Total War: Attila – Highlights from the latest build

More information has come out and I wanted to highlight some cool stuff about the upcoming Total War: Attila.

The Horde System

Four factions will start off as traveling armies, or hordes. They start with no cities, and instead of public order, use “integrity”. If integrity is high, the army gets a morale boost; too low and the army will mutiny.

Horde armies can encamp to avoid seasonal attrition (like winter snow) and can raid to greatly boost growth, allowing for recruitment and “spawning” more horde armies. Encamped armies can also build improvements, much like buildings, to boost the capabilities of the horde army. Even when they break camp, they will keep the buildings.

The horde armies are disabled once you capture a settlement, however, and put down roots. From a gameplay standpoint, it looks like a great way to weaken a major faction before settling down for a longer war.

This seems pretty cool but I think it’ll be more fun to defend against than to actually play. You can’t really work on victory condition until AFTER you settle down, and I would actually argue that rampaging armies is more of a unique gameplay feature for the Western Roman Empire than the horde factions.

Let me put it this way: If you’re a barbarian horde, you can build and invest in your encampment but that will get all thrown out once you settle. Before you find the right place, you may waste quite a few turns in doing so. Weakening any empire you’re passing through is a cool and important thing to do, but that’s because WRE is so big that you are basically required to have to weaken it into something mortal in order to make the game balanced.

On the other hand, as WRE, your empire is HUGE but you have four barbarian hordes cutting a swath of destruction through your lands, and it’s up to you as to how you engage them. What areas to you save,? Which horde armies do you challenge? Where will they settle? To me, it’s more fun to survive against the horde than to be the horde.

Western Roman Empire

This may be my first play-through because the starting difficulty is “legendary”. As I mentioned above, you start off with a large number of territories (most of Western Europe and Africa) but you will also have four barbarian hordes in your territory, and your northern border will have two more (The Franks and Saxons) with the three Viking factions not too far off either.

I think surviving as the Western Roman Empire against all odds on the hardest difficulty will be one of the more fun challenges available in any Total War game to date. One of the new victory conditions is surviving until a certain date; so even though your empire is large, don’t expect to hold onto all of it. You will lose a lot of territory, either because it’s being seized or you will need to destroy it yourself in order to deny your enemy. The initial onslaught is only introduction to what lies ahead: The Huns make their way over from the East and will arrive quickly.

The Huns – Final Faction confirmed

The Huns made the final cut for playable factions and they are a horde also. They have some cool faction bonuses:

Horsemen of the Apocalypse

  • +25 growth from raiding settlements
  • +1 integrity for every war being prosecuted
  • +20 food consumption in provinces where the horde is present
  • stops foreign replenishment in provinces where the horde is present

Even so, nothing from the preview build is really compelling me to play a horse faction. I figure I will play the Huns eventually, but it’s definitely not on my shortlist.

New Politics System / Technology Interface

Total War: AttilaThe ability to assign governors is pretty cool. The tech/skill trees are actually not awful to deal with now, as when you look at them in Rome 2, you couldn’t tell what skills would lead to what. Now you can actually plan out a character without accidentally investing points into something you don’t want.

Total War: Attila – Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m pleased with what I see. I’m not a fan of the unit cards, but they’re not bad. I’m not sure how I feel about the removal of the flags over units, but the new icons aren’t bad either.

It always seems like the standalone expansions are better than the base game:

  • Napoleon Total War was a polished Empire Total War
  • Rise of the Samurai was a polished Shogun 2

All evidence is showing that Total War: Attila will be a more polished Rome 2.