The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. - Thomas Jefferson
What better a way to celebrate Independence Day than lead a young United States to victory in Empire: Total War? Loading the game up for the first time in a while, I chose to play as the United States in a Grand Campaign of Empire: Total War, which can be unlocked at the end of Episode III in the Road to Independence campaign line.
Post-Independence United States' Grand Campaign
In the United States' campaign at the conclusion of the Road to Independence, you start out as a young United States. Off the bat, you're at war with the Barbary States, an accurate reflection of history (the U.S. actually fought the Berber states at the start of the 19th Century due to their piracy of U.S. vessels.) By the way -- historically, the United States won the First Barbary War after a successful blockade, several of naval victories, and the landing of the United States' first marines in the shores of Tripoli, where the United States flag was raised in victory for the first time over foreign soil. (If you'd like to read more, click here to read about the First Barbary War in Wikipedia).
In my alternate history of the Barbary Wars, a small force led by veteran American Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene embarked on the USS Constitution for Algeria, the location of one of the two Barbary States' centers in Africa.
My strategy was to completely eliminate the Berbers with surgical strikes on their region capitals (in Algiers and Tripoli) with Nathanael Greene's strike force. Although outnumbered, the experience of Nathanael Greene and his forces as well as their longer ranged weaponry gave them an edge.
Choosing to fight out the battle as my first tactical-level experience in Empire: Total War for a long time, I remembered how fun it was to control lines of troops and cavalry in battle.
Algiers was not well defended, and Natahnael Greene defeated the army of its commander, Barbur Akil.
Wait, why am I playing this, again? (The Drawback of E:TW)
Playing through the Grand Campaign turn-by-turn, I realized what deterred me from Empire: Total War when I first played it years ago -- the excruciatingly slow loading times between turns. I figure this had something to with how the major/minor AI nation code was written for the Grand Campaigns, which were extremely large in scale considering they included not only Europe, but also the Americas and India. Even with a competent Intel i5 CPU, the times between my turns waiting for the AI nations to complete theirs was kind of hard to sit through. This is probably why I barely examined Empire: Total War after exhausting it for the first time after its release.
Pressing on past Painfully Slow Turns... the Conclusion of the Barbary Wars
From Nathanael Greene's success at Algeria, I decided to finish the fight and take the fight to the Berber's last bastion at Tripoli. That got kind of gnarly, since it required a frontal assault on a walled fortification. In the end, the U.S. infantry, with their superior experience and equipment, managed to successfully scale the walls, defeat the Berber infantry defending them, and open the gates for a cavalry charge. Nathanael Greene died heroically leading the charge, however. Eventually, the enemy commander's cavalry was forced to the fight, but by then I had already positioned riflemen to pick them off.
Eventually, the remaining United States forces lived up to history and planted their flag on foreign soil for the first time of this United States' now not-so-alternate history, eliminating the Barbary States. (In actual history, however, that wasn't the last time the Berbers were a problem.)
Some Post-War Diplomacy Tips for Total War players out there!
As a young, protestant United States, there's no way in hell you can expect to hold the formerly Barber regions in Africa. In general, for any nation, it is difficult to hold regions an ocean away from your capital (*cough* Pre-Revolutionary War Great Britain *cough*), so learning from the mistakes of our predecessors, the African regions were given away for trade agreements with other European nations.
And so my young United States, enjoying newly found trade through selling its spoils of war, unwittingly started the Scramble for Africa almost a century too early...
The End... or is it?!
Coming out of winning the Barbary Wars, I felt invigorated to declare war against the Iroquois Confederacy. Unfortunately, I was not invigorated to sit through any more of the slow turns of Empire: Total War's Grand Campaign for today.
Should Empire: Total War be Revisited?
Honestly, as amazing of a total war game Empire was when it was released, I feel like Napoleon: Total War worked out the kinks with regards to the slow campaign turn load times I experienced with Empire. Although that could be attributed to the smaller scale (the campaign map incorporated only Europe for Napoleon), I also think the campaigns in Napoleon cover a more exciting, turbulent time in history, leading to a superior campaign experience with frantic war and diplomacy.
I did have fun revisiting Empire: Total War as a young United States; however much I would recommend Napoleon, Napoleon lacks the American experience Empire offers.
Perhaps one day I'll have a far superior CPU and will be able to play a much faster paced American campaign and actually conquer Western Civilization with the United States! For now, I might just have to revisit Crusader Kings II.