May 25, 2016

Centurion - End Game

Perhaps I should have had more than three chariot wins in a row before declaring mastery of said event.  There's also a bet limit of 100 talents (golds), so I wasn't able to just double my coffers whenever I wanted (although my odds would sometimes go as high as 3 to 1, ensuring a sizable pot should I manage to win).  Success in the race hinged on getting ahead of the pack as soon as possible and getting into the sweet spot of the track, where the horses could run safely at maximum speed without requiring whipping.  Opponents have their fair share of cheats, however, and getting into the groove can be quite irksome.  I've had guys completely shred my chariot within seconds of the race starting, noticed that they can whip their horses continually without repercussions, and they can push me around the track without actually touching me.  But all of that's alright, because I have cheats of my own.  No, not save states, but in-game cheats under the menu option appropriately, and awesomely, titled skulduggery.  There's bribing of opponents, purchasing of performance-enhancing drugs, and bribing of the gods.

Skulduggery? would be a great band name, except
they'd have to spell it Skullduggery? of course,
just to make sure you get it.
(edit:  As I was finalizing this post, I did a search for "Skulduggery band" and, of course, there's already a band named Skullduggery (no question mark though).  They're fellow Canucks hailing from Calgary and while I was expecting metal, instead what I got was Celtic folk.  What a country!)

With chariot racing being a decent source of additional income, I had no problem financing additional legions (max number of legions determined by current rank) and sent them off to gain new territory, either through diplomacy or force.  Nations that respond well to diplomacy do so in each new game, right down to picking the same choices in the branching dialogue.  Once the correct "path" is known, the nation can quickly be romanized when a new game is started, adding more income as well as more manpower to be converted into troops.  Of course, there are some nations who don't respond to diplomacy at all, such as Narbonensis, whose citizens sound like they were taught grammar by the Incredible Hulk.

No one stronger than Narbonensis... NO ONE!

The only option is war, which brings us to the field of battle, where an overall tactic for the army is chosen from a list of twenty (though many are very similar).  Once the battle has begun, it can be paused at any time and individual units can be given specific orders.  Well, they can be pointed in one of four directions if one can manage the incredibly clunky interface.  I don't know how you fuck up just being able to pick a direction but I had a hell of a time getting units to respond.  It doesn't help that you can only order units that are within shouting range of the general, which varies between generals but never covers the entire battlefield.  It wouldn't matter much if the units themselves just took a night course in basic tactics because they are stupid as fuck.  For example, once I got some cavalry units I thought I'd be able to get some sweet flanking action up in this piece, as the cavalry are placed on each end of the front line.  But nope, instead of flanking when an enemy unit is right beside them, they just keep charging forward.  Sure, I could order them to flank at the appropriate time, but, wouldn't ya know it, they're out of range of the general.  At most, I could perhaps get the general close enough to get one of them to flank.  So most times I just go defensive until the enemy has been decently deadified and then I choose the melee option, which puts the entire field into a clusterfuck free-for-all.

I guess no tactics are really needed when going
up against a bunch of shirtless barbarians.

In addition to infantry and cavalry, there are also elephant units which are met fairly early on in the game.  I was super pumped to get some raging elephants of my own but would have to wait until later on to get them.  At the beginning, the only legion type one can raise is infantry.  Once your rank is high enough, cavalry legions become available.  The final type of legion is consular, where I expected to get some 'phants but just got more cavalry and infantry instead.  I didn't even get a chance to bellow out the phrase I'd be saving up.

Cry havoc!  Let slip the pachyderms of war!

After around half the nations were under Roman control, I started investing in some ships.  I didn't bother with wussy triremes and went straight for the massive galleons.  I sunk 80 talents into building four galleons, loaded them with some trained fighting men, and set off to deal with the Carthaginian fleet that was too close to mother Italia for my liking.

For the glory of Rome, I hereby do christen this
flagship Boaty McBoatface, because we have
an actual democracy dammit! *pst**pst**pst*
Oh, we're a republic? Nevermind then, my bad.

Engaging the Carthaginians led to shitty mini-game that had none of the humour or appeal of the chariot race.  The two flagships of each fleet go stem to stem and awkwardly try to catapult each other before closing in for a volley of arrows and then a nice ramming.  Victory is mainly determined by number of soldiers remaining, making the "action" part kinda unnecessary.  While the flagship battle is happening, the rest of the fleet fights as well; this outcome is also mainly determined by just numbers.  During the first battle, I was so involved in trying to steer and aim my cumbersome lummox of a ship that I didn't pay attention to the numbers at the bottom of the screen.  When I sunk the enemy's flagship, I thought victory was mine but that proved to be false as the rest of the fleet was polished off by the remaining Carthaginian ships, which outnumbered us eleven to one.

Oh whoops, I guess the Romans forgot
that reconnaissance is a thing.

Well shucks, building a fleet of 45 ships wasn't going to happen anytime soon, even with me winning the majority of the chariot races.  Focusing on acquiring more territory (and therefore taxes), things went pretty smoothly, with some nations allying with Rome and some requiring a not-so-gentle prodding with a pointy spear.  Resisting nations could generally be dealt with by a single legion, the tougher nuts (such as Parthia) requiring another legion to follow up.  I wasn't expecting anything new before endgame, but then I entered Aegyptus and was surprised when Cleopatra gave some extra dialogue options — some extra sexy dialogue options.  Shen knows how to handle the wimmens so it was pretty obvious how I was going to win Cleo over.

Well, the Sphinx doesn't put out, so here I am.

Naw, I'm just joking, I'm not that oblivious when it comes to the ladies, especially queens (of which I've had several).  I actually went all Eygptian Lover on dat ass and hit 'er with some slick shit that instantly vaporized those ancient panties and left the door open for me to lay some serious pipe.  This was all done in full view of some dude watching with a spear, probably some bodyguard who harbours a secret crush on Cleo, and Cleo knows it so she purposefully bones her manwhores only when he's on shift just to mess with him.  It's not some muffled sounds behind a door either, it's done in a room with a huge opening where some doors should be.  Whatever their deal was, I probably didn't help matters by spending more time smiling at the guard than at Cleo.

Even though it's only about a pixel wide, that is
easily the biggest shit-eating grin I've ever seen.

After my dual conquest of Aegyptus, it was a simple matter to take out the final nation, the powerful but ultimately doomed Carthage.  As I ascended to Caesar, I looked back on my rise to power and saw that it was jawesome.  I had never plundered any of my acquisitions and only had a handful of rebellions from a few troublemaker states; most places were easily mollified with displays of physical prowess and blood.  I'm sure that, under my rule, Rome will reach even greater heights of glory, perhaps even global domination.  Oh yes, YES!  I like the sound of that... Shen Nung... KING OF THE WORLD!!!  ow, hey, what's that stinging sensation coming from my back?  Feels knivey.

Centurion threw quite a few curveballs at me and for that, I am grateful.  It's always nice to not have to scrounge up something to talk about, and this is doubly true for strategy games.  The final quirk came unexpectedly at the end screen, where the game gives a shout-out to "The Father of American Karate", who had recently passed away.  Let it not be said that Centurion: Defender of Rome is without heart.