The Idiot General (or 'Why I am bad at RTS games')


Battle 1c - I Meant To Do That (Rome: Total War)

This is continued from 'Battle 1b - It Worked?'

Remember those cavalry that I didn't manage to kill? The ones who ran to the back of the opposing army? They came back. With help.

By now some time had passed. The battle in the centre was dying down (no pun intended) with neither side the clear victor. I had thrown out all my reserve from the rear of my army when it looked like the Egyptians were about to win and the net result was that both armies essentially cancelled each other out. What didn't die routed, and what didn't rout died.

So I was left with three half-strength units of weak archers, a handful of hoplites which together would probably make up a couple of groups and two cavalry groups. Feeling smug (most likely because I thought that the bulk of his army was either dead or running) I sent in the cavalry to mop up what was left.

Big mistake. Out of nowhere (really they were hiding in plain sight, I'm just blind) that cavalry unit returns. With two elite spearmen units. And a group of Pharaoh's Bowmen. And a chariot unit. GODDAMMIT!

But then, wonder of wonders, an accide… er, I mean, a totally planned out and completely deliberate ambush took place, evening the playing field. In R:TW, units near trees are apparently invisible to the enemy, allowing so called 'ambushes' (or at least my opponent swears this is the case). And remember my not-so well-thought-out 'box' formation? Well, while I was spending all that time setting it up, I apparently abandoned one of my Spartan Hoplite groups in the middle of a forest. And forgot about them. See where this is going?

So after that brilliant (and totally intentional) move the game was drawing to a close, but neither side would give up. There were only a few soldiers left. Note: soldiers, not units, soldiers. A unit comprises 30 - 50 soldiers. There were five soldiers left. Four of my Spartans and one of his chariots. However, since the world hates me he was still winning since, like those blasted camels, his chariot was an archer and even at a full run my Spartans could only match his speed, not close the distance (and that was with me micro-managing to cut corners). Also, because both are high tier units, they both had the highest moral possible, meaning that there would be no retreat and the game would only end with the death of either my plucky Spartans, or his infernal chariot archer.

To cut a long story short, after five minutes of this, with only two Spartans left and that chariot still just out of reach, I surrendered. At which point I hear a burst of laugher coming from the other room. I go out and see my friend, the Egyptian general, rolling on the floor in laughter. Why? Because his chariot had just run out of arrows (this switched it from ranged to melee mode, meaning that even as I surrendered his last soldier was charging to certain death and my victory).

And thus ends my most spectacular humiliation in a Total War match, thoroughly enjoyed by both parties… and a permanent black mark on my pride as a general.