Total War: Rome 2 – Historical Battles in Patch 15

rome 2 historical battles

One of the highlights of a Total War game are the historical battles. Rome 2’s Historical Battles contain such scenarios as the Battle of Cannae, Battle of Alexia, and Battle of Zama. Having played a few of the historical battles so far, some issues have come up. First of, let me say that I am not the best tactical player. While I can complete a game on legendary difficulty, that is mostly because of my skill in campaign management, and not because I’m a tactical genius. If anything, my tactical and micromanagement are at best, very average. However, I understand the principles of how the Total War games work, so at the least I have that going for me.

I feel that the historical battles are a good way to practice and measure tactical skill in Total War, as they often place players in a battle with a difficult problem to overcome, mostly being outnumbered. However, due to the many patches over the course of the game, many of the battles have become much more complicated, and CA has not done anything to re-balance or fix the historical battles.

The culprit, I believe, are the incremental changes made through 15 patches, which slowly changed the game to the point where the original historical battles are much more difficult that before.

Before I begin, let me say that I am not asking for nerfs or the like. I enjoy a challenge, it’s why I play only on legendary, and also why I play the historical battles. However, I think it’s important to understand how the changes to the game have partially broken the delicate balance that historical battles had.

Here are the Patch 15 notes for reference.

 

So what went wrong exactly with Rome 2’s Historical Battles?

 

Bonus vs. Infantry Removed – A lot of the battles involve the Romans, and many of the Legionary units previously had  “Bonus vs. Infantry” as a  stat. This allowed for sword units to defeat equal-tier spear units easier, and speed is an important factor in winning many historical battles.

CA removed the stat to balance spear-heavy factions with sword-heavy ones. For example playing as a Hellenistic faction doesn’t feel as odious as before due to the change. However, historical battles are balanced around the sword unit’s previous superiority against spear units.

Unit Moral Changes – From the notes:

  • The pace of battles and combat has been reduced, and morale values adjusted so battles last longer and are more dynamic.

For example, in the Battle of Alesia, you command six Veteran Legionaries and one Eagle Cohort. These are excellent units, but even the Eagle Cohort gets bogged down trying to kill a tier 1 melee unit such as Celtic Warriors due to the nature of the morale changes.

My challenge to you is to watch any of the legendary play-throughs of the Battle of Alesia, and see how quickly units are shattered. The key to the battle is to quickly rout as many of the units as possible before the next wave comes. It is still possible to rout enemies, but it’s not as quick as before, and certainly not fast enough for the non-stop waves of barbarians.

Active Abilities Removed – Many people will argue whether activated abilities should be a part of a historical battle game, and I lean towards the side of not having them. However, the historical battles were designed back when they had the abilities, so once they were removed, that balance was lost. “Use the Whip” in particular was an effective ability that increases combat effectiveness, which allows for a burst of killing power.

 

So what is the fix?

 

I’m not asking for the battles to be nerfed, and I’m certainly not advocating undoing the changes I mentioned above. The battles are winnable; albeit with extreme difficulty. I found myself trying out the Battle of Pydna, and after a few attempts, managed to win by the skin of my teeth. I used my ammo-depleted velites to melee charge one of the few remaining pike units to seal a victory.

One suggestion I read elsewhere was to turn off formation attack for your units to improve combat effectiveness. I did not notice a huge change in unit performance but it’s usually enough win the day if you’re playing at 100%. There are a few videos on Youtube showing tests done with units with and without formation attack enabled, and there is a noticeable difference in performance.

However, I believe the changes to re-balance the historical battles can be made by adding more experience to your units, or adding a few more units to accommodate the loss of balance. Overall, I think they’re still a good challenge and possible to beat; I may try to write a guide if I get the time.

Thoughts? Have many of you found success post-Patch 15 in Rome 2 Historical Battles?