Carthage Opening Moves Guide

By Giakomo

Well, there I was. Having completed the imperial campaign as all 3 Roman families, Egypt, and the Seleucids, it was now time to try Carthage. History teaches us that the Scipii would be our biggest rival, so on my first attempt (on vh/vh) I jumped right into action and took Messana on turn 2, only to find myself several years later being constantly forced to defend Caralis from the Julii and Messana from first the Scipii and then the Brutii, Corduba from the Spain/Gaul alliance, as well as having Greek and Numidian armies roam free all over my turf. With the economy severely under-developed and my empire collapsing, I decided to start over and try a different approach.

This guide is a walk-through of the first 5 turns of my new strategy. The approach I decided to take is to avoid going to war with the Romans until the number of potential enemies has been reduced, my empire is bigger territorially, and more profitable economically.

To achieve this, you must be prepared to make some sacrifices, namely:

  1. Give up Caralis without a fight
  2. Leave the Scipii alone on Sicily (at least for a while)

Now, I know how most people are about giving up territory, but trust me, giving up one tiny village with a starting population of 700 (where you can only recruit peasants) is a lot cheaper than having to pay maintenance for a huge army to sit there and guard it.

As for the Scipii, they always attack the Greeks before they attack you, so you only need to do enough to prevent them from taking Syracuse. This is easily accomplished by putting an army on their border to act as a scare-crow, so the Scipii will be too afraid that you will attack them to go through with their siege of Syracuse. If you allow the Scipii to take over Syracuse, their economy will get considerably better and they will then start attacking Lilybaeum, then landing troops near Carthage, which is really, really bad. So, the longer you can keep the Greeks and Scipii fighting over Syracuse, the better.

Your first target will be Numidia. They have a couple profitable towns along the north-African shore that will make a nice addition to your growing empire, plus they're small enough to be easily and quickly defeated. So, with Numidia in our sights, we begin!

A couple quick notes:

  • I did this on vh/vh, but it works for all difficulties
  • Try to follow directions in the order they're listed to avoid confusion

Turn 1

Lilybaeum:

  • Set taxes to very high.
  • Send your spy all the way to the east coast, between Messana and Syracuse. From there, you can monitor both Greeks and the Scipii. Send your faction leader (with his army) to a little wooded area on the north shore, just west of the Scipii border. Once there, he should be in an ambush position, blocking the northern passage from Messana to Lilybaeum.
  • Build a Port. It will give a huge boost to your trade income.
  • Recruit a diplomat. You will want to get an alliance with the Greeks as soon as the Scipii attack Syracuse (which they always do before going after Lilybaeum)
  • Move your bireme to Thapsus, as far south as you can

Caralis:

  • Set taxes to very high
  • Don't build/recruit anything here. The Julii will keep pounding on it until they take it. It's much easier to use it to trick them into war with another faction rather than having to keep a huge army there just to protect a tiny village. Besides, once the Julii have it, they will leave you alone.

Corduba:

  • Build a Shrine to Baal. It will help keep the people of this rather rebellious province from revolting.
  • Don't recruit any units. Later, you'll be able to hire mercenaries from the surrounding area, which are much better than anything you can recruit there at the moment.
  • I like to use the 2 units of round-shield cavalry to scout the area around so that I know who controls what provinces next to me. Send one east and one northwest.

Palma:

  • Set taxes to very high
  • Build a Trader. It gives a much-needed population boost of .5% Don't recruit any units yet

Carthage:

  • Build Roads
  • Recruit a diplomat. The idea is to send it with one of your biremes to the Julii, and then use it to get trade agreements throughout Europe Send one of your biremes to Palma. You will use it to transport Balearic slingers south to Numidia. Use the other one to transport all troops from Caralis to Carthage.

Thapsus:

  • Set taxes to very high
  • Build Roads. This will link Thapsus to Carthage, improving trade between them, and allowing you to move troops quickly, in case you run into problems with Numidians
  • Recruit a diplomat. This one will travel east (on a bireme from Lilybaeum) and get trade agreements with factions there

Turn 2

Carthage:

  • Move all troops west toward Numidia (these will later be joined by forces from Palma and additional mercenaries to form an invasion force that will take over Cirta) Unload Caralis troops from bireme and put them into Carthage. These will act as the new garrison. Set taxes to High. Send your new diplomat north on one bireme and keep the other bireme moving to Palma Build a Shipwright Recruit a unit of Peasants

Thapsus:

  • Build a Port Recruit Peasants Put the new diplomat on a bireme and send it east, along the coastline

Corduba:

  • Build Land Clearance Keep scouting the area with your round-shield cavalry

Lilybaeum:

  • Send the new diplomat to Syracuse Reinforce you faction leader's army with a unit of town militia

Turn 3

  • Keep moving biremes carrying your diplomats north and east.
  • Keep marching Hasdrubal's army into Numidia. You might run into some small Numidian armies. Don't engage them yet, just go around. Your target is their capital.
  • Get an alliance and trade agreement with the Greeks. Try selling them your map info (I got 2750 for it)

Carthage:

  • Recruit another unit of Peasants

Palma:

  • As one of your biremes finally gets there, take your general out of town and use it to hire another unit of mercenary slingers. Put your general back in town. Load all 3 units on slingers on the bireme and send them south to Numidia.
  • Recruit a unit of Peasants
  • Build Land Clearance

Thapsus:

  • Send Iberian Infantry and Round-Shield Cavalry to Carthage

Lilybaeum:

  • Build Land Clearance

Turn 4

  • If you have been following directions, you should now be able to land one of your diplomats near Segesta. Arrange for trade rights with the Julii and try to sell Caralis to them. If they refuse to buy it, use your diplomat on Sicily to give it as a present to the Greeks. It will insure that you don't go to war with the Romans, and the Greeks do.
  • If you're lucky, there will be other diplomats near Segesta (Roman/Gaul). Sell them your trade rights / map info. Also, try to get an alliance with the Gauls.
  • Move the bireme that carried your diplomat to Segesta down to Sicily. You will now use it to take your diplomat near Syracuse to Greece.
  • Keep marching Hasdrubal's army from Carthage to Cirta (Numidian capital)
  • Land 3 units of Balearic slingers in Numidia and move them toward Cirta. After that, you can either move the bireme back to Palma and keep using it to transport more slingers as they become available, or move it back to Carthage to join the fleet that will be built / assembled there.

Carthage:

  • Finish moving troops from Thapsus to Carthage
  • Set taxes to Very High
  • Recruit a Spy

Thapsus:

  • Build a Wooden Palisade
  • Recruit a Bireme

Corduba:

  • Build a Wooden Palisade. This province will be on the defensive until you're done conquering the Numidians.

Lilybaeum:

  • Recruit a Bireme.

Turn 5

  • It's possible that Caralis will revolt after you give it to the Julii/Greeks. If that happens, take any troops that spawned out of town and give the province to the Greeks.
  • Move Hasdrubal's army to Cirta. Have your Balearic slingers join it. You can hire mercenaries if you think you need more men. At this point you should be ready to assault Cirta.
  • Use your diplomat near Segesta to sell trade rights/map info to the Gauls, then keep going north and repeat with the Germans.

Carthage:

  • Build Cavalry Stables. Aside from being able to recruit better cavalry, this will also allow you to train Elephants.
  • Recruit a Trireme

Lilybaeum:

  • Build Market
  • Recruit Bireme
  • Move bireme to Carthage

Corduba:

  • Build Mines
  • Set taxes to High (if they you can keep public order in the green) Finish scouting the surrounding area and return round-shield cavalry to town

Thapsus:

  • Build Market
  • Recruit Bireme
  • Move bireme to Carthage

Palma:

  • Build Barracks

Where to go from here

Conquest of West Africa

After you take Cirta, continue with your conquest of Numidia by taking Tingi and Dimiddi next. You should be done with them by about 263-262 BC. Capturing Nepte in the south is pretty much optional, since it's just another tiny village, but feel free to grab it if you want a bit more income every turn or enjoy long walks in the desert. A lot of people suggest taking Lepcis Magna (southeast of Thapsus), but I would recommend against it. While it's controlled by rebels, it serves as a buffer between you and the last Numidian town (Siwa). Also, at the early stages, it is best not to expand east into Africa; otherwise you risk getting backstabbed by the fast-growing Egyptian powerhouse. Don't worry about the Egyptians pushing west though. They'll be busy fighting Seleucids, so as long as you don't try to expand east in Africa, they won't bother you.

Diplomacy

With diplomats in Europe, Greece, and Egypt, you should have no trouble raising additional money by selling trade rights/maps to factions all over the known world. Get alliances with Greek Cities, Egypt, and Gauls (otherwise they'll ally with Spain and attack Corduba).

The Romans

Stick to the plan and stay neutral. You won't need to worry about the Julii until much, much later. Once they have Caralis, their attention shifts north to Gauls, so except for their fleet, you won't even know they're there. The Brutii will be busy taking over Greece and the Scipii will be stuck in Messana, then around 262 BC Etna will erupt, decimating their army, only to slow them down even more.

Continue your conquest

Once you control the 3 Numidian provinces in the west, you can move a good chunk of your troops from Africa to wherever you think they're needed *cough* Spain *cough*.

Good luck and may the force be with you!

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