Total War Tracker

Following Overly Difficult Total War Campaigns

MTW2 – Turn 1: Holy Roman Empire

It’s decided – instead of good ole’ England , my favorite faction and the one I’m most comfortable with – I’m going to go with something very different. To make my life miserable and thus more entertaining for you, I am selecting ‘The Holy Roman Empire’! They start off with decent territory, but are landlocked and surrounded on all sides with potential enemies AND situated in the rough center of Europe. Their horrid economy will have a hard time supporting a vast military, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are in bad graces with the papacy! I have a small consolation – I will start off as the largest, toughest faction. Something the computer players despise – and almost guarantees that they will gang up against me to put me in my place once the sparks start flying.

My immediate rivals will be Venice, Hungary, Poland, and France – with the Papal States casting a scrutinizing eye over my every action. Russia and Byzantine lurk as distant challengers, and to make things even more….interesting, the Mongol Hordes will arrive sometime around turn 50 – followed up by the Timiruds somewhere in the distant gunpowder era. They spawn with vast armies and skilled generals in the Southwest and Southeast, and blaze out to conquer everybody. And guess who’s watching Europe’s front door? Me! This promises to be an intense campaign, one that I’ll be hard pressed to survive. Without further ado, let’s get things started.

The beginning of my descent into hell.

The beginning of my descent into hell.

Awesome! In order to win I have to seize 45 territories, including ROME, the home of the pope. To give you a rough idea of just how much land I need to grab – 45 territories would include all of Western Europe, the Italian Peninsula, England and Scotland, and some of western Russia, which would require me to destroy almost every single catholic faction. Being a catholic faction myself, that means that eventually I will be forced to attack the pope – which will lead to all 9 other catholic factions declaring war on me, who happen to surround me. And who just may call a crusade on my exposed capital of I piss off the pope enough. Fantastic.

I’m strong early game, but under weaknesses…

“Lacks the late-period professional armies of England and France”

England and France must burn – but that would only be a temporary solution, as almost everyone else will have access to powerful end game units, especially the Spaniards! The Holy Roman Empire is old school – which is part of the reason why they don’t exist today, so we’ll likely see lines of axe wielding horsemen charging musket men head on at some point in this campaign as I defy history and human progress!

Enough grousing – if I’m going to get anywhere I’ll have to conquer the starting screen.


Advice level: Only vital info
What am I, a nincompoop? I know what I’m doing – at least, I like to think I do – but just in case I get overwhelmed in the heat of battle the adviser mentioning that my horsemen are charging a wall of spearmen just might be helpful.

Difficulty: Very Hard
It just wouldn’t be fun any other way! This makes the campaign map level of the game…very hard. This enables the AI to defy all logic and reason and rapidly produce huge armies and hordes of assassins and spies (which results in most cities having spy and assassin guilds). Rebellions and bandits will also be formidable foes, and the AI will be that much more likely to stab me in the back. A hard world – but the generals of mine who survive will be utter bad-asses for it.

Battle Difficulty: Very Hard
Contrary to Rome total war, this actually makes the enemy more intelligent in lieu of simply boosting their stats – but this is small relief! The AI can and will make me work for my victories in any battle with even or greater odds. It also means I’ll have to fight –every- battle, and ensure that I never allow the AI to take control of my reinforcements – just to be fair, the expanded enemy intelligence doesn’t quite extend to friendly AI. I have been driven to wordless rage in the past when an AI had my best general and king charge headlong into a wall of pikemen at the end of an hour long siege.

Manage all cities: YES
I may be making this hard, but I’m not a masochist! Normally, a general/governor would have to be present in order for one to manually give build and recruiting orders to a city, but with money being tight and efficiency a must – this would be one step to far!

Battle Timer: OFF
Sometimes, you just gotta sit there and wait for the AI to make a move – You’ll see what I mean in late game city sieges.It is tragic when a good battle has to be cut off by a timer – and the dreaded auto complete would step in to finish the battle, which would result in unacceptable losses! Don’t worry – I won’t be dropping hour long battle replays on you – that’s what video editing is for.

Show CPU Moves: YES
This won’t impact you in the least – but it’ll benefit me – there’s no reason to have it off, it denies me intel I would legitmately know. May wind up taking awhile as my empire and line of sight grows – more motive to kill them all!

With options set, I’m ready to go. LET’S DO THIS!

Mental groaning and firing cannon at hapless Aztecs. We're off to a great start.

Mental groaning and firing cannon at hapless Aztecs. We're off to a great start.

[TURN 1: SUMMER of 1080 AD]

Behold, my kingdom! ...Shrouded in fog.

Behold, my kingdom! ...Shrouded in fog.

So! At a glance I have 4 cities and 2 castles – 5 clustered together in Central Europe, and 1 all by its lonesome in Northern Italy. Let’s take stock of what I’m starting with…


-Bologna – Large Town

Turn1(4)BolognaBuhlognuh! (yes, that’s not how you pronounce it but I don’t care) Home of the Kaiser and smack dab in the center of the action – Italy almost always descends into chaotic violence before too many turns go by. Strangely enough, my king has found himself in this dangerous territory – I will have to guard him jealously! This is a city I may want to convert to a castle, especially if I make too many enemies and the pope continues to regard me with a callous eye. Thankfully, reinforcements won’t be far away, unless that northern pass gets blocked. My only city with a port – valuable territory indeed.  The vulnerable rebel city of Florence lies just to the southeast – an easy target that I’ll want to snatch before anyone else. Herr Kaiser is also an awesome man – while lacking in authority, apparently he’s so honorable people –want– to be killed by him, and his title is so long it has to be cut off!

Emperor Heinrich the Chivalrous
Command: 3
Chivalry: 4
Authority: 3
Piety: 4

Faction Leader
-Aspiring Commander
-Religiously Proper
Champion of Honor

-Innsbruck – Wooden Castle

Turn1(5)InnsbruckThe southern tip of my central cluster. Thankfully, it’s a castle – and watches over a vital pass. A few strategically placed fortresses could see me in complete command of the surrounding area, assuming I can keep them manned and maintain line of sight. The general here is young, with promising traits – enhanced move, and an ambusher in an area well suited for ambushes. The natural commander trait means that with a little grooming, he’ll become one of my star generals – which is good because this territory is the gateway to my empire for my rivals in Italy!

Otto von Kassel
Command: 2
Chivalry: 0
Loyalty: 5
Piety: 3

Natural Commander
-Effective Ambusher

-Staufen – Wooden Castle

Turn1(6)StaufenOne of the two western territories. Rebel positions surround the upper half of my kingdom, all tempting prizes – for me and my foes. Another well positioned castle, watching over a pathway into the core of my realm. Another area I’ll want to fortify unless I manage to become expansionist early on. My prince is stationed here, with a small garrison and half decent traits.  I’m not displeased in the least.

Prince Henry
Command: 2
Chivalry: 0
Loyalty: 5
Piety: 3

Heir Apparent
Promising Commander

-Frankfurt – Capitol

Turn1(7)FrankfurtThe glorious city of hot dogs, which just so happens to be my capitol – and a city likely to be hit hard once Poland and the dutch get their act together. The usual garrison is here – with an extra unit of spearmen and angry men armed with pitchforks as a bonus. Sweet! Dietrich von Saxony is is a bit old  – but his starting traits make up for it.

Dietrich von Saxony
Command: 3
Chivalry: 0
Loyalty: 5
Piety: 3

-Aspiring Commander
-Effective Ambusher

-Vienna – Large Town

Turn1(8)ViennaThe eastern edge of my kingdom situated on the edge of a vast plain extending eastwards, with Prague, a natural potential addition, laying temptingly near – a gap I’ll want to close. As is the city is open to attack from three directions. Mysterious lands lie east – I’ll want to get spies out there as soon as possible. Leopold is young, in spite of his balding and gray hair, and another natural born general. These Germans are a tough lot.

Command: 2
Chivalry: 0
Loyalty: 5
Piety: 3

Natural Commander
-Effective Ambusher

-Nuremburg – Town

Turn1(9)NuremburgThe heart of my kingdom, and will likely become my hub for trade and commerce. Surrounded by forests and hills, battles here will leave me with lots of options and will give me the defending advantage. The general here handily wins the Most Awesome Name award, Maximillian Mandorf. He’s smart, stoic, and looks the part – let’s just hope he doesn’t become insane! (yes, it does happen!)

Maximillian Mandorf


All of the cities have roughly the same military garrison – a couple spearmen and a couple archers, with two cities getting an extra spearmen and bad ass peasents – a balanced spread of forces, but with a severe cost – the upkeep per turn sits at a wretched 5500 florins! All the more reason to expand outwards.

I have an ok bishop, a terrible princess, and a rookie spy. With a family of nothing but capable warriors, I should be pleased – but this is probably the devoloper’s way of telling me that I’ll be fighting all the time.

And last but not least, Captain Markus is strategically positioned in an ambush in the northern rebel territory, with the castle of Hamburg -just- within reach – and a quite capable attack force to boot! Gee, are the developers -trying- to tell me to do something? No!!

Gee, I wonder what I should do...

Decisions, decisions...


With my sight of the surrounding area crippled, and my chief economic export amounting to dirt and mothballs, I already have several key priorities!

My Goals:

1) Make watchtowers so I can actually see

2) Build up internal infrastructure to balance my budget

3) Sieze as many nearby rebel territories as possible

Simple enough, no?

The castle of Nuremberg isn’t well defended, with only 4 units of infantry – but the castle itself poses a challenge. The level of the castle makes the front gates a nightmare to break through, so I’ll want infantry to surround the place with ladders at the same time I rush in with a battering ram – but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll lay siege to the place, and start building my siege weapons – I can take my time, with no reinforcements coming for my hapless foes. If they try to bust out? Life will suck for them since I have cavalry and they don’t.

Since I know hardly a thing about the world around me, I’ll want to send my few available agents out to explore as I keep my armies in my cites, with an exception or two to smash rebel territories. With my empire stretched thin, I’ll have to be careful not to provoke too much anger – yet.

I only have one city capable of making diplomats, Frankfurt in the northwest, so my princess will go east to placate Hungary, Poland, Russia, and the other mysterious nations lurking in the murk. In my experience, Russia grows from a single territory to a dozen-strong behemoth, so I I just may want them to be my buddies for the time being. Russia has the added bonus of being an Orthodox faction – when I finally rise up against the pope, Russia will lean over my shoulder, nod approvingly, and settle back to smash the Turks. Barring behind the scenes Shananigans, they should stick by me. My bishop will head north – Hamburg has the lowest catholic rating, 75%, and I’m almost certain to claim that territory so I suppose I should safe the poor bastard’s souls.

Sending Herr Bishop to save the heathen I'm about to clobber.

Sending Herr Bishop to save the souls of the heathen I'm about to clobber.

My spy will infiltrate Prague, my most immediate objective – siezing that city will leave my center city free to beef up it’s trade.

A 38% Success rating. Abysmal odds, but even the slimmest chance of opening those gates would be helpful…


You moron!

Oh. My spy was an incompetent. Well, he only had 1 subterfuge anyway, the useless piece of… No open gates for me! I’ll send Mandorf and some friends over to lay siege. It’ll take him two turns to get there – it’s very likely the current rebel forces will swell in the meanwhile. I could hire some mercenaries – but their price tag is a touch unacceptable at the moment – 660 gold for a single unit of spearmen – over 10% of my starting budget! Mandorf will have to make do with what he’s got. Once Mandorf gets there I’ll have him maintain a siege to start wearing them down as I bring up some reinforcements – this will be a tough fight.

Now, the southeast. Sending out Leo and friends would be begging Hungary to lash out at me, so for now, I’ll send him out to build a watchtower. These buildings will very soon become my best friends, enabling me to actually see through my own lands. I have to keep a careful eye on my eastern cousins – As they don’t share my religion, I don’t have the luxury of relying on the threat of excommunication to keep my nieghbors from attacking me!

The...the fog! It's gone!

The...the fog! It's gone!

The south – Otto will stay put until I have a handle on how far away the western rebel city is. Venice is too much of a potential threat for me to leave my castle unguarded for any length of time – losing it would be extremely painful – Herr Kaiser would be cut off, the enemy would gain a powerful stronghold, and I’d be rather pissed off – unaccetable! Watchtower, fortify.

Herr Kaiser will strike out at Florence – a city defended by chump change. My forces will be stretched thin – but I should have time to build up a good defensive army before things get too hot. If I grab Florence, I’ll have a strong position to control the flow of armies and agents in and out of the Italian peninsula – though that won’t stop my enemies from throwing one ship navies with 20 card armies at me (What? You didn’t know a single boat could carry several thousand soldiers? Shame on you!). This siege will have to end ASAP, likely next turn. A risky move – but risks have to be taken to gain anything!

It happens to be nice and close to Bologna too - These cities should be able to support each other.

It happens to be nice and close to Bologna too - These cities should be able to support each other.

And finally, ze west. I’ll send out Prince Henry into lands unknown in the hope a weak rebel stronghold lurks in the darkness. Precedence suggests that there should be one – hopefully with a 4 card garrison!

Into the wild blue yonder

Into the wild blue yonder





…But a glitch – he can’t lay siege this turn, and neither can his reinforcing buddies due to the odd behavior of the campaign map once one gets in siege range. That is a setback I’ll likely regret – but maybe in the interim the garrison will strike and give me a shot to weaken them. You never know…

And at last, the northwest. My armies can’t move too well out there – and I can’t see a darned thing in all that murk!

Yeeeeah I don't like all that dark

Yeeeeah... I think I'll stay put.

So, like with the other chumps – move out, watchtower, move back. I simply can’t take certain risks until I know more and can see more – it would royally suck to have a lone general stumble upon a huge army lurking in ambush! Unlike you saps, I -can’t- save and reload so eveything I do is that much more important. So much for no pressure, eh?

And that’s it for moving the chess pieces! Sorry chums, blood and vinegar will have to wait for the next turn. Now to spend my glorious horde of 5350 florins!

which has been cut down to a measly 10 florins. Economy is going to be a major thorn in my side – with lots of military units, I need to muster the money to maintain my armies and have enough to even dream of growing my cities. I’ll want people to tax, and roads to encourage trade which I can then tax. So – the cities without roads are building roads, and the cities with roads are building farms. All the extra money goes towards garrisons – spearmen, and archers where I can get them. I’ll be needing a lot of them to fortify my castles. Watchtowers are hardly free, 200 florins a pop – but the extra sight range is invaluable, especially with such a large starting empire.

Barely 1 turn goes by and I'm already bankrupt. Am I a good Kaiser or what?

Barely 1 turn goes by and I'm already bankrupt. Am I a good Kaiser or what?

That was the longest first turn I’ve ever done – and it’s only going to get worse! We’ll see how long this mad adventure lasts – and hopefully I’ll be able to wage some bloody battles this coming turn. And from there the nightmare will only get more and more intense. Check back here often, especially on  Tuesday, June 30th when I take the first steps through turn 2! (I need to figure out what to do with my battle videos – there will be some tangles next turn <_<) . For ze Reich!

-The Dougem


June 27, 2009 - Posted by | Campaign, Holy Roman Empire, Medieval Total War 2 | , , , ,


  1. Nice, I didn’t think putting up my first turn would be a good idea…. wanted to get the real show started, then start writing. But, it is useful to know the difficulty level for campaign and battle. If the reader has never played before, then describing the first turn is helpful. I never thought that far…

    Comment by Vladekstrpur | July 3, 2009 | Reply

    • Heh. My blog is in depth look at my campaign – by choice, yours certainly doesn’t have to be! I want to try to make this accessible to most people – not just fans of the game, so I’ll include tidbits that will be of interest to all groups.

      Comment by thedougem | July 3, 2009 | Reply

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