Tag Archive: Rome: Total War


A rainy day in July

Ahoy, 

We’re officially in the second half of the year – if you adhere to the standard calendar. The English summer has returned in its humid glory, flying ants are busy creating new colonies (those that aren’t being crushed underfoot) and I’m continuing to adhere to the rule of three (in prose).

So, what’s new at the zoo? I had the day off last Friday and after two hours’ worth of prevaricating including two changes of clothes, I finally made myself leave the house, travel up to Finchley to Leisure Games and I finally got a hold of a copy of Oktoberfest. Don’t ask me why this particular game caught my attention – I just saw it and knew I had to have a copy. I’ve not played a round as yet but I think I get the basics of the game. I had assumed it was a worker placement but it’s a hybrid of auctioneering and poker, at least in part. Then there’s some strategic placement of items so all in all, it’s something of a fusion of several gaming styles. I also purchased Mind the Gap which is a London Underground card game, sorta like dominoes or Uno where cards are played and the next card must have some connection with the last one played. There are several interrupt cards which can mess up the sequence (again, like Uno) and points are scored at the end of the turn. Again, not yet played at least of time of writing but I’m sure I’ll get round to it soon (i.e. this Sunday).

It was nice to have had Friday off and a three day weekend. I know it had only been a month since the Spring Bank Holiday but June has been incredibly draining. General Election and its aftermath, particularly on work. The heatwave took it out of everyone, particularly when it came to sleeping at night. And the various activities happening in June during the week and at the weekend. Other than the two board games, I’m still in cheap mode post new iPad. Lunch has been a steady stream of reduced-priced quiche and bread rolls (thank-you Sainsbury’s), dinner has, more often than not, been masses of chilli or again, items with a yellow sticker. And even cola consumption has been cut down to no more than two per day.

Video gaming: still ploughing through GTA online and have drifted back to Rome Total War (the original) on the PC – though I see it’s available on my iPad (for £9.99). I’ve three unfinished games on the go: Carthage, Brutii and Greek Cities. Pretty much it for now – short update, more soon.

Jaina Solo – Eviscerated

It seems we may have dodged the bureaucrats bullet last week when Infraction Chefs in a stunning reversal agreed to take something off the menu. That means nothing to most of you but believe me that when we first heard of this on the menu, I had visions of the warehouse in Indiana Jones but filled with stacks of papers and files rather than boxes full of the mystical. Alas, it’s likely to be a deferral rather than an outright cancellation so the vision is still there but there are at least eight more lottery draws between now and next month so better get paying the moron tax.

Last week didn’t turn out quite as busy as was stated; couple o’ cancellations in the diary, most notably Risk Legacy on Thursday (gave me a chance to catch up on chores and swimming). We finally went to Harar restaurant in Vauxhall (the Ethiopian place). When I say we, I mean Daniel and Xian. How Daniel ate an entire bag of Ampelmänn sweets and still put away dinner is quite beyond me. Anyway, it was his first time eating Ethiopian and his Tripadvisor review says he enjoyed it. I liked it but it wasn’t as good as Kokob though the beer was pretty good. Service, a little slow but didn’t take anything away from the evening so I can live with it.

Quiz – came third (we confused Maggie Smith for Barbara Windsor – don’t ask). We won a bonus round, Tess Daly’s god-awful foray into fiction. I wrote better crap when I was eight, or at least from the bits that I could bring myself to browse before thinking of inventive ways to lose the book. Thing is, it’s a book – I can’t bring myself to render it so it might end up at the Charity Shop or accidentally left in the dentist’s waiting room on Friday when I go for the first of my two torture sessions. I am fairly certain she’d have written it herself, no ghost writer could be so appalling. Unless it was some D-Grade GCSE student being paid minimum wage.

Still with Star Wars Empire at War: Forces of Corruption. Computer – a right cheating bar-steward. Take this instance – I clean a planet of Rebels, a planet cut off from supply lines and completely isolated. Decided to move back my fleet more or less straight away and magically, the planet is now protected by a small fleet. Where the hell did this come from? Such a frustrating game experience, that and the units that refuse to obey orders. Haven’t played much else, definitely been a board gaming month. I still cannot get past the tutorial on Total War Rome 2 – every time I try and take the city I’m told to, my forces always lose as somehow, the general ends up throwing himself on a spear in every battle and this is the DAMN TUTORIAL. Doesn’t bode well, really. Probably for the best, I’d only lose more of my life to the Creative Assembly’s offerings.

Watched a few films at the weekend – both Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes offerings, El1zabeth and tried to watch Godfather Part 3 but got bored after 45 minutes and switched it off. Still haven’t been able to watch it in its entirety, it’s such a shameful, formulaic rehash of the first two films: open with a celebration, set the scene, discuss the current enterprise, suffer some form of treasonous set-back and then get revenge whilst experiencing personal tragedy. The end. Another unsatisfactory conclusion, not entirely unlike the Legacy of the Force series (which I’ve just finished re-reading through iBooks) and am still narked that Jaina Solo doesn’t sleep with the fishes. On Naboo. Honestly, she spends fifteen (chronological) years in the books being a complete bitch and then isn’t filleted for her trouble. And rumour has it, she’s going to be in the movie…

Had a doozy of a Civ V game last night – I was Brazil and on my continent were Sweden, France, Morocco and four City States. France slowly absorbed Morocco whilst I looked to build up my culture and tourism as much as possible in line with Brazil’s innate trait. I figured once the final Moroccan city fell, France would start to look at me (probably because I’d declared war on them early on by taking a settler which was trying to plonk itself down on a piece of land I was coveting).

Alas, I thought I had more time to deal with the French menace. What I didn’t pay close attention to was that they had made a bee-line for Gunpowder which gives them the Musketeer unit to which the best I could throw at them were Longswordmen (albeit some created through the Alhambra). What compounded it was that France have the Statue of Zeus, the Great Wall (they beat me by one turn) AND the Himeji Castle.

So they tried invading around Brasilia but I rushed a castle and a crossbowman to make short work of one invader per turn whilst my Longswordmen were used as cannon fodder, wearing down the enemy and taking out their auxiliary units (archers & trebuchet). And a Golden Age/Carnival began so Longswordmen were being churned out in all cities every two turns (we both have six cities apiece though two of mine are on a smaller continent).

Fortunately, I killed enough of their units and out produced the French to make them sue for piece, them giving me iron and horses for peace. Of course it’s just a respite before they get their second wind but I’m two turns from obtaining gunpowder myself, I have a tonne of Longswordmen on the map and a fat treasure so upgrading everyone will be a cinch. Alas old Nappy has the best hand for defence so taking even one of his cities will be a major effort – at least for now. But…I have Frigates and Privateers so a naval invasion via the back door (the city of Tours could be pretty vulnerable) is possible.

Anyway, my Civ V’ing aside – and my Rome:Total Warring (again), it’s a cooler day today here in London. The office is half full given that school holidays are in full swing and that Parliament and Europe have shut down for the summer. There’s not much left to do ahead of Tuesday as most tasks have been completed and there’s the promise of a nice, long lunch today at Giraffe on the South Bank.

Now, you may have see this article on BBC News:

For those who can’t be bothered to open the link, it’s a list of now “restricted” words for government announcements:

agenda
advancing
collaborate
combating
countering
deliver (unless it is specific things like pizza or letters)
deploy (unless it is troops or computer software)
dialogue
empower
facilitate
focusing
foster (unless in relation to the care of children)
impact (as a verb)
incentivise
initiate
key (unless it unlocks something)
land (only as a verb)
leverage
liaise
overarching
progress (only as a verb)
promote (unless talking about an ad campaign)
robust
slimming down
streamline
strengthening (unless it relation to bridges)
tackling (unless in a sporting context)
transforming
utilise

Sufficed to say, I feel stung into wanting to use them far, far more often, out of spite. Good to know in these challenging times, dedicated resource can be found to play at the Inner Party’s Newspeak Dictionary.

mercredi

Ah Wednesday. Back at Stalag Woodlouse [sic], this was for the first two years I went there our half day of school. The afternoons were given over to midweek sport whilst we had Saturday morning school (bleurgh). So this day of the week has always had a kind of warm, fuzzy feeling. These days it’s more likely to be XXL or it’s a good day to dine out – or perhaps Orange Wednesdays. But there’s something about the midweek peak which still instils a sense of excitement.

Saturday School, now that I’ve mentioned it, was torture. It meant we had to be in our school uniform for six days a week, Saturday school was always prefaced with yet another Chapel visit and the lessons were generally of the dire variety. I can’t help but wonder what the teachers thought of it all. It was killed off once David Welsh took over as headmaster and abolished Saturday schooling. Several teachers came into tea one Thursday evening and announced it to many cheers and banging of tables.

Once it was abolished, we had to do “activities” in the mornings. Those on various teams were generally excused for rugby/cricket/tennis etc. I was on rugby so got away with it in the winter but in the summer, it was IT if the computer lab was opened up (exception rather than the rule) whilst I took up golf with other people which has led to a lack of enthusiasm with the game.

High Pavement was the same but on Thursday mornings where we had to take up an extra-curricular activity. Had I bothered to read the blurb, I’d have tried to work on the school paper but as it was, I opted for rugby and badminton but then I got elected to the student union and dropped the rugby. Hanging out in the SU office was great, got so much done in there and learned a fair amount about organising and activism.

Anyway, enough of memory lane for now, I just wanted to yak about the quiz and stuff. So yup, another quiz night and a real blunder/disaster for Yoshi’s Island. There was no KKST this week, I vetoed the idea of extra people this week, let’s get back to normal. We fell apart in the first round of the quiz scoring only 13 but won some Ladybird garden ornaments. Ceajay yelled at a woman to shut the door and rather than feigning ignorance like people normally do, she came over an apologised. So that was nice.

Second half of the quiz went a bit better but we failed when it came to the movie-picture round. Still, we redeemed ourselves overall and finished joint second with Team Science. For once, I didn’t stay behind to play on the quiz machine and left to go straight home. Which I didn’t do…but there’s a reason behind that.

Got to level 5 on Kid Icarus – it would have been further but I’ve been replaying the first level slowly cranking up the difficulty levels to win more hearts and goodies. Played on 7.0 intensity and only just completed it so I’ve reached my current limitations. It’s very much like one of the old arcade gun cabinets – Operation Wolf, Operation Thunderbolt, Beast Busters – but you have more versatility in moving the character. Not quite gun n run or a rail shooter but a hybrid of the two and very linear.

This proposed re-registration Regulation from the Cion is slowly taking over my work life. There are so many unknowns at the moment that we can’t provide high-calibre advice which is a source of frustration. Granted, as negotiations continue more details will be hammered out but when you’re at the bottom of a 100 rung ladder, it can be a daunting task to ascend to the very top. There’s also Mutual Recognition of Driving Disqualifications to grapple with but that’s a far more undemanding task.

Oooh, to close with, I have heard a vicious rumour that there’ll be a Total War: Rome 2 in the future…am keeping my fingers crossed.

Marcus Antonius

I feel somewhat like Marc Antony in S2E2 of Rome – Money, Money, Money, everyone wants some bloody money. This weekend has seen the first letter from the bank sticking to fingers up to the insurance refund request. Then there’s been a couple of letters from some debt collection agency saying I owe £62 for a disconnected BT line which I suspect is actually the responsibility of AGB Nielsen to pay. And the third is a request this morning from another debt collection agency wanting to review the £25 a month for 16 years repayment. We could go back to my “I don’t owe on this bloody debt” stance as was had with the Metropolitan Collection Agency and those stinking solicitors. So as I say, everyone wants some bloody money.

Wish I could just join Caesar in Greece and win the battle of Pharsalus.

Speaking of the Julii, this weekend was another RTW binge as I needed to rein in the spending overdose and I restarted my Julii game (following the mess that the last one got into. Unlike most classic Julii strategies (i.e. going after the Gauls and Spanish, this one saw me subsume the Scipii strategy, heading for Libayeum as they hadn’t captured it yet, then onto Thaspus and Carthage. Numidia hasn’t declared war (oddly enough) and the Scipii instead have gone east into Greece and Asia Minor whilst the Brutii have subsumed Macedon, Dacia and Thrace. As well as North Africa, the Julii own Spain, Gaul, Germanica and have just captured Londinium. Finally the people are willing to back me should I march on Rome but my armies need to rush back east to Arretium and Arminium so that the assault on the other two houses can begin.

Without wishing to pre-empt things too much, I foresee several bloody battles in Italy (I’m stockpiling the Praetorian Cohorts and Legionary Cavalry in anticipation). The Brits will be finished off in order to tie up that front and I’m tempted to put the smack down on Numidia in order to release troops on that front (there are three armies in North Africa). Because of certain choices made in the game, the Marian Reforms came quite late and therefore it took a while to replace troops in various formations. And again, money is definitely a major issue – whilst the budget can take “one more army” quite comfortably – every province will have to be squeezed and whilst there is a surplus, the Imperial Cities are building Curiae to extract every penny possible. Personally, I’d rather be finishing off that than doing anything else today.

With the exception of Red Alert 3. It’s taken six months but my promise to myself not to install all and sundry to my laptop is slowly eroding with the installation of a fourth major game. Though to be fair, I was trying to install it to my main computer and it went so slowly as not to be fun (what did Curry’s do??) and so it was whacked onto the Laptop. Thing is, I probably won’t play skirmish enough to justify it on there long term. But then again there’s the expansion game so who knows…?

Rewinding a bit more to Friday, I made it into work an hour early so that I could take the time off to go bowling with Laura, Kul and Sue in the afternoon. After a very nice lunch in Wahaca at Westfield, we made our way to the All Star Bowling lanes and played two games – I won both with scores of 96 and 121! It wasn’t a bad venue and hopefully it’s the sort that keeps kids away being less of a family venue and more of a teenager/adult place. The cocktails looked very not bad also. And it was the first time I saw soft shell crab sold as a “snack item”. A worthwhile afternoon but again the better part of £40 evaporated from the wallet. December is going to be a lean month, Xmas is hereby cancelled.

I was supposed to have coffee with Brendan on Saturday afternoon but as I’d spent too much, I tried to lure him back to my place instead to have a “free” coffee but he pleaded sickness (I suspect quasi-fabrication of the facts) and I wasn’t in the mood to press. Clearly my…indignation in text messages must have resonated some sort of chord because there was a last minute attempt at changing his mind but I remained steadfast in my stubbornness. Too bad – could have gamed it all evening.

Super Mario 3D is now out, as is Shinobi for the 3DS (and I actually want that more than I want Mario – hell, I’ll take the original Shinobi for Game Gear on VC if available). Bloody Nintendo making me want stuff. No more games until Professor Layton has been completed.

Nihilistic Societies

The past week has been one of the most expensive I’ve had in 2011 outside of shock purchases and whilst it’s been entirely avoidable, I didn’t feel like curtailing it. As well as the DVD purchases last Monday, I also splashed out on the quiz, lunch with Andy, drinks with Brendan, coffee with Paul, Tesco shopping (what was to be a £30 visit quickly turned into £110) and a trip to Forbidden Planet. All in all, I think £320 has shuffled its way out of my account in addition to the monthly rent and overdue water bill. This leaves me with about £350 left for the second half of the month but is still scary how rapidly it evaporates.

Previous blog posts have indicated “save, save, save” and this week it’s been “spend, spend, spend”. Viv Nicholson without the Pools win. Or the dreadful stage adaptation.

So, to recollect the weekend in a capsule review, Saturday was again lost to chores, sleep and video games at least up until the early evening when I forced myself to go out to Tesco to spend the above £110. As always, it would have been cheaper but I did buy a glut of Pepsi before realising when I got home I bought those farty little 250ml cans (stupid, stupid mistake given as I successfully avoided that blunder last month) and there was a Crabbies offer on and I bought two cases of the ginger brew as it worked out at £1.25 a bottle. The rest just…added up.

Sunday was a repeat of sorts – gaming in the morning/very early afternoon and something in the afternoon which was coffee with Paul at Costa. The damn coffee shop was rammed to the rafters with people sitting down not drinking. I know the staff are paid minimum wage and don’t really care but they should “encourage” customers to move on if they’re just sat there sucking up the oxygen. Though I wonder how much more business they’ll have if they offer a table service. Still the company was nice which is the main thing and sitting outside wasn’t too bad given as we were right next to the air extractor which blew a warm breeze (possibly suffused with Legionnaire’s Disease, I dunno).

Soho was fairly crowded with the same sad, old and tired faces and I find it’s just less and less fun to go out in that neck of the woods. I think of Chairman Yang from Alpha Centauri –

“If our society seems more nihilistic than that of previous eras, perhaps this is simply a sign of our maturity as a sentient species. As our collective consciousness expands beyond a crucial point, we are at last ready to accept life’s fundamental truth: that life’s only purpose is life itself.”

In the evening, I resumed my Greek game on RTW, refamiliarising myself with the exact board positions and my broad plan before continuing. I went from 26 to 38 provinces including the capture of Rome. This was again resumed on Monday evening when 38 became the magic 50 following a devilish repeat of my “attack Alexandria and Memphis straight from the sea” strategy. Pleased as all hell to have won a game with a non-Roman faction – I have the Egypt and Briton games started and I am eager to progress those.

I had two back to back meetings taking up my time from when I got in the office until 1pm which was nice – effectively half the day gone and the afternoon went by rather rapidly. After 6, I toddled down the usual walking route and checked progress of Winter Wonderland which opens on Friday. It seems bigger than last year’s efforts and there’s at least one new “ride” that I was able to spot. But as it’s prohibitively expensive, there’s a question on vfm if I do partake. And there’s the usual German Christmas Market Experience on the South Bank.

Oh, a letter arrived at the house addressed to a Mr Ali – there has not now nor has there ever been a Mr Ali living here. So I opened it and it was a debt collectors letter from something like “RTF Subscriptions” which to me sounds like a wank-channel on Sky. I laughed and ripped it up. The neighbours aren’t called Ali either, unless there’s someone else on the street of that street. Not that I care.

In one of those smug aside moments – whilst I might have spent lots at Tesco, I did a bit of rough maths in my head today regarding the cost of my lasagne, wondering if it was value for money or a gigantic rip off. I calculated that if I’d have bought the ingredients at full price, it’d have come to £14 or so and with a 6 portion lasagne made, it would have worked out at £2.66 per meal – slightly pricier than an instant meal but less salt and more filling. But given various offers and buying in bulk, it worked out at £7 or £1.33 per portion. Bargain – and I have enough to make a second lasagne next week if need be.

I’d offer you lovely people my recipe but no two lasagne’s are ever the same and so its futile.

50 Provinces Later

I perhaps should have tried to go out last night at Rob’s behest but I pleaded fatigue (not a lie) as well as burn out and went home instead for a night in. Whilst I didn’t actually make it through the front door until 20:05, it was still dangerously close to the whole 7 o’clock hour – stupid closed bus station. And because dinner was leftovers, I was eating within ten minutes – Quorn Escalope with Parminter Tatties and pushing out the boat, some refried beans. Quite nice, as it happens.

There was only one thing on my mind for the evening, finishing off my RTW game. I swear, this’ll be the last epic log of events but finish it I did after four solid hours.

Right, firstly I was wrong about the number of provinces I controlled – there were 36 (I was desperately trying to count them in my head to make sense). And there were two Julii cities under siege which quickly fell to combined assaults with again more massacres in order to keep the populations manageable as well as replenishing the treasury. Meanwhile Libyaeum also capitulated after a protracted siege – the city was full of Arcani troops and I was in no mood to fight them though the onagers I’d brought along made very short work of city defences.

In Egypt, the crumbling Ptolemaist dynasty put up less and less resistance as Petra quickly caved in after a short siege and another city whose name I can’t recall (Boptra?) also fell. However, Petra only had a tiny population and the city couldn’t be sold into slavery or slaughtered and so remained discontented until the people revolted and reverted back to Egyptian control. The ejected garrison immediately lay siege to the city as most of the defenders were peasant units and were backed up by some emergency reinforcements from Damascus and Sinope.

The Salamis garrison was ready to be landed at Alexandria whilst the other army roaming around the Levant was ready to be aimed at Memphis – though it was bolstered by several mercenary units including some Elephants! In another one-two punch, the two cities fell in a single turn (despite a desperate attempt at relief by the Egyptians) and with the capture of the Pyramids, the loyalty bonus of the Wonder increased contentment in the settlements massively. Too bad it wasn’t a consideration a turn earlier.

In the North East of what was the Egyptian empire, there were still two holdouts although one had revolted and turned into a Rebel City which was bribed into joining the Brutii and quickly garrisoned with ten Peasant Units so that control was maintained whilst a hastily cobbled together army was sent to take out the other city.

It was then that a Scipii diplomat was spotted outside Alexandria and recognising that our former brother-in-arms were on the wane, we offered terms which were accepted. The restoration of trading rights gave the economy a massive shot in the army and whilst peace was not expected to last for long, it at least bought respite to the southern front and gave the Brutii a free hand in dealing with Cirta and Siwa. The Julii were in less of a mood to talk having remained in control of most of Gaul and northern Spain. However, the armies of the Brutii relieved them of Patavium and Segestia thus giving an excellent jump-off point towards Medolaveum (or however its spelled). It was also by this point I got bored of fighting battles with the game almost won and allowed the computer to control the battles. Two peasant units were going to bolster the garrison of the city near Hepte when they were ambushed by 8 Rebel units totalling 748 soldiers (vs 240 of mine). The odds of victory were less than one in 20. I won! Ha ha ha ha.

Alas the Julii counter attack had begun in earnest and there wasn’t much money left in the treasury for bribes. Four battles took place during the siege of Medolaveum, all of which were Brutii victories but massively depleted the attacking armies and the city was merely sold into slavery so that there’d be enough citizens to replenish the armies. That was province number 49 and in order to declare victory, I had two armies march in the south on Siwa, the last outstanding major Egyptian city. Although (an AI battle) saw army number one beaten back, the damage was done to the defenders and the second army was able to capture the city. Victory was declared as the House of the Brutii were the unquestioned masters of Rome, of Europa – of the civilised world!

Coming up next – Egypt and You (now I’ve unlocked the faction, I’m going to be the one with the Chariots)…

Quizzin’ It.

In one of those rare occasions, all the transport pretty much lined up when going to work reducing waiting times to a minimum and the overall journey door to door (factoring in going back to fetch my workpass from the bookshelves) took 50 minutes. Had there not been an H&C train at Mile End and my foolishness leaving the pass behind, I’d have probably made it within 42 mins – there was a first bus pulling away from the bus stop when I was half-way down Janson Road. Alas there was no eye-candy to leer at on the bus or train but success can’t be had on a constant basis. Though come to think of it, it’s been some time since pleasures of the flesh was had. At least a fortnight which is far too long.

I tried my tagine-cum-tikka masala for lunch yesterday, I think it definitely benefitted from some zap time in the microwave as the sauce soaked into the rice a fair amount improving the flavour (I had to buy brown rice from Tesco which is my least favourite but was almost half the price of Long Grain, let alone any of the Uncle Ben crap). And the remainder was consumed today in a gluttonous lunch. It was either that or stretch it out to two days with smaller portions which would only lead to the pining away for something more. And I had a long walk to burn off a good chunk of it (at least the rice has been burned off).

Yep, last night was quiz night and after a lacklustre month of performances, we were back bay-beh with a 31/40 score. Again, could have been higher had people spoken up and we might have kicked Science’s collective arse but there we go. I made a bit of a faux-pas with regard the Portobello Mushroom Burger, saying it lacked a counter-balance to the mushroom and would benefit from a strong cheese. The kitchen responded with the fact there was grated cheddar, mozzarella and halloumi (couldn’t taste a single one of them TBH) but agreed to consider something stronger like a Danish Blue or an extra-mature Cheddar to give it a bit more of a kick.

Rather than hang around for a final drink, I motored straight home to trim up, bathe, RTW it and then go to bed. It was frustrating having gone straight home as I’d have liked to breathe a sigh of relief and imbibe another Koppaberg but them’s the breaks. Something I did trial out was the Xmas quiz I’ve written for work. Between the fellow quiz participants, they were able to tally up about 12/25 which is either too hard or not hard enough. I will revisit the questions and reconsider them but all my trick questions worked.

I’m sorry to say that December is beginning to weigh more and more heavily on the brain and thoughts are turning to the givin’ and receivin’ of prezzies. And it’s the same old questions – who, what and why. I can’t remember what the theme was last year but I’m sure it was eatables. I could of course look back through diary/blog entries but chocolate has been a popular gift as of late with the exception the laminator I’ve purchased for Andy & John. I dunno what I’ll do this year but it’s something that’ll require a fast decision time.

And because I know you’re just DYING to hear, here’s the RTW update for today.

Picking up from where things were left off yesterday, one army hit an advance party of post-Marian Julii units which underscored the need to upgrade forces as losses were disproportionate (although the Julii were wiped out to the last man). Following the battle, Arminium was immediately laid siege to whilst Arretium was similarly whacked a turn later with Rome hurrying up reconstruction efforts in order to help field a third army given the large number of Julii units wandering around on the map.

Across the other side of the Mediterranean, Salamis was subjugated quickly owing to the city being empty of troops and with neglected defences (i.e. a wooden wall). With the loss of its final Levant naval base, Brutii Biremes and Triremes put in for a quick repair before heading south to blockade the ports of Alexandria and Siwa. In a tension-heavy battle, the Egyptians attempted to relieve the siege of Jerusalem using a force of primarily Chariots and Archers with no infantry in sight. Whilst the oncoming army was spotted in good time, reinforcements from Antioch and Damascus were too late in arriving (Roman Cavalry were despatched) and the Palmyran defenders engaged a second relief force and annihilated it to the last man. The lessons of the previous battle were definitely not learned by Egyptians. Despite a beleaguered army high atop a hill using archer and ballista units to cause as much damage as possible to the attackers, the Egyptians again attempted to rush up the hill and wore themselves out. Two depleted Equites regiments and one Roman Cavalry charged the Heavy Chariots from the flanks and tore into the Pharaoh Bowmen causing much panic behind the lines before the infantry were sent into finish off the General and the stragglers. With a mere 40 survivors from Jerusalem and the relief column, the city opened its gates and 20,000 locals were slaughtered in the ensuing fracas.

It was then I saw why Jerusalem was considered THE problem city of the game. Even with a city half full of garrison troops AND Daily Races AND low taxes, the damn place was barely loyal to the Brutii and so began the slow problem of replacing Egyptian buildings with Roman ones whilst furiously chucking in as many peasants for garrison duty. The Antioch army was fully repaired by this point and it marched south to ensure that further Egyptian relief efforts were thwarted by aiming directly at Petra.

On the new third front, the Greek-borne army landed at Massila and finding the city appallingly undefended, the city was immediately attacked and captured with reinforcements being rushed in from Croton to allow the army to move on to Syracuse. A fourth fleet was deployed to the area to ensure Scipii units were not allowed to land anywhere near the cities but spotted both Syracuse and Libayeum were similarly undergarrisoned.

Three turns over before bed – several battles fought and the number of provinces under Brutii control was now 35; fifteen to go. Alas the alliance with Britain isn’t doing much at the moment keeping the Julii off our backs given the large numbers of troops but the looting from captured cities has replenished the treasury somewhat and so bribing will be possible. Romans are cheaper to buy off compared with Egyptians and so with any luck the armies of the Julii will melt into nothing with some diplomats swarming the map. Furthermore, they’ll be backed up by assassins for units who are unpersuadable to our finances.

Tonight is a night set aside for finishing off this particular game – I am more determined than ever to finish off Egypt before victory is declared though I of course note that I have two “spare” armies in what was Northern Thrace designed to divert the attention of Dacia and Scythia which could be attacked in order to bring up the number of captured provinces. Also the Levant cities need to create another army to ensure Armenia and Parthia are deterred from attacking. Though again the treasury will hopefully also dissuade. Exciting stuff, at least to me…

Roma Asunder

What do I start with? The real world or the virtual one? Let’s go for the real world – following a late night session on Sunday, getting out of bed on Monday was an extreme struggle and after making many squealy noises, most of which were rather undignified, I staggered over to work, finished Professor Layton and the Pandora’s Box on the tube and settled in for another day in the trenches.

As I’d finished PL – I wandered over to game in Victoria Station Shopping Centre at lunchtime and mulled over the choices of the second hand games which were purchasable (is that a word?). Whilst I was tempted by the Simpsons game, in the end I plumped for the third Professor Layton game as I was on a roll despite the second hand version being only a mere £5 cheaper than brand new. But once again luck was on my side as the Star Points remained unclaimed so I could scratch them off to add to my tally. That SNES classic controller will be mine, mine, MINE!

Ahem.

If I finish the game within a week as is pretty much the general sort of time lag, it’ll be more or less in time for the fourth PL game which is released in the UK on next Friday – irritatingly the same day as Mario…

Met up with Brendan after work at The Ship which was freezing cold – despite the radiators being all on, the heat just seemed to leak straight out the windows and doors. And then we saw a mouse scurrying around on the floor which I tried to squish but the little sod was too fast. I don’t think the pub’d have any cause to complain, shouldn’t be in there in the first place. After a couple of drinks, we went to Pizza Hut (mostly out of spite) though he caved and had a big, fat ice-cream pudding whilst I ate half a pizza, doggy-bagging the other half.

And of course when I got home, it was time for RTW!

Sticking with the Brutii game, the plans drawn up last night and detailed yesterday were enacted although with one significant deviation – I forgot to attack Capua and Rome! Greek cities prepared to make a new army, the Levant cities continued to churn out troops though another plague hit one of my cities (must be an infected spy wandering around) necessitating a quarantine. Armies were moved around the board – the Egyptian Faction Heir attacked Hepte on his own (stupid, innit?) and my peasants and Roman Cavalry made quick work of him whilst another army swung south of Palmyra and caught an Eqyptian Army of mostly Heavy Chariots completely flat-footed. The attempt to relieve Jerusalem’s siege failed albeit with serious losses on my side but Antioch was able to relieve some of the depleted troops. I was particularly proud of the Jerusalem siege defence as it involved some fine work, deploying on a hill and despite being outnumbered 3 to 1, the attacking Eqyptians wore themselves out climbing the hill and eating a constant shower of fire arrows and Ballista Bullets whilst enduring limited cavalry charges from three equine units (I don’t know what happened to the fourth as all my armies have at least three horsies). Alas enough Egyptians escaped to continue manning the Jerusalem Garrison and I lacked the cavalry to pursue.

A rebel Army outside Tylis was quickly liquidated as was one outside Halicarnassus (looking to hit the army assembling to strike at Salamis (Cyprus) and one in Corinth by the army looking to strike Sikilia. So all those moves were made and then I realised Armies “1, 2 & 3” hadn’t moved. At the beginning of my next turn, I moved everything else, particularly my fleets into the Western part of the Mediterranean and struck at the Scipii ships first in order to deter relief efforts from their African provinces. One of the curious game mechanics is that owing to my overwhelming popularity with the People, once I struck at Capua the Senate declared the Julii and the Scipii outlaws, then me. In a curious way, it proved that the Senate was completely out of touch, declaring all three factions illegitimate.

The army striking at Capua was attacked by a relief column (of one Hastarti) plus the city defenders. Alas the defenders were mostly of the pre-Marian troop type whilst mine were more of a hybrid of pre and post Marian forces. And again the attacking Principes were forced to consume a steady diet of arrows and bolts whilst enduring the odd cavalry charge. Not a single defender survived the attack and Capua fell instantly. Rather than mess around, the city was quickly put to the sword, not least to replenish the treasury through looting as now the alliance with former Roman brothers was broken, there would be a corresponding drop in trade. And it made managing the cities easier. At once the peasant army assembled from troops in Apollonia, Salona, Tarentium and Croton marched in to the city to supplement the garrison there. Troops that could be retrained were and the army was all but ready to move on again.

Meanwhile armies two and three hit Rome itself. Unfortunately again for me, I didn’t pay attention and whilst the weaker lay the initial siege on the city, the stronger went after the SPQR forces wandering around outside but took a…circuitous journey which of course meant that when the Senate forces struck, it was the weaker army alone facing the armies of Rome. Ah, that was another battle that did proud. Y’see, Rome’s defences are based squarely around some outdated troops and a set of “Epic Walls” which are virtually impregnable. Only my old PC, it took two sets of Heavy Onagers three turns to smash their way in (though perhaps fire ammo wasn’t the most sensible weapon to lob at the city). I was going to starve the city out or at least force the defenders to sally forth in order to draw them away from the formidable tower and gate defences, the second army providing a back-up to first. Rome’s armies consisted chiefly of Triarii, Hastarti and Velites, a tough little force but fortunately enough, zero cavalry. Facing them was an army of Principes, Archers, Velites, Ballistas and Equites (it was an exclusively pre-Marian Army which I didn’t upgrade at the time).

Whilst maintaining a healthy distance from the towers, artillery struck at the Triarii forcing them to venture forth from the protection of the city. When in range, the Velites lobbed their javelins at the ranks thinning them out further before a sneaky cavalry charge from the rear struck at the heart of the formations. They pursued the broken lines as back as far as I dared and then went straight for the SPQR Velites units as they’d attempted to thin out the number of Equites units. Artillery continued to fire at any strong SPQR formation hoping to lure them out of formation and a second set of Triarii broke formation and again fell prey to the same cavalry lure. With 30% of the defenders dead compared with only 3% of my units, this was enough to sent the Senate forces straight at my lines. I sent my infantry charging at them, watching javelins fly at the enemy before the two crashed, again just out of range of the city towers. Equites would bob and weave in and out of the flanks of infantry units causing them to break. The General in charge of the city’s defence entered into the fray, attempting to strike at my undefended Archer and Velites units but there was a Principes unit kept close by and he was eventually forced to flee.

Eventually all the Senate forces broke and ran for the protection of the central Senate square and the computer offered me the chance to declare victory. If I had said yes, there was every likelihood that the siege would continue and my Equites were nearly at the city gates and could force their way inside to rout whatever forces they could. So the battle continued, the cavalrymen snuck inside the city gates but only two of the four units made it in, half of which were fried by the boiling oil (cute animations of horses turning into skeletons btw). But the number of defenders left capable of fighting were less than 100 compared with about 30 remaining riders and as we chased them into the heart of the city, routing units were cut down with the General being the final loss – Rome was at last mine.

Half the objective was now complete, Rome was firmly in the hands of the Brutii. Again though, the city had to be put to the sword to maintain some semblance of control without worrying about revolt. The fact that Capua and Rome were very close to the Brutii capital meant there’d be a boost to overall satisfaction levels, especially compared with other cities. And with the capture of Rome meant that Standard Bearer Units could be trained – those that carried the Roman Eagles. The heavy losses incurred in the Battle for Rome couldn’t be replaced so new units would need training. The second army, now that the city was under control, was free to go after the Senate army which was now a Rebel Faction and it smashed the three SPQR Family members plus their attending units before moving to intercept whatever reprisals would come from the Julii, with an eye on Arretium. Army number three had left Capua and now moved to intercept anything coming from Arminium.

Back to the Levant front, cities continued to churn out units, augmenting the three existing armies in the field, consolidating units and pressing the Egyptians back, picking off armies in the field. With a depleted treasury, bribing lone units was no longer an option so they had to be attacked in order to prevent them hooking up with other units in the region. Army 8 landed in Sardis and the Rhodian Fleet relieved the blockade whilst the Tarsian Fleet ventured for its home port for repairs. Meanwhile Athens and Sparta looked to construct two new Fleets, ignoring Biremes and going for Triremes and Quiremes. Several more naval engagements were made in the seas around Sicily, again hunting down Scipii ships though smashing into Julii ships when within reach and several transports were sunk with soldiers aboard.

Alas that’s where I left it – only three turns passed in game time and it took almost 90 minutes to process those turns, not least because of the sheer number of battles. I’d like to say I’ve turned the corner with the Egyptians with the rest being a mopping up affair but who can say – they’ve lost several family members and must be hurting from the loss of some key productive cities. I don’t know if the Parthians are hitting the Egyptians either but as they did help mop up Pontus, I wouldn’t be surprised. And with the Roman Civil War started, the Brutii alliance with Dacia is at an end although Britannia offered their allegiance and hopefully will give the Julii something to think about in what was Gaul. All in all, it’s an exciting game – I own 32 provinces including Rome and now the challenge is maintaining control of those 32 whilst looking to add another 18. The smart money is on taking Arretium and Arminium, the Sicily 3, Salamis, as much of the Levant as I can gobble up (though another army might need to be created in order to deter the Armenians and the Parthians). There are two armies hanging around near Campus Deite looking at keeping the Dacians there in line as well as the Scythians. Ideally, I’d like to wipe Egypt off the map so that they can be unlocked and I can begin a game as them next…

RTW Binge

Whatever buzz I had from the whole “extra hour in bed because the clocks have gone back” has totally evaporated following a massive Starbucks coffee rush on Friday and the feeding of my RTW addiction. In that order – as most caffeine junkies who like paying through the nose for coffee know, the Xmas “Red Tops” are back for the winter season which includes the usual drinks which are otherwise available at Nero and Costs the rest of the year…with the exception of Egg Nog Lattè. But as an introductory offer, it was BOGOF and I thought I’d treat myself. Alas I couldn’t find someone else to pass the second, free drink to and so had to consume it myself. I think I undertook my usual post work walk in record time.

When I got home, I ate…something (one suspects leftovers) and settled into RTW. Once again, there was the customary change of heart and rather than continue my Greek game, I started a new Scipii game, getting quite far by eliminating the Carthaginians and Numidians before taking the fight to Egypt before they got too powerful. Though I waited for them to break the alliance rather than just kick off. I was able to take Caralis before the Julii did giving an extra seaport for trade bonuses which was something the Scipii seldom get to do. Once Caralis fell, I took an army from Syracuse and took Kydonia and Sparta before the Brutii got their claws into all of Greece. This in turn allowed an incursion into Asia Minor and so Rhodes and Halicarnassus both fell and more of my Senate missions involved a Grecian odyssey rather than a North African attack.

Alas this game only held my attention until 1am on Saturday morning. When I got up at 10.30 and finished the usual activities (coffee, crumpets, laundry), I started a fresh game as the Brutii. I had an older game as the Brutii but I kinda messed things up when I attempted to assassinate a family member (can’t have the Blues getting too powerful now) and it caused a massive rift before I was ready. And so this one was…interesting.

As always, the game begins with a siege at Apollonia – no problems there. The Senate then of course direct me to blockade Syracuse, again no problem but as typically the third mission is to either hit Thermon or Salona, I thought I’d get the jump and for Thermon which was under siege by the time the request came in. That quickly fell and so I moved my army to Athens which starts the game off independent and has the potential to fall early; it did but to Macedon so I took that army by boat and swung it round to Sparta, capturing the Greek capital. All this time, Croton and Tarentium were churning out troops – Tarentium made Equites whilst Croton made Hastarti. A smaller force was ferried by boat to Kydonia to secure the southern Grecian flank (and lay our hands on the dye supplies) when breaking the standard convention, Macedonia struck at Apollonia. Fortunately there were troops across the Ionian sea to relieve the siege together with the Equites already stationed there.

Troops from Sparta immediately swung into action laying waste to Corinth and onto Athens – the joys of capturing Sparts are a City Barracks which can churn out Princeps and the Large Temple of Nike which grants +2 experience to all troops in that city (it pays to keep that one foreign temple). Using said resources, Athens fell, then Larissa, Thessalonika, Bylazora and Byzantium. Macedonian reinforcements were bribed by the considerable treasury amassed through selling the inhabitants of captured cities into slavery and using a little leftover cash, I bribed Salonia to join the House of the Brutii before the Dacians could come and nab it (in fact, there was an army led by the faction leader hanging around outside the city).

What was the Senate doing? Giving me boring blockade missions and the naval battles between Macedonia and the Brutii were far more ferocious than the land battles, not least because they had access to Triremes whilst I was stuck with Biremes and there were also the navies of Greece to content with from Rhodes and Peragimum. The Senate decided that these cities were to fall next and I gleefully complied. I think the computer was somewhat…confused by the rapid fall of Macedonia and Greece as the next few missions were of the “assassinate someone” or “obtain a treaty” variety. Again, rather than let the Senate dictate policy, I thought I’d take the fight to Pontus. Sardis fell to my army whilst Nicomedia was bribed. Ancyra was quickly secured and Sidon took a longer siege to fall. Armed forces in Asia Minor were consolidated into three identical (or near identical) armies, primarily for the final assault on Hepte but also in anticipation of an attack by Armenia or Egypt.

Slightly more westwards, the cities of Greece churned out troops to create two new armies for the Danube frontier as Thrace stood alone as a big, fat target. And as the number of provinces increased towards the magic number of 25 (at which the Senate begins to hand out impossible missions as a prelude to civil war), Croton and Tarentium began to churn out troops for the inevitable confrontation. One army outside the city became two with all the free troops given as a reward for completing various missions and then three. When I say army, I mean at least 16 of 20 slots filled by soldiers. In a quick one-two punch, the cities of Thrace quickly fell to Brutii troops whilst in the west, Brutii diplomats bribed Tarsus from Egypt followed by Palmyra and Antioch. This was leading to a tense situation with the Egyptians as their soldiers began to float about the newly captured cities but a roving diplomat paid off as many troops as possible. Meanwhile Hepte fell quickly putting an end to the Kingdom of Pontus.

Annoyingly, this coincided with the Marian reforms and so whereas troops which would have been replenished ready for the inevitable Egyptian confrontation, they were forever untouchable. A few precious turns were used to begin to replace/supplement units with post-Marian forces across the empire (such were the riches of the Brutii being able to do this). But a few turns was all that was had; at long last Egypt declared war and lay siege to Palmyra, at the same time plague striking Antioch which was to be a lynchpin in troop output. However, the three armies guaranteeing Asia Minor were swung south and engaged the Egyptians, supplemented by several Mercenary units used as cannon fodder. Damascus was the first to fall and a second army currently sieges Jerusalem (interestingly enough, the current capital of Egypt). Several field battles have also eliminated Egyptian family members.

And that’s where I saved the game and ended things, not least as it was horribly late. Though there was an army gathering together in Asia Minor to go and take Cyprus by surprise before going on to supplement the legions in Egypt.

With about 30 provinces under control, the Senate has pretty much declared me a bad person – the alliance with the Scipii has already been broken owing to a repeat of the first Brutii game I played but this time at least I managed to kill off three family members before I got caught. And the armies outside Tarentium have been supplemented with post-Marian troops so replacing them should be a sinch. Admittedly, after I saved the game, I played two more turns just to see how things would turn out if I launched the Roman Civil War sooner rather than later. Capua fell after two turns (the idiots had moved the capital to Liybaeum) and was temporarily garrisoned with one army whilst the other two went straight for Rome, one lay siege to the city, the other took on the Senate army wandering outside the city. But rather than wait for a third turn, I decided to switch off and go to bed – though it was interesting to note that the Egyptians hadn’t bothered to attack, several heavy defeats had clearly taken their toll and bribes meant reinforcements were going to be some time in coming.

I did make some notes about what to do when I resume (and I will because I want to finish one game as the Brutii before I pick up the Greek or the Scipii game) – Initiate the Civil War and take Capua before hitting Rome. The Julii are the other major Roman faction and so reprisal from them is inevitable so the Greek cities will make a fourth army to shore up Italian defences before a fifth army is created to relieve the Scipii of their Sicilian provinces, backed up by a massive naval presence to deter any marine incursions. Aegean provinces will concentrate on armies of peasants for garrison duty – soldiers can immediately return to combat as martial law is incurred. The beauty of conquering Roman cities is that you don’t have to mess around with culture penalties for the “wrong” sorts of buildings. I didn’t make any notes with regard the campaign in Egypt but the plague in Antioch has run its course and so that can again begin to contribute soldiers to replace the dead.

That’s one hell of a RTW update and I do apologise for how self-indulgent it is but with little else going on at the moment, I like to relive vicariously though deus ex machina.

Sunday was also coffee with another Thingboxer, a practice date so to speak. I have to confess my initial thoughts were to cry off as I felt lousy when I woke up but that was fatigue lousy rather than sickness lousy. However, I persevered, remembering the general ‘come out of the comfort zone’ advice and coffee was had. It was around London Bridge, again coming out of the comfort zone – perhaps it was safer not to have gone to Soho and the usual venue if Captain Crapsack might have been there. And I received a text message midway through the evening which I’m still…seething over. Its content will remain a mystery but the portents are not looking good. A confrontation is inevitable; this is what you get for trying to be helpful.

And finally in a preview of this week’s events, there are several draining work meetings to be had, one thing tonight and the usual quiz tomorrow. Again, it’s shaping up to be a cheap week although grocery shopping to replenish a few items will need to be done sooner rather than later though I’m clearly good for crisps and cake bars for….years.