Total War Britannia

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Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia stuff

I started playing Total War: Britannia (TWB) in May 2020. I've always loved Total War games, but mostly they were a bummer compared to MTW1 and Shogun 2. So I'm glad to have come across another one I could really enjoy. I got it for just $11.50 in a IsThereAnyDeal.com deal.

Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia was released for Windows in May 2018. It's the 12th Total War game, and is set in the British Isles starting in 878 CE, the days of Alfred the Great and The Great Viking Army.

There are many websites with superficial overviews of TWB stuff (lists of units, kingdoms, etc.), I haven't come across any detailed tables, spreadsheets, or equations governing how the game and its economics work.

So I made them myself via painstaking research.

Before we begin: My background with TWB

I have played three campaign games to completion so far. For all three, difficulty settings were Normal (Campaign, Political, and Battle). My first two campaigns were West Seaxe, the third was Mide.

Therefore, strictly speaking, all my findings only apply for these difficulty settings and kingdoms. There could be important differences for other settings and kingdoms.

But even if that's true, I'm sure many of these concepts still apply in a general way and lend insight into how the game works.

Also: I play for the long haul - complete conquest of every single province and kingdom. I don't particularly care for vassals or (as Mide) Legitimacy and annexation. I also don't care about fame or even trade much. Fame comes easily to successful conquerors, and trade eventually decreases to zero as you take over everything.

As of writing this particular sentence (2020-07-03), I'm playing Steam-downloaded TWB autoupdated to v. 1.3.0 (12719.1564744) on an autoupdated Windows 10 PC. My approach remains the same, but TWB could conceivably be updated without me catching it.

Food Management

Gold maxxes out in two or three game decades; past that you build up ever more than you can possibly spend. But food is entirely different. This surely reflects "food technology" circa 900 CE, when it was much harder to preserve and transport food compared to today. So, here are some of the pitfalls and remedies for food management in TWB.

Absolute and relative food levels

TWB tooltip of food overview in upper center of campaign screen. Mide Normal difficulty, Summer 910. The numbers do add to +513.

A major caveat for newbies is that the current turn's food level (at middle top of campaign screen) is an absolute value, but really, food should be thought of as a relative value. In other words, as a percent of total food use.

Example: 10 years into a campaign, you might have +500 food per turn, and it's a gracious surplus - you might have a total of 30 units in armies, and 10 provinces fully owned. It could be 10% more than you really need, and you're feeling really confident.

But as you get to 20 or 30 provinces highly-developed provinces, +500 food might be only 1% of what your kingdom needs. If you're hit by something like the Inertia Creeps event, with -5% food production in all regions, you're really screwed.

If you try something like lowering the kingdom tax rate, then it gets far worse - this also lowers your food income.

So here are ways to think about and deal with food income.

Short-term food fixes

All these fixes overlap. Anyway, here goes:

  • Stop taxing provinces with low income and high negative food.
    • This is a real problem for any province where you only hold the capital. But past that, there are better and worse choices.
    • To see this, bring up the Province mini-list (under the mini-map). Sort on the Food column, make red (the least food) at top. Now go through each province to see its situation relative to food and gold income. Stop taxing some. This will remove both its food deficit or surplus, and its gold income. Some are a true no-brainer to stop taxing, until that Province's situation improves.
  • Kill any units you don't need.
    • All army units require from 10 to 20 food, depending on your tech levels. It doesn't matter if the unit is barely alive, or has a large or small head count when full. They all use exactly this number of food per turn on any given turn. Only tech levels change it. It starts at 10 and maxxes at 20, but you don't actually need to max all the techs that increase food usage, depending on your choices.
    • You can easily see this value by looking at any army and seeing its total food usage. For example, at an endgame with faction Mide, all my armies with 20 units use 280 food per turn. That's 14 food per unit per turn. Looking at the upper middle center Food icon tells me Units are using 2,352 food per turn. 2,352 / 14 = 168 ... I have 168 units. Simple as that.
    • Some games are real complex here, but not TWB. It's really as simple as that. So if you're hurting for food, ask yourself: Do I really need all these units? Are there some real far from the action, or low-level, that I can disband?
  • If you have a Governor with the Farmer perk, he should be on whichever province has the most food. And that province should be maxxed out for food production. Forget about gold - it's easy to get.
    • You could move through each Province by hitting the "next" button in the province view (defined as the period or "Full Stop" in TWB controls). But the easier way if you have far more than the max of 10 Provinces (you can only have 10 Governors) is the mini-list of Provinces. Ones with a Governor have a quill (feather) after the province name. If you're living right, you should be able to sort by Province income to bring most of these to the top of the list.
    • Sorry, the Lessor perk doesn't help with food at all; it only affects gold income.
    • The Cair Gwent province (capital: Morcanhuac; southwest England) is one of a handful that really rocks food production when in full swing. Two farms, a fishing port, and the apple ash line.

Medium-term food fixes

  • Switch food resources to the "upper" row of choices. For example, change Farms from the lower "Grand Manor Farm" row, to the upper "Grand Manor Farm" row. For the Farm resource, this increases food by about 50%.
    • Might take 4 to 12 turns, depending.
    • You don't need many Agricultural Estates, if you're playing your cards right. You only need to max food. Not gold. Not estates.
  • Look for potential Governors with the Farmer perk.
    • You don't need good generals, if you're playing right. I'm telling you how to increase your food income, not how to win battles. Battles are easy; starving is not. It's the whole reason I wrote this section. Food can sneak up and bring your kingdom down while you're off winning every battle.
  • Focus your areas of attack and defense on food.
  • Never push your taxation rate too far. Because if you run out of food and have to decrease taxes, your kingdom will soon die. Circa 900 AD, "tax" means not only gold, but also food. I always keep the Tax Level (key <4>) at High, and don't push it.

Long-term food fixes

  • Make every food resource focus on food (the top row) from the get-go. The gold and estates will take care of themselves.
  • Spend the time to develop good Governors for food, including moving them around. I personally would find this to be too much micromanagement, and don't do it - but it is certainly something that anyone could do, if they wanted.
  • All in all, there's not a lot to see here. The bottom line is: Always max your food production from the start. Don't worry about gold or fame or trade.
    • Hey, I didn't code TWB. It is what it is. It's a cool TW game. But food cannot be taken for granted in TWB. Not ever.
    • Not unless you're a true TWB vet.

Corruption

So anyway, I'm losing interest in this game. Here's how Corruption works. Steam says I've played 548 hours at this point, and Ihave three complete campaigns' worth of data (saved every turn). Two West Seaxe and one Mide campaign, all three difficulties Normal, played to complete map conquerage.

Use at your own risk.

Corruption v settlements in TWB

It's an S-shaped spline curve. I could try to model it with a multifactorial polynomial, but why bother ... you see it, and there it is. For whatever reasons.

I overlaid a straight 0-to-90% max line there so you can see how it varies relative to your number of settlements. Like I say, you can say a lot of things about how it works. I don't think it's bad, but I wonder why they didn't make it simple. In the end, it is what it is.

  • Your Corruption percent will equal your number of settlements at around 55 settlements. (55 settlements = 55% Corruption; if you have Strong Leader tech, this will not be true). Prior to 55 settlements, it will be lower (unless you have less than 10 settlements). Above 55 settlements, your percent Corruption will be higher than the number of settlements.

As a SUPER simple summary, your number of settlements equals your level of corruption. Until you have 98 settlements, then it maxxes out. Your baseline corruption will stay at 90% or, if you have Strong Leader tech, will max at 81%.

Caution when trying to see Corruption in game:

  • To see your Settlement count, you could use Victory Conditions (keypress <4>), but it counts Vassals. Vassals do not count toward the Corruption calculus. The clearest view is <8> then Records, where it calls them "Regions owned". Don't ask me why they call them "settlements" on <4>, and "regions" on <8>. They are the same.
  • Here and in the game, "settlements" (or regions) includes both what the game calls "minor settlements", and capitals (think, "major settlements").
    • If perchance you want to see how many settlements a vassal owns, the easiest way is in the Diplomacy screen (<7>). Here again, they use "regions" instead of "settlements". Whatever.
  • If you have turned off taxes in a particular province, you will not see any income or Corruption info. If you want to check, keypress <3> to view the province in detail, and toggle taxation on and off.
    • If you don't own the Capital, you won't get any income, regardless.
  • If your governor has anti-corruption but you want to see what the province would be without him, just hit <3> and Remove the guy. Then assign him back, no problem.
  • Careful: If the governor's wife has an (anti)corruption perk, it is not shown in the governor's summary. Likewise for any generals in the province. Hell, probably even generals' wives, if they have (anti)corruption perks.

Bottom line: Corruption is a simple function of your number of settlements.

(But whether it is applicable to any given Province depends on the governor and any anti-corruption buildings in that province.)

  • For what it's worth, the Province count (as opposed to the settlement or region count) only counts those provinces where you own all settlements (major and minor). This Province count correlates very poorly with Corruption because
1) it doesn't count any settlements (major or minor) in provinces where you don't own all settlements, and
2) some provinces have more settlements than others.

For Corruption purposes, just stick to the "settlements" count seen in <8> / Records.

Miscellaneous Notes

On a completely different note, miscellaneous ideas:

  • Trying to trick city defenders is a game of chance.
    • I found to my surprise, you can station some visible forces at the gate the AI seems to expect the attack. Like highly-mobile cavalry.
    • But have a single unit (hidden at trees at first) open some other gate. Then have most of your true force, also hidden in trees near that other gate, rush in.
    • But if you rolled the dice wrong and didn't actually fake them out as to which gate you'll go to, that unit will die.
    • Case in point, my battle of Aethelingaeg (Sumorsaete) as Mide, 925 AD. There are only two ways in or out. Up to this point on other cities I had successfully "faked out" siege defenders a half dozen times, as I was realizing how it could be done. Suddenly I got ruined at Sumorsaete.
  • Never doubt Viking Sea Kings' prowess at sea. Even a highly depleted (yellow) 19-unit Orkneyar stack, which had been roaming the sea back and forth for many quarters, easily trounced my latest-tech 20-unit Mide stack ca. 912 AD.