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Thread: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

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    Default CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    It seems to me that the TW formula has always lent itself well to playing as a faction that starts off small, a burgeoning 'underdog' which you steer to greatness against stronger foes.

    In the case of the opposite, however, the 'declining established powers' tend to be less convincing. I guess there are real limitations on how well you can recreate internal instability and administrative difficulties in running huge empires in TW games, considering the series' focus on battles and warfare. Nonetheless, when you look at RTW's Seleucid Empire, ETW's Mughal Empire, TW:A's Roman Empires, it usually seems like they can only barely summon up a couple of paltry armies before inevitably being completely steamrolled a few turns into the game. I always found this overly deterministic, because although these states were on the way downhill in the time when their games start, in most cases they were able to last far longer and put up more of a fight than their TW equivalents. Mods often remedy this, so given that I've only played up to Attila, I wanted to ask fellow TW gamers if you feel it has been the same in more recent titles? And regardless, does this trope ever bother you?


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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    On the one hand I've always seen a big player faction as an inevitable win in pretty much all games except when they start out prebuilt big, mainly because a player's "big" infrastructure is always more sustainable than a prebuilt "big" (unless it is carefully engineered for the AI's quirks typically with in-setting 'unrealistic' resources. On the other hand I think a CA answer to this is inevitably adding cheap drawbacks to player gameplay that makes it sloggy, while adding cheats to the big faction instead of something more fundamental that makes big factions a different set of strengths and weaknesses + the AI more skillfully handling the scale. It's a thin line I don't think CA has ever properly managed, and I don't think it will ever be properly managed until the basic intelligence of the AI reaches a new level so there isn't so much of a distinction between player built big, prebuilt big and AI built big. So I think any improvements to the plausibility fall on this line. Food for thought, I guess.
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    Abdülmecid I's Avatar ¡Ay Carmela!
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    I would say that it has actually worsened in the latest games. In Rome I, the Seleucids were always screwed, but that is largely because they were the most unfairly implemented faction. For practical and somewhat contradictory reasons (basically no time/resources to design Central Asia, but Creative Assembly also wanted to add Parthia), the Seleucids are less than half of their actual size and are encircled by inflated enemies. Pontus, Parthia and Armenia were much smaller in 270 B.C. and the Egyptians benefit a lot from their rich and sheltered province and especially from chariots being over-powered in auto-resolve. On the other hand, in Barbarian Invasion, the Roman Empires were designed more carefully. They almost always retreated, but I never saw them getting completely wrecked, despite having to face hordes and an economy purposefully built in a bad manner.

    In Empire, the situation has deteriorated, mainly because there is an immense difference in the wealth of the various provinces. Palestine, Baluchistan etc. are extremely impoverished and basically a burden in the early game. Meanwhile, the Carnatic region is literally drowned in precious gems. So, what happens is that the Maratha can afford large armies in a small front, while the Mughals, with an even smaller force, need to guard essentially the entire sub-continent. However, as the game progresses, the differences between the regions become smaller, depending on how provinces are developed. India has a huge growth potential, which means that an eventually industrialised Mughal Empire will be much more prosperous than the Maratha and their shiny stones. Usually, the Mughals are wiped out, before the first factory has been built, but, if the Maratha are delayed, then the Mughals will most probably prevail. That's what happened in my last campaign as France. The Ottomans on the other hand don't have the same potential and are also crippled by the Bosporus Strait bug, so they are almost always destroyed by whoever dominates central Europe (usually Austria, but sometimes also Poland or Prussia).

    In Rome II and Attila, large factions are doomed for the opposite reason: Wealth is almost identical, so Carthage is almost as rich as the Sahara. Normally this wouldn't cause any problems, but the balance is thrown away, because of how the AI cheats work. Every faction is receiving a standard amount of money, besides its revenue from mining, taxes, trade etc.. That gift, however, presents a huge percentage of their total income. So, if an empire can normally afford two armies and an extra third, thanks to the cheats, a faction half their size will deploy two, one thanks to their "natural" income and the other through cheating. Consequently, the analogy has already been disturbed. Their military ratio is 3/2 instead of 2/1. Considering that larger factions inevitably border several minor factions, they are eventually getting overwhelmed and their numerically inferior troops are defeated in a war of attrition.

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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    Yes, I agree, seeing pretty much every major power collapse so easily is off putting for me too. In Rome 2 I could only curb minor factions by using mods that nerf their monetary bonuses and one that gives some factions an artificial edge in autoresolve. Attila is even worse to balance, since a slight nerf for the barbarians may turn them into non-threats (so no fun lol).

    That is one of the (kinda silly, I admit) things that put me off about 2tpy or 4tpy campaigns, like in mods as Stainless Steel or vanilla Attila: major empires fall way too soon (considering the games' timeframe) and too easily, and sometimes to factions like the Garamantians or some random Sassanid satrapy. For example, the Seleucids in R2 and the Eastern Roman empire are almost dead 20 turns into the game. And Rome in vanilla Rome 2 tends to be(at least in my experience) almost harmless and gets dunked on by almost every neighbor. I mean, really.

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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    To be honest, I don't mind the strong small factions in R2TW. The AI is literal crap in defending large areas. I have invaded the Seleucids in R2TW to find all their armies chilling nicely in places without any enemies, as I was eating up cities each turn.

    I believe the problem here is in part of how the game is set.
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    AnthoniusII's Avatar Μέγαc Δομέστικοc
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    I would say that it has actually worsened in the latest games. In Rome I, the Seleucids were always screwed, but that is largely because they were the most unfairly implemented faction. For practical and somewhat contradictory reasons (basically no time/resources to design Central Asia, but Creative Assembly also wanted to add Parthia), the Seleucids are less than half of their actual size and are encircled by inflated enemies. Pontus, Parthia and Armenia were much smaller in 270 B.C. and the Egyptians benefit a lot from their rich and sheltered province and especially from chariots being over-powered in auto-resolve. On the other hand, in Barbarian Invasion, the Roman Empires were designed more carefully. They almost always retreated, but I never saw them getting completely wrecked, despite having to face hordes and an economy purposefully built in a bad manner.

    In Empire, the situation has deteriorated, mainly because there is an immense difference in the wealth of the various provinces. Palestine, Baluchistan etc. are extremely impoverished and basically a burden in the early game. Meanwhile, the Carnatic region is literally drowned in precious gems. So, what happens is that the Maratha can afford large armies in a small front, while the Mughals, with an even smaller force, need to guard essentially the entire sub-continent. However, as the game progresses, the differences between the regions become smaller, depending on how provinces are developed. India has a huge growth potential, which means that an eventually industrialised Mughal Empire will be much more prosperous than the Maratha and their shiny stones. Usually, the Mughals are wiped out, before the first factory has been built, but, if the Maratha are delayed, then the Mughals will most probably prevail. That's what happened in my last campaign as France. The Ottomans on the other hand don't have the same potential and are also crippled by the Bosporus Strait bug, so they are almost always destroyed by whoever dominates central Europe (usually Austria, but sometimes also Poland or Prussia).

    In Rome II and Attila, large factions are doomed for the opposite reason: Wealth is almost identical, so Carthage is almost as rich as the Sahara. Normally this wouldn't cause any problems, but the balance is thrown away, because of how the AI cheats work. Every faction is receiving a standard amount of money, besides its revenue from mining, taxes, trade etc.. That gift, however, presents a huge percentage of their total income. So, if an empire can normally afford two armies and an extra third, thanks to the cheats, a faction half their size will deploy two, one thanks to their "natural" income and the other through cheating. Consequently, the analogy has already been disturbed. Their military ratio is 3/2 instead of 2/1. Considering that larger factions inevitably border several minor factions, they are eventually getting overwhelmed and their numerically inferior troops are defeated in a war of attrition.
    I will agree with that. Having played Shogun I, MTW I, Rome TW I, M2TW, ETW, Shogun II ,Rome II and finaly Attila TW i can see that the AI gets worst every single game it releases. I comapred MTW nad M2TW AI's and found the old one 200% more realistic. The poorest AI of Rome I compared again with MTW is also beyond comparisson with Rome II and Attila that CA/SEGA developers to solve that AI issues simply changes the physic laws! Since CA/Australia team withdrawn for the mother CA we get worst games in the AI secrion. As modder of M2TW mod i can not say i am happy when comparing even vanilla AI between Rome I and M2TW/Kingdoms. Despite the fact that M2TW/Kingdoms offers some other advandages in teh AI part is far behind than Rome I and if we will compare it with the AI of MTW then we will throw M2TW to garbige can! Armies that can not create their own siege equipment when more than one besiege a city. Now if we compare MTW AI/BAI with Rome II and Attila TW I would say that we bought gorbige from the start. If I would be a CA/SEGA SALES manager i would make a report to the company to fire all those that were responsible for that rediculus games. Armies that wait rain and wind to bring down walls to invade a settlement, settlements without walls or gates to allow the stupid AI to storm in to them. I have no opinion on Three Kingdoms and Troy because i do not own them.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    I think the only time it was done somewhat well was the original Barbarian Invasion. Big Roman factions and maybe you find the emergent Roman specific rebel factions unbalanced but I felt it presented an accurate challenge where you basically admit you’re too large and thinly spread to defend the regions and bolster the loyalty of your starting generals but you can re-Ernie from a struggling mid-size faction to regain lost lands and then expand again
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    Well imo the bigger you get and less stable your realm should be, coupled with factors like the culture you conquered and incorporated in your realm (diversity actually destabilise a realm more than it unify it), military defeat or success, the spending (do you spend in military building/tech, do you spend in cultural buildings/tech, etc), the characters you appoint in position of power. They should also, maybe, start to implement investment, meaning that your revenue should be divided in categories (dedicated budget) like military, culture, foreign, etc. Changing the percentage would affect the stability of the realm but the effect would decrease with time, but it could have the effect of increasing the happiness of the nation while decreasing their sense of security, which would maybe have the effect of having good public order, but less points going in technology developpement (if they ever implement a technology tree like Paradox CK2/3). I believe there's a lot and lot of ways to make the late game more challenging, but I've lost hope in the creative capabilities of CA a long time ago.
    Last edited by TAKEDA ⬤ SHINGEN; December 12, 2021 at 11:42 AM.

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    AnthoniusII's Avatar Μέγαc Δομέστικοc
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    Quote Originally Posted by TAKEDA ⬤ SHINGEN View Post
    Well imo the bigger you get and less stable your realm should be, coupled with factors like the culture you conquered and incorporated in your realm (diversity actually destabilise a realm more than it unify it), military defeat or success, the spending (do you spend in military building/tech, do you spend in cultural buildings/tech, etc), the characters you appoint in position of power. They should also, maybe, start to implement investment, meaning that your revenue should be divided in categories (dedicated budget) like military, culture, foreign, etc. Changing the percentage would affect the stability of the realm but the effect would decrease with time, but it could have the effect of increasing the happiness of the nation while decreasing their sense of security, which would maybe have the effect of having good public order, but less points going in technology developpement (if they ever implement a technology tree like Paradox CK2/3). I believe there's a lot and lot of ways to make the late game more challenging, but I've lost hope in the creative capabilities of CA a long time ago.
    You are writing the truth. The question that emerges is WHY CA/SEGA developers CAN NOT DO this anymore.
    I recall when Darth Vader and Lusted were called for interview in CA in London and told Darth he was not suitable for the job. Lusted proved too little with teh expectetions we had of him while Darth's Game is among the 10 most AI chalenging game in STEAM.
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    Please bear with me.

    Some time ago (a year or two or more) when I was playing the game I put in some thought into this question.

    This is what triggered my thoughts:
    I remember back in the day of the first medieval total war, when in an interview one of the key figures of CA was asked why the Byzantines were underdeveloped in the game compared to what they were in reality.
    And I remember the words of his answer: Had Constantinople been given the infrastructure it actually had at the time it would be "the powerhouse of an unstoppable Byzantine Empire".

    And then I started thinking in what ways Constantinople could be given historically realistic levels of development without breaking the game and I also discussed these thoughts with a friend who was also a fan of the game.

    One of the things the game did not (but could) implement would be the cost of maintaining said infrastructure.
    This could be done by giving the buildings a percentage of damage each year that would then need to be repaired by the governor.
    That would require some sophisticated scripting that should also involve all the factions, not just the Rhomaioi.

    The other thing would be the disloyal generals and their frequent revolts and efforts to pacify them.
    But this would require the scripting of a number of phantom factions.

    There should also be the issue of the frequent assassinations pf kings and their replacement with others who would need to establish themselves and their authority in the presence of much contestation.

    Then there would be the issue of recruiting and maintaining adequate troop numbers.
    The historical reality and financial expediency of the time were such that armies were only kept standing for as long as they were needed and then they were disbanded.

    In a time when everything was produced by hand and transported by animal drafted carts, just feeding an army of a paltry 10000 men was an enormous enterprise.
    Ergo the campaign practice of the Byzantines to split large armies while in transit so that they could feed off the land more efficiently.
    For the same reason the renowned early Islamic tactician Khalid ibn al-Walid preferred to campaign with rather small armies, certainly smaller than what a man of his clout would be able to muster.
    To understand just how important supplying an army off the land was, one would only need to read of the splitting of Byzantine armies during the first Islamic incursion in Syria, or before the Battle of Manzikert, even when the enemy force was known to be near.

    To implement the first part of this would require the complete overhaul of the recruitment system in such a way that the equipment of disbanded troops would be returned to the royal armories.
    This would mean that the production of weapons, armor and the other items of the "panoply of war" would need to be a separate function of gameplay in addition to the recruitment and training of soldiers.
    (Documents do exist from the era of Charlemagne that demonstrate the requirement that certain regions pay their taxes in the form of shields and spears of specifications that were described in detail.)

    But the game would also need to keep track of the age of disbanded former soldiers.
    You see, the population of a state -and by extension- the numbers of men eligible for military service are dissipative structures.
    This means that some of the discharged soldiers would become too old to reenlist while on the reserve and should therefore be stricken from the lists while the men of younger generations would need to be trained from total military ignorance.
    Instead, what we see in the game is that we can recruit an army in the 2nd half of the 11th century and 300 years later that same army can have 9 chevrons of experience in half of it's units and smaller, yet non negligible levels of experience in all other units.

    And that does not even touch the problem of dispatching and distributing the supplies to the various armies.

    All in all, had all those elements found their way into the game, it would be a different game, admittedly more realistic and one where large states would face exponentially increasing difficulties as their size would grow.
    But it would also be a game that would put way too much emphasis on the least glamorous elements of military planning and certainly at the expense of tactics, which was originally intended to be the game's selling point.
    Last edited by paleologos; December 12, 2021 at 08:40 PM.

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    AnthoniusII's Avatar Μέγαc Δομέστικοc
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    That reasonable proposal woukd require to dismish the curent CA/SEGA TW developing team and hire an entire new one. Those guys proved that despite creating new textures and smaller models have no other skill what ever.
    Just look the settlements in Attila. Imagine that settlements are only modeling m but they failed 100% to create a Seige AI and more to create varietion of settlements models according to faction/settlement /level like Rome I and M2TW had.
    If in that so simple matter they can not succeed how do you expect that they will manage to create complicated scripts like those you describe?
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  12. #12
    paleologos's Avatar You need burrito love!!
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    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    I never argued whether the current team of CA could or could not do it.
    My argument was that IF they did it, it would be a different game, with a different scope, in a different genre.

  13. #13

    Default Re: CA's difficulty in getting big factions right

    Quote Originally Posted by AnthoniusII View Post
    That reasonable proposal woukd require to dismish the curent CA/SEGA TW developing team and hire an entire new one. Those guys proved that despite creating new textures and smaller models have no other skill what ever.
    Just look the settlements in Attila. Imagine that settlements are only modeling m but they failed 100% to create a Seige AI and more to create varietion of settlements models according to faction/settlement /level like Rome I and M2TW had.
    If in that so simple matter they can not succeed how do you expect that they will manage to create complicated scripts like those you describe?
    Did I read this correctly? Did you just claim that Rome 1 had settlement variety? A settlement plan per culture... that's all that game had. Medieval 2 had a bit more, sure, but modern games surpass all of this. Siege AI in TW games was always laughable - especially on release. Besides, modding tools that we have, although they don't allow us to create a new campaign map (although I hear some people are working on this), they allow us to create really, really wonderful battle and siege maps - something that was stupidly difficult in old games. You're also forgetting that CA is limited more by design of the game and the tools they have at hand, rather than the development team itself. Honestly, comments like this show you have very little understanding of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to developing a game.

    In the past CA was limited by trying to keep the campaign simple. They created systems which were fitting all factions, and their go-to were simple modifiers to create somewhat differentiating economies and cultures. Faction A gets bonus tax, faction B gets bonus trade, Faction C can hide in woods... you get the idea.

    Factions in Total War games prior to Warhammers were basically re-skins of each other. Sure, one was a horde, another had different buildings, but they all followed the same mechanics and formula. Since the Warhammer series CA has been a little bit more adventurous; partly because they can no longer be skinned alive by the toxic historical community as it's all fantasy anyway. Now we have unique campaign systems for various factions - some play tall, some play wide, some just go around killin'. I haven't had a chance to exploy Troy, so don't know much about the systems in that game, but from what I've seen they also have some unique stuff.

    I'm looking forward to seeing these systems in historical Total Wars. Let's hope playing as different factions really will feel different.
    Last edited by komisarek; December 13, 2021 at 07:51 AM.

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