The Painted Folk: On Campaign

By Edorix


Britannia is one of the easier factions to play, as you are never really under any serious threat in the early game. The AI factions almost NEVER invade Britain, so the majority of your lands at the start are safe. However, your army does have weaknesses- many, in fact. Britannia is not invulnerable.

In order to conduct a successful campaign, you must know the strengths and weaknesses of your army. This thread contains a good introduction to your military, and a complete listing of all your units is provided here. I suggest you read them first.

There are two basic ways you can begin a campaign as the Britons. You can sit back on your island and build up, or you can blitzkrieg your enemies on the mainland right from the start. Either strategy works; in this article, I advocate a slightly different approach to the campaign. This guide describes a more orthodox way of beginning a campaign. The strategy which I will describe here is intended, not to make the game as easy as possible, but to give you a more fun, refreshing game experience.

An Unorthodox Plan

My strategy combines the defensive aspect of the sitting back and building up strategy with the blitzkrieg aspect of the immediate expansion strategy. In your first few turns, sit back and build up. Build a port in Londinium, a shrine to Andrasta in Samarobriva, and roads in the rest of your towns, or something similar, it doesn't really matter. Put Belenus and his troops inside Samarobriva; he won't be going anywhere for a long time. Try and get Samarobriva up to large town status as quickly as possible; by disbanding peasants and warbands, this can usually be achieved on the second turn. Actually, you can achieve it on the first turn, but if you build a shrine to Andrasta on the first turn instead, you can then be recruiting woad warriors already by the time you are building the warlord's hold. Save money where possible, train woad warriors all over the place to replace your warbands, and invade Ireland. At Londinium, build a fleet- you will need six or seven boats for this invasion- and when that is ready train head hurlers and swordsmen. Meanwhile, train woad warriors in your little towns in the North, and light chariots at Samarobriva as soon as possible. Capture Ireland as soon as possible as well; this will boost your economy and give you another woad warriors training-ground. Preserve your druids and the light chariots you already have, you will need them. When you have about twenty units- two or three family members (if you can spare them, just leave one in Londinium and one in Samarobriva, you should have enough), two or three head hurlers, four or five light chariots, and the rest swordsmen, woad warriors, warbands and your druids (say, a couple of swordsmen, your single druids unit, four or five woad warriors and a couple of warbands). Pack this army onto your boats, and ship them off to Spain.

Yes, Spain. Spain is an economic powerhouse, and they won't be expecting you. That should be reason enough. Furthermore, Asturica, the first settlement you will come to on the northwestern coast is already a large town; build a level two barracks there as soon as possible and you will soon be able to recruit swordsmen to fill your army. Don't leave it too long to build up in Spain; the Iberians whose settlement you took will return, seeking vengeance. Leaving your cheap woad warriors behind in Asturica to defend along with a family member, march your main host South and capture Scallabis, the next Spanish settlement. Spain will be taken completely by surprise by this sudden appearance of a large force in their rear; although they start off with a large number of troops, they will be unlikely to be able to respond to this invasion effectively. Just like that, you have captured a third of the Iberian peninsula. The Iberians probably still have a few little armies on your side of Spain, but once you defeat them- and with all your swordsmen and light chariots at this stage that shouldn't be a problem- you have the Gauls and Carthaginians between you and Spain's remaining cities.

Meanwhile, up in Belgica, I like to stay on the defensive. It is just more fun. Continue building up and recruiting light chariots, because those light chariots will destroy anything the Germans and Gauls can send against you at this stage, in the open, with a little support from barbarian cavalry mercenaries and warlords. One reason for sticking to Belgica and not expanding is to keep your borders to a minimum. Just like in Risk, the fewer borders you have with an enemy the fewer you have to defend. If you just stick to Belgica, then your enemies only have one target. Although this means they will send everything they have against it and at time you may be hard put to fight them off, you will never be taken by surprise. Also, keep Samarobriva at all costs. If you build a port there, the trade link between Londinium and Samarobriva will easily begin to bring you in another two thousand denarii per turn. Losing it will cripple your economy- at least until you control all of Spain.

Indeed, conquering Spain is your main objective now, and it shouldn't be too difficult. It is a good idea to capture Corduba before the Carthaginians build it up to minor city status, because this will help your culture penalty. Corduba is notoriously difficult to control, because it has a very high rate of population growth, increasing squalor and thus discontent. If there are no buildings there belonging to another culture, this discontent will be limited and there will be no culture penalty. Anyway, conquering Spain should be relatively easy if you move fast enough. Speed is of the essence; this is where the blitzkrieg part of the strategy comes in. You need to strike hard, and keep striking hard, so your enemy doesn't have time to recover after each blow. I once secured all of the Iberian peninsula by 261 BC. Once you have accomplished this, don't forget the Balearic Isles. If they are still controlled by the Carthaginians, take them. You can recruit Balearic slingers as mercenaries in those islands, so it is a good idea to control them as Britain has quite a few weaknesses in their unit roster as far as missile units are concerned, and Balearic slingers are excellent. If the Balearics are controlled by the Julii however- well, you choose. Do you really want to go to war with Rome at this stage? You should be able to afford it, but if you are not a very confident player, don't bother. The Balearics are not absolutely necessary, but watch out for invasions from them if you leave them alone.

The Next Domino: Gaul

Having conquered Iberia, your next objective is to conquer Gaul, because now you can co-ordinate invasions from two directions. The Gauls will not be able to withstand this. They will crumble quickly. By 245 BC at the latest, you are undisputed master of Western Europe. It's around now, if not before, that the Romans will come along to dispute that claim.

You are now in control of Britain, Iberia and Gaul. You have strong experienced armies on your frontiers, and rich trading settlements in your interior. Your coffers are full, and you have plenty of manpower. You are ready to go to war with Rome, and Germania. It is time to head east.

Taking on the Romans

Conquering Germania and Italy will not be easy if you follow the routes most people take; that is, through the Alps and across the Rhine. Yes, Mediolanium and Trier are nice big settlements, close to your borders so they can be easily reinforced, but they are not the real prize, and their previous owners want them too. So don't go that way. Use your fleets. Land armies in Schleswig-Holstein and Tuscany, and make for your enemies' heartlands- Tribus Chattii and Tribus Saxones in Germania, and Etruria, Umbria and Latium in Italy. If you strike hard enough and fast enough, your opponents will not be able to withstand you. In the meantime, you may also wish to cross the straits of Gibraltar and invade the Numidians. North Africa is actually quite a rich region, and those broad expanses of desert are beautiful terrain for chariot versus cavalry fights with the Numidians, and chariot versus infantry fights with the Scipii. Also, it does not require much effort or many resources. Very worthwhile, especially when you reach Carthage and Sicily, some of the richest provinces on the map, and right at Rome's back door.

Now, in Rome and Germania, it's just a question of mopping up. While they draw all their massive armies back from their borders to protect their homelands, march into their now undefended border regions- in this case, Batavodurum and Trier, and Mediolanium, Segesta and Patavium- and annex. Goodbye, Julii and Germania.

The Germans are probably still hanging on to their Eastern territories, but they will fall easily. All you need is a bunch of light chariots and a handful of melee infantry and cavalry mercenaries. One stack will be plenty. As for the remains of the Scipii and Brutii, your numbers alone will be enough to wipe them out of Italy. And when you control Italy, everything becomes easy. You will notice I gave much more detail at the beginning; this is because the game is much more predictable at first, whereas towards the end it is impossible to predict exactly where you and the AI will be.

Now there is just some more mopping up to do. You now control the entire Western half of the map. Your main enemies are now the main factions left on the map; Dacia, the Brutii, Scythia, and Egypt, and maybe Pontus if they're still around. Of these, Dacia cannot withstand your sheer numbers, and the Scythian horsemen cannot withstand your chariots- although you may take heavy casualties from their arrows. The Brutii have their deadly legionary infantry and the economic resources of Greece, but your empire is about ten times as large as theirs and many of your top units will have six or seven chevrons of experience. It will be tough, but you will be able to crush the Brutii.

By now, you have most likely achieved your victory conditions, and there are about four factions left on the map; you, Egypt, the rebels, and maybe one or two other minor powers. Egypt is the final test of a great warlord of the Britons. If you can defeat them, you are a master of British warfare, because Egypt has everything you have and more. Pharaoh's Guards will tear your Chosen Swordsmen apart and slaughter your chariots. Pharaoh's Bowmen will wipe out your Head Hurlers and rout your chariots with ease. And to top it all, Egypt can field better chariots than you. The key to defeating Egypt on the battlefield then is tactical subtlety, something which I happen to be very bad at. Or, if your Chosen Swordsmen have eight or nine experience, equally you should be okay. But this article deals with strategy, not tactics.

Dealing with Egypt

What you want to do is draw the Egyptian forces away from their heartlands, just as you did with Germania and the Julii. Distract them by threatening their borders, and then unleash the entire might of your empire upon their heartlands. Egypt has better fleets than you as well, so you will need lots of ships to ensure safe passage for your armies. Land at least five stacks in the Nile Delta, Levant and Southern Turkey. These are their heartlands. Exterminate ALL the settlements you take from them or the culture penalty will destroy you. It will probably destroy you anyway until you take Memphis and the pyramids. You want to launch almost simultaneous assaults on all their really important cities: Alexandria, Memphis, Sidon, Antioch and Tarsus are the really big ones. Then Thebes, Jerusalem, Damascus. And just keep going. All this uproar in their heartlands will weaken their borders, and the stacks you had piled up against them in the Sahara and the Aegean and the Caucasus can now come pouring over the frontiers, sacking and exterminating. NEVER engage the Egyptians unless you have a distinct tactical and numerical advantage, or you WILL lose. You MUST defeat the Egyptians by crippling their economy, i.e. blockading all their ports and capturing their heartlands, because you don't stand a chance in a fair fight in the field.

Mopping up the Egyptians after you have consolidated their heartlands is still not easy. They still control most of Asia Minor, Libya and the Southeast corner of the map. Step by step, you must cut your way through everything they send against you and consistently make for their big cities. Your numbers, in the end, should be enough. I have once, and once only, actually achieved the conquest of the entire map as the Britons without cheating.

Britannia is one of the few civilisations whose campaign is just as entertaining and challenging all the way through if you keep at it, because they completely lack anything that they can really use to fight Egypt. And as Egypt is at the opposite end of the map to you, you will face them last. The early game is quite easy, and then you will struggle for a couple of dozen turns with the Germans and Romans, and then things get easier again for a bit. Right at the end lies the real challenge, which is what makes Britannia one of the most fun factions to play with.

A few tips:

  • You have no cavalry, so always hire whatever cavalry mercenaries you can get.

  • A full stack of light chariots will beat almost any opponent, but it can be very hard to keep control of all those units, and enemies with lots of armour and chariots of their own- that is, Egypt- may be able to find a way round it.

  • A full stack of heavy chariots with a ten star general will almost always win if you auto-decide battles, because the AI gives a ridiculous bonus to chariots when calculating the battle results. However, it will not usually win if you choose to fight the battle yourself, and it could be construed as cheating.

  • Because the Britons are a barbarian faction, you will have problems with public order in large non-barbarian settlements as they will have a massive culture penalty and a massive population. Also, as the Britons you do not have access to temples of law or justice. So always move your capital to be near the centre of your empire, and always exterminate large non-barbarian settlements.

  • Remember to always maintain a large fleet. "Large Boats" are not brilliant, so always have plenty of them around.

So, there you have it; a campaign strategy for the Britons, which will lead you right through from your first provincial annexations in Spain to your final victory under the sunrise. Good luck, mighty warlord!