Strategy Guide - Guide for Empire: Total War

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Empire: Total War

Strategy guide

By AHW aka Blood Rage aka PEDEG
2nd July 2011


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Campaign Strategy
2.1 General Strategy
2.2 Development
2.3 Expansion

3. Battle Overview
3.1 Land Battles
3.2 Naval Battles

4. Battle tactics
4.1 Land battles
4.2 Naval battles

5. Agents
5.1 Scholars
5.2 Assassins
5.3 Religious agents

6. Technology

7. Closing


1. Introduction

I got into ETW late because I only got my new pc in 2011. Anyway 
I'm back into my usual cheap tricks in the Total War series. 
This guide is only for single player campaign as multiplayer 
human performance varies. 

All campaigns are played on very hard. All battle settings are 
Hard and Very Hard. 

The easiest campaign is Maratha, very rich, easily defensible and
also the dullest. Maratha has boring units. 

The most challenging is the Ottoman Empire, poor lands, too many 
fronts, poor infrastructure and too many enemies. Nevertheless 
once I mastered some cheap tricks it is really rather smooth 
sailing but I must add that there was so many battles per turn in 
the first 50 turns that one turn can take over 2 hours. 

I won't go into technical details of the game as I'm not really 
bothered. My interest is in beating the campaigns. 

2. Campaign Strategy

2.1 General strategy

No money no talk. There are many factors to consider in keeping 
a healthy income. Sea trade is king but you need to patrol your 
sea control. I tend to control as many trade routes from every 
trading theatre. Get in there first and hold it even if you do 
not have trade ships. You will also need to be very good with 
your naval battles which I will explain the cheap way below. 

Then there is tax income. The more you upgrade, the more income 
but pay attention to return of investment for example low tier 
income buildings usually make return of investment in 10 turns 
while higher tier takes more. So given a choice of upgrading up 
a few, I would go for upgrading more low tier ones. 

Raiding trade routes are nice. The more ships you use the more 
you gain. However the gain is only as big as how much they have. 
You can check this info by placing the cursor on the trade 
route. I don't depend on this income because I control most 
trade routes thus making the gains low. Also note that 
blockading a port of damaging it does not give you raiding 

Even if money is tight, especially at the start of very hard 
campaign, don't worry. To get more money, go conquering and 
leave cheap defenders at home. Some nations start in very rich 
territories like France, England, Russia and India. Ottoman 
surprisingly has a very poor capital. 

Mines give good income. 

To reduce cost you need cost effective military units. Guess 
which unit is the most cost effective? Artillery! Of course 
artillery can't go solo but it's a great addition to the 
standard infantry heavy army. But look at the low cost, upkeep 
and killing power! Artillery consistently have the highest 
kills in battles, the most one unit killed was an 18 lber 
foot artillery at 460+ kills. Nice. 

Plan your development early to ensure growth, happiness and 
tech. Too many schools and you will reduce income while 
making people unhappy. A place for a school needs at least 
1-2 taverns/gardens with or without 1 religious building. Make 
sure the territory has enough towns to have them. 

Anywhere really but preferably where you can stifle your enemy 
and capture rich lands. So no rush to invade the interior of 
Russia or North Africa. India is very rich and easy to keep 
happy. The Americas provide loads of trade items but only 
develops later in the game as the towns mature. 

3. Battle Overview

3.1 Land battles

3.1.1 General strategy

3.1.1.a. Geography
Take your time placing your units before a fight. Topography 
is vital in ETW as most projectiles shoot in a straight line. 
So placing your troops too far back up a cliff will cause them 
to shoot into the ground of the enemy under the cliff. But the 
most important thing about the lay of the land is for artillery. 

3.1.1.b. Weather
Not too bothered about this as they still shoot. 

3.1.1.c. Land features
Walls, buildings, trees, etc all can be made used of. You can 
hide soldiers behind a wall but I don't recommend it because 
the walls seldom run in the direction you want, the AI will 
just charge in and it negates fire by rank. 

Placing projectile infantry in buildings is of somewhat use. It 
provides elevation and thus increased range. It provides cover 
but take note different buildings provide different degree of 
cover. Cavalry can't attack it (Yup there was a cavalry stack 
with 1 fixed artillery assaulting a fort-less city so I put all 
the citizen firelocks in buildings and easily won). The drawback 
with buildings is that it is easily taken down by artillery, it 
reduces effectiveness the unit's volley and highly susceptible 
to melee infantry. The AI will also attempt to rush into occupied 
buildings after they breach your walls and depending on your 
tactics this can be a good thing because if you melee rush your 
troops while the enemy unit just about enters you get them in a 
vulnerable stretched position. 

Trees are a pain. Sure nice to hide in woods but it provides 
projectile cover blocking some projectiles. Trees also 
block artillery shots including mortars which if you use carcass 
or quicklime shots you will kill troops in front of the tree, 
which are usually your own. 

3.1.2 Land units
Now it gets more interesting. I must stress my love for 
artillery which are the battle winners. The AI does not deal with 
artillery well. Anyway let's start with the simplest. 

3.1.2.a Melee infantry
There are some nice melee infantry but they are mostly superseded 
by projectiles. Nevertheless they have their uses. You can still 
use mass melee such as the sikh warriors or goorkhas and win but 
you will suffer heavy losses and it's like a one battle hit and 
then you need to go hide to recover your effectiveness. 

The times I use melee unit is when I cannot get good projectile 
infantry. Combining melee unit with low tier projectile unit is 
more effective then using all low tier projectile. The melee unit 
can be used to distract enemy projectiles and using your cheap 
prjectiles to shoot them in the back. What matters most is numbers. 
Small number melee units are useless. Give me a Musellim any time 
over Bashi-Bazouks. 

Generally I don't use melee infantry much except as garrison where 
they are more effective in tight areas where you can easily 
outflank the enemy. 

3.1.2.b Projectile infantry
These are musket militia, line infantry, grenadiers and riflemen; 
the mainstay units. Range is important, the longer the better, but 
numbers play a bigger part, the larger the volley the deadlier. 
Nothing much to say about them as they are very self-explanatory. 

3.1.2.c Melee and projectile cavalry
Cavalry is a nice addition to any army but not easy to use. 
It's about finding a gap and sending them rushing in. They fall 
too easily to artillery and bullets due to them being easier to 
hit due to the man and horse combined size. The AI uses them 
quite effectively as they try for the flanks first. I would 
personally go for projectile cavalry over melee cavalry as the 
projectile cavalry can melee effectively. There was a one on one 
Deli Horseman vs Regiment of Horse; the Deli fired a volley 
while the RoH charged in and killed about a quarter and then I 
sent the Deli to melee, easily killed the RoH. 

Projectile cavalry is better at taking out artillery as well. Give 
off a volley then charge in. It makes the engagement time shorter 
and free up your unit faster. 

Projectile cavalry is also good for moving them to quickly plug 
a gap anywhere on the map. 

3.1.2.c Artillery
I think they are the most useful unit type. I lug them everywhere 
I go. The most important tech to have is the canister shot and I 
go to great pains to quickly trade it from the Ottomans early on. 

Canister shot makes the day in field battles and sieges. It's 
cheap kills galore. 

Howitzers are my second fav unit in the game once I get carcass 
shot. They are the units of mass killing in siege assaults. It's 
1.6k of your against 6k of siege defenders? No problem with 
quicklime. You see all the soldiers on the wall? Well, burn them 
all! You'd be amazed at how fast it reduces wall defenders. 

I'll explain how to use artillery later. 

3.2 Naval battles

3.2.1 General Strategy
The strategy is simple - get more of your shots into the enemy 
ships than they can get into yours. I always try to cripple the 
enemy ships first by going for their sails. Then I can run circles 
around them. 

Watch the wind direction too. If you want to take down sails faster 
then the enemy needs to have full sails up so they need to go with 
the wind. However this makes them more dangerous as they can catch 
up with you. 

3.2.2 Naval units
The main trait to look out for the speed and meneuverability for 
your choice of ship. Ideally you should go for a ship that can win 
against multiple enemy ships and I would recommend a fifth rate. 

Why a fifth rate? Because you often start with one and that it has 
a good balance of fire power, hull strength, speed and 
meneuverability. A sloop has the best speed but 2 volleys from a 
sixth rate and higher can sink it. A brig due to it's square rig 
makes it's sails highly vulnerable where one volley from a fifth 
rate may take out all it's sails. 

Bomb ketch is a special class - the annoying class. It is very 
effective in taking out much larger ships. Be very vary if the 
enemy has it and send your fastest ship to kill it quick. 
Fortunately it tends to blow up quite easily. 

Beware the guns on galleons and galleys. They have fewer cannons 
but they are very powerful cannons. 

4. Battle tactics

4.1 Land battles
My favaourite bit. Cheap tricks galore. My ideal stack has 1 
general, 2 projectile cavalry, 3 foot cannons, 2 howitzers, 2 
specialist infantry (grenadiers or long range infantry) and the 
rest line infantry. 

4.1.1 Open field battles
If you have artillery, the AI will often come towards you on your 
offence and defence. I place my units out of range from the enemy 
cannons so that if they have fixed artillery, they become useless 
and if they have mobile artillery I force them to move them as 
hitting them while in mobile form is easier and more effective. 

I place the cannon pieces in the front with 1 or 2 line infantry 3 
men deep between each cannon unit. This is to ensure some 
overlapping cannon cover. Make sure the cannons jut out a bit from 
the infantry line so that it has a wide angle of fire. The location 
of placement depends on whether the cannons can have a clean shot 
forwards. So preferably facing downhill, cannons not blocked by 
trees, not facing any mounds or hills and you get what I'm getting 

Howitzers go behind the line. Projectile cavalry can be placed 
overlapping the cannons' horses or placed in the flanks. The 
specialist infantry tends to go in the flanks, hidden and offer an 
angle of fire facing the flanks to cover enemy cavalry. 

When battle starts I use the cannons to pick out enemy artillery 
and cavalry. Cavalry is the easiest unit to kill with artillery. 
The standard shot don't do well against infantry so stick with the 
cavalry. Let the howitzers free to rain death on infantry. 

Once the enemy gets closer but before they get into the canister 
shot range, cease firing and change artillery shot to canister shot. 
Fire when they get in range. From then on mainly manage the cannons 
pick on the targets that will give you the highest yield such as a 
unit that shows its flank down the barrel. Manage your infantry as 
needs be. 

If the AI charge the artillery, use the infantry at the sides of 
the cannons to melee in and the enemy unit often rout quickly as 
you hit them from both sides. Also pull out the artillerymen from 
melee and set them back to the cannons when it is clear. 

Another considerations include placing your battle line in such a 
way that the AI cannons will have to face a hill or obstacle to 
fire at you. The AI always set their artillery in their own flanks. 

4.1.2 Siege defence with walls
The most important unit is the cannon. Have at least one but 
preferably 2 in small fort. You need 2 or more for larger forts. 
Place them to cover the 3 most likely entrances the AI will come 
in from.  

If your units can plant horse barriers, place them at behind the 
gates or where you feel the enemy will break your walls. 

I get some firelocks on the walls to fire cannons for cheap shots 
but as soon as the enemy units reach the wall, I get everyone down 
to set up defensive position based around the cannons. The AI's 
reaction is to send out unit up the wall to capture the gates and
then all other units will rush through the gates. From here it's 
canister shot galore as the enemy enters the fort. Easy. This also 
means that you can easily use cheap units to defend easily. 

For example my infantry mainstay in defending cities as Ottoman 
was a mix of Musellims, Semenys and 2 Azzars; each of them able to 
plant barriers. 

4.1.3 Siege assault against walls 
This is slightly more complex as it is a 4 stage process. You will 
need mobile artillery of at least 2 cannon units and 2 howitzers. 

Start of by placing all your units in a diagnonal corner from the 
fort to avoid any cannon fire. No need any formation as the first 
stage is to get your troops into position in a closer diagonal 
corner of the fort. 

Illustration for SW side: 

                    W         W
 W = wall           W         W
                    W  FORT   W
                    W         W
                    W         W
          End    +
          Here   + 
          in SW  +
          of the 

in the 
SW corner
of the map

Notice the final inverted L shaped formation to end up in closer the 
fort? This avoids all wall cannons even against star forts because 
the AI never place the troops on the right cannons. 

Before you move your troops from the start, you have to get rid of 
any enemy artillery placed outside their fort which can fire at your 
troops' path. This is where cavalry cones in handy. 

The final formation of the first stage should have a mini line of 
3 line infantry with 2 cannons between them facing the corner of the 
fort at a distance where the line infantry's musket range is just 
short of the wall. The flanks are made up of line infantry set up as 
the two long arms of the L shape. Watch out for enemy cavalry that 
rushes out to foil this. I usually set the infantry to run into place 
as the enemy cavalry's aim is to rush for the cannons but if your 
infantry is in place the cavalry don't stand a chance. 

Once in place, stage 2 begins with the cannons firing into the walls. 
Howitzers which are placed behind the lines would then rain death on 
the troops on the walls with carcass or quicklime. Standard howitzer 
shots are of not much use. Even if the carcass or quicklime shots hit 
the wall but misses the soldiers, it doesn't matter because the 
spread of fire and quicklime will kill the soldiers. Often I could 
kill more than half of the troops on the wall before I can bring down 
any section of the wall. You may also want to delay taking the walls 
down if you want to kill off more soldiers on the walls. 

I would go for a hole in the wall on each side. So if you come from 
the Southwest side, make a hole each in the West and South walls. 
Switch to canister shot if any enemy unit rushes out and blow them 

Now for stage 3 which is the transformation of formation from:

             W  W = wall        
             W  |           
             W  |            
             WWW WWWWWW
Stage 1 \
form-    C
ation     \
C = cannons+


             W  W = wall        
         +   W                
         +   W  C = cannon             
         +   W  H = howitzers            
         +   W               
          ++ WWW WWWWWW
              H  H 

(third cannon can go into the corner such as the southern line 

Remember the key here is to avoid getting shot at by wall cannons. 
Make sure you clear the walls either with howitzers or damage it to 
over 50%. 

You need to move the cannons to face the breaches. The AI usually 
places units behind the breaches which you can hit with canister shot 
if you place your cannons close enough. Fire canister shots into the 
breach and the AI will rush out only to be mowed down by your cannons 
and line infantry. 

Howitzers should be placed behind the line so on any side so that it 
can fire into the center of the fort. You will quickly kill most of the 
enemy without sending any of your troops into the fort. If they stop 
coming out, just use howitzer shots on them. If you don't have howitzer, 
send in a sacrifical unit that stir some trouble then pull out when you 
draw their attention. 

Stage 4 is the closing to finally capture the city. If the enemy has no 
reinforcements you would have killed off more than 90% of their troops
if you carry out stage 1 to 3 correctly. Reinforcements delay your 
eventual entry and sometimes time can run out before you thin them out 
enough. In this situation, when you are ready to capture the city, you 
need to prevent any more enemy reinforcements from entering the fort. 
To do this, send a unit to climb the wall and capture the gates. Once 
you capture the gates the reinforcements can't enter through the gates 
and will have to march through any breach in the wall which hopefully 
will be the breach that you have control of. Always keep the unit on 
the wall to control the gates. Send in additional troops to capture the 
city which has very weak defenders by now.  

This strategy allows you to capture cities with weaker and less troops. 
I captured a city garrisoned with a full stack made up mostly of 
European line infantry using a stack made up to 3 cannons, 9 Isarelys, 
2 Semenys and 6 Musellims. I can easily win assaults with 1.5 troops vs 
4k+ this way. Siege assault is easier and more predictable then open 
field battles because the fort layout is fixed. 

Be wary of enemy mortars which have long range. Thankfully the AI often 
targets your line infantry leaving your artillery safe. You can bombard 
the mortars with howitzers carcass or quicklime shots which are 
effective in killing artillerymen though don't actually damage the 
artillery pieces. 

4.1.4 Killing enemy artillery
Best way to kill it is melee it safely especially if they are in mobile 
form. The next best way is to fire cannon shots at them while they are 
in mobile form. In truth AI artillery is usually not much of a problem 
as long as they are far away and using standard shots. I tend to send 
cavalry after them after I rout all their other units in an open field 

But be aware of the best method to approach them. Approach it from a 
side where you are covered by higher ground so that they will fire into 
the ground. The make the killing approach pependicular to their front 
so that you make them only able to use 1 cannon out of their lot as 
they can't fire into the backs of their other cannons. You can use 
infantry as well for this approach. The best infantry to use is one 
which can hide while moving so that you can get really close then send 
another unit to attract fire from their front so that you can charge 
in while they are reloading. 

4.2 Naval battles
The best way to win naval battles cheaply is to use 1 ship against up 
to 4 ships on the attack because against more than 8 ships time may 
run out before you win. So it's preferably to be on the defensive 
against many ships as you can continue indefinitely after you win by 
time out. Thus you can capture all the ships for easy cash. 

Why not more than one ship? Because this tactic requires all your focus 
on multiple maneuvers. 

I recommend using a fifth rate as the lone ship. 

The battle sequence is about immobilising all the enemy ships then 
forcing them to surrender. 

At the start, place your ship as close to the front. Once battle 
starts, just go head long towards the enemy and set the chain shot. 
I usually set time to go at max speed as I'm used with the pace. 

It is easier if the enemy is with the wind as their sails are open. 
When you get close change your heading and show your broadside to the 
enemy ship and wait till it gets close. Fire away and then quickly 
put some distance at their head then turn and give another broadside. 
Repeat this maneuver of keeping the enemy ships chasing you. You will 
end you doing S shape movements ahead of the enemy. Take out the sails 
of one ship at a time. Don't worry if the enemy ship appears to catch 
up especially the sloops and brigs because you can take out their sails 
with tight S maneuvers. Or if the sloops and brigs are becoming too 
much of a nuisance sink them with standard shots, usually 2-3 volleys 
from a fifth rate is enough to sink each ship. 

If the enemy ships are sailing against the wind you can still do the 
same as above only that it takes longer to take out the sails. What 
you can do here is to keep a distance and sail to the back of their 
line and harrass the rearmost ship. The enemy would then turn around 
and presto their sails go up. 

Once they enemy ships lose their sails, bombard them out of harm's 
way and they will surrender eventually. Galleons have no rear guns 
so it's safe to sail right up their rear. Use canister shots if you 
can as salvage booty goes down with more hull damage. 

This maneuver is very effective in capturing indiamen and galleons. 
Use this maneuver early in the game to capture enemy fifth rates to 
multiply your ships. I created a fleet of second rate just with 
captured ships. 

The thing to worry about most is your sails. Damaged sails makes 
turning slower. Damaged hull I can live with as long as it doesn't 
leak. Be careful of ships with forward firing guns as they can hit 
you if you don't keep your distance. 

Caution when facing galleys and bomb ketch. Galleys can still be 
captured but you need to use standard shots to take out their guns. 
Galleys have forward firing guns. They are few but they pack a hard 
punch. Bomb ketch always accompany other ships and they are a pain. 
I avoid battle with stacks containing bomb ketch as this maneuver 
will not work. You need more ships to fight a stack with bomb ketch. 

As Ottoman I trained only 1 fifth rate but ended up with fifth rates 
all over the globe hunting pirates, taking out enemy fleets and 
guarding trade zones. I did capture the persian fifth rate using a 
sloop trained at Mesopotamia. Biggest win 1 vs 14 ships, largest was
second rate, capturing 11 and sinking 3 (sloop and brig). 

I have also tried using tag team method where I had more than 1 ship. 
I sent 1 fifth rate to fight first while leaving the rest in the 
edges. Then when the first ship is damaged, I pull it out and send 
in another. In most cases I didn't need more than 1 ship but 
sometimes my first ship get it's sails damaged so I had to pull it 

5.0 Agents
I like agents. They make the game more fun. I use them a lot. 

5.1 Scholars
Only Western scholars can duel. All scholars can steal tech. I like 
stealing tech. I do not keep scholars in unis as a Western nation 
because there are just so many unis nearby to steal from. Stealing 
tech allows you to have less uni thus less unhappiness. I just 
concentrate on the main techs such as enlightenment and military 
techs. I tend to steal most industrial techs. I duel a lot because 
it is fun to watch. 

The story is different with Eastern scholars who has to travel long 
distances to reach the West. So with them I tend to keep them in the 
unis. Anyway, Eastern nations tend to have the ability to spam unis 
because they have more large cities and territories that help with 
maintaining happiness. 

5.2 Assassins
I mainly use them to assassinate other scholars and religious 
agents. There are only so few enemy buildings I want to sabotage. 

5.3 Religious agents
Spread them like a plague. Have assassins to support their spread 
by killing rivals. 

6. Technology
I must stress again that artillery technology is vital especially 
if you are outnumbered and cash strapped. 

I also invest heavily on enlightenment to boost research time by 
upgrading unis. More techs = more trading opportunity. 

I often neglect naval tech as they make little difference to my 
playing style. The naval tech I prioritise are those that will 
boost movement and sail speed. I don't even need to train warships 
so not bothered with upgrading dockyards. 

I also neglect cavalry tech as they are not very useful past the 
carbines. The shortened carbines come too late to make a big impact. 

Playing a Western nation, a large chunk of my tech comes from 
stealing. Just too easy. The small kingdoms in the middle of Europe 
often have universities and research enlightenment tech. I usually 
leave them alone to be my enlightenment tech farms. They usually 
cannot research any military or industrial techs because they can't 
build barracks and/or lack towns to build factories. This means 
they are easy to kill. 

When I am more able to capture land, my techs come as part of peace 
settlement. The AI is more likely to dispense with low tech and I 
gained at most 3 techs in one settlement. Most of my naval tech 
came from this when I played Ottoman. 

7. Closing
So far I have played ETW in burst and pause so I haven't played all 
factions. I have played Maratha (the easiest), England, France, 
Prussia (3 of then quite easy) and Ottoman (challenging). 

Please do not reproduce this guide in any other site without prior 
permission. I can be contacted by [email protected] Replies 
will be slow. 

OK, that's short and sweet. Have fun. 

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