Faction strategy: The Seleucid Empire

By Hussarknight

When playing as the Seleucid Empire you'll face a number of problems. First, you are surrounded by enemies on all sides. The Egyptians to the south, the Pontics to the north-west, the Armenians to the north, Parthians to your nort-east and the Greeks to your west all threaten your empire. While the Greeks usually remain relatively calm, it is almost a certainty that the other factions will attack you. The second problem is that your towns are far away from each other so transporting troops around your empire will take a long time. And a long time is too long for you.

You also have two advantages however. First your economy is strong from the word 'go'. You won't have to worry about improving your economy too much for the first handful of years. Second, you are in an ideal position to capture the Seven Wonders of the World. You already possess two of them at the start of the game; four more are within striking range, with only the statue of Zeus at Olympia being out of reach for now.

The basis of the early-game strategy that I will explain is quite simple. Eliminate one enemy at a time while only defending against your other foes. This doesn't necessarily mean expanding in only one direction, it just means you're concentrating on taking out one opponent. There are a few towns around you that can be very helpful if you capture them early on.

Preparing the defence

At first it might seem impossible to build a strong defence against your neighbours. Your infantry is limited to Militia and Levy Hoplites for the first two tiers of city development. Peltasts are nothing special, and Militia Cavalry can be very powerful if used correctly but you won't be able to train them in all your cities.

The best unit to use early on is, surprisingly, one of the worst units in the game: Militia Hoplites. They may not be powerful troops in their own right, but you can train them in all your towns and they have a low upkeep. Build enough of them and they will be strong enough to defend your cities. On top of that sheer numbers are often enough to keep the AI from attacking you, so an all-front war is less likely to occur.

If you can't train militias in a town yet build barracks there on turn 1 and start training militias as soon as it's finished. For now don't worry about the negative effect this has on your cities population. Your towns will take longer to grow a tier, but it's a much better alternative than loosing them completely.

An effective tactic to use for your Hoplites in the open is The Long Line in the Sand. I won't explain it in detail here, but the basic idea behind it is this: deploy about half your hoplites in a straight line that is as long as you can make it. Now take the remaining half of your hoplites and put them in a long line just behind the first line. This results in a very strong battleline, especially if you deploy your units in a housebrick formation where the centre of each unit in the second line is at the join of the units in the first line. This way your line will remain intact even if your troops are thinned out.

Going on the offensive

You can't hold out against four or five enemies forever, so you have to attack and eliminate them. You should do this as soon as possible, because by waiting longer you're only allowing your enemies to build up while the quality of your troops doesn't improve much for the first few years.

The first military move you should make is in Asia Minor: take the garrison from Sardis, reinforce it with mercenaries and then capture Pergamum. Before you capture it make sure Tarsus is the only town with a governor in it. When you enslave Pergamum the slaves sent to Tarsus will boost the city to the next tier. Capturing Pergamum will also give you access to the Aegean.

As soon as you've captured Pergamum you can use the general you put in Tarsus to start attacking Egypt. Get your troops from Antioch and Damascus, together with your faction leader and the general from Damascus and use this army to besiege Sidon. Egypt is your most dangerous foe, so the earlier you can take them out the better. You should be able to capture Sidon and Jerusalem within the first 8 turns of the campaign.

While you are securing the Levant it is a good idea to take Susa from the Parthians. The Parthians will usually send an army into the desert to take Dumatha. Wait until they have set of and then besiege Susa. If you get the timing right the Parthians won't be able to get re-inforcements from Arsakia (their capital) and the army headed for Dumatha will be too far away to get back in time. If you enslave the town you can boost a city to the next tier using the same tactic as for Tarsus.

Once the Levant is under your control it is best to defeat Egypt straight away. You can't get the army from Jerusalem to another front in a reasonable timeframe, so it's best to capture the Nile regions with it. They're an economic powerhouse: a very useful addition to your empire. One tactic that can be of huge help in capturing the Nile regions is the following.

Place your army on a bridge. Now let the Egyptians attack you. In the deployment phase of the battle place your phalanxes as close to the bridge as possible and turn phalanx off. Keep any other units behind them. Once the battle starts rush your phalanxes to your end of the bridge. Put them in a V-shaped formation at the end of the bridge, like this:

Don't forget to turn on phalanx mode again. Now let the Egyptians cross the bridge. The V-phalanx is extremely effective at killing anything that gets into it: infantry, cavalry or chariots will die easily. Once the enemy army is routing you can use your cavalry to pursue them.

Using this strategy conquering the Nile provinces shouldn't be too hard. Don't forget to capture Cyprus after that. Once you've defeated Egypt it is time to turn your attention somewhere else.

Continuing the conquest

While you've been busy dealing with Egypt your other neighbours haven't been idle. Chances are you've been attacked by the Parthians, Armenians, Greeks and/or Pontus. By now I usually prefer to attack whichever nation is attacking me. There's no need to make war yourself when someone else has already made it for you.

If you haven't been attacked at all, or if you've been attacked from all directions my preferred order of taking out neighbouring factions is this: Parthia, Armenia, Pontus, followed by what's left of Asia Minor. By using this order you will be able to keep using the same army all the time, marching from the east to the west. On top of that Parthia will already be weakened a lot if you've captured Susa earlier. Asia Minor is a better area to conquer for your economy, but with your starting provinces and Egypt your economy shouldn't be a problem at all.

After you've defeated Egypt, Parthia, Armenia and Pontus you should capture what's left of of Asia Minor, including Rhodes. You will then have a large power base for your empire, and six of the seven wonders of the world under your control.

Once the bottom-right corner of the map is yours you can choose what you want to do. One option is to expand into Greece, where you'll be able to strengthen your economy even further. You can also expand into Africa, which isn't as much of an economic powerhouse, but it is easier to capture. You can also attack both areas at once if you want to. One idea that isn't very good is to expand northwards into Scythia: there's little to gain on the steppes and it will take a long time to conquer them simply because the distances you have to travel are huge.

A word about buildings

The first buildings you should construct in all your towns are basic barracks. Next up are walls if none are present yet. After that your priorities are different for each town. Build stables in frontier towns that can support them. Go for economic structures like farms and traders in your other towns. In Antioch you should upgrade your barracks to the highest level available immediately. Don't waste time on economic buildings there: the sooner you can train higher quality infantry the better.

That's pretty much all you have to know to be able to survive the early and mid campaign as the Seleucid Empire and build a powerbase in Asia. Once this is achieved you can turn your attention towards the west. Greece and Macedon should be captured to recreate Alexander's empire. And after that, the rest of the Mediterranean lies open to you. Perhaps you can achieve what Alexander never did: control of Mediterranean world. Perhaps the Greeks will one day rule the world again...

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