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Rome: Total Modding – my first homemade battle

July 5th, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

Last night I decided to try my hand at designing historic battles using Rome: Total War‘s editor. After seeing all the neat historic battles on Time Commanders and noticing that the game files include reference to some of these battles, I am annoyed that, first, they didn’t include Pharsalus or Tigranocerta and, second, that the historic battles they did include are far from historic. (Trasimene was an ambush along a coast line and doing Raphia with the pharaonic Egyptian army is just crazy.)

For my experiment, I chose the Battle of Paraitacene (317 BCE). It had a lot to recommend it. There are a lot of troop types so there’s some variety, the battlefield itself is just a flat plain, and the ancient historian Diodorus gave a pretty good description of what happened. Also, the Great Battle of History Collector’s Edition included Paraitacene as one of their battles so I have a pretty decent order of battle to work with. Plus, one of Rome’s great sights is long lines of phalanxes coming to blows.

It is also attractive because the two generals are fascinating characters. Antigonus, Alexander’s viceroy in Phrgyia, led a Macedonian army against Eumenes, Alexander’s personal secretary. Eumenes was enforcing the right of Perdiccas to rise to Alexander’s throne, Antigonus was opposing that right. Eumenes proved to be a great general, and he was ably assisted by the veteran army he inherited, though some of the soldiers were likely well-over sixty years old.

The big problem I ran up against was the 20 unit limit that Rome imposes on each army. I wanted command and control, so using allied armies wasn’t going to cut it. Second, there is a max of 300 soldiers per unit, so there would be a lot of math involved in getting the scaling right. Eumenes (who I put in charge of a Seleucid army, since he had the Silver Shields in his service) had about 35,000 heavy infantry to the 28,000 Antigonus had. Antigonus had more light infantry and cavalry.

Then there’s the elephants. Rome has them, but not for the Macedonians (though you can use mercenaries) and they are grossly overpowered. Put in default units of 12 across the same frontage as Paraitacene would lead to havoc up and down the line.

The elephant problem was easy. Reduce the unit size to five and you get reasonably fragile but still menacing troops. Plus you can have the refused flank thing that both armies had.

The math was more difficult. I needed to cut the number of units plus find the right proportion for each one. I tried dividing historic standard unit numbers by ten, but then I ended up with Antigonus having too many men since he had more distinct units. Then I found that (naturally) there is quite a bit of confusion over how many men Eumenes actually had. (This link gives him ten thousand fewer than his opponent.)

I finished the battle, though, and gave it a spin. Not bad for a first try, I wager, and if you want to give it a try, drop me a line. The battle played out very well. The computer (Antigonus) actually skirmished for a while, using its archers, peltasts and archer-elephants to harass my troops. I replied in kind. The cavalry stayed out of things (good for me) and then the phalanxes started moving towards each other. The AI (as usual) moved one line too far out so I flanked it and slowly rolled up the whole line.

It does need some fine tuning, but I think that the editor is much better than I had initially given it credit for. It needs more options for armies, and the terrain editor is too unwieldy. But you can place troops quite easily and line up fairly historical options. I may do Eumene’s last stand at Gabiene next or I may move on to a Roman battle and give Pompey his due.


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