So as you may be aware by now, we’ll be starting off a new Medieval 2: Total War playthrough this coming Sunday, and that means we need to pick a new faction. Naturally, I have a few ideas for which faction would work best, but I’m interested in the community view as well, so let’s go over a few likely candidates.
The obvious choice, but not necessarily my preferred candidate. England has probably my favourite army in the game, with fun infantry like the billmen, and some great archers with their unique stake-laying ability, plus a really fun early game while you unify the UK. However, once the UK is taken, that leaves you with 7 provinces that should be almost entirely safe, and given you’re tucked away in North West Europe, you’re surrounded by Catholic nations with limited room to expand.
An interesting campaign, with the advantages of a fun early-game enemy in the form of the Moors, and a good challenge due to Spain’s slightly weak infantry that’s better at skirmishing than actually holding the line, so eventual war against other Catholics is very difficult. It’s also nice to have two really different fronts, with Africa to the south, and the rest of Europe over the Pyrenees. It’s also nice that Spain starts with only two territories, so you get to build the Empire from almost nothing.
A very challenging campaign – possibly the hardest in the game, in fact – with potential enemies on every side throughout the game, and thus a tricky political and diplomatic game to play. France also has a really diverse army with loads of fun units, including some interesting militia tech in the mid game. The only major downside is that France starts with 5 territories, with standing armies sufficient to convert that to 7 within a couple of turns, so you just get given a fair few towns and generals at the start, rather than getting to build it up yourself. Though you could also argue that helps gets things up to speed more quickly.
Those are the only three I’m considering (yes, the Holy Roman Empire has Roman in the title, but I don’t like their starting location and I think their army’s a bit generic, and yes, the Byzantines are the surviving Romans, but then you completely miss loads of fun mechanics like the Pope and Crusades, and yes Venice is sort-of-a-bit Roman but I don’t enjoy the North Italian factions because Militia Pavise Crossbowmen basically make the entire game way too easy).
Playing France could be a good build up to Space France (like Space Rome), which could lead to multiplayer versus Stellaris. Just imagine… The evil Space French Vs the glorious Space Romans.
*With Claire playing Space France.
*Against Claire (I forgot to mention that oops).
France guys, so Claire will be all smug!!!
Nooo. I’d love to see you do a Byzantine playthrough.
I guess I will vote for Spain them 🙁
France definitely, gets going quick and stays challenging.
I highly support a French Campaign, and not just for the challenge and the comedic opportunities that arise from a Brit playing a Frenchman. It would be great to see one of the surviving Brutii lines (mayhaps even the descendants of Spurius Scapula) survive the Fall of Rome and give birth to a French nation with the blood of the greatest of Roman families seek to reclaim the Empire
England, like you said, is a bit too easy. Unifying the Isles only takes a bit of time, and you can even extend a few tendrils further into northern France from Caen. Having to fight on pretty much a single front for most of the early game is a huge help, and the AI really struggles to land troops by sea, so with the backing of an economic powerhouse on the Isles, you’re set and it’s difficult to actually ever lose. Even if you’re roundly defeated on the continent, you still have the Isles to fall back to and regroup.
Spain is a bit of a trick faction. On the surface, they have weak infantry, and not a lot of ranged firepower, and look like they’d struggle especially against Catholic heavy infantry in Europe, or the mass cavalry of the Moors in southern Spain and North Africa. What make up for their early-game deficiencies, though, are Jinetes. They can be trained in castles to begin with, and cities not too far after, but they can counter more or less anything you’ll see. They’re faster than everything except other Jinetes and one or two other very light skirmishers, but they have decent attack and defence anyway, and most things that can catch them should lose rather badly.
Their greatest strength lies in their javelins. Javelin cavalry in M2 is hilariously powerful–there’s a reason I like the Russian roster, because their Boyar Sons are ludicrous–and you can easily win every open field fight you have with enough Jinetes and even half decent micro. Riding around infantry blocks and tossing javelins into the rear decimates them, and it’s even better against knights, who have no hope of ever catching you if they pursue. I won my Spain campaign pretty much off the backs of Jinetes, and without any issue whatsoever. The only time you’ll need infantry is if you want to lay siege and can’t starve troops out, but Spear Militia do the job up until you get access to generic Dismounted Knights, and even Javelinmen/Almughavars are surprisingly capable in melee. Once you get Swordsmen Militia and Sword and Buckler Men, you’re in no real trouble.
France is, in my opinion, the most challenging of the two, and probably the most interesting. Their roster is fairly diverse–they’re the only Western faction to (eventually) get non-mercenary horse archers, for example–and their starting location puts them immediately at odds with 3-5 factions. With a few tactical early moves, you can pretty much unify France in the first 10-20 turns besides Caen, which gives you two good Castles that Spain/Portugal need to bypass to get to you, reducing the chance of an attack from that area. If you can, taking the rebel castle just north of Milan gives you a strong position to hold where you can monitor Milan and the HRE, and there’s another rebel castle North of that which the HRE often neglect until late on, which can be taken if only to provide a speed-bump against the HRE, and retrain Mailed Knights.
It’s a fairly high-risk faction, though. To make progress, you need to gamble, but if you do that and you lose, it can be a major blow. The main upsides are that if you have both Toulouse and Bordeaux, you shouldn’t be able to lose either of them unless you left them both wholly unguarded and get double sieged. Add in Angers, and you can have it and Bordeaux feeding Rennes good garrison troops if need be, or it can leave Rennes to be defend by Bordeaux completely, and concentrate on keeping Paris well-stocked, whilst Toulouse bolsters itself and Bordeaux if the Spanish/Portuguese get lairy, or funnel troops into Dijon and Marseille to help dissuade the HRE and Milanese.
If you don’t take Bordeaux, you leave your west flank weak and Angers overstretched; I’d say securing it is practically essential. Once you have France united and established, though, it gets a little easier. You have a solid financial centre, and if you managed to grab Bern and Metz, you can often keep the HRE and Milanese out of your squishy towns until they develop stone walls and have a good enough garrison, or even use them as springboards for invasion. Bern especially can help you slip an army in behind Milan and gut Genoa or their capital if it’s been left undefended, giving you two very wealthy settlements and a foothold in Northern Italy.
Unless Denmark is now also in the running, I’d definitely say that France would offer the most challenging yet rewarding experience.
Don’t forget Sicily. In the first 15-20 turns they are interested in Marseille.
I don’t know much about Total War, but from your description Spain seems more challenging. Unless the diplomatic options for France are really cool, I’d vote Spain.
Of these three I would choose France.
Have you thought about Poland? Still a Catholic country, close to the Middle East, and you have to deal with the Mongol invasion. In addition, there are no good missile infantry units, let’s be honest, faction with good missile units it’s an easy mod for you, with average infantry and excellent cavalry. Battles would be more dynamic, and different than in Rome. Also the initial cities are poor, so you will not make too much money early.
Definitely would love to see someone do a quality Byzantine run but of the 3 options given the French take the cake…..this should be good.
Has to be France for me. Can’t have Jon doing anything too easy.
So I suppose this straw poll was useless seeing he is now playing as Denmark, which wasn’t even one of the choices. What reason so you have to want us to fill the straw poll in without actually using it?
Has to be France, we can’t make it too easy for you Jon.