Original goal of this mod was to add some new units, to both Roman and Barbarian factions (though mainly to Romans), since historical inexactitudes were noticed, as well as to alter some gameplay mechanics to enhance the feel of Declination of Roman Empire. Secondary goal was to make Roman Army tough and sturdy, not such an easy prey for Barbarians.
I never wanted to completely change everything within the game (aka Make Total Overhaul Conversion), including icons, unit models, sounds, music (well, maybe music should be changed after all, because I am quite frankly totally fed up with that vanilla singing lady) etc. In fact, I was nearly satisfied with everything, as it was. Vanilla in the state as it was originally released - actually was quite OK, in my point of view, because an average player does not require to know exact unit names, dates, historical exactitudes, etc. The game wasn’t made for historians.
Some aspects of gameplay were honestly pain in the ass, and delivered only frustration.
After some consideration, I finally came to a point, that I WILL DO make some changes. I started to take notes at once, and build a list of things that bothered me, which I wanted to replace, to wipe entirely out, or to add. That’s was the beginning of this Mod.
Priority №1 was to fix the lack of roman anti-cavalry spear regulars.
In vanilla, both Roman factions possessed basic spear related force – the Limitanei. But they cannot suit the intended role of spear regulars, since they barely had any armor, and were not able to undertake continuous battle. Their duty is garrison, not fighting enemy cavalry.
Eastern Rome Empire faction (further on ERE) had the «Lanciarii» unit (however disputable as regulars, as they were more an elite bodyguard), who were armed with surprisingly short, light spears, without any anti-cavalry attack bonuses (btw, I have fixed that). Lack of anti-cavalry attack bonus makes them nearly useless in infantry-cavalry fight. Against infantry there act weak as well, since swords always had an upper hand against spears.
Western Rome Empire faction (further on WRE) on possessed Foederaties and Auxilia Palatinae, both of them rated as anti-cavalry spearmen, with respective bonuses. But let’s take a detailed look at all of them:
- First and foremost, they were barbarians, thus not regulars. Secondly, they cannot be available everywhere throughout the WRE, since they were recruited only in selected borderlands area, mainly next to Franks and Alemanns. Thus, they cannot be considered as a reliable, everywhere available spearman. By the way, in this mod, Foederaties (including sarmatian auxilia and Britain militia) can only be recruited in selected provinces only. Foederaties lived at the Empire’s outskirts, not everywhere!
- Auxilia Palatinae on the other hand is the truly reliable and sturdy force, which can stand against any attack, including infantry, since they armed with swords as well. Strangely enough, although the model had a secondary sword weapon, it wasn’t used in model description file, making them armed in the game with the spear only; I have fixed that – now they have both weapons. However, they were elite bodyguard, in fact, too elite… for that role. Perhaps, the most prestigious force of Roman Army, second only to Comitatensis (not to be confused with Comitatenses (see below); as latter term means the late Legion formation type of Diolectian-Constantine military doctrine. Therefore, Auxilia Palatinae cannot fill the role of ubiquitous troop.
- As I mentioned above, Lanciarii were armed with a light short spears (and throwing javelins too), without any attack bonuses. They are quite lightly armed and cannot operate effectively against cavalry. I have fixed that: now they are armed with a proper spear, and protected with a better armor, in fact better than legionary’s regular mail armor. Also, they can operate now in defensive formations.
Therefore, I have implemented a new unit, armed with a long, heavy spear designed to support legionaries against cavalry. They armed with basic regular mail armour, just like Comitatenses’ legionaries… Behold, the new Spear Regulars!
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After some time, I made a dozens of such units, mainly filling «gaps», and fixing historical inexactitudes. But then, I have noticed that most of vanilla Roman unit’s outfit, both armor and wardrobe does not match with the shown Era…
Romans were switching from usage of wool and sackcloth textile to linen tunics (which they supposedly adopted from their former foes of Dacia), with longer sleeves; and stepwise switched from famous leather sandals, to «bagged footcloth shoes», a combination of leather and textile, just like a modern sock, as it was far better in terms of hygiene.
Shown helmet designs corresponded earlier (~ 100 A.D.) prototypes (except for Scholaes Palatinae, who had proper helmet of 4th century).
Although, Clepius the shield (flat oval shield), was in service, in fact it was far less popular than Parma the shield (large round shield), which came along with “northern” Foederaties. This was, however, the least bothering inexactitude.
The most disturbing fact was the vanilla legionary sword… Was it the famous Gladius?!? Or perhaps shall I say a long dagger, or maybe a kitchen knife!?! Nevertheless, both design and the whole idea behind it, does not correspond selected Era at all!
Considering everything described above, I have decided to leave everything as it was intact (except for that kitchen knife, which I have replaced for a proper Spatha the sword), as we are all used to their look, which I never wanted to alter drastically…
But I wanted to have a proper legionaries!
At that point, I have completed a model, actually an entire “late era” tier, who had a proper wardrobe and armour design. However, their look did not suit the vanilla game style, making them stand out completely, as I originally wanted to place these new legionaries and other troops, in the most advanced level of Barracks. But it was truly a silly idea, since undeveloped provinces would have to produce… earlier-era types of Legionaries, which is not the best way… Smoothly shifting the Feel of an era, by showing this transition from vanilla units to newer troops was a needed solution, and a challenge.
Thus, led me to a point, that I should re-implement Vanilla’s mechanic of Gaius Marius Reforms. As usual, once Imperial Palace will be built in the certain province (with a hidden resource Italy), these new «Reforms» will trigger. Once triggered, Reforms can be used as a condition for a unit recruiting, just as it was in vanilla.
Now, new units are implemented in the Main Campaign with a little trick: they will appear only after the (reforms occur) mentioned era shift will take place.
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Most of the new units filled gaps between hierarchy levels of Roman Army. Now hierarchy consist of garrison and four tier military troops. That makes five levels in total, which corresponds to levels of barracks upgrades: Garrison (Limitanei, Foederaties); Militia (Psyudocomitatensis); Regulars (Ordinary Legionaries, and few others), Elite (1st Cohort Legionaries, etc.), Bodyguards (Comitatensis, Scholae Palatina and Auxilia Palatina).
Aside from the rank, the other important insignia was a citizen status. Edict of Caracalla made all free men of Roman Empire – equal citizens.
But annually, countless mass of barbarians infiltrated borders of the Empire with the one and only purpose – to work and live within the Empire. Majority of them, dreamed to become part of Empire Army, and receive substantial regular wage. Offered wage, however, was significantly less than citizen’s, thus making barbarian non-citizen Foederaties way beneficial. However, to enhance their will to serve, they were promised desired status of citizen upon retiring. Although, this policy economically was lucrative, side effect was stepwise decline of troop’s morality. Retreat and withdrawal became common situation.
This tab displays current state of the Army hierarchy based on their citizen status and rank.
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Map indicates the state of the Empire and barbarian Kingdoms at 476 A.D.
New provincial campaign of 476 A.D., “Fall of Rome” is now implemented, and offered on the vanilla map, to show the state of decay of late Western Roman Empire.
At 476 A.D., Suebs has already occupied one province around modern day Portugal, just next to Visigoth (or Western Goths) who has already occupied roman provinces of modern Spain and southern France. Burgundians has settled just north of city of Mediolanium. Together with Visigoths, Burgundians have cut Syagrius, Roman Dux of Suisson, from other Roman lands, locked him up tight in Northern Gaul. Ostrogoths (or Eastern Goths) has settled along Danube River on the former eastern border of WRE.
Although, only Italy remained in the Roman hands, all of these Barbarian Invasions were acknowledged by Romans not as Conquest and Annexations, but as lawful agreements between Romans and Barbarian Kings.
Typically, occupied territories by Barbarian Kings were not only acknowledged by Romans, more over, Romans have granted them a various Government titles, in order to put Barbarian Kings officially in charge as Roman Governors, as well as to pay them a regular tribute as a payment for their govern services.
Usually though, Romans simply never had a choice, but to allow barbarians to settle in their territories, as the alternatives were considerably worse. For instance, Visigoth King Alaric I requested the permission of Western Rome Emperor Honorius to allow him to settle down on the Roman province of Pannonia, as the tribute for their services to Rome. Honorius declined the request, which ended up with the first successful in 800 years the Siege of Rome in 410 A.D., and total humiliation of Roman Emperor Honorius. Eventually, Honorius not only agreed to all initial requests, but paid substantial tribute to Alaric I, as he never wanted to usurp the title or build his own Kingdom. It was simply unthinkable, that one may build his own Kingdom within the Lands of Eternal Roman Empire. Only Franks with their invasion were the first Nation who clearly annexed Roman territories, without any kind of agreements or acknowledgements, to enlarge their own Kingdom, for the long time diminishing Roman borders. But then again, Charlemagne conquered all neighbor Kingdoms just to proclaim himself as the Emperor of the West, basically resurrecting De Facto Roman Empire, in his own vision…
Vanilla roster of Factions was altered, implementing two new autocratic playable factions such as: «Realm of Syagrius» and «Kingdom of Odoacer».
In order to do so, due to the well-known game’s engine limitations, I was forced to cut two factions of vanilla roster entirely: Sarmatians and Roxolanies, for the following reasons:
- Unit roster of this two factions are entirely the same, and very similar to those of Huns.
- In the time of Main Campaign (363 A.D.), those tribes were no longer on their own; quite on the contrary – they already were integrated to the huge conglomerate of Hunnic Horde, alongside with their neighbor - Alanies (which were not present in the vanilla as a faction; but merely as a few units in Sarmatian and Roxolani rosters). Both of these Factions never again appeared in the Geopolitical stage, simply dissolving within surrounding nations.
- Huns were notoriously known as a great unstoppable force, capable of wiping out entire nations, mostly because they could absorb and turn their foes to use them against their next foes. At some point, Hunnic Horde absorbed various tribes and nations, consisting of Iranian, Germanic, and even western Asian nomad tribes; however not for long, but eventually covering almost 5/8 of continental Europe landmass, including such tribes as: Alemanns, Marcomanns, Thuringies, Longobards, Burgundians, Gepids, Goths, Sarmatians, Roxolanies, Alanies, and the notorious Hephtalites, also known as the “White Huns”, and a lot of lesser tribes. These lesser, smaller tribes were noted by chronicles as a “worthless to mention”, and eventually were converted into rightless “slaves”. These slaves usually were used in the battle by standing in the first lines as the target practice for enemy’s skirmishers. On the other hand, bigger nations or those who never resisted were even offered to stand under their own banner.
In order to illustrate Huns accurately and show their “diplomatic” skills (within known game engine’s limitations), I have decided to add but two units of infantry and cavalry from each wiped and absorbed faction to Hunns, so they could still remain in the game. But only those who were unique by the look or function from those of Huns, i.e. “Bosphorian infantry”, “Sarmatian Women Archers”, etc.
Added units will keep their original colors to dignify their origins within this Horde. Thus, not only Sarmatians and Roxolanies units will continue to exist in the mod, I have decide to add Alanies, and few others to the Hunnic Horde as well, with their new unique colors.
The whole faction of Huns will be renamed to “The Nomads”.
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Next article will cover more Barbarians, New Factions, and gameplay alteration.
Release of 0.3 version is imminent. Stay tuned.