As we develop the Romans, each week are revealing them to you building by building, unit by unit, and technology by technology. We are not just showing you what the Romans will be, but showing you how we are building them, who is building them, and also why we are building them the way that we are.
We have six units remaining, and today we are revealing the Eques, which is an Age 3 Cavalry unit and the final true Roman Cavalry unit. We are also going to reveal our Age 4 Town Center and Age 3 Walls.
Roman Eques with Epic Gear
Early in the Roman Republic, Rome's wealthy soldiers comprised the Cavalry. But as the Romans began to expand, they found their horses to be outmatched. So they emphasized their elite Legionaries and while they never totally abandoned their own cavalry, their strongest units were outside cavalry hired from neighboring provinces, most notably Gallic Horsemen (from the Celtic parts of Europe) and Numidian Horsemen (from Northern Africa in modern day Algeria and Tunisia -- neighbors to Carthage). Since historic Roman cavalry is a complicated subject, it was fitting that it was particularly difficult for us to navigate these design decisions. And the road for the Eques (plural: Equites) to make our roster was fraught with peril. He almost didn't make it, and in doing so, we had to sacrifice. Let’s drill into it.
The original Roman plans called for at least 4 different Cavalry units: the anti-archer Eques (in Age 2, from the Castellum), the Officer unit Decurion (Age 3, Praetorium), the anti-archer Numidian Horseman (Age 3, Auxilia Camp) and the basic (all-around) Gallic Horseman (Age 4, Auxilia Camp). Meanwhile, the Castellum was set to have four units -- Spearman (Age 1), Legionary (Age 2), Eques (Age 2), and Veles (Age 2). Again, recall that Roman military buildings are categorized based on their military rank and historical origin of their units and not by what category of unit they train. So while most civs train Infantry from their Barracks, the Romans will train their homegrown units in theirs, which is called the Castellum.
The Auxilia Camp was to also have four units: the Cretan Bowman (Age 2), Balearic Slinger (Age 3), Numidian Horseman (Age 3), and Gallic Horseman (Age 4). Again, this building trains Roman’s hired mercenaries.
Finally, the Praetorium, which trains Romans unique Officer Units, was set to have either four or five units: the Centurion, Decurion, and three more possible Officers we will discuss later.
We have analyzed Rome’s Age 2 at great length, but briefly, there was simply no room for the Eques in Age 2. The Legionary had to be in Age 2, so with the Age 1 Spearman the Castellum was pretty full. And while we still needed an Age 2 Cav, putting that unit in the Castellum would have then left the Praetorium empty. (We could have slid a different Officer unit into Age 2, but then Rome would have had five Age 2 military units plus the special Age 2 unit we haven't shown you yet. That would have given Rome the largest and easily the most powerful Age 2 roster in the game. Our hands were tied: we needed our Age 2 Cavalry unit to also be our Age 2 officer. Therefore, the Decurion forced his way into Age 2, and the Eques was homeless.
We then turned our attention to Age 3 to see if there was room for the Eques. Generally, Age 3 is pretty open. Since Age 2 covers the major unit types and counters, civs can go in many directions in Age 3, which is when civs gain the most new units. (On average, civs gain four or five military units in Age 2, at least five or six in Age 3 and about four in Age 4. However, we cannot afford to add dead weight. If we create a single unit that serves no function then we have failed. Every unit in the civ needs to earn its spot, and the Eques is no different. And Rome's Age 3 will end up with nine units, so the burden is on us to justify everybody.
Of those nine units, we have already announced five: the Cretan Bowman (Auxilia Camp), the Centurion (Praetorium), the Battering Ram, the Pontifex, and the Enneris.
Age 3 was filling up fast and we had multiple Cavalry competing for a spot. Meanwhile, both the Eques and the Numidian Horseman were slotted as anti-archer Cavalry. We could have plausibly modified one of them, but there was no obvious solution. In Age of Empires, Cavalry is the customary counter to Ranged units. Since the Roman homegrown Cavalry was fairly pretty standard, if not a touch weak particularly to other cavalry, being a standard anti-archer unit fits perfect. Similarly, Numidian Horsemen was light Cavalry that rode a small breed of horse that excelled in stamina and harassment (similar to the modern day Berber horse) but fell easily (and at times famously) to Gallic Horsemen who road larger and sturdier breeds (closer to modern day Andalusians). So they are classic anti-archer units, too.
Even if we considered both Ages 3 and 4, we had room for at most two of these three units. The large, horse Gallic Horseman practically screams Age 4, especially with the added context that historically, they countered the two other units we were considering for Age 3. That left one slot in Age 3. The Castellum had no Age 3 unit, and the Auxilia Camp was occupied then (Cretan Bowman). We considered scratching the Gallic Horseman, but that still would not solve the fact that both the Equites and the Numidians were essentially the same unit. And we don't need two anti-archer Cav at the expense of losing an anti-Cav Cav. Meanwhile, a light Cav just doesn't feel like an Age 4 unit, and slotting the Numidians in Age 3 would double up the Auxilia in Age 3 and leave it empty in Age 4. So the Equites, who were squeezed out of Age 2, somehow managed to squeeze the Numidian Horsemen out of their job in Age 3. So we had no choice but to honorably discharge the illustrious Numidian Horseman. That’s a tough pill to swallow. Around the Mediterranean, Numidian Horsemen are perhaps the most famous of all ancient cavalry, and there is no question that they were far superior to the Roman Equites. It is always upsetting to cut a unit. It hurt to cut the Veles, and it hurts to cut the Numidian Horsemen.
But just look at those Equites. They are absolutely stunning. We had some concept art, but Chaos and Happy Smurf took it in an even better direction. The concept art gave our horse those handsome braids on his mane. But the rider's helmet, armor, and shield are all ours. By the way, take note of his gear, and keep him in mind before Halloween goes away.
(Andy's note that PF2K absolutely does not want to publish but is doing so as a favor: We love the Numidian Horseman and are just gutted to see him go. If we ever visit another civilization in North Africa, you can be sure that we will look these guys up. While we do not have any plans to make the Phoenicians/Carthaginians, it would be a lie to say that we didn't consider leaving them some room when we cut some of these Roman units. Not only were the Carthaginians famous for their Numidian Horsemen, but they were also famous for their navy. For that matter, they famously had light, javelin-throwing Velites-like units. Again, we have no plans to build the Phoenicians, and the last thing we want is to over promise or inflate expectations. But were someone to one day expand in that direction, we hope they find we left them plenty of room to grow in some very fitting directions that would give that kind of a civ a nice head start. Just like some earlier Roman units that the original Devs discarded found their way into the Babylonians and Norse, it would be lovely if some units that we discarded could find their way to another, arguably more appropriate, home. Again, we aren’t sure we can pull off an 8th civ, let alone that we would consider the Phoenicians, but just as the original Devs left room for later growth, so should we. And here we are leaving a nice little package of different units just perfect for another civ to use. Now do Andy a favor and don’t let PF2K hear you ask about this ever again. He’s got enough to worry about.)
Now that we have shown you every Unit and Technology in the Castellum and the Auxilia Camp, let's have a summarized view on these two Buildings, shall we?
We are cleaning out our closet and haven't yet shown you the final levels of some buildings. Of any building model in an entire civ, the Age 4 Town Center is arguably the single most important.
Age 4 Town Center
Getting to Age 4 must look and feel grand. We had concept art for the Roman Town Centers, but Happy Smurf and Chaos quickly agreed that what they had for Age 4 simply was not grand enough and looked more Age 3.
In all, our four TCs went through countless design changes over the months. They were some of the first buildings to break ground and still seem to always get tweaked a little every few weeks. Compared to the concept art, you can see our guys bulked it up and added a second level. We love this design and think it perfectly captures the essence of the Romans.
Now that every Roman Town Center has been revealed, let's look at all of them together!
(PF2K's Personal Note: Don't get startled by the different colors in the Town Centers, they are only Player Colors and the one on the right is what you will see on all Town Centers, given you are Player 1. Yes, yes... I see the Red one too.)
Age 3 WallThe Romans are going to have 2 wall upgrades, similar to Persians, Norse and Greeks. As stated in Week 9's Blog, we had to create all unique Roman wall models from scratch. You have already seen the Age II Walls, now we are showing you the Age III model, which was created by HappySmurf and Chaos and textured by PF2K.
Looking back, these Walls have been in the pipeline for months. Happy, Chaos and PF2K started on these back in February and were putting the finishing touches a couple of days before we announced the Romans in May. But like a lot of things, Chaos was still fidgeting with them the other week.
Here are both Age II and Age III wall models (next to Towers of the same Age) for the Roman civilization:
With this week in the books, we are now down to the last five Roman Units. Legitimately, looking over the entire Roman roster, they read like a Top 5. (Well, maybe the Centurion cracks the Top 5, but you know what we mean.) These remaining units are in various stages of design, and two of them haven't been started yet. So we don't know which, if any, of them will be ready next week. But you can be certain as soon as they are cooked, you will see them. In fact, it wasn't until a few hours ago that we finally agreed to show you the Eques. That's how hot out of the oven we are serving up units.
Thanks so much for your patience and support, and we will see you soon!
Project Celeste Development Team
What do you think about this week's blog? Let us know in the comments below!
Missed the Roman Civilization's announcement? Find out about it HERE.
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By PF2K on Nov 16, 2019 at 9:30 AM
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