Being a Horde 101

By Hussarknight

One of the most influential new features of Barbarian Invasion is the hordes. Hordes are factions that don't have any settlements, but are one the move, searching for new homelands. This guide will teach you the basics of being a horde.

Going horde

There are two ways to become a horde. The first is to lose your last settlement to an enemy. This can be hard, because you can't rely on enemy factions to come and take it. The second way to horde is to do it yourself. This can only be done when you have only one settlement. On the information scroll of that settlement you'll find a button with a tent upon it in the bottom-left corner. Use this to become a horde. Remember that only the following factions can become a horde:

  • Huns
  • Sarmatians
  • Vandals
  • Franks
  • Goths
  • Ostrogoths (not present at the start)
  • Roxolani
  • Slavs (also not present at the start)
  • Burgundians
  • Lombards
All other factions will just die out when they lose their last settlement.

When your faction turns into a horde it gets a lot of units, called horde units. They are marked by a wheel on their unit card. Most of these units are of low quality, but a few will be more powerful. The catch with hordes is that you can't train any new units (except for mercenaries) until you settle down again, so you'll have to find a new homeland with only the horde troops and whatever troops you had before you turned into a horde. None of your units require upkeep as long as you stay a horde, but mercenaries still demand their wages.

Because you can't train any units while you're a horde, it's important to train as many units as you can before packing your belongings and setting of for a new homeland. Choose carefully which units to train. Some are more useful than others to have with you. Another important factor is the time a unit takes to recruit. You'll have to decide if it's better to have one powerful unit or two less powerful units.

Picture by SubRosa

On the move

So you've packed your coffers, mounted your horse and raised your banner for all your followers to admire. Now what are you going to do?

The first thing you'll have to decide is where you are going to. Keep in mind your victory conditions while doing this. For example, it isn't useful to move the Huns to Spain. In general you'll want to head for the provinces you need to win the campaign. It's also important to settle in an economically viable area. Poor provinces on the plains won't bring in lots of money, while ones in Greece will.

While you're on the move you won't get any money from trade or taxes, but you will need money to pay for mercenaries and to be able to build up a new home. You can of course use a diplomat to sell maps and alliances to other factions, but this isn't going to earn you much money. Much more money can be acquired by sacking cities. When you're a horde and capture a city, you'll have two options: to occupy the city, thus settling down, or to sack it. Sacking will give you lots of money, depending on how big the city is. You might want to make a small side trip to sack a large city such as Constantinople or Rome if you need the money. One thing to remember here is that any mercenaries in your army will take part of the loot for themselves. For small towns this doesn't matter to much, but it can cost you thousands of denarii for large cities.

In the same way you can't train any new units, you also cannot retrain units who have sustained losses in battle. This means it is vital to keep as many of your soldiers alive as possible. It's a good idea to try and conserve your normal units (without a wheel on their unit card), because they won't disband when you settle down, while horde units will. The bodyguards of your generals can also come in handy, because any losses they sustain will be replenished over time.

You should also pick your opponents carefully. Some factions will be no match for your armies, while other will put up a better fight. Another important factor is other factions' ability to form a horde. Driving a horde-capable faction from their homelands will turn them into a horde. This could result in you losing lots of valuable men fighting them, because they receive horde units, just like you did.

Settling down

When your coffers are full and you're tired of roving about it's time to settle down. This probably is the most difficult part of being a horde, because you'll be vulnerable for a few turns.

First of all, you have to realize that once you occupy one settlement, the next two you capture will automatically be occupied. You'll want to start your empire in three neighboring regions so you can keep your troops together.

Another important point is that when you occupy your first settlement, one-third of your horde will disband and join the population. When you occupy your second settlement half of your remaining horde units will be disbanded. When you occupy your last settlement all remaining horde units will be disbanded and join the population of the town their closest to. As you'll probably realize, this makes a big dent in your military power, leaving you with only your non-horde units, mercenaries and generals to defend yourself against enemies, some of which might be hordes. When you settle down, you'll want to make sure there are no hordes nearby which could come your way. Settled factions aren't as much of a problem, because they aren't as powerful.

When you settle down, you want to build up your power again quickly. One thing that doesn't come in handy with this is unrest in your newly captured settlements. Now, there are different ways to deal with unrest, but it is easiest to reduce the settlements population before you occupy it. So how can this are accomplished? By sacking the town.

This might sound confusing, but it's really simple: first you capture the cities you want to settle in and sack them. Then you capture them again and occupy. For very large cities you may want to sack them more than once before occupying them. Doing this will leave you with less people in your cities, thus making them more controllable and allowing you to focus on building up quickly.
Another important note here is that the first city you occupy won't have a culture penalty. Culture penalty has a huge impact on public order, so it is a good idea to capture the city you expect most order problems with (usually the largest) first.

With your regained ability to train soldiers, the money from sacked cities and some luck you'll now be able to start building up your empire. Once you get this going, there will be little difference between a horde campaign and a normal campaign. Good luck!