Empire: Total War Strategy Guide

Originally posted 27 May 2009


Strategy Guide

To help you in your quest for world domination, the Empire: Total War team has put together a list of tips to give you the upper hand in battle!

Naval Battles

Maintain station! - Grouped ships will try to maintain relative positions and follow the lead ship around. So, if you group your ships in a line they will then move in a line around the map.

Fire! - The stern is the weakest part of the ship, so concentrating fire on this weak spot will deal the greatest damage to an enemy ship. But conversely, this is the weakest point on your own ship and must be protected at all times.

Chain Shot! - Using Chain shot to take out the sails of the first ship in an enemy line will slow down the whole line as they regroup.

Beware the Broadside! - Try to keep your fleet to the stern or the bow of enemy ships, all their fire power rests in their broadsides.

Boarding! - Don’t board a ship until you are absolutely sure that it is no longer a threat. Also, make sure that you have taken care of any other threats from the enemy before beginning the boarding process.

Concentrate Fire! - By holding down the Alt key and clicking on an enemy ship you can order any ships you currently have selected to concentrate all their fire on that one ship.

Divide and Conquer! - When commanding a large naval force it is advisable to split it into three separate groups; one to approach the enemy fleet’s port side, one to approach from starboard and a third to cover any gaps which may appear.

Stay upwind! - Always try to keep your ships upwind of the enemy. It will give you the upper-hand and allow you to maneuver into position much quicker than your enemy.

A Whiff of Grapeshot! - After dealing some damage to an enemy ship’s hull with regular shot, draw in close and use grapeshot for maximum damage. The holes created in the hull expose the crew to incoming fire.

Lay alongside! - When firing grape shot, line your ship no more than a ship’s width away from the enemy hull. This will allow the shot to spread effectively and dispatch the maximum amount of enemy troops.

Come about! - When using line astern make a conscious effort to turn ships around periodically, in an attempt to distribute hull damage equally. If one side is allowed to take the bulk of the damage, the ship will go down.

Land Battles

As one! - When you group units they remember the relative position of each other so, when you give them a move order, they will reform in the same positions at your chosen destination This, in combination with the new rotate/move buttons on the HUD, allows you to quickly and easily move groups and even to break off parts of a formation into a new group.

At Ease! - Hitting the enter key deselects all the troops you currently have selected.

Flanking Fire! - Forming a horseshoe around enemy units will give your men maximum coverage and increase enemy casualties. Positioning Light infantry in trees to the left and right of your main force will give them the opportunity to get a couple of rounds off before the enemy even knows they’re there.

Form Line! - Drawing your men out into long thin lines will increase the area of battlefield covered by their field of fire. So, no matter where the enemy comes from you will have men covering it (unless they outflank you!)

Deploy defenses! - When defending an area which has limited routes in and out, it is often best to deploy chevaux de frise, followed by a line of earth works. This will protect your army from cavalry and infantry and create an easily defendable position.

Hold it! Hold it! FIRE! - Canister shot is an excellent shot type to use in close range combat. Taking your cannons off fire at will when this shot type is selected will allow you to hold your men until the last minute and release the canister shot just as the enemy reaches you for maximum effect.

To the last man! - When presented with the choice to end the battle or continue, it is often better to continue and wipe out the entire army to prevent them reappearing on the campaign map. Cavalry are particularly effective in this mopping up role.

Skirmishers! - When confronted by a complex enemy formation use Light Infantry to lure enemy units out. Once this is achieved, your light infantry can skirmish away from the attackers, leaving supporting units to deal with them piecemeal.

To me men! - If your men are losing their resolve and routing from the field, send your General and his Bodyguard unit to boast their moral and bring them back to the cause.

Dig in! - Earthworks are particularly effective against an enemy which is heavy on Line Infantry. Your men will be safer from the barrage of bullets.

Dragoons! Flanking Manoeuvre! - Dragoons provide an excellent opportunity to outflank an enemy. Ride your dragoons around the back of the enemy and once there, dismount and begin firing into his rear.

Take Cover! - Deploying your men behind walls will provide essential cover from enemy bullets.

Form Square! - Square formation is particularly effective against Dragoons and other cavalry units.

Cannon fodder - If you’re willing to lose men for the greater good, send your militia or a similar unit down the centre of a battlefield to draw enemy fire. Then bring your better troops around the sides to deal a devastating blow to the enemy front ranks whilst they’re engaged.

The General has fallen! - Killing an enemy general will decrease the moral of any remaining troops, making them more likely to rout.

Up close and personal - Press the Insert key with a unit selected to get a first-person view of the battlefield!

Campaign Map

Raiding trade routes - Raiding an enemies’ trade route will cripple their economy. If a trade route is shared by an enemy and an ally you will only raid enemy ships and never those of your allies or countries you are not at war with.

Foreign policy - If your Rake succeeds in an act of sabotage, the faction you attack will automatically blame their greatest enemy and the relationship between those two nations will suffer as a result.

Clamor for reform - Enlightenment technologies naturally lead to a more enlightened populace. However, an enlightened people often chafe against the bonds of their lot in life, leading to unrest. In order to restore order in regions affected by such dissatisfaction it may be necessary to increase your military presence, or even destroy educational buildings.

A nation of Trenchermen - Not using a character to his full potential will result in them gaining a negative trait. If you have a 9 star general but leave him to fester in some back water province he will gather negative traits and slowly slide into obscurity. Making sure your best generals and agents are in constant use will see them improve and result in a much more effective character.

Money makes the world go round - So, when offering any diplomatic proposals, sweeten the deal with a little cash incentive.

History repeats itself - Saving your campaign before beginning a battle will allow you to replay the battle, should you be displeased by the outcome. It also gives you the opportunity to try out a variety of tactics on the same battlefield to discover what works best for you.

Quick reference - For those wondering what happened to double right-click zoom-to camera functionality, this has now moved to double mouse-wheel-click.

White gold - Trade is an essential aspect of a successful campaign. By sending trade ships to the various trade theaters around the world you will significantly increase your country’s economy. The best strategy to adopt in relation to trade theaters, is monopolization. It is much better to have a single ship in each of the Trade Posts in a theater, rather than having three ships on a single post.


Mark O’Connell

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