Both because Sweden won Covid and I’m bored with Stellaris at this point (great game, just played out after 100 or so hours) and have gotten back into my true love: Attila Total War. Why do I love it? It’s a FUCK FEST. If you play on HARD (which you should), any faction start difficulty level listed as ‘normal’ or above is going to be a knife fight in a phone booth. I wanted to play one of the Nordic factions, either the Geats or the Danes. While the Geats start in what was Southern Sweden, I went for the Danes which have one of the best special abilities in the game, just beg to be played. They are considered to have a ‘hard’ starting position and it really, really is. I think they have the hardest start of any faction in the game.
The Danes have absolute trash starting units (these are many hundreds of years away from when they were viking), no way to create more cavalry in the beginning of the game and a pretty mediocre fleet. They also do not start with a walled city, but a mere village right around where Copenhagen is at. It appears at first that they are more protected than the Saxons, who are surrounded by enemies, but what I’ve found is that the AI factions seem much more afraid of the Saxons (which they should be) than the Danes, and attack constantly. I was in 3-5 wars constantly. The piling on the AI did when I was already beat down by another faction was amazing to see.
Later game, the Danes do not have great units either. They have good close combat infantry, but SHIT cavalry. Except for the special power of no sea attrition, Danes are like a shit version of the Saxons due to the lack of medium shock cavalry (Saxon Lancers) in a game that is all about cavalry.
The one thing they have going for them is that Danes do not give a fuck about being on the ocean for any amount of time. That means they don’t have deep sea attrition nor do they get sea sickness in battles when they attack from the sea. This means, pound for pound, you can destroy any army from any faction on the ocean and you can subsist with a massive army anywhere on the seas. For example, if food is short and your armies are taking massive attrition, just put them on some boats! This allows travel to strange places on the map no other faction from Northern Europe could get to and raid, pillage and subjugate. Think that many of the satrapies of the Sassinids are weak and soft and weakened by the Huns? They are– go sail there and kill them!
In many Total War games, you sort of sit back a bit, maybe make an opening aggressive move and then pounce on your neighbors who sort of sit there waiting for you to attack. Not so in Attila. There is massive pressure on all the AI factions to destroy nearly everyone nearby because of the threat of the hordes (Vandals, Ostragoths, etc.) even before the Huns even arrive in force. You have to be very careful. If you leave your capital undefended or take the L in a large battle that leaves your army decimated, others nearby will immediately attack. In this way, Attila is closer to Shogun 2 than the other Total War games. You make a mistake in Shogun, you get hammered.
I had like 4-5 starts with the Danes, sometimes attacking the Geats, who have a major city, sometimes attacking the Jutes (who are mostly friendly and get steamrolled by the Angles or Saxons) and sometimes taking out the northern German/Polish factions (Varnians and Rugians). ALL lead to destruction by one of the bigger factions nearby so that I needed to horde up (factions that lose their last city can horde up) or was just eliminated from the game outright.
This last game where I actually survived FTW. I immediately attacked the Varnians to the south, subjugated them (a mistake) and the Geats instantly attacked my capital and didn’t just take it over or loot it, they RAZED it to the ground, putting my remaining fleet and army into Horde mode on turn 3 or so. The Burgundians instantly took over my new subject (the Varnians) so I was left floating in the Baltic with a pretty big army and medium navy but nothing else and no territory. Instead of quitting I said “Freya’s bryst!” I’m going to see if I can make this work. I sailed all the way over to northern Scotland where a completely empty Pict city sat (right around modern Lairg) ripe for the taking. I snagged it quick and lo and behold I could recruit actual units that weren’t total shit! I made friendly with the Caledonians to the south as there are larger fish to fry in England, Ireland and Wales before squabbling over parts of Scotland.
This is where it got odd but fun. There’s a lot of water between myself and the Geats and Rugians at this point and one figures they would be too busy fighting themselves to come at me. Yet, a few turns later two stacks of Geats and their navy show up and land in my new Pict-provided province in Scotland! By this time, I have a city and a couple army stacks so they don’t attack– they raid around and I am able to catch their armies apart from each other and destroy them. Just as I am done sweating the Geats, the Rugians show up with the same thing! I rushed my fleet back which had been scouting the situation in Southern England as Rome collapses: seeing that both the Franks and Saxons had destroyed the remaining Romans on English soil already. I barely got my armies back together enough to make the Rugians siege but not attack. They sat outside and froze for a couple seasons and then set to raiding like the Geats did. I baited them with a small army and got their armies separated and then separated their heads from their bodies in the same fashion.
Meanwhile, I sent my fleet over to check out what was going on in the Nordic countries and someone had been very naughty. After the Geats razed my province and came to attack me in faraway Scotland, someone had attacked them and razed their province! Razing cities is a very rare thing to do for any AI faction other than the Huns, so someone must have been very angry at the Geats, which were now a very weakened horde that I would deal with in time.
So there I sat, with the Geats gone, the Rugians defeated, for now and of course, the next turn the Ebdanians (Irish) declare war. I have dealt with these guys before as the Saxons and they are nasty, but can’t hold up well to heavy infantry or massed cavalry, relying instead on hiding and TONS of archer units.
I tried to sneak around the West side of England with a large force, only to have the Ebdanians show up marching through the Caledonian lands to the south right towards my city. While they didn’t siege the city, they destroyed some buildings and then I had to chase them down through the Scottish highlands for a few turns before slaughtering them. Now, I was mad. I took everything I had and headed across the sea between Scotland and Ireland, caught the Ebdanians king and trapped him in a city which I seized and occupied, on the same turn crossing back to Wales and driving the Ebdanians out of there as well.
The Ebdanians had been busy and had exhausted their armies taking out the Saxons and Franks in southern England with both London and let’s call it Canterberry all controlled by the proto-Irish. It usually takes a huge fight to get London as England is a mosh pit of Romans, Saxons, Franks, Jutes and Angles until someone settles it down by sword point, but I was able to sneak in and capture it against the weakened, Kingless Ebdanians. At this point I have taken Ireland, most of Southern England, Wales and the northernmost tip of Scotland. Unless the Franks or Saxons come calling, I should be able to mop up or ally with anyone that’s left, which, after having been routed out of Denmark by the northern German tribes and backstabbed by the GEATS, is quite a come back, which is what this whole game is about. From this point it’s just about keeping everyone else away and building up a super strong economy in England while the continent burns due to the Huns and the hordes. Once things settle down a bit, as long as you can cripple or destroy any invasion fleets that come near, you can invade pretty much anywhere on the continent and walk over everyone. The rest of the campaign, while moderately exciting from time to time– isn’t worth detailing as it’s just wait, build up the economy… and crush.
Next up for me is the Himyar. They have the crazy Age of Sigmar masks!