Content of the article: "Odysseus Campaign Report Hard"
I just finished Total War Saga: Troy on hard with Odysseus and wanted to share my thoughts.
I've been playing strategy games forever, but this was my first Total War game. I was immediately impressed with the theme and visuals, and the more research I did into the setting the more impressed I became. For example, it would have been so easy to combine Mycenae, Tyrins and Argos since they are so close together, but they were three of the most important walled cities in Mycenaean Greece, and they are all walled cities here. I've read the Odyssey (and watched Troy), and it was genuinely exciting encountering Nestor of Pylos and Alcinuous of the Phaeacians early on (that's where Phaeacia is? It's plausible!).
As far as TW game play, my aha moment came fairly early on, when my main O army, consisting of 20 low level light infantry got double teamed. I tried and failed a couple defensive stands, then retried a third time and decided to try a radical harassment strategy utilizing the whole map. It worked, and it was thrilling. Although I felt like I was outplaying the AI, it never felt like the AI was radically stupid, just that they were getting tricked and exploited by my feints. It was dozens of hours before I got tired of sharing screenshots of my heroic victories or losses of less than 100 troops against a 2000+ army to confused friends.
For 185 turns, I played it straight as a Danaan pillar, and it mostly worked well. The game rolled out new challenges for me in an interesting way. I cruised across the map as fast as I could, gobbling up coastal territory (while Sparta, my close friend, did the same up Thessaly). When I got capped on resources, I learned how to optimize buildings for resources. When my minor settlements got attacked, I learned to build guard houses. When I started to confederate and had a few happiness crises, I learned the importance of prayers, Organize Games, and completing provinces. I learned ways to acquire gold through agents and trading despite having no mines. It was all interesting but challenging. And eventually O's army of slingers and young spears got smashed and I had to regroup with higher level units. All good!
There were annoyances, and two stood out. Sparta started confederating allies and I realized I needed to keep up. Sparta was sitting on a couple valuable coastal regions I needed, and I hatched a plan to confederate Argos and swap out their useless territories (since O can't use buildings inland) to Sparta. Argos was a Cyclopean citadel in the heart of Lacedaemon for which Sparta owned the remaining regions. Surely they would be eager to acquire it. Nope. Wouldn't even trade a lousy fringe minor region for it, even though they were the #1 power and had no reason to fear me. For some reason this just bugged me the whole game.
Second thing was that my epic quest wanted me to take Myrina. Sparta owned it, so there was no chance of me ever getting it without a trade or war. This was annoying enough, but even worse, Helen was sitting there, and meanwhile Paris is out romping around the map doing who knows what. The Trojans never made a meaningful attempt to recapture Helen for the entirety of the campaign. Huh? What are we even doing here?
Some things that others have complained about didn't bother me. I didn't realize to abuse chariots because when I had them in small numbers they weren't impressive. Javs and swords worked great for me so I stuck with that as my main composition throughout. I loved the Minotaur. I thought supply lines worked perfectly, keeping me a bit on edge as I expanded my territory. I was always able to solve my supply problems through careful management and expansion.
Finally, the "whack-a-mole" and minor settlement defenses felt appropriate to me for what I was trying to do, which was take on many enemies at once and dominate the map. Yes, it was tedious, but I could always autoresolve and lose a battle here and there if I felt like it. Plus defending minor settlements against great odds was a fun challenge to learn how to optimize in itself, despite getting repetitive. Throughout I continued to get great battles with my main armies, and learning to siege and assault effectively never felt oppressive.
BUT, the game is simply too long (playing it straight, anyway). I must have gone over 150 hours, and by the end my appetite for a replay as another faction was completely sapped. Surely a 60 hour campaign would be more appropriate for a game that is explicitly designed for replayability. And my playstyle is probably much more aggressive than the average gamer (not necessarily the average TW vet on this forum).
Managing agents and skill trees very quickly turned into a chore. I would just click the first ability that looked reasonable, and spent hours in total on essentially queue clearing. Managing buildings was similar but a bit better since it meaningfully impacted my income and recruitment.
Of course, I dragged it out anyway. At turn 185 Sparta was #1 and had Troy surrounded. I was dealing with my antagonist the Amazons and had conquered most of Anatolia to the south. I could either join Sparta in taking Troy and secure an easy TW victory, or declare war for giggles and see the Homeric victory through (since I still needed Myrina). Obviously I did the latter, smashed Sparta, allowing Troy and Lycia (w/ Hector and Paris) to rebuild and challenge me in the east, then turned around and mopped them up, winning both victories around turn 240.
I got a suitably epic final battle with Troy, though one I wished had been under the walls of Troy to relive the epic battles from the movie, and then the final sack of Troy was canonically anticlimactic thanks to O's wily shenanigans.
There is a lot to love about this game, and I think a lot of the complaints are overwrought, especially ones that are effectively about difficulty. Instead of complaining about supply lines, try managing diplomacy, optimizing and defending your settlements, sacking cities for income, and using your armies efficiently.
On the other hand, I am not particularly looking forward to patches or DLC because I am simply exhausted. Maybe in a year I will revisit, and I will definitely keep my eyes out for sales on 3K and W2. Very glad to be introduced to this great series through the Epic giveaway!
Thanks for reading!
- The hypocrisy toward Troy
- Revisiting Napoleon in the Era of Warhammer
- My thoughts after finishing Troy
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