The General’s Class

by Terikel Grayhair

The General is by far and away the most important person on the field of battle, if not in the entire game. His presence can give heart to flagging morale, or drive fear into the hearts of nearby foes. His Bodyguard is one of the strongest units- man for man- upon the field, and he can even rally broken units. Likewise, his fall can dishearten his men or even cause a rout among your forces. In addition to his battlefield prowess, he alone among all your other battlefield units has a very powerful influence on the campaign map. He alone can recruit mercenaries to strengthen your forces, or order the construction of towers and forts. These men alone can further your family through the production of children. And finally, these men, like all named characters, can acquire traits and retinue that can greatly improve their abilities, or drastically reduce them.

So each of these single lives can be of massive import to your success or failure as a commander. Hopefully you will learn enough in this short class to use him wisely, and not sacrifice him needlessly. Good luck be with you.

The Royal Family

Family is an important aspect of our Virtual World, at least the ruling family of each faction is. It is from this family that thy generals and governors are drawn. If thou does run out of family, through sickness, death in battle, or even old age and childlessness, then thy Royal House is extinguished and thou does suffer defeat. So guard thy family well, and use them wisely. Those who know how best to use ones Family members receive more often joyous Victory in place of utter Defeat.

Thy Royal Family has two important functions- to provide thee with generals, and to provide thee with governors. Those are functions which no other unit can perform. True, a captain may command armies, but he cannot order a tower built, a fort constructed, or rally routing troops. His battlefield presence is far from imposing, and his presence in a city non-existent. Only Family Men can do this.

There are two of the Family members who are vital to thy campaign- thy Faction Leader, and his heir. The Faction Leader (hereafter known as Partriarch upon this parchment) at the start of the game is chosen for you, as is his heir. When thy Patriarch passes on, the heir will be the next Patriarch.

The Heir is your crown prince, next in line for the throne. This title carries with it bonuses to make him a more effective leader, including a larger bodyguard, some extra influence, and an impossibility to accept bribes. The extra BodyGuards make him a feared presence on the battlefield- as well as a more effective fighter. His influence will help calm troubled cities. Overall, he will become better equipped to become a more powerful patriarch.

Patriarchs are granted extra bonuses to size of Bodyguard, influence, and at times management over and above what he had as Heir. His remains impossible to bribe, and no city in which he resides will be able to be bribed either. Once an heir is promoted to Patriarch, he cannot be removed from this position.

The new patriarch picks his own heir automatically, but here you have influence. Upon the Family Tree scroll, thou can select a different family member to become the Heir. This does two things. First, it immediately promotes the selected family Member to Heir and grants him those bonuses to influence and greater bodyguard size. Second, it removes the same bonuses from the former heir, and gives him the relatively distasteful trait of Disinherited, which will make him easier to bribe and more likely to acquire poor traits. It is not recommended to change your heir too many times due to this.

Thy Royal Family gains members through various means. The most stable and reliable method is to have thy Family produce children. This they do themselves, once wed. There are ancillaries and traits which may be gained to improve this ability, as well as other traits and ancillaries that can hinder this. Each Family Member (to include the women-folk) can produce up to four children. Family Men become adults at sixteen years of age, females as young as twelve may begin courting suitors.

Should thy Family be afflicted with a slew of weak reproductive organs and poor fertility (it happens), there are several other means to gain Family Members, though these methods are not under your control. The marriages of thy Royal Daughters is partially under your control- the lovely wench will find several suitors in her lifetime and present them to you as Betrothed. You then get the choice of accepting the weasel or rejecting him. Choose carefully- older women have a harder time finding mates and a shorter breeding period, while younger ones will drag almost anything through the door. Those who have been in the wars, or with lots of stars, scrolls, or wreaths are usually keepers. Check the age of the suitor- a fifty-five year old with three stars may seem a good choice for your fourteen year old daughter, but he is dead within five years and she will not remarry.

If your realm is expanding rapidly, the Virtual World will try to maintain a ratio of three Family Members to five provinces. If thy Family itself is not capable of maintaining this ratio, the World will help out. Captain-led armies earning victories may produce a Man of the Hour, who if you accept will instantly gather a decent bodyguard about him and become like a son. Should you have no Captain-led armies, a Candidate for Adoption may appear. Or, if you have enough coin and a lucky diplomat, you can try to bribe a foreign Family Man into joining your side.

A worthy note- while you cannot recruit Generals within the vaunted Vanilla Rome:Total War, it is possible to modify thy Virtual world to allow for this possibility. There are doubtless places upon the World Wide Web that can tutor you in this, so I will not, especially as doing so renders much of the rqanting concerning the Royal Family would then be as so much hot air. But it is worth noting here and remembering.

General or Governor?

The rest of the male members of thy line will serve as generals and governors of the mundane variety. This does not make them common, or useless. Verily, they are the same men. What is then the difference between a governor and a general? Easy enough- his location. A governor is within the walls of a city while the general is out in the field. Deciding which shall be and thus which role the Family Member shall serve where is your task.

Some men are born brave and strong, and earn through this bravery and strength some modicum of battle savvy. These men will have many Command Stars. Others will be educated and erudite, displaying uncanny mastery over scrolls and numbers. These men will have many Scrolls aboard their banner. Then you have those with high charisma and influence, who excel in the swaying of minds. These men are granted many wreaths.

So it is really quite simple to decide. Those with stars become thy generals. Those with few starts and many scrolls become thy governors. And those with only wreaths. . . Keep them away from your wives and daughters.

Or send them to treat with foreign diplomats, which is essentially the same thing.

Within the Walls

A Family Member within the walls of a city becomes a governor. Where there are more than one Family Members in a city, he with the most scrolls becomes the governor. You will notice that some governors- despite ten scrolls- still have problems, while another with fewer scrolls but more wreaths, can bring order to an unruly city. Thus determining which is best suited is always a bit of trial and error.

Traits and ancillaries will also affect the ability of a governor to govern. Some, like Poor Farmer, will cost you farming income, while others have the Useless Tax Assessor which does the same to taxes. Others will have a Good Farmer trait, boosting income, while yet others may have Excellent Merchant or some such. As stated above, your selection of a governor should from be among the pool of potential governors, but then choosing the correct one requires experimentation.

Cities do not need governors. In fact, your governor to city ratio will end up being about three governors per five cities. If you set cities to auto-manage (I do not), then only by moving a governor into a city can you manually change the building queue to dump unnecessary buildings and line up your own choices. If you choose to manage your own cities, merely clicking does the same.

Cities do not need governors, but having one can make a world of difference between having a rebellion every other turn versus pumping a river of denarii into your warchest every season. Governors with money-generating traits can boost the income of the city tremendously. Governors with high influence can manage to keep the crowds under control very well, but that green-faced city will turn red and rebel when the governor dies.

Did I mention that the governors and generals age? They do. Every two seasons they age a year, and every season after reaching sixty years of age there is a chance that their spirits depart across the Styx. This chance rises every season, meaning thou must keep an eye upon those you relegate to governorships lest they unexpectedly pop off on you, leaving your provinces in a world of shit.

Cities are also wonderful places for your Family Members to swap ancillaries and retinue. Click upon the placard of one to open it up, then drag and drop the ancillary or retinue upon the placard of another. As long as the receiver does not have that particular one or its opposite, and has less than eight of his own, he will accept the transfer. This is great for dumping Slubberdeguillions and Drunken Uncles onto a waste of a Family Man right before he dies. Dying takes the ancillary with him and thus out of the game. A clever warlord can win a mercenary captain, a priest of war, a surgeon, a hunting dog, and a few others and pass them on through the generations to his great-great-grandsons or beyond.

When a Family Man resides within a city and travels not outside, not even for hunting, fishing, or camping trips (expends zero movement), then he becomes eligible for a trait or ancillary, if within the town is a temple or academy or other structure that may grant such. Movement destroys this, though- the Family Man must sit still. Note that not all traits are good- if one has more than fifty thousand denarii, the chance of gaining a corrupting trait grows. That chance doubles at one hundred thousand, and triples at one hundred fifty thousand.

Beyond the Walls

Family Men outside of cities are reckoned as Generals. They can operate and command armies, or strike out on their own for special missions. Family Men on the campaign map are the only ones who can recruit mercenaries, order the construction of forts, or site Watchtowers. No other unit or game piece can perform these functions.

When a general is in the field on the Campaign Map, one does see in the lower right the icon for mercenaries. Opening that will bring up which mercenaries are available in the province, their cost, and how many of which type these sell-swords are. By selecting units, one buys their loyalty and these then join the general. If thy General has already nineteen or more cohorts under his command, then he cannot bring sell-swords into his army without first making room for them- either by merging depleted units or by kicking some weak fools out. Mercenaries are always at full strength when recruited, though cannot be retrained to regain lost strength. Mercenary type also vary from province to province- a well-travelling general with a large purse can easily build himself a full army within a few turns.

By clicking on the other icon, one brings up the construction. From here, select whether the general shall order the construction of a fort or a watchtower. Forts require maintenance and five hundred denarii- you pay upon construction, but thereafter must garrison the thing or it will fall apart to rubble and be gone by the next season.

Watchtowers last forever. They can also see much further than the more mobile spy, though little things like mountains and forests can limit visibility somewhat. Also, a tower sitting atop a band of rebels has its light extinguished and its crew reports nothing. Thus maybe a good idea to have a second tower nearby when building in lands known to teem with bandits and brigands.

Watchtowers always report to the owner of the province, and can only be built within the borders of thy own lands. Forts can be built anywhere, but require someone living there, and can be captured by the enemy. While a watchtower lasts forever, forts can be easily removed by simple abandonment and the application of waiting a turn.

Upon the Battlefield

Here is where the General shines, and plays his most important roles. He is your Rook and Bishop, Knight and King all in one. Never treat him as a pawn- the costs are not worth the price you will pay later. Generals need to live to breed, and need to breed to keep the Family alive. Dead Generals produce no more heirs.

Generals provide direction and morale for nearby troops. The range and power of this enhancement has a direct correlation to how many Command Stars a general has- a three star general cannot extend his presence as far as a five star. Those troops within the radius of a general’s presence gain bonuses to attack, to defensive skill, and to morale- all of which make them tougher soldiers for the enemy. Likewise, those enemy soldiers within the radius of the general’s presence feel weaker and fear- they will not fight as hard. It is this dichotomy which makes the general such a valuable piece on the battlefield.

The General is also the only piece that can track down fleeing units and restore their courage, another sound reason for him being mounted. When near or amid a fleeing unit, press F to have him blow the horn and cast insults upon the fleeing cowards. If no hostile forces are nearby, they will often find again their manhood and return to the fray. But not always- a unit depleted to only a few men will often ignore the calls of the general and consider the taint of a coward not as bad as certain death.

Generals are usually some form of cavalry, most often heavy cavalry or heavy chariots. In the early game, he will be your only source of such weighty and mobile combat power. His Bodyguards will have two hit points, versus the one of normal soldiers, which makes them tougher than their foes. And more, General’s Bodyguards replenish themselves. One does not need to retrain them to bring them up to strength.

Thus in the early game especially, use your general as the heavy horseman he and his Bodyguards provide. Never charge grounded spears or phalanxes from the front though- stupidity can get these mighty warriors killed just as easily as normal soldiers. Be careful with him- do not let him lead the charge, but rather send him into the attack then press the F key to make him stop and toot his horn while the rest of the Bodyguard charges forward. Notice the picture below? The General himself is in the upper right hand corner while his Bodyguards charge into the flank of the Egyptian phalanx. This will keep more than one general alive in battle.

Do not let your general sit on his horse and watch the battle. He needs to be kept moving, like all cavalry, so do not let him get stuck in a drawn-out melee. He is naught but a tall infantryman when standing still in melee- and poor infantry at that. Move, charge, smash, retreat, regroup. That’s how cavalry fights.

Generals need to be able to do all of that, plus move to where the fighting is thickest. He can stand behind a gaggle of warriors and offer them encouragement, which will bring them within his radius and give them the bonuses mentioned earlier. Or he can circle around and slam the enemy from the rear, to the same effect. Beware phalanxes, though- they tend to stab both forwards and backwards, which is why the general should always hits those beasties from the flank.

In summary, Generals are the most valuable unit you can have, and one of the few you cannot recruit from a city. The only way to get a general is to bribe an existing general to your side, earn a Man of the Hour, adopt one, or wait until thy own children are old enough to reach Manhood. Of these, the only one you can truly count upon is the last.

So use these men wisely. Your realm depends on them.