annoying than entertaining and need to be well balanced and motivated. E.g. I hated it in TA:TW when I defeated the Easterlings only for them to spawn a fullstack of elite units out of nowhere despite having barely anything left. On the other hand we did use revenge stacks in the Italian Wars mod, but only for those major factions that had historical territories beyond the map (France, HRE, Spain, Hungary, Ottomans), so it was plausible they'd get reinforcements now and then.

    Artificially created civil wars, unmotivated maluses for you or bonuses for your enemies are mostly just an annoyance to me, as they also break immersion.

    Realm Divide is probably the stupidest way to create a late game challenge as it nullifies large parts of what's fun in the game. Basically everything alhoon said about this.

    I liked the Coaltion/Alliance/Empire mechanics from 3KTW a lot, as it allowed for an organic growth of power blocks that grow roughly proportionately to your own empire, while still allowing some interesting diplomacy with rebelling vassals, attempts to split a faction away from its coalition, or minor feuds that suddenly spread into major alliance wars. So I voted for this one.

    Whether or not the economy gets imbalanced in the late game is to me less a question of designing additional challenges and more of designing the economic system and building variety in the first place. As long as one avoid exponential growth mechanics like the economy/population values in Empire/Shogun 2, and adds sufficiently many, varied buildings with useful but not monetary effects, I think it will play out naturally that you will not experience exponential development of the treasury.
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