All Hail Everyone!
I love the Germanic/Norse Shield Maiden archetype. (Still I mourn for Lagertha from the “Vikings” T.V. show. May her horn of mead overflow in Valhalla!)
So, a few weeks ago, I set myself a challenge: Could I create and employ a Germanic Suebi army in which every unit except the general’s unit was female that would be victorious over powerhouses like Rome and Macedon in custom battles? Could such an army be victorious over *all* the factions in the game in custom battles? As of two nights ago, the final answer was given by the Gods and the Fates: Yes!
I (We! My Suebi Shield Maidens and I!) have now defeated all the twenty-seven other factions playable in Rome II in custom battle mode.
KINDLY NOTE: I let the A.I. choose the unit line-up for all the enemy armies. I did *not* try to gain an advantage by meddling in the enemy unit line-up.
My Suebi Shield Maidens needed two attempts to defeat these factions: Rome, Athens, Tylis, Macedon, Cimmeria, and Pergamon. They needed three attempts to defeat the Nervii. (Those Oath Sworn heavy mêlée infantry are brutes!) All the other factions they defeated on the first attempt.
Here’s how we did it and how you can too:
Build a Suebi army composed of one Noble Riders general’s unit, six units of Spear Women (the maximum number you are allowed), seven units of Hexagonal Shield Bearer Women, and six units of Cimbri Bow Women. (Side note: It infuriates me that for some stupid reason, the units of Hex Shield Women are half the size of all other infantry units in the game: eighty warriors per unit as opposed to one-hundred-sixty. If my Hex Shield Women units had been of the normal size, our margin of victory would have been much greater. Costly/Pyrrhic victories would have been close victories and close victories would have been decisive victories.)
Set your general to be the “commander” type so you can make use of his “rally” and “raise banner” functions.
Use “Large Funds” which is the smallest funding level you can use and still build the army I described above. True, if you use bigger funding levels you can promote your units up through various levels of bronze, silver, and gold—but—I discovered that higher funding levels help out the enemy far more than they do an all-female army of your own.
The obvious biological fact is that an average woman who tries to fight an average male in face-to-face combat is going to start the fight at a significant deficit in size, weight, and muscle power. Yes—the top end females will always outclass and usually beat low end and middling males. But—no matter how strong, fearless, skilled, and devoted to duty and a place in Valhalla top end females are, they will always be badly outclassed by top end males. And this game reflects that reality ruthlessly.
The Roman Praetorian Guard and the Celtic Oath Sworn are precisely the top end males I am talking about. Those guys are muscle-bound brutes, encased in armor and wielding their weapons with bone-crushing force. In any fair fight, they would slaughter female units in droves and set the survivors to flight off the edge of the map.
The solution is obvious: ***Don’t fight a “fair” fight***! Use every scrap of tactical skill you have to make the fight as unfair as you possibly can in favor of your Suebi Spear, Sword, Shield, and Archer Maidens.
Put your Maidens in a prepared defensive position atop the steepest hill you can find on the map. Put your Noble Riders general’s unit on the center-back side of the hill to keep him as safe as possible for as long as possible—and where he is best positioned to make counter attacks to either the left or the right! Usually, form your front line with your six Spear Women units standing shoulder-to-shoulder abreast of each other in a long line just below the crest of the hill. Place your outermost left and right Shield Women units angled back from your front line at about forty-five degrees in order to “refuse” your flanks. Place your Archer Women above and behind your Spear Women at the very crest of the hill so they can shoot safely over the heads of your Spear Women. Adjusting yourself to the realities of the contours of the hill, intermingle your Hex Shield Women with your Archer Women as best you can such that the Hex Shield Women can make quick counterattacks in support of your front line of Spear Women. When the strongest enemy infantry mêlée units crash into your frontline Spear Women units, put your Hex Shield Women in “curse” mode and send them headlong into the counterattack! Yes, your Hex Shield women and your Spear Women will then be intermingled but that’s okay. Sometimes, based on the nature of your enemy, you may want to replace one or two of your Spear Women units in the front line with Hex Shield Women *if* you have decided you want to hold some Spear Women in reserve for counterattacks, especially against enemy cavalry. It’s a judgement call.
Force the enemy to attack your Maidens only after making a long, tiring climb up that hill. If the enemy is from northern Europe, make them climb up the hill in summer heat. If the enemy is from the Middle East or North Africa, make them climb up the hill through winter snow.
Be fiendishly creative in how you sow obstacles and booby traps on the slopes of the hill to kill as many of the enemy as you can before they can even come to grips. I prefer a mix of concealed stake pit traps with caltrops. If you are fighting an all-mounted enemy like the Roxolani, use all caltrops. Otherwise, keep your caltrops out on your flanks to kill off enemy cavalry as they attempt to outflank you. If the A.I. catches on to the caltrops and rides around them instead of through them, go to all stake pit traps.
Slather the enemy with deluges of arrows from your Archer Women while the enemy struggles against the steep slope, the obstacles and booby traps, and the (for them) adverse weather. Remember: archers on top of a hill can shoot farther and with more effect than archers who are climbing the hill from below! Prioritize your archer shooting at enemy cavalry units which are trying to outflank you and at enemy chariot units, if any. That done, next prioritize having all six Archer Women units pouring arrows onto the enemy general’s unit as soon as it comes within range. Kill that bastard! Quickly!
Figure out how to kill off or drive off the weakest enemy units as quickly as possible and then carry out what you have figured out.
Use a combination of your Noble Riders general’s unit and one or two of your Spear Women units to defeat enemy cavalry units which are attempting to outflank you by counterattacking against them. USE the *special anti-horse capability* of your Spear Women to the fullest possible extent!
Win the battle on the flanks first and then turn your victorious flank units inward to crush the remaining center units of the enemy. BUT BE FAST! The toughest enemy infantry units will be in the center. You must rescue your center units of females *before* they are annihilated or routed!
Attack the remaining strongest enemy units by attacking them from the front, from the sides, and from behind, pitting three or four of your weaker female units against each one of these toughest of enemy units. Yes, you must inevitably suffer painful and sorrowful losses among your Spear, Sword, Shield and Archer Maidens. But, if the Gods and the Fates decide to favor you on a given day of battle, your Germanic Shield Maidens will defeat even the toughest male enemies.
Key Hint: When all enemy units are routed and running, and the computer asks you whether you want to end the battle or continue *always* choose to continue. Carefully arrange how you send your surviving forces into a bloodthirsty and murderous pursuit of your fleeing enemies. You *must* run up the kill ratio as much in your favor as you can. And the enemy is far easier to kill en masse when he has his back to you as he tries to run from you. Running up the kill ratio as high as you can in your favor is how you turn costly victories into close victories and close victories into decisive victories.
When it’s safely close to over, take a moment to do a close-up pan across the front of a unit of your Shield Maidens. They will be doubled over from exhaustion and aching muscles, they will be coughing up blood. But then—they will straighten their postures, they will wave their swords and spears and bows in the air, and they will CHEER.
Good luck! Skoal!