The battle system for Total War: ATTILA has seen an extensive overhaul which alters the pacing, and it’s worth taking these factors into account if you’re to be victorious. Fatigue is now more dynamic. Your troops will become fatigued more quickly if you run them around the battlefield, but if left to rest, they’ll recover their energy at a much quicker rate.
Unit morale is also more dynamic and units are now more sensitive to shock tactics. For example, local superiority against a unit, combined with flank and rear attacks, can force it to break very quickly. Units now rally more swiftly however, so a routing unit with a significant amount of troops left has a good chance of rallying and getting back in the fight. The general’s role in the field is more pronounced, as he now brings an armywide morale boost (though less than that conferred upon units within his command radius). If the general is lost, the remainder of the army will suffer a significant morale penalty.
During a settlement battle, the settlement itself can sustain damage from projectiles and fire which, once kindled, can spread and grow into a conflagration. The more damage a city sustains as the battle wears on, the more the defenders begin to suffer the negative effects of the destruction of their property. Over time, their morale, melee attack and melee defence ratings will drop as they lose hope and begin to doubt the wisdom of defending the ruins. Settlement damage is also persistent until repaired on the campaign map.
In settlement battles, the defender may erect barricades during the deployment phase (look out for the interactive barricade icons on the map during deployment), and will receive a greater number of barricades according to the settlement’s size and siege escalation level. Barricades are impassable and can block off streets, providing a secure position for units to withstand a charge. They may be targeted and destroyed in melee by the attackers or defenders however.
Settlement capture points are now more of a power struggle. When contested, the side with more units in the capture-point radius will begin to pull ahead in ownership. However, certain units are better at capturing than others, as marked in their unit profiles. When a defensive tower capture-point is taken by the attacker, the tower will be destroyed, so even if the point is reclaimed by the defenders, it will have lost its ability to fire any mounted weapons.
All the battlefield units in Total War: ATTILA are new to Total War, but raiders merit a special mention. Raider units are cheaper to maintain and excel at taking capture points, but are somewhat unruly. If left to their own devices in a settlement, they may begin pillaging, and will hurl torches around to start fires. If you’re aiming to capture a city and occupy it, you may want to consider the wisdom of sending them in.
The warships in Total War: ATTILA now have the ability to backwater, which enables them to reverse out of sticky situations and makes them far easier to manoeuvre into new positions. Also, landlubbers in troop-transport ships are subject to seasickness. So a land-recruited soldier involved in a naval engagement will fight with a significant combat penalty compared to a marine who is trained for shipboard combat and has his sea-legs. Finally, when troop transports are bearing artillery or cavalry into an amphibious assault, their passengers, mounts and equipment are pre-deployed onto the coastline to enable them to be used to full effect.