Gaul, Homeland of Heroes

Hail, mighty warlord! We have been expecting you. Welcome to Gaul, the homeland of heroes. We are the Celts, a proud and warlike race who originated in the southwest of our lands on the fringes of Iberia; others may tell you we came from Noricum, but this is misinformed ignorance. The famous artwork of that area was developed by us, but we are much older than that: indeed, we have dwelt on the slopes of the Pyrenees ever since the end of the Great Cold, when the whole world was covered in ice in the far-distant past. We are older than the Greeks and Romans, our so-called "civilised" neighbours, older even than the far away Egyptians. As such, we have much knowledge, much wisdom, and much skill.

Since those days, our power has grown. Our people have spread far and wide, for a warlike race must always have new challenges, and we have roamed most of the known world seeking an equal in war. At first our power grew gradually, spreading from the Pyrenees along the south coast of what is now Gaul towards the Alps, and also southwestwards into Greater Iberia, all this before ever Rome or Massilia was founded. Some of our kin also sailed north by ship, spreading our ways among the barbaric Painted People of the Cassiterides. . . Or the Casseritides . . . Whatever they're called, those big mysterious islands off the north coast of Gaul in the middle of the Ocean, you know. Anyway, after that we spread into the rest of what is now Gaul, other parts of Iberia- most of which have since declared their independence and formed their own Celtiberian confederacy- and the rich valley of the Padus River, north of the lands of the Etruscans. There we founded a great city, Mediolanium, because the gods had ordained that we should settle there. A short while later, our Etruscan neighbours questioned our right to dwell in the valley of the Padus, so we sent a warhost south to punish them. However, they called on the help of the Romans, who broke off peace-talks by joining in the battle on the Etruscan side. Insulted, we marched south, routed a Roman army, and sacked Rome. We let them have their city back afterwards, such as it was- we may yet regret it. The sack of Rome was the high point in our history so far; but a repeat of the same, coupled with a long-term conquest, could be higher still. The Etruscans and Romans are not the only "civilised" people we have crushed in battle; we also invaded the lands of the Hellenes that the Romans call Greece, and were only repulsed when the gods forbade our expansion that way. So instead, we turned east, crossed the Hellespont, and founded a kingdom in Asia Minor, between Pontus and the Aegean. Galatia- the Greek name for that kingdom- has since become separated from our influence, but it is still nonetheless Celtic land.

As you see, warlord, our history is that of a great people, and our greatness is not yet over!

Our Lands and Strongholds

When you first take the throne of the Overlord of Kings, you will find that Gaul is already the largest nation in the World. Of course, other lands too that should be ours by right have been lost, abandoned, or captured by enemies, but for now, your lands are still the largest. Our chief settlement is at Alesia, which is approaching the status of city already. The population is also encouraged to grow by the understanding the people of this settlement have of farming; Land Clearance is employed here to enable farmers to get better harvests. Here you already have quite a strong force of warriors, but you may also train, if you wish, barbarian cavalry, warhounds, and also the humble warband, backbone of your early armies. Alesia is also defended by a wooden palisade.

Away to the northwest lies Condate of the Redones, the capital of Armorica. It is a minor settlement, however here as well you may train warbands if you wish. Some call this town "Rennes".

Further south lies Aquitania, the capital of which is Lemonum, also known as "Poitiers". It is a small settlement, but in a rich region. As an interesting aside, although it is close to the Celtic homeland, the people here in fact do not speak Celtic but Vasconic, an Iberian language. You may call forth Skirmisher Warbands, if you wish, to man the palisade here if an enemy threatens.

To the southwest of Aquitania is our ancestral homeland, the vicinity of the town Narbo Beleni, that others call "Narbonne". The Romans call it "Narbo Martius", because it is dedicated to Belenos, whom they call Mars. Narbo is only a small town, despite its ancestral importance, because large numbers of people kept moving out of it to invade other lands. It is lacking a good palisade, however it does have a muster field where you may recruit warbands.

Aside from these four, there are three other settlements in Gaul. However, we do not control them. North of Alesia lies the town of Samarobriva, capital of the Belgae, which was seized from us by the Painted People of the Islands. South of Alesia lie the lands of the rebellious Aedui and their capital Lugdunum. South again of Lugdunum, or west of Narbo, lies the Greek colony of Massilia. These three towns have caused great annoyance to previous rulers of Gaul. They should be ours, by right!

So much for Gaul proper. Between the Great Mountains (that is, in our tongue, "the Great Alpes") and the lands of the Romans, we rule two large settlements: Mediolanium and Patavium. Both grow fast and have good infrastructures; you may train warbands at both, both have a wooden palisade to protect them, and at Patavium there is a trader to encourage friendly exchange of produce with neighbours. But these two large towns will also have to bear the brunt of the expansion of the greedy Romans to the south.

Our last settlement is the great fortress of Numantia in Celtiberia. It is a very useful region to control, but it is expensive to keep, as you will need a very large army there to hold off both the Iberians and the Carthaginians. Here you may train warbands, warhounds or barbarian cavalry, according to your designs.

Our Foes

Our foes are many, for our lands border with many, and all are jealous of our reputation. To the north are the Britons, painted savages who drive dangerous battlewains, which can be a threat even to our brave warriors, and they gaze with longing from their wet islands at the rich fields of Armorica and our capital. Given the chance, they would rampage across all of Gaul. We must not give them this chance. To the east lurk the Germans, lunatics swinging battleaxes, but they also employ a form of shieldwall, which can be an excellent defence for cowards who cannot fight honourably. They are likely to invade before long, and our defences have to hold. To the southeast are the Iberians, true barbarians who threaten our ancient settlements of Numantia and Narbo, and to the southeast, in Italy, the greedy Romans use revenge as a justification to take our lands in the Padus valley from us.

All these enemies can be defeated by a strong leader who knows how to use our warriors to their strengths. But it is not an easy task. The first few years in particular will be a difficult time for you, warlord, as you will face many threats at the same time. The key is fast expansion. You must unite Gaul as fast as possible, and invading Italy is your first priority. Italy is rich, and every great nation needs money. Money can be hard to come by when your warhost is as great as is that of Gaul. I suggest abandoning the city of Numantia. It is not a sacrifice to be made lightly, but disbanding all those extra troops there will save you money, and you can send your warlord up to defend Narbo instead. Later, when your empire is stable, then you will be able to think about reconquering Iberia. Taking over Britannia early can be a great help too, if you are able. This will prevent the Britons from ever being strong enough to field their mighty war chariots against you, and it will also provide you with an excellent economic base to tax and feed your armies elsewhere. It is not an expedition to be undertaken lightly, however. If you get an opportunity, exploit it. If not, defend until you have the resources to mount an invasion.

This scroll shows you one way to exploit your opening moves as Gaul.

Our Warhost

The warriors of Gaul are brave, but they are not disciplined. Nor do they wear armour, for that would be cowardly. However, all your infantry units have the advantage of the warcry, which raises their attack and their morale by a massive degree for a limited space of time. Always use this when you can before engaging, as it gives your troops a massive bonus. All your units also have a bonus in snow, so where possible, always engage enemies in the winter.

At first, all you will have is warbands. Warbands are not a poor unit for what they are, but they are expensive to maintain and they cannot stand up to constant pressure. They tire quickly and they have poor morale. Do not rely on them any longer than you have to, for you will not win a battle with them against anything except peasants, light cavalry, and various kinds of militia. Swordsmen, when you can get them, are good, and will handily defeat Roman hastati; but they are not really anything special.

Warhounds are an idea developed by the Britons, but they take an entire year to train and are not usually worth the wait. They make a good diversion, but they do not fight as well as man with a spear and shield. Barbarian Cavalry are useful for defeating the Romans, and you have two settlements that can train them at the start of your reign. They are not superb, but they are brave and strong, and as good as any other cavalry of their time. They are also fast, which is another bonus. Skirmisher Warbands are bands of javelin-throwing men who are too cowardly to join the main ranks. Their javelins are flimsy and they only carry six of them, so they are certainly not worth wasting your money on if you have any choice.

On the other hand, the troops you can recruit from cities at the highest tier of development are worth your money. Chosen Swordsmen are an excellent unit of highly trained swordsmen with armour. They are easily a match for Roman principes and triarii- however, do not be too confident of their performance against legionary cohorts. It is best to have destroyed the Roman factions before they can access their best units. Barbarian Noble Cavalry are a strong cavalry unit — however, do not expect them to perform well against Macedonian Companions, Carthaginian Sacred Band Cavalry, German Gothic Cavalry or of course spearmen. They are good, but not brilliant, so use them in large numbers and they will perform well.

However, none of the above units are uniquely Gaulish. Most of them were invented by the Gauls, but there is always another faction that shares them. The Germans have the same cavalry and more, the Britons have the same infantry and more... however, there is one unit that belongs to Gaul and Gaul alone, and that is the Forester Warband.

The Forester Warband is a unit of elite archers on a par with Cretans. They have a spectacular range, and can hide anywhere. They can also hold their own quite well in melee thanks to leather armour and a shortsword carried at their side. Foresters are truly the lifeline of the Gauls once you can get them. This strategy shows one way of using them in combination with Noble Cavalry to guarantee a victory almost every time.

Religion and Worship

We Gauls worship many gods in many different places and in many different ways. However, the government only designates places of worship for four of them: Teutates, goddess of war; Abnoba, a goddess of the hunt; Epona, goddess of horses; and Esus, god of justice. Construction of temples to these gods can give various bonuses to the settlement where they were built or warriors trained there.

Teutates grants experience bonuses to warriors trained or retrained in settlements where her places of worship may be found. Naked fanatics can also be trained from a sacred grove, although just how useful that is is for you to judge. Before we go any further, do not worry yourself; I can see you were raised in a society, like that of the Romans, that calls itself civilised. Naked fanatics are not, in fact, naked. They wear a loin-cloth, ever since the tribes began to realise just how vulnerable exposed manhood can be in battle. Anyway, fanatics are quite a good unit, but they take a whole year to train – and in that time you could have trained two units of swordsmen, who have higher defence and are a better balanced unit. However, fanatics do have the advantage of being cheap, and they have a higher charge and attack stat than swordsmen. Judge for yourself how much to use them.

Abnoba gives weapons bonuses to missile units- that means that with a sacred circle to Abnoba in a city, you can give your Forester warbands "gold" weapons upgrades without even having built a smithy. Which is nice. Forester warbands with arrowheads of thriceforged steel are truly something to be reckoned with.

Epona, like Teutates, gives experience bonuses to units. She is one of many gods who patronise horses. And as we Celts do not, of course, use horses for work on farms and the like- we hear that those barbaric Romans who live to the South do do this, and for this reason I mention it- but only for war, Epona is also a patroness of war.

Esus gives a public order bonus to the cities where his places of worship may be found. Also, from a Sacred Circle to Esus, you may train Druids, which makes construction of his temples even more worthwhile. A unit of Druids to support your infantry can help them to work wonders. Druids themselves are few in number, take a whole year to recruit, and are not brilliant units, but they give a valuable morale boost to nearby friendly units, enabling them to fight for longer and hold a line better. A unit of these per army is often the difference between victory and defeat.

The Mods

There are actually barely any mods out there that focus on the Gauls, in the English-speaking online community anyway. I imagine that if you were to poke about in French-speaking forums you would find a few. However, this does not mean the Gauls are ignored in other mods. Most of the major modifications- Amazon: Total War, Roma Surrectum, SPQR, etc,- change the Gauls in some way, each adding something unique of their own to this fascinating faction. Many of them are well worth a look.

So, that is a basic rundown of my people for you, my lord. I hope you will find ruling us both challenging and enjoyable. If you are ever in doubt, perusing the various scrolls you can find on this site will help you solve your problems, and there are plenty of other more experienced warlords around who will be willing to help and share their wartime experiences with you. Good luck, warlord! The blessing of Teutates go with you!

By Edorix