Celebrating America, Revisiting Empire: Total War

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

We don't negotiate with Berber pirates. Especially when they demand 5400 gold.

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).

You know, the second line of the Marines Hymn references the first marines landing on the shores of Tripoli. (Although here we ended up landing off Algeria.)

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.

It's a great moment when you manage to take potshots against enemy cavalry....

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.

King George III, still reeling from his defeat at the hands of the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, was reluctant to trade with the U.S., even after being given Algeria.

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.

4 Comments
5 Comments
Posted by EquitasInvictus
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

We don't negotiate with Berber pirates. Especially when they demand 5400 gold.

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).

You know, the second line of the Marines Hymn references the first marines landing on the shores of Tripoli. (Although here we ended up landing off Algeria.)

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.

It's a great moment when you manage to take potshots against enemy cavalry....

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.

King George III, still reeling from his defeat at the hands of the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, was reluctant to trade with the U.S., even after being given Algeria.

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.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I have a demo of CK II but haven't tried it. These games tend to be a bit daunting to me, though both the American Revolution and the Napoleonic War are interesting time periods for me. I kind of hope when I go into these sims that they'll try to lean heavily on history, but it's always a gamble when you're trying to make a fun game and are sticking with subject matter that's close to the heart of many of the players. The further back in time it goes, the more likely it's going to be easily abstracted, it seems.

Posted by EquitasInvictus

@ahoodedfigure: CKII is great, and there's totally no load times to worry about like in Empire. I'd totally recommend CKII at least as an introduction to the Grand Strategy genre since its mechanics are great and does well to emulate how power was exercised and shifted throughout the time periods it embodies. I'd say it even does a better job than the Total War franchise's Medieval games.

Also, I'd have to say that in terms of historical games in general, Rome: Total War was my first and arguably the best introduction to the genre. You mention that the further back it goes, the more likely it gets abstracted, but in the case of Rome: Total War the tutorials to a magnificent job and I ultimately sank possibly more than a hundred hours in to conquering the known world in Rome: Total War so I'd definitely recommend that as a place to start with the franchise.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

@EquitasInvictus: I'm a fan of Roman history, so that's a possibility. What I more meant was that the political backlash is less likely the further back in time you go. So you can have parallels in Rome without people even noticing, but when you touch on more recent history it's harder to disentangle yourself and just have an interesting simulation, which probably seeps into the design choices, making optimal paths or idealized depictions... but maybe plain old war board games are the only games that tend to be truly dispassionate about their subject (and even then I suspect some heavy bias in a lot of cases).

Posted by EquitasInvictus

@ahoodedfigure: Ah, that's certainly true, and the systems of Rome: Total War do simplify certain aspects of history but thanks to a very dedicated modding community there is a lot of great content out there that really ramps up the historical realism of the game and its mechanics.

In fact, a lot of the most popular total conversions for Rome: Total War such as Europa Barbarorum and Rome: Total Realism succeed at overhauling the grand campaign to fit history with great accuracy. I actually wouldn't even install Rome: Total War if I played it again without installing Europa Barbarorum at the least considering how successfully they managed to adapt the campaign to correspond with the factions' histories with such accuracy and precision. While those times are so far back that it's hard to come up with any definitive accounts, those total conversions are probably the closest thing to historically accurate that I've seen in any video game covering that period of time!